Monday, June 14, 2010

seeking: childhood wonder and strange horticulture practices

I woke yesterday from dreams of lollipop trees - plump globes of rustling green perched atop impossibly straight sticks.

We had lollipop trees on Raymond Avenue. Every year I'd watch the city crews gather in their orange trucks; clippers and chainsaws ready. They would spend a couple hours at each tree, pruning branches, cutting unruly strands back until a perfect sphere remained.

They looked like fake trees.

Trees fashioned from toothpicks and clay.

The kind of trees I draw for Bean, knowing that one day she is going to do the same--- add a few red circles for apples or speckle them with bits of pink: spring in the lollipop forest.

There's a sense of unreality to my childhood, a place so long ago it might as well be fiction. And when I write about it here, the lack of recognition and resonance echoes back, a childhood that I can't give to Bean. It's too far away, with the roaming groups of children and the summer twilight games of tag. Ice cream trucks we could run to without worrying over razor blades or drivers' faces in photocopy warning of sexual offense.

Stacie and I would meet each other around the corner-- a place we'd measured to be the equal halfway distance between our houses. I was ten. I can't imagine letting Bean do that now, seeing her small retreating silhouette shrink to nonexistence.

It's hard for me to understand that Bean is going to reminisce about her childhood just as I do mine. Hard for me to comprehend that she will wrap these days in wistful wonder because the future world which will surround her children will be that much more incomprehensible.

My parents grew up in a time of homemade cakes and Sunday car rides. Cow pastures and daily chores at 5am. No one locked their doors. Dad's whole street shared the same phone line.

I grew up with Karen Carpenter, 8-track tapes, saltwater sandals slapping hard on concrete. I remember asking Tony in fifth grade why he had his house key tied on a string around his neck.

This is the world I'm giving Bean: daily treadmill runs while she watches Sesame Street, playdates and bouncy houses, a car seat with side airbag protection. Homemade cookies and games of catch on the driveway. There are lollipop trees on the horizon, I can see them there, just off in the distance.


Bethsix said...

I remember walking to stores about a mile away from my house when I was in middle school. But I also remember being afraid someone was going to kidnap me. There were never any kids in my neighborhood (like, they didn't exist, not that they didn't play outside), and my little brother was 10 years younger, so not a lot of people to play with.

I'd like my kids to be able to roam like I wanted to, but I can't imagine it. But maybe it's because it's just out of reach. We already let Kieran walk the dog by himself (he brings a walkie-talkie). Maybe they'll all seem more durable eventually.

Things seem a lot different now, but maybe that's just how it looks as an adult from the outside.

kately said...

I think of those same things, frequently, wistfully ... remembering kick-the-can games around the neighborhood; riding my bike to my *gasp* boyfriend's house which was 5 towns away - something like 15 miles - crazy! I was 14 yrs old. The invisible perimeter we had as children was so wide - miles and miles wide. My mom still laughs about it. I shudder now thinking of today's kids having that kind of freedom. Shelby certainly won't -- well, not until she's driving or something ;-) It's a different world, but like you said - our kids will have their own sweet memories of childhood, so let's keep baking those cookies and having those playdates and giggling and dancing with mommy and daddy before bedtime, making funny faces in the mirror. These ARE happy times -- they're just different.

stacie d said...

I've thought about how we used to meet each other (though you know as well as I do that you usually didn't show up at the halfway point!! haha) and how I'd never let a kid do that now! How did our parents do it?!