Do you ever hear stories about yourself as a kid and wonder, “Was that really me? I didn’t really do or say those things did I?” It happens to me all the time. Lately, I’ve noticed that stories about me from my childhood depict a fearless, spunky, and kind of bossy little lady. As I’ve grown older, it sometimes seems that I’ve only hung on to the bossy part of that equation. The rest of those attributes are often scared into the corner or quieted by nay-sayers, critics and unfortunately, my own self-doubting brain. I’m working on it ok? Don’t tell me what to do. I’m the bossy pants in this story.
My mother tells me this story every so often, and every time she does, it makes me giggle, and it makes me believe that perhaps there is some gumption left in this bitter, old (feeling) body of mine. Apparently, I was 11 or 12 and had an extremely full and hectic schedule…for a 6th grader. Piano lessons, Track and Field Practice, Track and Field Meets, Volleyball Practice, Soccer Practice, Singing lessons, 4-H…oh, and school. Plus I grew up on a farm and there were early morning and evening chores to do. I think my parents may have been trying to keep me out of trouble, but somehow I found time in there for boys too. What can I say? I’m a multi-tasker.
Anyways, I called my Mom from school on a recess break to discuss a babysitting course being offered at school. I needed to sign up. NEEDED. HAD TO. I desperately wanted to be an “accredited babysitter,” (whatever that means) and I remember feeling like this was the absolute most important thing in the world. My mother should have known that this was a pre-cursor to the severity of teenage feelings and angst, but I felt like this was my golden ticket into adulthood. I already bossed around my poor siblings, but if I got a certificate with my name on it? Sign me up. The entire world would instantly take me seriously and open and bend to my 12 year old will. PLUS…they pay you for it! I could make a bit of pocket money to buy a new walkman! Or a Boyz II Men tape to play in that walkman! (Pause for everyone under 25 googling what the heck a walkman is. Sigh.) Or perhaps an awesome clip to attach my awesome walkman to my awesome jean skort! Yes, skort. The early 90’s were rough. My Mom regretted to tell me that there just wasn’t enough time this month, and that I was going to have to wait. I was also reminded that I have two siblings, whose schedules were just as busy as mine. My poor Mother.
I remember having a feeling of severe desperation. I needed to convince her that I had to sign up for this stupid course. I had written out my schedule on the back of my math homework, and laid it out in detail. Day by day, and hour by hour. I tried my best to use my big girl voice and said, “Mom. I’ve mapped out my schedule and there is a window of opportunity during this time. A small window of opportunity. I really think it would be beneficial for me to take this important course.”
What could my Mom say? A window of opportunity? I’m sure she tried to stifle her own laughter. I don’t know if you can argue with a 12 year old who says that. Additionally, my Mother knew better than to argue with me, because she passed on her own stubbornness to her eldest daughter, and I went ahead and multiplied it and spewed it right back at her. Way to go Roz. Needless to say, I took the course, got that babysitting certificate, and bossed my way across households of rural British Columbia.
I love that story. It reminds me that there is always a way. There is always a possibility to try and make something work. How did I know that fact at the age of 12? Where did that come from? And where did it go? I see glimpses of it in my day to day life, and I try to hold on to it, identify it, and sustain it. Inevitably, it’s ripped away by something or someone, and I just hope I can relocate it sooner rather than later. I constantly remind myself that the bold, gutsy, and eager 12 year old Roz is there. Snarkily lurking not so far under the surface. I also use that phrase as often as I can to trigger 12 year old Roz. For example, tonight I told my husband that I could not stay up and watch another episode of “Deadliest Catch.” I was going to bed early because I didn’t want to miss my window of opportunity for ten hours of sleep. Baby steps.