Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Afternoon Tea

After my curtain fiasco, it soon became apparent that I wasn't meant to spend a nap time on my own, if I wasn't tired.  (Refer to: It's Curtains for Me!)

In kindergarten this fact was discovered early on - because while the other kids were laying on their mats, and obediently resting, I was talking and doing stuff - mostly not involving laying still.  After a while, my teacher started making me 'nap' under her desk in her bid to try to stop me from disrupting the other good 'restors'.  However, one time she forgot I was under her desk, and while she was sitting in her chair, I became fascinated by her legs, and the small hairs growing out from them....out of curiosity one day, I reached out and rubbed my hand against the hairs, which only made her scream (out of surprised fear I suppose) and resulted in making an uproar in the classroom.  I was never made to have a nap after that - but 'helped' out in the office or was given 'special' store-room duties - basically anything the school could think of, just to keep me away from my class during nap-time.

In the summer months when I wasn't at kindergarten, I was basically left to run free in the afternoons while most of my playmates were 'napping'.  I grew up in an interesting neighbourhood, where on one side of the street, there were houses of young families (ie: my sleeping playmates) and on the other side of the street there was an abundance of older people, who never napped, and were always ready to be visited.  I would often knock on their doors and invite myself into their homes for a chat.  Picture a skinny kid, dressed in shorts and probably a dirty T-shirt, with short blond hair, which hadn't been brushed since getting out of bed, and most likely had either a skinned knee or a band-aid somewhere on her leg, from her latest tree climbing accident.

There were 2 main ladies that I enjoyed visiting who lived on that side of the street.  I won't mention their names, because they might still be there - they were pretty sprightly!  But one lady was very 'refined' and always served me diluted tea with milk from a porcelain teacup, along with a plate of snacks.  She also had a crystal dish in which she kept small pastel coloured mints.  I would sit in her 'parlor' with my legs crossed and used my best speaking voice as we sipped tea and I would eat her snacks.  We would discuss things happening in the neighbourhood.  (As I got older, I realised that I was a great source of gossip for her, and probably kept her up to date on every one's business!)

Another lady I visited didn't invite me inside her house very much, because she enjoyed sitting on her swing on her front veranda.  But I would sit next to her and try not to jiggle the swing too much, and would sometimes be given a glass of fresh lemonade.  I realise now that I was also a good source for her for the neighbourhood gossip--but hey--I was getting fresh lemonade!

My most favourite lady to visit was Hattie--she lived at the bottom of the block, and in order to get to her house I had to walk down our alley lane, and then up a small driveway to her back door.  Hattie grew colourful flowers, with big blooms, and had violets in pots in the window sill in her sun room.  She had a small bird in a cage, and lived in a fairly small cottage surrounded by flowers and filled with her stories.  Hattie and I were soul mates!  She did rug making, and made the best caramel corn, which she would only do if I was especially helpful.  She had an attic, and to get to it she would pull on a rope, and a ladder would come down from the ceiling.  It was my job to climb the ladder and bring down her hooked rugs, or anything else she wanted.  Sometimes I had to take things up there - it was a small attic, but it really fascinated me and I promised myself that one day I would have an attic and grow violets and have hooked rugs that I made.

On the days when I visited Hattie, she would often go out to her flower garden and cut some of her most colourful flowers, dip them in water, and wrap plastic around their stems, for me to take home to my Mum.  I loved that!  So, after giving Hattie a big hug goodbye, I would grab my handful of flowers, and wiping any crumbs from my mouth, and brushing my hair out of my face, I would wave good-bye and walk up the alley to show Mum the flowers and tell her about my adventures.  Mum would sit and listen.  She never stopped me from making my visits, and would always enjoy hearing about my adventures.  I think she liked the peace and quiet that was in the house when I wasn't. 

I was very lucky to grow up in such a peaceful and safe neighbourhood.  I was Everyone's child.  They all raised me in a way, and I was very blessed that they did!

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