The other day I was looking for a pic from the camera roll on my phone and found my little kid picture. Kindergarten or first grade. I think it’s first grade. Me. The girl with the crooked smile. The girl with the blue eyes and white hair. The girl with pale skin and skinny legs. The girl with an attitude and a heart of gold. The girl who always, always wanted to hang with the boys. Athletic. A way of life, even then. Outside playing all the time. Climbing trees, running, jumping rope, riding bikes and playing.
In the picture, I have a big scratch down the side of my face. I’m wearing a dress too. Unheard of for this girl. Not sure how my mother pulled that off. I hated dresses.
At that time in my young life, we had babysitters. The babysitter either came to the house to watch us or we went there. With this one, we went there. The house was big and had a brown stucco on the outside. It had character. I loved that house.
The babysitter’s name was Gayle. We went there every week day. Our lunches were sent with us every morning. It was usually Campbell’s Chicken and Stars soup. Add a can of water and you’re set with a few bowls. I can remember sandwiches too. I think they were bologna. Perfect for me and my sister, Sherry.
The house had old fashioned carpet. The kind with darker colors and swirls. I’ve always been a fan of that pattern. We would shuffle our feet across the carpet as we walked and then touch each other’s arms to send that nice spark of electricity through the body. It was fun.
We played outside a lot. Carefree and wild. Outside at the side of the house was a small dirt hill we would play on. I think mostly kids would ride their bikes down it, pretending to be Even Knievel. We also slid down it and always had a blast. One of the times I got pushed and went face first down the hill on my belly, catching a branch from a lilac bush to the side of my face. School pictures were the next day. Awesome! I had a nice badge of honor. A mini sized bad ass, that was me.
In the picture I see the scratch on my face. I see the dress. I see a girl with a crooked smile and bright blue eyes. I see the white hair. I’m not looking directly at the camera, but slightly off to the side. The photographer may have done that on purpose.
I see that same smile and that same look in the face of my son, and in the face of his daughter. It’s crazy how genetics work.
I wonder what I was thinking. I wonder what I was feeling. Young and carefree—-and wild. That was me. The girl with the crooked smile.