I mentioned my pint-sized rocking chair in a recent post. I received the rocker for Christmas when I was a toddler. During my preschool years, the chair sat in the living room of our home. In those years, my father and grandfather often posed me in it for pictures.
The photo below of me in the blue dress is one of my favorite pictures of me as a child. I look pensive, as I often was. But there is also a hint of stubbornness and mischief in my eyes, both of which I displayed on occasion. (I don’t see how the family myth of the Good Big Sister developed when I so often wore this impish expression on my face.)
I still tilt my head like I did in this picture. And I still play with a pencil or pen in hand when I’m thinking or listening, as I did in the photo. The child in me survives more than fifty years later.
After I got my own bedroom in the home we moved into when I was seven and a half, my rocking chair sat in my room. For the rest of my childhood years, I spent a lot of time thinking in that chair. It wasn’t like Dennis the Menace being sent to the corner in his rocker. No, my time in the chair was voluntary—for introspection and dreaming.
That’s where I worried about my parents finding out about minor misdeeds which loomed as mountains in my mind. That’s where I realized my good fortune in being American and Catholic. That’s where I imagined all sorts of heroic escapades in which I featured prominently as saint and martyr. (I didn’t have comic books about superheroes, but I had a book on the lives of saints, and I wanted to be one, however gruesome their deaths.)
By the time I was a teenager, I had outgrown the rocking chair both physically and mentally. I still could fit my butt in the seat (and I still can!), but my knees stuck up toward my chest and it wasn’t comfortable. Like most teens, I preferred to lounge on my bed, books and snacks spread around me.
I was married by the time my parents moved out of that home in which I spent most of my childhood years. When they moved, they sent me my little rocking chair along with other childhood mementos. I put it in my daughter’s room after she was born, but she never became attached to it the way I had been.
Now it sits in my guest room. A few tchotchke dolls are the only ones who sit in it anymore. But occasionally, as I pass by and see it, I remember my childhood.
What items bring your childhood to mind for you?