My mother has begun doing this really annoying thing: she has begun emptying filing cabinets and drawers that haven't been opened for 20 years, and if the contents bears any relation whatsoever to me, she sends it to me.
Monday I got a big package containing my report cards from first, second and sixth grade; a bunch of my elementary school photographs, a few of which I'm posting just for the hell of it; the program from my kindergarten graduation ceremony (apparently I won the coveted role of Mama Rabbit in the classic play "The Little White Rabbits Who Wanted Red Wings," and I also got to play the Queen of Hearts in "A School Day in Storybook Land"--I actually remember the costume for that: it was this fabulous confection of a white dress with red hearts all over it, and I wore a tiara and carried a heart-shaped scepter); and lots and lots of really BAD poetry written before I had mastered cursive handwriting.
I can see why she saved that stuff. And I guess I'm glad she's sorting through it now, so we don't have to do it all after she dies. (I know my father is going to leave us a huge mess of papers, bills, uncashed but no longer negotiable checks--sometimes he just can't be bothered to go to the bank--and stashes of decades old sugar-free candy to sort through and discard.) But I admit I'm sort of resentful that I'm supposed to become the custodian of my own childhood at this point. After all, that's what parents are FOR: to maintain a shrine to our childhoods so we can grow up and forget about them, right?
I mean, what do I do with a canceled check for $5.00 dated December 16 1972, a birthday gift from my great-grandparents? On and around the memo line, my great-grandfather wrote, "Holly, always speak the Truth and you won't have to remember what you say because the truth is imprinted on your mind." I feel sort of guilty throwing it out but I lived 33 years quite happily without it in my possession, so why should I keep it now? Besides, if I stick it in a drawer or a box or a filing cabinet, I'll just have to discover it and have to deal with it later.
My mother also saved a bunch of stuff from HER trip to Taiwan. (My parents picked me up at the end of my mission and spent ten days touring the island with me.) She even saved a bunch of receipts for god-only-knows-what, just because they had Chinese characters on them, and now she has sent those to me. At least I don't have to debate about what to do with things like that: they went straight into the trash, because I already have enough stuff with characters on it.
But with the other stuff, the stuff that concretizes the vaguely pleasant memories that remind me how safe and privileged and valued my childhood was.... how could I throw it away? I admit I succumbed to...guilt or nostalgia or I don't know what that feeling was, and shoved the papers and photographs into an envelope, then shut them in a trunk in my extra closet--the trunk that also contains other remnants of my childhood, including my two favorite dolls and their clothes, my last pair of toe and tap shoes, and my favorite board game from when I was five, "Pig in the Garden."
As I mentioned the poetry is awful, and I thought about posting some of it here just for kicks. Unfortunately it's the kind of awful that seventh grade girls think is good, and it occurred to me that someone might come across it and think I'd put it up because I was proud of it. So instead I'm going to post a brief story, written probably when I was seven or eight.
We went to the mountains and stayed one week. We stayed in our cabin. My father was fixing the roof so there was some tin roofing lying around. One night my father saw a bear jumping on the tin roofing like it was a trampoline. Then the bear walked across the porch railing and jumped into a tree, swung around then ran off. Then about two or three or four hours later, the bear came back. This time he poked holes in our garbage can lids and toys, and kicked our ball around. Then our father came to where my sister and I were sleeping. He shined the flashlight on the bear so we could see him. Then he ran away and did not come back.
Here are the photos I promised. Unfortunately they are quite large and I couldn't figure out how to shrink them, so you'll get a screen full of my very young face. Here's second grade:
Here's third grade: