My childhood is quite a blur for me. All I know is one minute I was running around the street playing games with my neighbour’s children and the next minute I was forced to grow up as the dynamics of my family suddenly changed. I had to learn to be tough and I had to learn to bottle a lot of emotions. Yesterday, I thought to myself; “What would I do differently if I was given a second chance to re-live my childhood. The list I came up with was pretty interesting to me and I want to share the five things I noted with you.
Given to chance to do it all again, I will;
Cry more…and openly too. One of the things my father always said to me every time I cried as a child was “Don’t cry over such things. You have to take it in your stride”. So I had to do one of two things; not cry at all or cry in the comfort of my room. More often than not, I only cried in the comfort of my room. Now, I will shed all those tears that I wanted to shed in public instead of putting up a stern face to show that I was a strong girl.
Live outside of my head. As most of you already know, I started reading when I pretty young. That’s a great thing but it resulted in me being stuck in my head a lot. I played outside and all but most of the time, I was not present physically. I never immersed myself in those activities. I only immersed myself in the books I was reading. I should have been more open with people as I was with the pages of my journal and my imaginary friend (Yes I had an imaginary friend, more than one in fact).
Express love. I can’t remember ever saying “I love you” to anyone as a child. It was not something that was said in my family. There was no open display of affection. I was only close with my dad and my aunty and they are not very emotional people. I felt very uncomfortable anytime I went to visit my neighbour and I saw her hugging or pecking her dad. It just seemed weird to me. Looking back, I wish I had learnt how to express love instead of taking it for granted that the people I cared about know that I love them. I will say a lot of ‘I love you’ and hug people more.
Be less guarded. Growing up, I was more or less caged; physically that is. Yes once in a while I will sneak out of the house to play with my neighbour and run as fast as my legs could carry me at the sound of my mother’s car horn. That was about it really. Any fun I had was with my family. Although there’s nothing wrong with that, it made it difficult for me to relate with other people. In fact, outside of school I didn’t get a chance to make friends with other children – it was just my neighbour’s kids. Now, I will make more friends in school and go for many sleepovers.
Handle the separation differently. Looking back, I will handle the fact that my father left differently. It’s a day I will always remember because from that point on, I felt like I was responsible for the breakdown of my family. Now I know better. I will not carry that heavy burden that distorted a lot of things about me. Knowing what I know now, I will somehow separate myself from my parents and realise the fact that as adults, whatever choice they make does not have to negatively impact my life.
I am truly grateful for the life I’ve lived so far despite all that has happened. Life is all about learning lessons and moving on. I’ve learnt my share of lessons and I’m glad I’ve been able to move on; farther and higher.