By Stephen W. Hiemstra
As the oldest child in the family and the oldest cousin among grandchildren, I grew up surrounded by adults, who gave me a lot of attention at a time when children were to be seen and not heard. Because my father attended graduate school until I entered the first grade and we frequently moved around, it remained hard to make friends my own age. In this 1950s environment, my sister, Diane Sue, was my closest friend.
Diane and I played hide and seek, learned to eat ice cream from cones, and celebrated each other’s birthdays together. I will never forget Diane’s expression on viewing a pink rabbit cake that my mother baked for her second birthday. Still, close relationships between boys and girls at that time was a bit countercultural, at least in the world we lived in.
Boys and Girls
Diane and I were both baptized in Central Reformed Church in Oskaloosa, Iowa where my dad grew up and my parents were married. During Sunday school classes, boys sat on one side of the room and girls sat on the other, which I remember because in visiting one Sunday I made the mistake of sitting on the girls’ side before most people had come in. As the kids filed in, the girls thought it was funny and the boys ridiculed me. I never repeated that mistake.
Farm Not Interesting
Although I always asked to visit the farm during summer vacations and spent most summers until high school there, Diane showed little interest. Perhaps, she did not enjoy going to livestock auctions, gardening, and learning to knit. It’s hard to say because we were never nosey about each other’s business.
During the school year when we got older, Diane and I took piano lessons together. We also sometimes watched television or played board games together at home and attended youth events and choir together at church. Still, Diane preferred doing girl things, like playing with dolls, while I did boy things, like collecting coins, stamps, and bugs, and playing with the neighbor kids. I became a Cub Scout; she joined the Brownies.
Boys and girls played differently, maintained a different circle of friends, and this was normal, accepted behavior. This pattern was pronounced. In elementary school the boys had to be forced to dance with girls in gym class. So Diane and I drifted apart after I was about eight years old, although we always maintained an unspoken but close relationship.
Also see: Looking Back
Other ways to engage online:
Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net, Publisher site: http://www.T2Pneuma.com.
Newsletter at: http://bit.ly/2wVZtbb