Living in a communist era forced my mother to go back to work when I was only three months old. This meant that I was raised my grandparents while my mum and dad worked six days a week. They came to see me after work and took me on sleepovers on weekends until I turned six and I moved back in with them permanently.
My grandparents used to work separate shifts when I was a baby so they can take care of me as those were the days. One was taking the night shift while the other took the morning shift. And yes. They raised while they took turns and I remember my grandfather telling me how he went to work one day wearing a red sock and a blue one as he was so tired he didn’t realise when he left the house.
I don’t remember any of it but I have been told stories and they made me appreciate each and one of them more.
Growing up with my grandparents had its perks as we (me and my brother) always got treats regardless if we had lunch or not; they let us stay up late playing outside, scraping our knees and elbows without getting punished for it. What else a child could want more? Freedom was the word for us.
I remember growing up running from an auntie to another and from grandparents to grandparents as they always had something for me and I was avid for learning and discovering.
My grandparents from my dad side used to give me colouring books and dot to dot printings and I loved them so much. It was fun and exciting. They used to give me fresh strawberry jam, goats cheese (the fresh non salt one – best ever) and loaf sugar (yeah – they didn’t care about sugar rush on kids as we were running outside all day).
My grandparents from my mom side, the ones that raised me basically were always giving me lollipops and allowed me to make my own choices. My grandfather introduced me to letters and numbers. He taught me how to read and write and told me so many stories before bed (I think most of them were made up but they were wonderful). I still remember the green closet we were resting our backs on, sitting on the floor and practicing.
He allowed me to be who I was not trying to change me and I wish I was as fearless now. I was born left handed and he told me I was special this way. I was writing from right to left and I thought that was the way because it was nice and it felt natural to me. I loved drawing and I was pretty talented using my left hand. (Obviously all of it changed when I went to school and been forced to use my right hand for everything as I was considered disabled otherwise).
Later on I remember how my father gave me my first books and I felt different and somehow above all other kids because I was reading on the balcony while others were playing outside chasing each other. I guess maybe because I was a bit of an introvert and books became my refuge. I was too scared to have adventures leading to broken bones. I hated wearing sandals and not having my feet covered (always worn socks) so they won’t get dirty. I craved to be different and create my own universe. Having my own room later on made me feel independent and grown up. Nobody was allowed to walk in without permission and always kept my door closed (wish I had a lock but was not allowed one) as I loved my privacy so much. I craved peace and quiet, away from my noisy brothers (I have two) and everyone else.
I felt like the apartment we lived in was too crowded (it wasn’t). It was actually a big one but I was never getting along with anyone and nobody understood my desire of being left alone. Looking back now I can tell you all that my childhood was awesome.
My uncle was only ten years older than me and I was the cool kid because all his friends treated me like I was their mascot and in my teenage years he was taking me out to Club’s and educating me on life and music. I grew up in the 80’s and 90’s with no internet, laptops, mobile phones or tablets. I grew up reading as many books as I could; watching Beverly Hills 90210; Fresh Prince of Bel Air, Melrose Place, Saved by the Bell and later on Highlander and listening to music on a Walkman.
We used to live in a block of flats and we would just scream from outside for each other to gather behind the building and hang out. I used to just call my mum from outside so she can come out the balcony and ask her if I can stay out longer or she could just throw a bottle of water as I am thirsty and don’t want to come upstairs.
We never cared about age gaps and even if I was nine or ten I was allowed to spend time with my much older neighbours kids who were listening to music on a cassette and smoking or having a beer. I considered it educational and not a bad influence because back then people were more honest and genuine and not afraid.
Those were the days and my childhood memories are priceless. I would never change them for anything in the world. I will always cherish them and I wish my daughter would grow fearless and build amazing memories that she will tell her children about like I plan on telling her
I do remember the frustrations as well, the disappointments, the punishments during school, my developing anxiety and all that but I prefer to put these in a memory box buried deep down, never to be opened again.