I had an exceptionally magical childhood. First, I was always creating something or pretending things. I made American Girl crafts, moccasins out of paper towels, tacos out of leaves and dirt, scrunchies, slingshots, friendship bracelets, beaded geckos, a bow and arrow, forts, accurate blueprints of my house to try to discover secret passageways, yarn dolls, teepees, and puff-painted t-shirts to name a few of my projects. I was really into wood creations too. I made a wood go-kart that actually rolled down the hill that you could steer with a rope, and I made multiple tree houses in our poor plumb tree, complete with rope ladders, hinged doors, and a rope bridge to the neighboring playhouse. And I was always pretending to be characters from books. Imagining that our playhouse was a boxcar and I was Violet from The Boxcar Children was a favorite. I had a pretty long Harriet the Spy phase where I would walk around all day taking notes in my notebook. I desperately wanted a dumbwaiter. I associate elementary school with getting off the bus, dropping my backpack in the kitchen, eating a chocolate chip cookie, and then diving into a project.
Second, my mom is a genius and established a summer reading program. With seven children, I'm sure to her this was something like a last-ditch effort to stay sane in the summer, but to me, it's one of my favorite childhood memories. It's called The Box. For every x number of pages that we read, we got a ticket (think carnival ticket). The number of pages varied based on reading levels, but it was typically 100 pages per ticket. And then each week we had The Box where we could redeem our tickets for prizes. These weren't cheap plastic prizes either--there was legit stuff in The Box. And you could request things to be put in the box and then read away for a couple weeks to save up. I read so much. Granted, some of this reading was purely motivated by the It's a Small World jewelry box that I desperately needed, but most of it was just motivated by summer boredom and genuine interest in books. The books I read during the summers of my childhood are still some of my favorites. Some stand-outs: Great Brain books, From the Mixed up Files of Ms. Basil E. Frankweiler, Nancy Drew books, The Key to the Treasure, Boxcar Children, Babysitter's Club, all Ramona books, Tuck Everlasting, A Wrinkle in Time, Island of the Blue Dolphins, and The Trumpet of the Swan.
Birth to ten years old was a dream. I was totally nailing it.
And then it all got terribly awkward.