August 9, 2010

Childish Ideas About the World ©

When I was a child, and my older brother and sister were being especially mean to me, I packed up a little suitcase and decided to run away from home. The airport was nearby where we lived and I was certain there would be a rich woman catching a plane who desperately wanted children. I imagined that I would clutch at her hand and tell her about the cruelty I experienced at home and touched by my story, she would take me with her and we would fly away to a better life.

When I was about six or seven, I was convinced my parents were going to make me marry a stranger when I grew up. I'm not quite sure where I got that idea, though perhaps I watched a movie where the girl was forced into an arranged marriage and assumed it happened to all young women. Wherever the idea came from, it tormented me and so I made my brother promise to marry me.

I also worried how I would live if I didn't marry. The thought that I could work never crossed my mind. I was a child of the 60s and for many women in Australia, they were expected to quickly marry once they reached marriageable age. Married women during that decade and the next were simply not allowed to work once they tied the knot. So for a couple of years I continued to be concerned about whether I was going to be forced into a marriage that I didn't want, or be doomed to wander the streets, begging people for money so that I could buy fish and chips.

Isn't it funny how silly ideas can become fixed in a child's mind?

As a youngster, a friend of mine wondered what it might be like to be a newspaper and the idea kind of filled her with awe. When she was about six, she also thought she was a character in a book and two girls she didn't know were reading her life. At about the same time she began wondering what it would be like if she didn't exist. 

I listened to her strange ideas with wonder, because my own concepts seemed so childishly silly and hers seemed so incredibly adult and complex for a child.

There was an article about some children's odd ideas about where babies came from. One child, who was going to need some serious straightening out, believed that a person got pregnant by eating 18 broccoli in a month.
The silent movie star Virginia Bradford had terrible pains in her legs when she was a young girl and was told she was experiencing growing pains. She went to bed convinced that she would wake up in the morning and be as tall as her grown-up aunt.

One person thought that before they were born, they just kind of floated around in outer space. The same child also believed there was such a thing as land sharks who would hide under the bedroom rug, lying in wait for them when they got out of bed.

Another child would tip-toe around large lumps in the ground or lawn because they believed it was a giant sleeping and they didn't want to wake it.

Children can have the strangest ideas that result from their incredible imaginations, while at the same time also managing to scare themselves silly. ©

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