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A Childhood Remembered - Friendships

Updated on February 23, 2013
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Early Socialization

I don't know how they knew but they did. My Mom and Dad just seemed to know that kids need socializing just like puppies. At the age of three, my first childhood friendships were well established. It began with my first birthday. Mom threw a party for me and invited the three children who lived next door. There were presents and balloons and of course, the cake that I smeared all over my face like most toddlers. Mom took lots of photos, the old black and white kind.

The first three years of my life were lived in the heart of the city and Mom gave me a birthday party each year, inviting the same three kids. And yes, she still had the camera that took those black and white photographs. My first friendships were well documented. I call them friends because they gave me presents but to be honest, I hardly knew them. They were my first friends but they were also my first experience with losing a friend. Mom and Dad moved us to the country right after my third birthday and it would be 20 years before I saw these friends again.

New neighborhood, new friends
New neighborhood, new friends

New Friends, Two Mothers

Our new neighborhood was exciting. Every few months a new family with kids moved in and my social circle grew larger. Most of us were close in age and we spent a lot of time together. Once again my Mom showed incredible wisdom. Without the advice of the good doctors Seuss or Spock, my Mom just knew it was her responsibility to teach me how to act like a lady. She didn't rule with an iron fist though. No, she didn't beat me or keep me locked in a closet. Instead, she dragged out all her old clothes and jewelry and invited the girls over so we could play dress up. I suppose this was how we learned to keep our knees together when wearing a dress because I don't remember her ever telling me. Our self esteem was built on those days when we carefully selected which strand of dime-store beads matched the dress that was way too big. We sure thought we looked pretty. And of course, these dress up parties were documented too. No foolish endeavor ever escaped Mom's camera.

It was here in this new neighborhood that I would form my most important, life-long friendship. Her name was Marilyn. She was six years older than me and boy did I look up to her. She lived next door so we were together a lot. Marilyn's father died when I was seven and as an only child, she became a little spoiled. She had two horses and I just thought that was the coolest thing in the world. I loved the horses. At first I was a little scared to ride but I loved spending time in the barn. I loved the smell of sweet feed and hay. Many afternoons were spent in the barn running my hands along the strong muscles of a horses neck and sneaking them sugar cubes or apples so I could feel the softness of their muzzles. Just being near them made me feel good and the barn was a good place for thinking. I was just a kid and didn't really understand friendship but I think I liked Marilyn at first just because she had horses. But, that changed.

By the time I was nine or ten, Mom would let me stay overnight with her or, she would let Marilyn stay with us. We would stay up very late, singing and giggling, and talking about boys. Marilyn had started dating and I had become her "little sister". I got to hear all about her dates. Once in a while my Mom or Marilyn's Mom would have to quiet us down with a stern word. It wasn't unusual for us to suffer the consequences of not listening and one of us would be sent home in the middle of the night. Rules were meant to be obeyed. We would eventually learn that lesson.

I'm not sure when it happened but out of friendship Marilyn and I both gained another mother and neither one of them hesitated to act like one. That never changed, even after we were grown.

My Other Mother

No story of my childhood can be told without telling the story of my most memorable moment with my "other mother". If I am ever to wonder why I have such respect for the power of a mother, I only have to think back to 1968. I was thirteen years old going on twenty-five. Marilyn's mother had taken us to Atlantic Beach for a vacation. It was an eight hour drive with just the girls: Marilyn, me, and Marilyn's mom, my other mother. There wasn't much money back then so we spent most of our time on the beach or at the hotel pool. We ate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for breakfast and a baloney sandwich for lunch but we thought we were rich and were happy with that. The pool was where our problem began. Remember, Marilyn was older than me and she started flirting with the pool lifeguard. On our second day there we had a plan to meet the lifeguard and his friend after Mom went to bed. Oh yeah, we had a plan alright.

