Ruby's post on children (see The grass is greener. Notes from the other side. in my blog list, and her post New life on 29 August) inspired me to write a post of my own.
But it's too hard. I have so many issues about my own childhood that I can't see where to begin. It's not simply about being a trans child.
Well, I have something in draft, and I won't throw it away. It may yet see the light of day.
This area - childhood, and by extension, one's present attitude to children, and what might have been - must be tackled sooner or later, before my memory fades. They say that as you get older you can recall things from long ago with a clarity impossible when younger. I don't find that is so. I tend to find that with the passing of time, memory gets imprecise and plays tricks on you. You recall some things, but not others. Probably because so much is stuff you really don't want to remember.
In fact I'm inclined to take all memory with a pinch of salt. The past has been contaminated so much with modern takes on 'what was' that it's wise to doubt what you think you know, and not claim certainty unless there is documentation to back it all up. At the moment, we are being bombarded with themes such as 'Life on the Home Front in the First World War'. We'll have four more years of that, until the Armistice in 1918 is reached. By then, we'll be so saturated with Great War docu-dramas that all pre-2014 ideas on 'how it was' will have been hazed over with a thick layer of new memory.
I think that the many gaps in my personal experience of growing up in the 1950s and 1960s have been filled to bursting point by modern research, picked up effortlessly from TV and radio, and efficiently absorbed. I like history, and especially social history, and I'm always curious to know. So I'm especially vulnerable. My brain can still suck up interesting facts by the ton, and I'm not the sort to curb my eagerness to find out more and more.
I'm saying that in 2014 I 'know' more about 'how it was' in the 1960s than I did in 1970. A strange state of affairs!
I'm pretty sure that most of what I think I know about (say) 1964 - or any other year in the 1960s - is the result of someone else's digging around. Those researched factoids, especially the film clips, have been seamlessly embedded in my mental storage. It takes effort to distinguish my personal memories from things learned decades later, and especially in the era of the Internet. Before the year 2000, you would have got from me a confused, inconsistent, but at least genuine set of recollections. Now you'll get a well-ordered hybrid history, spuriously precise on dates and trends.
Surely there is a growing tendency to discard one's own real experience in favour of latter-day research, on the ground that they don't tally. In other words I might read something in Wikipedia that doesn't fit what I thought had been the case, and I'll accept Wikipedia's version in preference to my own. That definitely seems rather dangerous!
Hence my keenness to walk the streets of my childhood - Barry and Southampton in my own case - in order to recapture something genuine about what it was like at the time. To walk perhaps from the bus stop to the school gates - a daily ordeal that I have not forgotten, and need no modern simulation or interpretation to call to mind.
So if I do finish that draft post on my childhood and its consequences, you'll have to bear in mind that at least some of it could be fake history that I think is mine, but probably isn't.