But those memories, you know the ones, you can find them, we all have them don’t we? somewhere, they are there. You know the ones, the memories that show childhood was idyllic, fun and carefree. That’s childhood isn’t it. Isn’t that how we all experienced it? Sure it is.
But those memories, they aren’t the whole story, they aren’t even a bit of the story really. There is so much more to it, they are embedded with meaning that is incredibly potent and strong and impact and effect everything.
We all know the story, childhood is carefree. Childhood is full of fun and games and happily ever afters. It’s full of great family moments, togetherness. It’s all Beaver Cleaver, My Three Sons, Family Ties and Different Strokes or the Brady Bunch. Families where parents were rational, caring and listening. Friends that, sure, had their difference but in the end they worked them out and friendships prevailed; you know like when Peter Brady took on the Bully or when Jan Brady had to get braces on her teeth.
But those memories. Life is not Kevin and Winny and the fucking wonder years though.
I can’t deny it, I did have fun times, times of playing with friends and even family times that weren’t totally shit. I can’t deny that fact. It happened. Hours of cricket was played on the driveway. Bike riding around the suburbs with neighbours and friends, and even camping trips and trips to the beach that really were filled with joy.
But those memories. They don’t exist in isolation. They just don’t. It’s just not possible to remember those memories without the shit also rising up and being remembered.
And I am sure we all had some shit go down too. It’s just completely untenable that anyone truly had an idyllic childhood that didn’t include some shit. Some irredeemable lost friendships, some deep hurt from family. To pretend that anyone walked through childhood into adulthood without any shit sticking is just some kind of misplaced belief.
But those memories. Yeah, that shit, it is a lot more thickly planted on to the memories for some of us.
For some of us, almost every moment is layered with some form of disappointment, sadness, hurt and pain. I say this, not to be all, you know, woe is me, but just to try and highlight that it really is different for some of us.
My father was and remains, to my knowledge, a horrible man. My Mother, began as a gentle young woman, but somehow, became a hardened nasty person after living with my father for a while. That’s not to say they didn’t ensure I was fed and clothed and so forth. Yes, I received those basic needs. I even grew up with a pretty reasonable level of privilege you know. I am a white person in a country in the beginnings of shaking off the racist White Australia Policy. You know, we had the house in the suburbs, we had most of the toys and gadgets that supplied a level of social and economic privilege.
That was the surface of course. I existed in my home in a sense of living life dodging the bullets. I lived that childhood as a undiagnosed autistic repressed transgirl. And you know what it was more than a little bit shit. Parenting in my home was an act of enforcing the parents iron will in whatever way was necessary. Whatever that included was perfectly acceptable. Statements like “because I’m the mum, that’s why” were potent with meaning that implied disagree and you will pay a high price. On my right knuckle I bare a small scar from one of these moments. Religious statements like”spare the rod and spoil the child” were used as justifications for physical punishments that were nothing short of physical abuse.
Those memories but. Yes I remember childhood. I had some great times. I suspect we all did. Those memories though, will always be potent, they will always be seared with other memories.
That of course is true for all of us. For me they are seared with emotional, physical, verbal and sexual abuse. I can’t get pretend that is not the case, it just is.
But those memories. Yes, it would be wonderful if calls to a golden age of childhood as the best years of our lives was a fair call. But for some it’s a call to not the best but the worst years of our lives.
But those memories…