Let me first say, I don’t remember most of these things. They are stories told to me by my mother. Still, it happened, even if I don’t remember it, so I might as well write it down and start at the beginning.
When my mother was pregnant with me, she always said I would come when it started to freeze. Since her due date was at the end of November, beginning of December, it was a very real possibility. Due to the circumstances she was admitted into the hospital in Delft earlier than usual.
When my father went there on the evening of 1 December 1987, he had to scrape his windows because of the frost. It was after visiting hours and my mother was in labor. She threw my Dad out of the room and he ended up watching some kind of honeymoon show. She also threw out a male nurse. Afterwards, she said he was just trying to be nice, asking her if she needed anything. Her answer: “yes, you out of here!”
At 23.40 I was born, healthy as can be. My Dad tried to contact his parents and my mother’s parents to no avail. Also a lot of other people he wanted to call were unreachable. Ah, such is life…
When I was still very small, probably no more than nine months old, I had to have an immunization shot. Not nice! I cried afterwards and my mother soothed me. It was fine until my father came home from work. The moment he stepped inside I started to cry and I wouldn’t stop until he held me. And every time he tried to put me down, or even pass me to my mother, I started to cry again. He held me for hours. Poor man, to this day, he complains about the pain in his arm and shoulder…
My grandfather on my mother’s side was very active with the local Voorschotense soccer club. At home games, he provided the tea that the players got in the half-time break.
One day, we were visiting and my parents and I, not yet two years old, had gone with my grandfather to the soccer club. When half-time came, the two teams left the ball on the field. I was delighted by the opportunity to play with it and set out across the field. My grandfather went after me. In all the commotion, something which had never happened before: my grandfather forgot to make tea!
Sometime in the same period as the previous memory, we were on another visit to my maternal grandfather. He kept chickens and peacocks (among other animals) in his garden. It was spring and the chickens had chicks.
I was fascinated by them and while I was alone in the garden, I unlatched the door of the chicken coop. But the chicks were fine where they were and stayed put. Undaunted, I grabbed a hand of feed and threw it down. Of course the chickens came out now and spread out through the garden to chase the hands of feed I kept throwing around. I was delighted and my grandfather laughed himself silly (in comparison to the time another one of his grandchildren freed his prize peacocks and one of them escaped never to be seen again).
Before I was potty-trained, my parents and I were visiting my paternal grandparents. My parents had put me down for a nap in one of the upstairs guestrooms.
When it remained quiet for a suspiciously long time, my mother came upstairs to check in on me. While everyone had been downstairs, I had somehow managed to unfasten my full diaper and was busy plastering the walls with my poo. My grandparents, especially my grandmother, were not amused.
One memory I do have of my own, instead of being just a story my mother told me, happened not long after we moved from Delft to Voorschoten 1990. The garden was a bit wild and there were a lot of stinging nettles. In my mind they are very tall, but seeing as I was very little, that’s probably a matter of perception. I am sure though that they were taller than I was.
I was playing with at least two other children, perhaps my cousins, I am not sure. The ball we were playing with ended up in the stinging nettle forest and I was ‘elected’ to go and get it, as I was the youngest. I did go after it and brought it back, but the nettles hurt a lot and I cried. That’s all I remember.
I must’ve been around three years old, I guess, when my mother went shopping with her friend M.T. They took me with them. My mother and I were inside the shop and M.T. was browsing through a rack with clothes at the entrance of the store.
To this day, it remains a mystery how I could’ve left the shop unseen, but getting outside I did. In fact, I wandered down the street and across a bridge, to come across a shoe shop, where I stopped to look at the shoes on display in the window. While I was standing there, a nice lady asked me where my mother was, to which I pointed in the general direction and said: “there.” When she asked me what I was doing all alone, I answered something along the lines of “shopping.” It was then that my mother found me. She must’ve had such a fright!