This Was My Childhood

I was creative. My sister and I didn’t rely on electronics, or toys for that matter, to have fun. We played hide and seek. We climbed the tree in our backyard. When my dad finally trusted us with his video camera, we filmed movies with our Playmobil figures.

Hannah and I learning a song on our great grandma, Barboo's, piano
Hannah and I learning a song on our great grandma, Barboo’s, piano

This was my childhood.

I laughed a lot. One person that made me laugh in particular was my Uncle Doug. Whenever he visited, he brought with him a new story that always had me in stitches. Or a new joke that I would tell to my classmates the next day. I grew up with a family that wasn’t afraid to be goofy. A family that never wanted to take life so seriously.

Me, Mom, Hannah, Grampa, and Uncle Doug in the back.
Me, Mom, Hannah, Grampa, and Uncle Doug in the back.

This was my childhood.

I had a lot of friends. Every Saturday after soccer practice, I would go to Tess’s house since she lived right next to the field. On weekdays, I would go to Hannah’s house and bounce on her trampoline: my mom even let me sleep over her house on school nights a few times. Every Friday night, Maddie, Emily and I would have a sleepover. Whether it was watch “Madeline” for the hundredth time or play Crazybones in Maddie’s basement, we always had something to do.

My eighth birthday party.
My eighth birthday party.

This was my childhood.

My mom had cancer. Breast cancer. I was in middle school, unsure of how to handle these emotions. Up until that point, life for me had been carefree. Now I had this dark cloud over my head every day: would I lose my mom? That’s when I met God. He knew I wasn’t going to lose my mom and when I prayed for her to get better, He answered that prayer. My mom has been in remission for seven years.

Mom and I conquering  the ropes course at the camp I work at this past Fall
Mom and I conquering the ropes course at the camp I work at this past Fall

This was my childhood.

My life overflowed with love. 

Hannah, Grampa and I
Hannah, Grampa and I

This was my childhood.

“Let’s name him Patches”

“Let’s name him Patches!”

Every child dreams of the day of getting their first dog. Well, for some it may be a cat, but for me, it was a dog. My family had talked about it for a while. We almost bought a Yorkshire Terrier but decided it wasn’t the right time. A few months later, we looked at buying a Corgi but my mom didn’t want a dog that would shed. So we dropped the issue for a while. But a spur of the moment trip to the Puppy Patch changed all that.

Opening the front door after my friend Hannah dropped me off, I ran through the house looking for my parents. “Mom, Dad! I found the perfect dog!” My words were met by initial eye rolls. But once I managed to get them and my sister to the Puppy Patch that weekend, we knew. This was our dog.

After entering the room with the overwhelming scent of dog, we turned to the left and went to the crate that held the litter of Bichon Frise puppies: two months old. When you stuck your hand in the crate, all the puppies would eagerly wag their tails, fighting to lick your hand. But upon all this excitement, I looked over and saw one dog, slightly smaller than the others, standing timid in the corner.

I asked to pick him up and once I did, I felt an instant connection. He immediately started to wag his tail and become more comfortable around me. And upon meeting my family, he showed this love to all of us. We couldn’t resist.

My parents decision to buy this puppy came from left field; but my sister and I weren’t complaining. When my dad was talking to the owner of the Puppy Patch about bringing this puppy home with us, my mom turned to my sister and I.

“What should we name him?” she asked.

“Snowball,” I immediately replied, thinking the white of his hair coat strongly represented the white of snow. Apparently this name was too obvious, however and it was met by the shaking heads. While thinking of a new name, I looked up at the store’s sign and saw the light bulb go off in my head.

“Let’s name him Patches.”

Me and my childhood dog, Patches, on the first day we met.
Me and my childhood dog, Patches, on the first day we met.

Where Fantasy Lives

When I was a kid, my home wasn’t my house: it was an amusement park. Actually, it was more like a land: Storyland. Storyland is an amusement park in Glen, New Hampshire, that features not only multiple rides but the presence of multiple fairytales and nursey rhymes that we are all know and love. It wasn’t the reenactment of my favorite fairytales that made me love Storyland, however. It was all of the childhood memories that were created there.

1995: My first trip to Storyland. The ability to explore all the different fairytales on my own was limited as I was constricted by a stroller, but I still managed to fall in love: from riding in Cinderella’s Pumpkin Coach to meeting the old woman in the shoe, I was sold. My eyes had been opened a childhood full of unforgettable memories.

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1997:  It was a rare rainy summer day but it didn’t matter. The Batchelder clan visited Storyland in rain or shine. Walking down the curved path passing my favorite water ride, Dr. Geyser’s Remarkable Raft Ride, my sister and I noticed the clear rain drops glisten as they landed on the pieces of gold at the end of the rainbow. We stopped to touch the gold, hoping some of the luck would rub off on us.

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1998: The fun never ended at Storyland. Not only was it fun for me; it even offered my parents the most effective form of punishment: putting me behind bars. As I gritted my teeth in a joking manner, my family began to laugh, creating another memory here; I never realized how fun jail could be.

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1999: We decided to take Marney and Grampa, our grandparents, to the wonderful world of Storyland. They convinced me that I was ready to ride the real rides, instead of spending all my time immersed in the fairytales that were displayed at the park. I took a deep breath and my sister and I squished ourselves in between Marney and Grampa in order to ensure our safety on the Turtle Twirl. My age did not restrict me that summer; I found I was finally brave enough to go on any ride at Storyland.

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2002: Sure, this was my seventh year at Storyland but the joy never deteriorated. The Bamboo Chutes still made my stomach drop as I held on to the bamboo sides waiting for the inevitable drop. Storyland brought family together: I laughed with cousins who I usually wasn’t able to see; it was a time when my parents weren’t working but solely focused on having fun; my sister and I found it possible to stop bickering with each other and enjoy all of the rides together. Unlike so many other parts of life, days at Storyland were fully focused on having a good time.

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2004: I was now an expert at Storyland. As I walked around and watched all the little kids get their picture with Humpty Dumpty for the first time, or introduce themselves to Heidi’s Grandfather at the top of the hill, I found myself reminiscent, thinking about the days when that was me. Look how far I’d come. I was a Storyland veteran: so much so that a short video of me riding the infamous Polar Coaster was featured in their commercial.

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It takes a lot of work to find a place that you truly call home. I am lucky enough to have grown up in an atmosphere as joyful as the one Storyland provided.. And although I have outgrown Storyland, it holds memories I will always cherish and when I have my own kids, I plan to bring them to Storyland, so that they are able to have a childhood as magical as mine.