Recently, I was asked a bunch of random questions about my childhood. "What were you afraid of as a child?" through me. Nothing sprang to mind. There are a zillion things I am scared of now, but as a kid? I'm not sure if I had any real fears. There are some old photos where I appear worried, but maybe that was just my natural expression that I still carry around with me today!
I was wildly blessed to have a smooth, calm childhood. I was warmed and loved and felt secure, which gave me freedoms that I wince at with some guilt, as I know now it is not every child's experience. It was also a different time, when society and the media confined bad news and dark issues to places not as accesible to younger eyes. It was easy to be a carefree kid.
My 85-year-old mom may not remember every detail of a day she lives in right now, but she can tell you about going to the market with her mother in 1940 with perfect clarity. So I enlisted her help. Does she recall...Was I afraid of the dark? No. Was I afraid of clowns? Not really. Was I afraid of being alone? Oh, she said. On the contrary. In fact, I scared HER by wandering off on my own in my early years quite often. She recalled a time at a busy English seaside, when I left the family gathering of chairs and blankets and disappeared into the crowd without a trace. She and my Nanna leapt into search action when it was discovered I was missing. About ten minutes later, I was found down the beach, enjoying a puppet show on my own. Another time, at an agricultural fair, I again vanished, only to be found happily looking at an animal display a few fields over. I do recall one occasion, as I blazed a trail through the woods at a local state park, quite content on my own, how my mom seemed to pop up out of nowhere. I remember thinking "How did she know I was here?"!! I think my mom got the message quickly on, that I felt comfortable exploring on my own. She must have stepped up her vigilance! I am quite proud of the adventuresome young Claudia. "Alone but never lonely"is how Beatrix Potter phrased it and I agree.
This bit of self-history intrigued me in view of the main character in my picture book "My Wilderness". It is the story of a boy who was not afraid of many things you would have thought he would be, like deep water and bears and darkness and aloneness.
Maybe I would have been okay as a kid on Fox Island, too.
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