*The theme for my A to Z is Childhood Stories. Some are real, some are embellished, some are downright fictional but are based on the kind of things I imagined when I was younger.*
I am the eldest of four children, and also the eldest of all my cousins on both sides of the family. The thing with being the eldest, is that you are thought of as being reliable. You can be given responsibility. You can be trusted with things… Things such as, for example, distributing mints given to you by your parents among your brothers (my sister wasn’t born yet) and cousin.
“Go share them with the others,” they said.
The mints were white and hard, and they looked like marbles or rounded stones. I popped one in my mouth. It was sweet, and strong enough to make my throat and mouth go cold when I inhaled, but not too strong.
“Ok, I will,” I said, heading off.
I didn’t want to share the mints. Why should I? The mints were delicious, and my brothers and cousin being boys were less mint-worthy than I was. I went for a long walk around my grandparents’ garden (they had a very big garden), avoiding my brothers and cousin.
They found me as I came around from the back of the house.
“What you eating?” my cousin asked.
I had the mints in my pocket, but the gravel of the driveway gave me an idea.
“I’m sucking on a stone from the driveway,” I said.
“No you’re not.”
“Yes I am, look.” I spat my mint out, now all misshapen and slick with saliva, onto my hand. It did look a little gravel like.
My cousin frowned.
“Why you sucking the gravel?” asked one of my brothers.
“Because it’s nice,” I said. “It’s all smooth.”
And I sat down on the gravel, popping the mint back in my mouth. My brother didn’t hesitate long before sitting next to me and putting a piece of gravel in his mouth too.
“See?” I said. “It’s nice, right?”
“Hmmm,” he replied with a frown.
My other brother followed suit, while my cousin — who was only six months younger than me — looked on.
“You’re all weird,” he said.
I shrugged. “Whatever. You’re missing out.” As I spoke I surreptitiously put a hand in my pocket and grabbed a new mint. Then I pretended to take something out of my mouth and put it on the gravel. My brothers immediately copied me. I then pretended to take another little stone, and popped the new mint into my mouth. This they also did, but of course with an actual piece of gravel.
“Yum,” I said with a smile.
One of my brothers nodded enthusiastically. I could see my cousin hesitating. After a time — such is the power of peer pressure — he sat down with us and picked up a stone.
“See, it’s nice,” I told him as he popped it into his mouth.
We sat peacefully in the driveway, the boys sucking stones, me eating mints. It was sunny and warm. It has to be said that there are few more pleasant ways to spend an afternoon than by eating mints in the sun, while knowing that you put a really good one over your siblings and cousin.
(I realise by the way that it was pretty irresponsible to have my younger brothers putting stones in their mouths what with the risk of choking etc, but I was six or maybe seven and that didn’t occur to me at the time. Just to reassure you, nothing went wrong, this is a story with a happy ending 🙂 )