It was fun while it lasted. On our third night at the beach, Mom woke up to find us missing. She found us at the pool with the guys. It only took one look and her finger pointing to our room to end our perfect night. She barely let us make it through the door before she informed us to pack our bags, we were going home. Yep, In the middle of the night and without any argument, we made the eight hour trip home - in silence. We knew better than to speak.

When we arrived home, she marched me in to my Mom and Dad and ratted me out. There was never any discussion. My Mom and Dad trusted that my other Mom had handled me and they were right. If every kid had grown up with two mothers like me, their wouldn't be nearly as many problems in the world.

Only Good Memories Remain

I could fill a ledger with stories of my early friendships but I think it is enough to say that the friendships I made in my new neighborhood lasted. We are still friends today, after half a century apart. All the credit goes to the mothers and fathers who never let us get by with anything. Like all kids, we fought from time to time but our parents made us deal with it. They knew the importance of friendship and they wouldn't let us throw it away.

My memories of those formative years are happy ones. Those relationships and the events that surrounded them made me who I am today. Our parents, through their infinite wisdom and without the Internet as a resource, taught us conflict resolution. They encouraged team building through sports. They taught us about responsibility and trust through their actions. We frequently camped in the open field of our neighborhood, both girls and boys. Our parents trusted us together because they had instilled in us the difference between right and wrong. Hormones made no difference. Wrong was wrong. Doors in our neighborhood were never locked. We were a neighborhood of friends and our friendships were founded on trust. Even as kids we understood that and none of us would ever violate that trust. The stakes were just too high.

We were so blessed to have so many mothers and fathers who watched over us, encouraged us, and patched our boo boos. Most are gone now but I still visit the ones who are left and their kids still visit my folks. The feelings of extended family remain and as long as even one of those "other" parents remain, us kids will look after them as they did us. We owe them that much for all the beautiful childhood memories they gave to us.

© 2012 Linda Crist, All rights reserved.

Read more of my hubs here.

We are never alone when we have been loved.
We are never alone when we have been loved.

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  • billybuc profile image

    Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

    I was going to stop for the day and then I saw this pop up, and I'm glad I delayed for one more hub. What great memories! I remember our neighborhood and we had so many adults looking out for us...it was like one huge extended family. It was comforting and it was also a bit intimidating because I couldn't get away with anything. LOL

    Thank you for some great memories!

  • lrc7815 profile image
    Author

    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    lol Billy, I bet you still tried though, didn't you? Thanks for delaying the important things in your life to read my rant this morning. You, and a couple of others, are stoking my fire to write more. I so appreciate you! Enjoy your day!

  • eddy4me profile image

    Eddy Jones 4 years ago from Wales.

    I loved part one and was not disappointed with this one either ;I am saving this one into my favourite hubs.

    Enjoy your day.

    Eddy.

  • lrc7815 profile image
    Author

    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    Good morning eddy4me! Thanks. I pushed it a bit with this one. I've got to learn not to do that. New motto - quality, quality, quality! Hope you have a great day.

  • jenbeach21 profile image

    jenbeach21 4 years ago from Orlando, FL

    Very beautiful!

  • marcoujor profile image

    Maria Jordan 4 years ago from Jeffersonville PA

    Oh how glad I am this was shared...I wish I had so much time to read your writing, Linda.

    I love the way you weave your stories, especially your memories. Your relationships with Marilyn, your 'other Mother' and your many wonderful neighbors have become such a rich part of your life tapestry.

    Voted UP and UABI. Hugs, Maria

  • lrc7815 profile image
    Author

    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    Hi Jenbeach21. Thank you for the visit.

  • lrc7815 profile image
    Author

    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    Maria, girlfriend, don't we all wish there were more hours in the day? I understand completely and it is compliment enough for you to want to read my simple musings. I was a lucky girl, growing up way back when in such a wonderful neighborhood. I'm so glad you enjoyed my friends and family. You would have fit in perfectly. Hugs!

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