Thursday, September 8, 2011

Childhood Memories: Little House on the Prairie

Last night I started reading The Wilder Life. Its a book about a life long fan of Laura Ingalls Wilder who decides to visit the places Laura lived and find out the true story. I'm only on the 2nd chapter, but felt I should pause for a moment and write this post while a memory is fresh in my mind.

As a child I think I was lonely. We moved a lot. When I was 2, 4, 8, 12, and 14. This is great for learning to be self-sufficient, but not terribly great for making friends on the playground. My sister and I were polar opposites. Kathryn was more wild. She liked to play outside. I preferred playing house and dressing up in historical costumes. At school we were both the new kid a lot, but Kathryn just seemed to meet people more easily while I was more reserved. I guess I would say that still rings true today.

So, when I'd enter another new school it seemed to take me a good while before I would make friends. But that doesn't mean I was alone in my game. I had imaginary friends, only my imaginary friends were literary characters.

God, that sounds depressing, but at the time I loved it.

So what does this have to do with Laura Ingalls Wilder? Was she my imaginary friend? Nope...her sister Mary was.

Laura was too crazy. She liked to do adventurous stuff. But Mary liked the same things as me. She preferred quiet amusements.

Why am I telling you this? Because last night I found out I'm not the only one who did this? Wendy McClure, the author of The Wilder Life admits in the first chapter that Laura was her imaginary friend. I am not alone.

Okay, so here's a story about me and Mary.

My family moved from Phoenix, AZ to LaGrange, KY in the summer of 1990. In the fall I entered 3rd grade taught by Ms. Smith. The kids thought I was totally bizarre and had a weird accent. I believed the same of them. Thankfully Ms. Smith was amazing and helped me get through the year with a minimum of embarrassment.

Every day we would have recess. This consisted of sending us out to a big open field with a swing set in one corner. Since I'm a loner, I would avoid the actual games going on and try to amuse myself. Instead I would play games with Mary. One day we went flower picking. There were bunches of yellow flowers along the edge on the field so Mary and I picked a bunch as a gift for Ms. Smith. I presented my prize upon returning to the classroom. Ms. Smith took one look and told me I'd just broken the law. What?!?! Me?!?! Turns out I picked a bunch of Goldenrod...the state flower which is illegal to remove. I was devastated, but she shrugged it off as a warning....thankfully.

Can you picture it? A little blond girl in a dress (always a dress) running around a grassy friend talking to an imaginary person. No wonder the other kids thought I was strange. But that's okay. What is more important is that I survived the 3rd grade thanks to Mary...and I made some real friends eventually.

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