Translation from original article in my blog, “Niñez”
Today I ate a Duvalin at the office (a creamy candy from my childhood, common in Mexico, normally in two or three flavors) and it took my back in my childhood in such a way, that I had the feeling of sharing a bit how I lived those years, and my opinion of children today.
In general, my childhood was happy, I lived in a house with my parents and sisters, surrounded by many things, most of them filled with love, more than abundance: I had to reuse some of my older sisters’ clothes and toys, and when we were kids we slept in the same room; my older sister remember when I, as a baby, removed the bars of my tin craddle and would crawl to my parents’ room. They were the little couple (my older sisters) and then I was the little one. But then my younger sister came and I became a sort of mushroom of the sandwich: the younger of the older, the oldest of the youngers, and at some point the single child. I think I have a privileged place in my family, because I’m the big angle lense that has followed in a special way my parents’ history, as young, energetic, wizard parents, and then as mature, reflexive, conservative parents, as they grew older; both in the plenitude of beginning a family project and also in the abundance of picking the crop.
Also, with my sisters, had some generation blanks, for me it was more like playing alone (but not lonely), and create myself a world in which I could play between flute notes (at 7:00 a.m. i sundays), paper dolls, books, many drawings, color pencils, towel cupboards, the folding sofa that was my spaceship, and many, many imaginary friends that lived only because I made their voices. Also my dog was a special part of my play, because we grew up at the same time, and I could swear he could hear me and understand me, except for when he was provoking the neighbour’s big dog.
Maybe in more than one sense I haven’t been a “normal child”, because from when I was very little I was concerned about stuff that weren’t important to other kids, I wasn’t afraid of darkness or ghosts, and in fact, until now, I feel very capable of moving in the darkness, I enjoy it. In the other hand, I felt intrigued at a young age, about impermanence, time and death, and sometimes I wouldn’t sleep thinking that if I died, who would keep my toys, or if the world ended, where all the things would go to. I learnt to read and write by myself at the age of 4, and had a self-assurance that scared my parents a bit, myself with a red tricycle, against the world.
Also, I lived in a very festive and musical environment, surronded by different tunes and genders. I specially remember a vinyl record that belonged to my dad, the singer was María Dolores Pradera, and it was scratched in a song called “Matacuervos” (talks about a fighter bull) my sisters and I would laugh a lot singing that never-ending part.
My wide musical likings has gave me the official title of “Jingle Girl” as my dear friend Chimi calls me… and a lot of this musical tile comes from differet ages and personalities of my family, from Led Zeppelin, the Doors and Oscar Chávez from my dad, the Beatles, Barry White and César Costa from my mom, U2 and Peter Gabriel from my older sister, my second sister with a bad moment of Mijares, Luis Miguel and Cristian Castro (crappy mexican pop singers) and also Mecano and Presuntos Implicados; up to Good Charlotte, Razorlight and Interpol from my younger sister. Of my age? Good grunge, Pearl Jam, Stone Temple Pilots, Incubus… between secondary and high school. From my grandpa I love the big bands like Esquivel and mambos from Pérez Prado. From a lot of friends I have inherited my liking to jazz, la salsa y el bluegrass. Ups, I left my childhood a little bit…
A sad episode that I barely remember, was a sexual abuse at the age of… between 5 and 6. To the eyes of a child, an abuse is a hard thing to digest and understand, because normally, the person that is abusing you tells you that everything is OK, and you just have to keep a secret; but deep inside you, your little child heart tells you that IS NOT OK… but sometimes this crappy thing of obeying the olders is not always good for children that, like me, had to endure a bad moment that marked us for life… we live with fear, shame, variable emotions, wrong ideas about one self and sexuality. Fortunately, I’ve been in a very good therapy and now I can face it and speak about it, and the big blessing is that, when I have the chance of sharing it… it is like a support spot for other people that had a similar -or worst- experience and that couldn’t just speak about it to work on it and let it go.
As a conclusion, I could say: I had a nice childhood, with bad moments like many children in the world. But I am a happier child NOW as an adult: What I mean is that one can be pure as a child if you decide it so, when you decide to keep the ability of letting life give you some surprises, to love without restrains, be a good person, learn, fall and rise as if you were made out of rubber. Today, I’ve chosen consciously to keep a pure heart, to believe in the goodness of each person and to just climb the tree that is life, even if I might fall. The best of all, is that I’m a responsible girl now, and when I have to stand for something I believe in, or wear high heels and ironed hair… I can do it and I enjoy it. A very loved adopted-grandmother told me once, that the strenght of a woman is knowing when to be a grown up and mature woman and when to be a child. This is one of the best advice I ever received, because it lets me live life in all of its greatness and make myself all the questions I need, without thinking if they’re logic or not… every question, even if it seems to be nonsense, is a demand for understanding the world.
Children today… I think they have a wonderful world ahead… even with all the bad things it has. It depends on how we educate them, not only their parents, but ALL the community. I think it is a big challenge and responsibility for society, that lived in a complete darkness for so many years, so many things that we don’t have to tell to kids, so many prejudices, so many wrong ideas… But also, so many things that can be taught in good time and in a very fertile soil. There are children so wise at so young age, that seem like they had lived thousands of lives already. I think it is important that children get to know much happiness, and also frustration. Acknowledgment and mistakes. Reward and work. Love and pain. Because life is not easy, and parents won’t be with them forever… Children with a failproof compass to decide by themselves between right and wrong.
I’m saying this now, and might be very mistaken; but as my mother says: “One day you will be mother too”… so we can talk later. But I really would like to achieve with my kids -if I ever have kids- that they see themselves as human beings: integral, whole human beings, capable of making their own decisions and to fight with fangs and claws for what is right. That they learn how to make their own mistakes and find in each one, a new learning for life.
How I would like to act, concerning to childhood? Well, for me, I grew up in a regime of truth, I can’t be much different with children around me. Even if my parents belong to a generation in which a lot of themes are taboo, forbidden or hardly prejudiced, I think they have talked to me straight how things were. In my case, I would like to be completely honest to my kids and let them know that I’m not superhero, because at an adult age we all see that our parents are not perfect, they’re only persons doing their best to raise their children, we didn’t come to this world with a manual or something… They might have made mistakes with us, but also them are in a process of learning, growing up and mature… in the end, I acknowledge to my parents that they have given their very best with us.
I believe that, as long as relationships between children and adults are given in a total respect to their integrities, capabilities and processes, we could achiveve very powerful things with chidren around us (even if they’re not our own children, as I said before, I believe is it responsibilty of the community, not only of the parents). And as adults I hope we can be more open to learn a lot of them, because they have a lot to teach us, about the world and ourselves, even if they cannot express their teachings with words.