When my children were growing up one of the banes of my life was my inability to keep track of them. They were born with no fear. It didn't matter where we were, they wanted to be somewhere else. If I turned my back for even one second, they were off running to some new adventure. I can't tell you how nerve racking it was or how many times my heart failed me while I frantically searched for a lost child.
Even worse than losing them in public was their ability to escape from their crib. They could climb out of their crib by time they were 18 months old. I remember when Jami was barely two, we found her at 2:00 a.m. watching the snow on T.V. with the volume full blast playing the Star Spangle Banner, after wandering through the house for who knows how long! It was because of our fear for their safety that we ended up using the legendary "harness" tied to the side of the crib to keep our toddlers safely in bed during the night. (The harness became the brunt of many family jokes.)
All this caused my mom great delight and satisfaction!! She gloated over the fact that I was finally getting some of what I deserved.
It's true! It was Karma, for my very first childhood memory (I was probably only 2 1/2 to 3 years old) was figuring out how to escape from my house. At the time we lived in a neighborhood full of children in a suburb of Los Angeles. By time I was two I had learned how to unlock and open the front door so I could go out and play with my siblings and all their neighbor friends. In desperation my mom had Dad install a chain lock at the top of the front door, far beyond my reach. Oh but that didn't stop me. I clearly remember reasoning it out in my 3-year-old brain. All I had to do was push the kitchen chair over to the door, climb up on the chair, which then allowed me to climb up onto the flower window box that was under the front window sill. From there is was an easy step onto the window sill and when I stood on my tiptoes I could reach the chain to unlock the door. For several days my mom was baffled. She couldn't figure out how I was getting out. What a little stinker I was!!!
Around this same time Mom had set up an appointment to have a professional family portrait taken. This was a big reach for my parents to hire a professional. Money was tight and they had to count every penny. They needn't worried. The session never happened. The day before the appointment, I climbed up on the sink and then wiggled my way to the top of the refrigerator so I could reach the cupboard above where Mom hid the treats. Loosing my balance I came tumbling down, face first, splitting open my chin and bruising my face. Let's just say my face was in no condition to be photographed the next day.
By time I was four I had a "Best Friend". Her name was Saundra Callirusso. It was from her older sister that I had gotten my name Starla. She lived just 3 houses from us. Saundra and I took delight in taking turns playing at one another's houses.
For Saundra's birthday her parents got her a beautiful new baby doll. Oh how I envied Saundra. She would only let me play with her doll at special times, even though I begged everyday to hold her!
One day I went over to see if Saundra could play. I knocked and knocked but no one answered the door. I tried the door knob. To my surprise it opened. I realized they were all gone when I went inside and all the lights were off.
Hummmm...this could be fun.
I first checked out what was in the refrigerator and helped myself to some dried apricots (my favorite treat at Saundra's house). Then I got a flash of inspiration. Saundra wasn't there. I could play with "THE DOLL" as long as I felt like it. I went to her room and there she sat, magnificent! Excitedly I begin playing with her but soon realized it wasn't that fun to play dolls all by myself. That's when I had my next bright idea. I WOULD GIVE DOLLY A BATH!!!! I remember taking her in the bathroom sink and turning on the water. When I put the doll under the water, her clothes went limp and her hair lost all its curl. It finally dawned on me that what I was doing was not such a good idea. I got that scared, guilty feeling in my tummy. Quickly I left the doll on the sink and ran home, hoping that no one would ever find out what I'd done.
Saundra and her family got home later the evening. When they walked in their house, to their horror, the whole main floor was under two inches of water. In my haste to leave I'd left the sink water running, flooding their house. Whoops!!! I'd been found out! Not only was the dolly ruined but so was their carpet.
Believe me when I tell you I didn't go to Saundra's house for a LONG TIME!!!
My Hand-Me-Down Lunch Pail
It was the first week of school. My sister, Heidi, was seven and going to second grade. For a sessy, Mom had gotten her a brand new lunch pail for the new school year. I was thrilled when Heidi offered to let me have her old lunch pail to play with. That morning I'd gotten up, filled the thermos with water and put a whole carrot and piece of bread into my hand-me-down lunch pail. Then I went outside to watch the older kids walking to school. Heidi and Marc had been gone several minutes when a group of kids walked by. Seeing me dressed and carrying my lunch pail they assumed I was going to school and offered to let me walk with them. Sure!!! I felt so "big" when I joined their group heading for the elementary school several blocks away.
When we arrived at school I walked with the group into their classroom. I followed as they put their lunch pails up on a shelf above the coat rack and then took their seats. I remember standing at the front of the class, not knowing where I was supposed to sit. The teacher took one look at me and informed me I was in the wrong classroom and to get out.
Now what was I supposed to do? I walked out in front of the school, figuring I better just go home. But when I looked both directions of the street I realized I had no idea which way was home.
What was I to do?
I reasoned out that at some point in the day, Heidi and Marc were going to have to come out of the school to go home. So I'd just sit on the curb and wait for their school to be over. That made perfect sense to me.
I took my place on the curb and began to wait....and wait....and wait!!!! I'm sure it was only around 30 minutes I waited, but it seemed an eternity. The longer I waited the more I just wanted to go home!!!! I started to cry.
Soon, a woman came out of the house I was sitting in front of and asked me what was wrong. I told her I was lost. She asked my name and my address. I'm assuming I must of known because soon a police car pulled up in front of her house and a nice policeman told me to get in so he could take me home. Oh what relief!!!
I remember it being very exciting to get to ride in a real police car. When we pulled up in front of my house, to my surprise, my mom came frantically running out the front door. She quickly gathered me up in her arms because by this time I was crying. She comforted me by telling me I was home and safe, that I didn't need to be scared. I replied indignantly, "I'm not crying because I'm scared! I'm crying cuz I left my lunch pail at school!!