Home To Me

It starts with a blanket.

It was used to cuddle up in my secret spot reading a book cover-to-cover; it was dragged outside to sit on for picnics; it was used for family movie nights even though it was never big enough; it was even part of some of the most epic blanket forts that have ever existed. And after all this it’s a little worse for wear, but it’s still there; at home.

Linus Blanket

Right now that place that I’ve named home is a red-bricked dwelling with a forest behind it and a big grass field next to it. There’s a basketball net in the driveway and tulips that my mom slaves away to bring back year after year. But this is only the beginning.

Then there’s the backyard.

It hasn’t been the same over the years and the one I have now is much different from when I was 8, but it’s always had the necessities that encouraged the adventures of my sisterhood. My family has always had a strong belief in adventures and testing and learning about our boundaries and surroundings. This place was the home to summers full of home-made slip-n-slides, mud fights, trampoline accidents, pool competitions and other adventures we came up with. In my memories there are sprinklers that we definitely broke from over-use and a little pink and blue plastic playhouse that we had to give away recently. And there’s always my Beppe’s (‘grandma’ in Fries) voice in my head saying, “You need more fresh air, girl.”

And then there’s my room.

It’s overflowing with mementos from my past from taping concert wristbands and passes to my desk, to useless souvenirs I’ve picked up from around the world that remind me of everywhere I’ve been, and a map showing all the places I want to go.

The family that comes with the house is pretty cool too.

My sisters who (while fighting all the while we were growing up) helped me come up with some amazing plans, and some that were rather questionable including a 3-person carrying-on-the-shoulders stunt that practically gave my mom a heart attack. Home is where for every birthday, soccer game, talent show and holiday my very Dutch grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins all get together and just spend time together; sometimes it’s in the pool, sometimes it’s playing football, sometimes it’s even making up our own games or telling embarrassing stories to each other. These are the people who I want to make proud and who I know couldn’t ever not be.

The homes if my heritage are also somewhere in this mix.Friesland

Some of it is in South America and other parts are in India – both of which I plan to visit one day. There’s also a home in Wons, Friesland in the Netherlands, the place my grandfather grew up and have told me millions of stories about. I went there this last summer and stayed with relatives in a town that is smaller than most shopping malls. I saw the house where my grandfather grew up, the fields he raised dairy cows on, the bar where he had his first drink, and the World War II bunkers that he played in. All while doing this I proudly wore a Canadian flag sewed to my knapsack and told my relatives stories about what Canada is like (in broken Fries and English) because a homeland for me is one to take with you when you’re away.

Finally there’s the town I grew up in.

You probably couldn’t find it on a map and it’s the sort of everyone-knows-everyone place that sitcoms and horror movies love to showcase. Together with a few other small towns around us we’ve got classic small town sights like tourism farms (for city folk, yes this is a real thing), historical sites, and Canadian maple syrup lodges. There’s also the story I tell everyone about my hometown. You see, it’s kind of in the middle of nowhere. We have a butcher, a baker and a candlestick maker and there’s even a general store. I tell people this and they laugh. I like my hometown’s character. It’s unique and slightly cartoonish and it’s always nice to go back there.

Home is constantly changing for me. I traveled cross-country to come to school at UBC and that meant leaving it all behind. But it isn’t the first time I’ve had to leave a home and it won’t be the last. When I go I have my few things that were given to me that I can take anywhere and make me feel just as safe; a bracelet with charms my grandmother has filled over the years with symbols of her favourite memories; a photo of my mom making a funny face that she doesn’t know exists; a photo album showing my sisters and me growing up; and a silly wooden cow given to me by my best friend. It’s the place I’ll always go back to and the home I’ll bring with me no matter where I go.

Works Cited

Things to Do: Campbellville. Campbellville. Destination Campbellville Community Association, 2014. Web. 5 June 2016.

Rosin, Hanna. The Overprotected Kid. The Atlantic. The Atlantic Monthly Group, Apr. 2014. Web. 5 June 2016.

Schulz, Charles M. Peanuts. United Feature Syndicate Inc., 1990. Web. 5 June 2016.

Springridge Farm. Springridge Farm, 2016. Web. 5 June 2016.

2 thoughts on “Home To Me

  1. Hi Charlotte,

    I love that you are from Campbellville! One of my best friends from High School lived on Guelph Line in Campbellville, and we always used to go for frozen yogurt by where the railroad tracks cross Guelph Line in the “downtown” area. And I used to work at Springridge Farm in the summer hosting pony rides. What a small world! (I lived in Halton Hills and went to school at Milton District High).

    I loved your stories about growing up. It sounds like you have a great family and some wonderful memories. I especially liked the article that you linked to in your post about the fate of playgrounds and free-creative-playtime.

    As the future mother of twins, I’ve been spending quite a bit of time thinking about what kind of a parent I want to be. And the more I read, the more I am determined to give my kids space and freedom to explore. I believe that testing boundaries, making mistakes, and learning how to lose are essential lessons that are better learned young. The younger you are when you learn that you will get hurt if you do x, y, or z, the more likely it is that you will avoid bigger mistakes with much bigger consequences later in life.

    Unfortunately, raising kids in this way is not exactly in vogue. A documentary by CBC, released a few years back entitled “Hyper parents, Coddled Kids”, discusses some of the consequences of protecting our kids from feeling the pain of failure or of not allowing them to experience the consequences of their actions. As much as I will try to protect my kids, I think it’s important that kids learn to be adventurous. As you alluded to in your post, the “home” is the perfect venue for this balance. At home, kids have enough freedom to explore, experiment, and make mistakes, but not so much freedom that these errors in judgment will have lasting detrimental effects.

    Thanks again for your post. It has given me some great food for thought!


  2. That’s crazy!
    I worked at Springridge for 3 years as a birthday party host – our paths might have crossed! I also graduated MDHS in 2012. What a small world!

    When I came across The Land I absolutely fell in love!
    I hadn’t heard of that documentary before, although I can imagine what it’s like. I definitely think there’s importance in adventure and just playing however they want. I’m a nanny and while I always have those small panic moments when a kid is in even a slightly dangerous moment, I try really hard to back off and let their imaginations go.
    I also think that kids and home are a deeper connection than we might have now particularly in that it’s a safe space to play freely. Thanks for the comment!

    Thanks for the comment!

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