Brian’s Column: Playtime Overture

4: Pregnant days of first memories of (who knows, may yet be) a special life
Brian R. Wright

[Link to Episode 3]

Note: These columns are a series, I will make into a volume of my memoirs. You may follow the links at top and bottom of page to go to preceding or succeeding episodes. The series starts here. {If the [Link to Episode <next>] at the  bottom of the column does not show an active hyperlink, then the <next> column has yet to be written.}

This is truly strange for me, because I rather vividly remember Le Gran Tricycle Launch by my brother, as described in Episode 2. And that was before we moved to the Overland Park digs described in Episode 3.

I calculated that Episode 2 took place when I was 3 to 3 1/2 years old, so the following awareness—which at the time I told to myself that that instant I would subsequently remember as my first self-conscious moment—occurred after- ward, at age 4 to 4 1/2. In Overland Park.

Dawn of the Independents’ Movement?[1]

And it was very simple: I was outside on the grass in the front yard between our home and the neighbor’s home, the Browns. Nothing else. Just 1) nice sunny day, 2) standing on the grass, 3) and taking a view toward the north. That’s it. Plus the fully conscious knowing that this moment was going to be the very first of my special ‘Brian Wright’ self-aware life. Freedom and the joy of being rolled into one. Now, I speculate, was this a foretelling of some kind that I would, indeed, choose psychological independence and maintain it thru all the forces seeking my conformance until today?

Forrest and I played. Which meant, for us, always being on the move and always seeming to be figuring things out for ourselves. Very little adult intervention in my life until I went to kindergarten in September, 1954. Mom commented later on how well we played together, which was also noted by many of the neighbors and parents on the block. I was the more extroverted one, while Forrest was quieter, to himself. [Though, again, if you weren’t watching, he might run into the street or dive into a creek—impulsive.]

Forrest was a child of nature. He was the one who most loved being with the pets we had, speaking their language. You can see our picture with our first family dog, Suzy, above. Me typically acting the clown, how annoying! My brother would sit out on the front lawn for half an hour watching a caterpillar climb a blade of grass.

Lighting in a bottle

During the latter of those ‘overture’ years we had an incident that illustrated both of our budding natures: In those days, lightning bugs abounded at summer twilight and into the early night. They were everywhere just a few feet above our lawn, and, while Mom and/or Dad kept an eye on us, we loved to run around and catch them, put them in a jar with twigs and leaves to watch them switch on and off. We had a little bit of a competition, of course, but usually wound up combining our catch into one jar.

Well, one night, a pang of conscience comes over me. I’m thinking what about these poor fireflies who are going to die if we leave them in the jar overnight; my brother certainly wasn’t aware of their longer-term distress, only the joy of being at one with them. [I have to bring in the fact that as first born, I got most of the Mom attention, which included lullabies and reading. No doubt one of the books we read together drew my attention to the sad plight to which we humans sometimes subject other creatures.]

Anyway, without trying to explain what I was doing or really letting anyone know, I take our communal jar back outside and let the bugs go. Little brother then starts crying at losing his wonderful nature-flashlights. Can’t remember what Mom’s reaction is, I think she’s trying to give Forrest the ‘sad plight’ message, which of course goes over his head. Now I’m feeling guilty, not for the action itself, but for the fact that I did it without first getting permission from my brother—after all, he is the co-owner of our ‘property.’

Also, I feel really bad for him. So I go upstairs, get out my crayons and coloring paper and draw as best I can a picture of lightning bugs flying freely in the night… handing it to him with a hug. Though I can’t recall the exact response of my mom, I do know that she remembered the incident vividly into her later life. It was one of those June Cleaver special moments, with familial-bliss music ending an episode of the Leave it to Beaver Show. In fact, like most episodes of Leave it to Beaver, it left us with a moral. A lesson: “If at all possible, be nice to your brother.”

Coming up to the nitty gritty of Boy’s Life—Kindergarten… welcome to the Matrix

Porter Wagoner would end his TV show by turning to Dolly Parton and saying, “Now we come to the serious part of our show.” Then they’d sing a hymn. While I’ll probably come back a few times to the ‘overture’ part of my life, now it’s time to move on to year 5. In a couple of months after my fifth birthday my parents have no real alternative but to enter me in the compulsory government school system, the entry point euphemistically called kindergarten—literally, ‘children’s garden.’

I’ll begin the next episode in the series with a discussion of my first experience at social-ization via this alien notion of “Who are these strange people wanting to tell me what to know, what to do, ringing bells, enforcing naps, tying my behavior to a group, regulating my movement into strict confines, watching me all the time, taking me away from my brother (confining me by age), putting this so-called ‘teacher’ adult in front who tells me to raise my hand and stay in my seat, and so on.”

Who died and made them king? Was I asleep when they came by to ask for my approval? Where’s my brother? “If you don’t mind, Mrs. Bland, I’m going to be on my way, I know where the door is, thank you. I can walk home from there. My parents will call your parents. Have a nice day.” Wwooooshhh! out the door…. No such luck.

[Coffee Coaster Column link]

[Link to Episode 5]

[1] For information about the Independents’ cause, please access my worldwide social-spiritual Global Spring movement site (http://global-spring.org).

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