When I was a child, my father used to tuck me in every night and lay next to me and read me a story as I drifted off to sleep. He used to sometimes fall asleep next to me and mom would call him a silly old fart. He used to read me Matilda, and Fantastic Mr Fox and Harry Potter. He used to make stories up from his head and I feel terrible to this day for sleeping through the ending. My Dad is one of those rare and magical people who can tell the same story so many times you know it word for word, but he can still make it come alive. His voice will echo in my head for the rest of my life. It will always be there to reassure and comfort me; to remind me of the power of the imagination and remind me that stories will always be more than just stories to me.
What am I talking about? I still am a child, I hope I always will be a child. Children are unafraid of things that terrify adults, children have the ability to take something unexplainably complex and summarise it in a few words, without any real effort. Children, above all, are innocent. They are products of the world, yet they have not yet tasted the world. They haven’t had the chance to be tainted or used by the world. Yes, I definitely want to be a child when I grow up.
Not so long ago I played The Game of Life with one of my young cousins, Joe. When the time came for him to get married, he chose another blue counter to be his spouse. I said nothing at the time, but his mother pointed it out and asked why. His response? “I like blue, I think I’d rather spend the rest of my life with blue than with pink. Pink is too…pink.” I don’t think he’ll ever realise how much I wanted to record the whole event, he summarized gay rights and the “love is love” slogan perfectly. He took something unexplainably complex and summarized it in a few words.
Isn’t it odd how we remember some parts of our childhood with perfect clarity and intricate detail, and other parts are just a blur? I remember vividly having to jump to reach the handle on the front door to let my grandparents in. But I can’t remember for the life of me what they were there for. Just the almost overwhelming sense of pride in myself that I could open the door for them. I was a big kid, I could reach the door handle. I was always a pretty tall kid in primary school. On all of the group photos of the whole year, I’m always there at the back in the middle, grinning and scrunching my eyes up, because that’s how I thought people should smile.
There are still some things I wish I could remember, though. I can’t remember the first time I flew a kite. I can’t remember the first time I made my own breakfast, I can’t remember the first time I drank tea. I wish I could remember, because when you break it down, life is just a series of little things that combine in an odd sequence to resemble something that maybe you can be proud of. I remember when I was in primary school I once wore my pyjamas under my school uniform and didn’t realise until I had to go to bed that night. In retrospect, that was probably one of the warmest, comfiest days of my school life. I should definitely do it again some time, just to see if it feels the same as I remember. Or maybe I won’t, I’ll end up being disappointed because life isn’t so comfortable any more. People have got to me and ruined my imagination and my enthusiasm to do new things. I can’t think of the last first I had. It might have been my first day of work, it’s more likely to be the first time I painted an entire wall on my own though.
I remember painting the hallway and stairs with Mom. I remember she let me and my sister choose the colours. Naturally, we went for “pea green” and “nutty sundae.” Which translates roughly in to English as ‘lime green and terracotta.’ It was pretty disgusting, but we spent days on end painting away, eyes slowly becoming accustomed to the garish shades.