My Happy Childhood

July 20, 2008 § 1 Comment

My boyfriend graduated from college earlier this year, and his tech-savy dad made a compilation video of all his childhood footage in honor of the occasion.  It was just uploaded today, and I saw my love as a baby, a toddler, a kid, and a pre-teen for the first time.  The video also gave me a glimpse into his family, and his childhood.  Granted the video was a compilation of happy times, and I’m sure there were unhappy moments at some point, but it is overwhelmingly clear that my guy had a happy childhood.  What particularly struck me were the scenes of his entire family dancing in the living room to various hip 80s songs.  (It was the 80s, after all.)

The dancing just looked like plain, happy, uninhibited fun.  A dancing family is a happy family.  And I couldn’t help but think about the fact that my family… well… my family doesn’t dance.

I called up my parents, who were entertaining some old family friends.  I asked the four adults who witnessed the majority of my childhood, “Did I have a happy childhood?”

My mother said, “Well, you were always an angsty kid…”

I asked my father, still on the phone, why we never danced.  He said, “Dance?  Are you kidding?  I don’t dance for anybody.”

“But we still had fun as a family, right?”

“She wants to know if we had fun as a family!”  He yelled over the phone into the kitchen.  I could hear plenty of laughter.

“I mean, what family stuff did we do?  How did we have fun?”

Seriously though.  We didn’t dance… so how did we have fun?  Where’s the simple proof that we let go, gave in, and enjoyed just being happy together as a family?   I know I didn’t have an unhappy childhood, but what specifically was so happy about it?  And why the hell did I need to know right this minute?

“Haha, I don’t know, Leah.  We have to run to your brother’s baseball game, we’ll talk to you later.”

The answer, I knew, probably lay within the many family photo albums my mother religiously kept. But, being in England, I had to rely on the few family photos I had scanned last summer when I was learning how to use the new scanner.

There are a lot of things about my childhood I’m grateful for.  I am grateful for having good parents who loved each other as much as they loved us.  I am grateful for having a younger brother.  I am grateful that I grew up playing outside in the woods.  I am grateful that we went camping.  I am grateful for bike riding, sledding, baseball, canoeing, skiing, swimming, reading, snow-monster making, strawberry picking, homemade playdough, and I’m even almost grateful for all that hiking they made me do (most of the time).

It’s hard to compare your family to someone else’s.  My family will never be the kind of family that can just let go and express our happiness to the sound of Michael Jackson.  We’re just too neurotic for that.  (At least, my Dad and I are too neurotic for that.)  But I know we had fun as a family.  We may not have proof in the form of homemade family music videos, but we did have our moments.

We didn’t dance, but we played in the leaves.

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