Thursday, July 17, 2008

My Ten Year Old Self

Willow, age ten

Not too long ago, I read an older post by Susan, that was so touching. She suggested finding a picture of your ten year old self, framing it, and loving that little person. Travel back in time and imagination and see yourself at ten.

I remember the clean, light sky-blue walls in Miss Reddel's classroom. My best friend, Carol James, and I spent hours pulling the pills from her hand knit cardigans and saved them in giant fuzz balls in our desks. We would giggle with delight when we showed up at school wearing the same poor-boy sweater, with a blue-rose print. We were green with envy when Carol Newman wore her black pointy toe shoes without any socks. How scandalous. Peggy Guichard had the most wonderfully thick Rapunzle braids hanging long, past her waist. We took turns pulling them, like the reins of a pony.

Speaking of ponies, it was one of the most happy and carefree times of my life, frolicking around on wild colt legs. After ten, it is never quite the same. Preteen awkwardness and peer pressure anxieties set in; we are expected to grow up. I love how Billy Collins expresses his ideas on the subject.

On Turning Ten
by Billy Collins

The whole idea of it makes me feel
like I'm coming down with something,
something worse than any stomach ache
or the headaches I get from reading in bad light--
a kind of measles of the spirit,
a mumps of the psyche,
a disfiguring chicken pox of the soul.

You tell me it is too early to be looking back,
but that is because you have forgotten
the perfect simplicity of being one
and the beautiful complexity introduced by two.
But I can lie on my bed and remember every digit.
At four I was an Arabian wizard.
I could make myself invisible
by drinking a glass of milk a certain way.
At seven I was a soldier, at nine a prince.

But now I am mostly at the window
watching the late afternoon light.
Back then it never fell so solemnly
against the side of my tree house,
and my bicycle never leaned against the garage
as it does today,
all the dark blue speed drained out of it.

This is the beginning of sadness, I say to myself,
as I walk through the universe in my sneakers.
It is time to say good-bye to my imaginary friends,
time to turn the first big number.
It seems only yesterday I used to believe
there was nothing under my skin but light.
If you cut me I would shine.
But now when I fall upon the sidewalks of life,
I skin my knees, I bleed.


  1. You were so cute at ten and are still so attractive. I loved your flip hairdo. I will find a picture this weekend and try and do the same exercise. I enjoyed the poem also.

  2. This is sooo cute! (especially since I knew you then!) I don't have any photos of my childhood here in my possession. Hmmmm...might be difficult to get a hold of them now. :( The poem is so true. You do begin to feel a seriousness of life after this age. Wonderful post!

  3. I remember very clearly turning ten. I was so exited to have two numbers for my age rather than just one! It was a carefree time, wasn't it?

  4. Thanks for sharing this tender part of yourself Willow. Billy's poem is sad and mystical and pulls deep childhood memories to the surface. It makes me think of things I thought the future would hold...Why do we rush towards the future, thinking older will be better?

    You were a perfect 10 year old with a bewitching flip, very stylish! I always looked disheveled and undone in my pictures.

  5. What a wee charmer you were and you still are a constant delight. Beautiful poem, almost Willow-worthy. :)

  6. Look at you! Beautiful! I love your flippy hair.

    You're right... 10 is the last age of sweetness for a long time because then the fifth grade arrives and girls get catty and mean and awkward. Yes, I think loving a 10 year old me is a very good idea!

  7. As a guy, 10 was great. You could play outside at recess...tackle football, baseball, etc., get your jeans grass-stained, sweat, and go back into the class room thinking nothing of it. I never had to comb my hair or think about impressing anyone. Thanks for the trip back in time.

  8. I can relate to Billy's poem so well, absolutely superb. Willow your childhood at ten sounds wonderful, are you still in touch with your friend? Look how cute you were at ten, I think I've destroyed all my school pics. I wore a brace and my mother use to cut my fringe (she was no hairdresser), I looked awful.

