Posted by: cg00n | January 19, 2010

When I was a kid…

Like much of humanity, I suspect, I see the past (or at least portions thereof) through rose tinted spectacles.  My anxiety is getting harder to control as time goes by, things were better before I got melanoma, the time I spent in university were golden years and all that time I used to spend at the beach when I was a kid was just this side of heaven.  Well, obviously there is some truth to all this but there were a lot of bad times which are obscured by the rosy glow of nostalgia and, on the other hand, many people would gladly swap all their problems for all of mine.  Life is always a mix of good and bad.  As a matter of survival, I suppose, we tend to remember the good times unless something causes us to dredge up the less pleasant memories.

I like to think that my friends and I are sufficiently enlightened that we can recognise these tendencies in ourselves and not end up wallowing in the past.  However, it is clear that some people are quite incapable of such fair and balanced views of the past.  The Daily Show on January 5th had a lovely little report by John Oliver that really summed it up well.  Follow this link to the CTV website and skip to around the three-and-a-half minute mark to see what I’m talking about.  It inspired me to suggest that we should start a bit of a discussion like: “When I was a kid I never had to worry where the next meal was coming from” and then post reminders of why life was not always so good and how it has improved since then.

For example:  when I was a kid I could just  play in the back garden after school every day.  Of course, there was the time I put my foot through the cucumber frame while retrieving a ball and gashed my leg open.  I’ve never had that problem since!

Any stories you’d care to share?  Comments & emails welcome!

Update 1:

One of the things I remember best from my pre-teen years was the arrival of the Beatles in 1962.  The mass hysteria, the new hairstyles, the zip-up ankle boots and what sounded like a whole new kind of music.  It was a great time.  The swinging ’60s were just getting under way in Britain, mini skirts were getting mini-er by the minute, my family was moving to a much nicer house, I was allowed to ride my bike beyond the end of the street.

The Cuban Missile Crisis never made it onto my radar although I’m sure my parents noticed it.  Ah, those happy days!



  1. When I was a kid, we could pretty much talk about anything we wanted, since we didn’t have to worry about any one else eavesdropping on conversations with my parents, brother or sister, because we were the only English speaking family in a small community in rural Quebec.

    But because we were the only “anglos” in the town, we were also treated a little bit like visitors from another planet.

  2. When I was a kid, I used to play in the back garden a lot, too. One day I ran across the garden and trod on the end of a plank, which was balanced across a kerb, and had a big clod of earth on the other end. Naturally, the clod flipped up and smashed my glasses into my eyes. The worst of it was that, at the hospital, they picked out the glass from my eyes with tweezers, with my eyes held open by clips. I had to move my eyes into appropriate positions. Not fun for a seven-year-old. The tweezers looked huge as they approached my eyes.

  3. I enjoyed reading your blog about events such as The Beatles rise to fame when you were a kid & it brought back memories of growing up in those years.

    Rick’s reply about the trauma he went through with his eyes when he was 7, brought back my own memory of episodes with my eyes when I was that age or younger.

    One of my eyes was crossed & the eye surgeon tried to correct it with a patch over my good eye & then very strong glasses. It was very traumatic at that age going to school & I can still remember straining my bad eye to see the blackboard. When that didn’t work, I had to have my eye operated on to correct the problem. I was in the Children’s Hospital for a week. Much different from the times for surgery now & very unsettling for a 6 year old who was very shy. I still remember the pain to this day after the surgery.

    When my mother brought me home, all the neighbourhood kids were sitting on the steps leading to our house with a big basket of fruit for me. It’s amazing what we can remember about bad & good times when we were so young.

    Unfortunately I had to have another operation the following year because the cord was too tight & pulling my eye too far in the other direction. I was only in hospital for a day that time.

  4. You said:

    The Cuban Missile Crisis never made it onto my radar although I’m sure my parents noticed it. Ah, those happy days!

    I don’t remember the Cuban Missile Crisis, but I must have been a pretty nervous kid, because I worried about a bunch of world events.

    I distincly remember being afraid of The Green Man for a brief period the summer of 1966 or 67 – and not wanting to be outside after dark, not even with our whole family… It was years later that I asked our mother for clarification as to what that was really about…and it turns out that someone had gone missing from the local mental hospital in the east end of Toronto and had been wearing a green sweater at the time he left.
    Somehow that percolated into my 6 or 7 year old mind and I spent a lot of nervous energy worrying about him.

  5. The most difficult challenge in my childhood was when I started grade five in a town school. Prior to that I attended a one room country school and had always been the only child in my grade. I had always gone to school with the same kids, obviously none in my new class and I didn’t know how to make friends. I felt like a very ugly duckling in a pond of swans. I had just started making friends by the end of the year and then we moved to a neighbouring town, and I again started in a new school. My memory is that it was even worse than my experience the year before. My parents were very busy in those years … my father was starting up a business and my mother had her first five children in a span of eight years. I don’t recall telling either of them how miserable I was. I assumed it there was something wrong with me.

    Yes, it did get better. I eventually made friends. Gradually I figured out how to do group work and function in a large class.

    And of course, you were my first friend when I moved to Calgary. Remember I started in with the folk dancing and immediately volunteered to be on the organizing committee. (We were such a small group I think everyone who danced was on it.)

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