We moved five times before I was five. My parents kept buying housing and flipping them to keep building equity until they could achieve their end goal – to buy a farm. Our final move was in October 1988, out of the city to a farm that we bought from an Amish family. It had no bathrooms, no electricity, no carpets and no colour but it had lots of space, trees, barns and freedom.
My childhood was perfect. At the time I also assumed it was normal but when I became and adult and started living in cities with other people I realized that a lot of what was second nature to me (building fires in a wood stove, sleeping in the barn on summer nights, and sharing our phone with various Amish neighbours) sounded exotic and archaic to most of my new friends.
Now that I have a daughter I sometimes worry that she’s missing out on the perfection of childhood because she’s not experiencing it the way I did. But then I look at our routines and I see it through eyes and I can tell that the same wonder and freedom that was he foundation of my life is also there in hers. It just looks different. Her life is the splash pad and the librarians who have become our friends (I could write an entire post about them, and someday I will), the daily commute on the city bus where we talk over our day, play places, Ikea, and chatting to the neighbourhood dogs as they walk by our house.
This summer we were lucky enough to spend about half our time with family. And it was amazing to see her experiencing a bit of the childhood that I was raised with. She ran wild over my parents farm catching snails and frogs, feeding fish and snuggling a dog, chasing down my dad whenever she heard the tractor start, finding birds’ nests and being free. It was such a pleasure to see and I hope there are memories she will treasure. I hope they nestle down in the base of her brain (or as she says “in the little fridge at the back of my mind”) so she can pull them out as an adult and feel loved and cared for and lucky for the life she lived.