  9. Lovely going down memory lane to visit your ten-year old self! I agree - such an age of innocence and fun before all the angst of adolescence and all the unwelcome knowledge of life that came with it. I also loved the Widow of St Pierre! At present I am waiting for the shuttle to arrive to take me to the airport and what better way to calm the nerves than to visit my dear blogging friends. Love Eleanor

  10. What a lovely little interlude this was - glad I found spoke to me especially, as my oldest grandson is approaching ten - how did that happen?!

  11. What a great idea...

    10 was a fun time in life

  12. What a charming post, Willow. I'll need to examine this age in poetry.

    I do have one for the 13 and up category. It's a letter back to myself (hindsight IS 20/20 as we all know, but it's fun, nonetheless).

    You can read it here:

    Thanks for opening up your history to us.


  13. This poem made cry dear Willow. I see the same spirit in you at ten that I see in your current self. I do think that's part of the exercise ... seeing that she is still there.
    Hugs, S, Winnie Dixon & Les Chats

  14. That cute little flip was quiet an achievement back in those days before curling irons and blow dyers!

    Yes, we could totally run around like monkeys and not have a care in the world how clean we were or what we looked like. I think my knees were permanantly grass stained for about five solid years!
    It was part the beauty of childhood.

    My family moved around a lot when I was growing up and I soon lost touch with Carol, but gladly reconnected with her when the internet started up!

    Kat, I'm off to read your poem...

  15. Adorable .. still ... ah being 10 ...


  16. Willow, I think that ten was a good year. It's a little fuzzy. I remember showing a photo of a younger me to a friend and having her comment that I was lucky that I grew into my big ears. Ouch!

  17. You were a cute ten-year old...

    I just wanted to say, I read your comments with interest and am glad that you seem to enjoy what I post. Thank you.

    Abraham Lincoln
    —Brookville Daily Photo.

  18. What a great photo! Like so many others have said, your flip hair style was adorable.

    Our son turned 10 earlier this year and life for him has taken all new meaning now that he has reached double digits...They grow up much too fast, don't they?

  19. Billy Collins is great. I enjoy almost all of his poetry. Nice picture. I think my mother still has all my ten year photos. I'll have to steal one next time I visit her. Pappy

  20. Hi Willow. Hope you had a beautiful day,. :)

  21. What a cute little girl who grew up to be an attractive woman named Willow!

    Ten is very innocent isn't it? I remember getting all excited about reaching "double digits", but also a little sad as I knew it meant childhood was going to be over soon.

  22. Adorable photo of you at ten, Willow! I love Billy's poem, too, but I do think there are good things about age and coming to terms with who we are as people as we get older. I think we do tend to remember the past with nostalgia as if it was all great, but back in reality, it wasn't always so easy then, either... Touching post! I love this kind of reminiscence!

  23. Such a lovely post to your ten-year-old self. And a lovely self you were too. Sweet memories beautifully expressed.

    And the Collins is the perfect crowning touch!

  24. Cute kid. 8>)

    Beautiful poem.

    I also love his dog poem,
    The Revenant.

  25. Love the picture. Very cute with that hairdo!

    What a good idea Susan had. My wife actually has a pic of me at about 5 years old that she has framed for much the same reason. I wasn't as cut then as I am now though--LOL! : )

  26. A delightful post Willow. What a beautiful child you were.I have so much of your interesting postings to catch up on. The poem in this one is poignant and so touching. Thank you for a warm and wonderful place to visit.

  27. oh, you've inspired me to find a photo of me at ten and post it!! the main question i have is how dorky did i look at ten? hmmmm . . . we shall see!! your ten year old self looks quite intelligent and inquisitive.

  28. Oh sweet photo, Willow! And love the Billy Collins poem.

  29. How richly quieting, this reflection is, Willow. I am stilled with it ... and grateful not only for this moments pleasure ... but, ultimately, for You. Thank you for inviting me, Dear One.

    Lovingly ...


Inject a few raisins of conversation into the tasteless dough of existence.
― O. Henry (and me)