Coming of Age Creative Nonfiction Drama

"Grow Up."

Yeah, it's so easy from where you sit to tell me to "Grow Up"! Who do you think you are?

I live a charmed life. I have four brothers and two older sisters. I am the baby of the family. I get out of many unpleasant jobs around the house but there are times I want to help out. I am told, "Don't worry about it. You will be able to help when you grow up".

We have a few housekeepers to help out my Mom. They usually start cleaning very early in the morning around seven o'clock in the morning. My Mom would share a coffee and conversation with them. Gert, our most recent housekeeper, would wake up my sister Mary and myself, to help her. Usually during Spring cleaning. She would take down all the Venetian Blinds. She is a strong believer in Ammonia and Brillo Pads. If you are unfamiliar with these lovelies, if you happen to take a whiff of Ammonia, you might either pass out or be light-headed to say the very least! There are no rubber gloves either. I am eight years old putting my hands into a bucket with scalding hot water and ammonia! My Mom does not seem to mind or have a fit about it either. She is seated at the kitchen table doing the crossword puzzle. Her hair appointment is scheduled for ten o'clock in the morning, so she had plenty of time on her hands. Mom is in charge of ironing my father's white handkerchiefs and his white shirts. He always wears white shirts. My father is a physician. He works cream puff hours. A typical "cream puff" day for my father goes something like this: He wakes up early, has his tea, his Camel cigarettes, and the paper. My Mom will not give up the crosswords. It is who got the paper first. You can smell the Camels from upstairs. It is a very distinctive smell. He does not watch TV in the morning at all. He would go upstairs to get ready for work around nine am. He does not have to be there until ten am. He comes home for lunch around noon. He usually has soup and a sandwich. He reads the paper after and has a cigarette. Sometimes he falls asleep on the couch and the cigarette would fall on the rug. Luckily I snuff it out. Either we get a new rug or a new couch. He never burned the house down and for that is a miracle!

Meanwhile, Gert, Mary and I are cleaning the Venetian Blinds and putting them over the fence to dry. My hands are red. They sting. We wash all the windows with ammonia and old newspaper. They are sparkling. After that we get on our hands and knees and scrub the floors with Ammonia and steel wool pads. It takes about a half hour. My knees are red. We let the floor dry, then we wax the floor. It is sticky stuff and we have to keep the dogs downstairs or else they will leave paw prints on the floor. We block the kitchen to let the floor dry once more. It comes out sparkling!

My Mom leaves the house to get her hair done and do the grocery shopping. My brothers are outside mowing the lawn. They don't do housework. Our beds are made. We throw our old sheets down the laundry shoot for another day.

My Mom comes back and Gert, Mary and I go help her with the groceries. Mom and Gert have another coffee and then she pays her. Gert tells my Mom we were perfect little angels. She will come again next week. What a lovely thought!

Mary and I finally go outside to play with our friends. We get out our bikes and ride a couple of blocks. I bring my jump rope and go to Suzy's house. She is also cleaning and just finished. She doesn't want to play jump rope. She wants to go down to the river and she has cardboard slides.

There is a huge hill behind our yard that leads to a dried up river bed. The neighborhood kids like to slide down the huge hill. Mary wants to slide too. We all go the the top of the hill and take turns sliding down the hill. You need one person to push you and you lean back and hope you stay on the cardboard. It's great fun! It's fun to be a kid and make games out of cardboard. All the neighborhood kids did this. We kept going up and down the hill for hours.

We know we have to go home when you hear your Mom calling your name of else the night lights go on. That's a signal you have to quit playing and go home. Another day to play. Another day to clean! I don't want to grow up but I have a great neighborhood. I am glad I grew up in the 1960s! I was a kid but also a member of a family that helped our Mom and Dad.

My brothers help with the outdoor chores in Maine, like shoveling, raking, mowing the lawn, taking out the trash, walking the dogs and all that goes along with dogs. In the summer we stayed at our lake house.

Gert came there too. She wakes us up early and we clean the windows, sweep, vacuum and washed all the floors. We also pick buckets of blueberries and make pies. We give a pie to Gert and we also make pies for the Nuns at the convent. It is fun to pick blueberries but there are bees so you have to be careful. We also have rhubarb and make strawberry-rhubarb pies. Pies are fun to make and after a while you had a sense of the measurements. Using Crisco helps make the pie crust pliable and soft. I like helping out. You laugh and joke around and sing songs. There are always ways to help out. After all the work, we go swimming and riding in the boat. It is great fun and I did live a charmed life. I am a kid and a grown up. I think of those days with such happiness.

March 25, 2022 18:56

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