Sunday, August 28, 2011

My Earliest Memory—Puppies Under the Porch

Mom on porch in Bellevue, Washington
     I looked out my bedroom window hiding behind the curtain trying to keep from being seen myself. My mother had laid me down for a nap and I was supposed to be napping. However, I knew Mom’s routine and suspected that she was just outside the front door chatting with Pete Jacobson. The skies outside my Bellevue, Washington window looked clear and free from rain this afternoon. As I peeked, I saw her with our landlord. This was my cue that I could play in my room without being discovered. They would be busy talking for a good long while past experience informed me.
      I found one of the colorful picture books sitting on the shelf and opened it to the first page. I smiled at the picture of the dog bounding across the page, but squinted as I puzzled over the black squiggles that marked the bottom. With all of my nine other brothers and sisters at school or work, I had no one to decipher the strange markings in the book. I understood what the pictures meant, but what were all these little marks supposed to mean. I couldn’t wait until my big sis, Pam, got home from school and could read me this book once more. Meantime I walked over to the toy box and found my little stuffed dog. I made him jump the way I saw the puppy jumping on the page opened on my bed.
Linda at 2 with big brother Steve
     Returning to the box I found my little girl doll and placed her beside the dog and book. I guided the doll’s hands to caress the puppy and pretended I was outside playing with the puppies just outside under the back porch of our house. How I wished it wasn’t naptime so that I could run outside and play with the dogs while I had them all to myself. But I knew that if I ventured out, Mom would simply usher me back upstairs and into bed for the dreaded nap time that I hated.
      I lay down on top of the covers, leafing through the pages enjoying the pictures and scowling at the letters that made no sense to my 3-year-old eyes. My mind drifted as my eyelids became heavier and heavier. I roused momentarily listening to the birds singing outside and glanced out the window for the source of the sound. Mother knew her babies better than they did themselves. She knew I needed a nap and that fighting me on it would just bring out my stubborn streak. If I’d still been awake, I might have seen her glancing up at my window looking to see if her youngest daughter (at least until Deb was born) could be seen or not.
Linda peeking out from under her bonnet
      Soon enough sleep overtook me. Mom poked her head into my bedroom and saw the scene I’d scattered around myself. She shook her head when she saw the open picture book about dogs, the stuffed animal and the doll still clutched in her sleeping daughter’s small hand. She could have guessed this would be what she would find. Mothers know best!