Friday, February 10, 2012

Speaking of Latchkey

"Positive effects of being a latchkey child include independence and self-reliance at a young age." 

This woman went to Goose Bay, Labrador to work for the civil service in the early 50's. Women were outnumbered about 10 - 1. That's the greater part of the reason she went. She was in her 30's already and hadn't married.

Independent sort. All by herself she went.
I heard plenty of stories about Goose Bay and loved to listen to her recount all of those magical days of her life.

She met my father there and it wasn't long before she had three little girls and was living in America, alone, while he was off in a foreign country serving the United States Military. 
Far away from her own home and family in Canada, she would spend the rest of her life (kids never do grow up you know) raising those three little girls, mostly by herself.

I guess I was about 10 when my father left home for good. We thought of ourselves then as "Little Women".

Before he left though, our mother had managed to learn to drive, get a GED, American citizenship, and a job with the U S Civil Service. The only trouble was that her first assignment was at a base some 30, seemingly million, miles away from her little girls. Of course, at the same time he was stationed somewhere away from home as well.

It was all she could do to function. But she did. We did have a babysitter for a little while, Mrs. Smith and her dog Alvin; but it got to be that it was too hard for her to squeeze out the money, so we became "latchkey kids". Even a nickel was a hard thing to come up with in those days, no kidding.

"Deborah Belle, author of The After-School Lives of Children: Alone and With Others While Parents Work suggests that being left home alone may be a better alternative to staying with baby-sitters or older siblings."

We didn't latch the door. Most people didn't in those days, it was just a safer time of the world (Cuban Missile Crisis aside). So, we didn't need a key, and there was never one hanging around anyone's neck. 

I do remember having a key around my neck; however it was my rebellion to being part of the herd mentality of which whom were, e-ve-ry-one, and I mean everyone, wearing a peace symbol. Not me though. I just wasn't gonna do what everyone else was so I bought myself a chain with a giant key on it. That'll teach 'em! Ain't gonna get me to cooperate with the masses, no way. 

It was the late 60's. Independence at a young age? Me thinks. 

Self-reliance, that too. 

Loneliness, boredom and fear. Depression. Low self-esteem. Peer pressure, drug and alcohol use. These are all listed as negative side effects of the same circumstance of being home alone. There were three of us and one or all of us were affected by one or all of these previously listed symptoms. We pulled through. Not unscathed, but alive. That's something.

Today, I didn't find the time to take any pictures myself. Today I was busy looking for nickels. I found a few and I think I can keep myself going again, at least for a little while. No cardboard box just yet for a home. And not for the lack of something that that woman from Goose Bay independence didn't do to make sure I could. Thank you Mama. Thank you for the strength you instilled in me. Thank you for all the things you paid forward. Thank you for being in my mind now, reminding me what to do. 

It wasn't anything for all of the three of us little girls 10, 11, and 12ish (and on up forever from there) to spend the day traipsing around the complete neighborhood looking for bottles to collect a deposit on. It wasn't anything for all of the three of us to have after school job(s) and/or babysitting every day of the week.

I think it was because of being a Latchkey Kid that I don't fear what might be up for tomorrow. 

Who really knows what makes the whole of anyone. It's all things together. But, I do know that whenever I get through a hard time, I appreciate things more and the happiness I experience is enriched.  

It would be nice to still be the "bag of bones" I was called by my older and younger sisters. Yes, that is the fact, I'm a Malcolm in the middle and there is some truth to that in there.
Twist and Shout!


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