My First Taste of Freedom

Guest Written by Stephanie Brison

In the late 1970s, young girls did not have too many choices for a summer job. I did what so many others did: I babysat. Even after more than thirty-five years have flown by, I can still recall the excitement, anxiety, and apprehension of my jump into “maturity.”

First of all, the blonde, angelic-looking five-year-old was used to hearing the word yes about everything. I was only thirteen, and I enjoyed hearing the same word, so yes it was! We watched cartoons, ate pizza, and anything else she desired.

Living on a farm, I was used to a television that only showed three channels, and one of those was an educational channel. The first day I kept my little friend, I learned that the fine t.v. in her house offered many different channels. Her favorite cartoon is a bit fuzzy in my mind; I seem to remember a cat and a mouse and plenty of high-pitched sounds. I didn’t mind because when given the opportunity to change the dial, I felt powerful.

One of my responsibilities was to take her to a reading specialist once a week. The first time was exciting for this girl who was used to being bored on the farm. The walk wasn’t too bad; we hit the pavement with a steady stride enjoying the scenery for the five blocks to our destination. The retired teacher who was helping this little girl was at least eighty-two years old. She looked me up and down while I stood on her “Welcome” mat and told me to sit on the porch steps before she shut the door. Sitting on the concrete steps was my first opportunity to enjoy town life.

After her lesson, my girl asked if we could walk more before going home. Why not? The sun was shining, and there was more of the town to be seen. Before I knew it, we had traveled another five blocks to the tennis courts east of town. Some familiar faces were playing tennis (boys, I might add), so we found a picnic table a considerable distance away and enjoyed the match. The sun was directly above us after half an hour of relaxing and watching, so we proceeded back to the cool house.

Once we were there, lunch was our next decision. I learned very quickly that my little girl would eat nothing else but pizza. I thought it was a good choice until the oven would not come on. She informed me that I had to light the pilot light underneath in order to make the oven work. This was the one moment I felt anxious because I had never done this before. I had no idea what to do, so I called my mom. After she made a call to a relative, she called me back and gave me instructions. I finally lit the oven and placed the frozen pizza in the oven.

After we devoured the pizza, we watched more cartoons, made prank phone calls (her idea), and played with Barbie dolls.

Once her mother arrived home, I was picked up and taken to my home. A typical evening ensued with my family until the telephone rang. Needless to say, I did not take my little girl on long walks after that. We did continue our trips to the reading specialist and back which did limit my experiences of town life, but I enjoyed every minute of my first taste of freedom.

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Category: On a Personal Note

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