Free Bird? Maybe; Or Not

I remember childhood as free.  Free to roam, free to read, free to eat when I was hungry, get up when I woke up, and go to sleep when I got tired.  Oh to be that free again.

Wait a minute.  (Imagine the sound of screeching brakes.)  When I was a little girl, none of these freedoms were real.

First of all, I could only travel so far.  Down the road to my first best friend, Betty’s house, out in the field, down Terry Lane.  If I had permission first.  Later, when I got bigger, I got to ride my bike around the mile, and even later, Bonita and I rode the horses.  Mom always knew my whereabouts.

For sure, I could read when I wanted to.  As long as I finished my chores, and no Little Kids needed watching, or I wasn’t babysitting for the kids in the Little House.  I could sit for as long as I wanted, and read and read and read.  I even got to finish the rest of the page, before I had to get up and do something Mom asked me to do.  Unless, somebody needed help right this very minute, then I just finished the paragraph or the sentence.  I could never, ever leave a book in mid-sentence.

Sure, I could pick something from the garden and eat it any old time I wanted to.  The rest of the food was on schedule, sort of.  I ate breakfast when I got up, and fixed lunch for the Little Kids, and ate with the family when Mom told me to.  I never kept track of the time, and I never went hungry, so I just felt like I was free.

Course I went to sleep when I was tired.  Lucky for me I got tired at the same time every night.  Even when I was too little to tell time, I knew I had to go to bed right after a certain radio program.  That’s why I tried to turn the radio off.  Cuz for sure Mom would forget to make me go to bed, if she never heard her program.  You can just guess how well that plan worked.

My life was full of structure:

  1. Get up and get dressed.  Nobody got breakfast before getting dressed;
  2. Brush my teeth and get the snarls out of my hair;
  3. Eat breakfast:  Oatmeal, whole milk and Tang;
  4. Go #2.
  5. Get in line for Mom to brush my hair pretty in ringlets or a ponytail;
  6. Feed and water the chickens;
  7. Get out and down to the road to wait for the bus.

The chores changed as I got older, and sometimes breakfast changed a little.  Mom ran a tight ship.

I remember one of the first times I created structure of my own.  Mr. Kopczynski tried to teach me Polish in the fifth grade.  I loved Mr. Kopczynski.  I even stayed inside at noon hour so I could learn.  Over the summer, I decided to if I just scheduled Polish every day, I could learn it.  I could.  I didn’t, but that might be because I made a great schedule with way, way too many things to do in it.

I think of myself as working best untethered and free to be creative.  I prefer the Ta-Da list to the To-Do list.  I create a Ta-Da list at the end of the day, with all the things I did get accomplished.  So much more satisfying than a list of things I want to do, and can never quite get all checked off.

The truth is, I need a little structure.  Maybe not as much as I had growing up.  There’s so much I want to do; so much to accomplish, I forget what I want to do next.   I have goals and priorities; I just need to organize them.   I’m going to get a little more structure in my day.   I think I’ll start with 1-4 from when I was a little girl, and build from there.

What do you think?  What’s your natural style?  Are you an automatic list maker?  Do you have goals and a To-Do list, or do you prefer the Ta-Da list?

I have this picture hanging where I see it every day. I like to think of myself as neither of these, floating free on the lake, not tied to the dock at all. The truth is, I’m probably a little more like the docking on the left.

All the links in this post are links to earlier “Once a Little Girl Stories.”  Perhaps you will enjoy stories about the Little House, or the chickens, or my smarter than my mom stories.  I’ve got some about Little Kids, and school buses and a bunch of other links, but too many links seems sorta distracting to me.  Please feel free to browse around, comment, or send me an e-mail.  Your comments help me think of more stories.

If you like the picture “Different Philosophies,” you can browse the artist’s gallery at his website:

I thought up the “Ta-Da List” on my own.  I guess lots of other people did too!

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