It is extremely challenging to recall your earliest childhood memory. Even when I close my eyes, tilt my head slightly upwards and make a conscious effort to recollect, it merely feels as though I am sifting through a fog enveloped lane way…drunk or walking blind folded along a dusty hallway lined with shelves containing masses of oversized, cobweb stained books. One childhood memory I’ll never be able to forget however involves the time I asked my older brother where I originated from. It is no wonder that children often ask where they came from or how they were created as it’s not as if they remember their conception or their birth. (At least I’ve never met anyone who claims to remember either!)
What do you do when a child asks this question? You can’t go in to all the gory birds and bees facts, giving a detailed description of the male and female reproductive systems to a young child! Instead many parents or brothers and sisters tell a few old wives tales to satisfy the child’s curiosity. Let’s look at the most common two legends that are often disclosed.
- You were born under a head of cabbage!
My friend’s brother told her that she was found under a cabbage patch. She quite liked the idea and so did I. It seemed cool at the time to be discovered, like an eco-friendly baby that was crafted by nature, powering up through the soil, alongside cabbages and carrots and broccoli. My friend and I decided that as a result of her birthplace, she was most likely adorned with some secret, special, vegetable-related powers like being able to turn inanimate objects in to turnips or red onions and could potentially “cure the famine in Africa”. We also came to the conclusion that these powers wouldn’t be unveiled until she was18, like the run of the mill super power inheritance we’d witnessed on television programmes such as Sabrina the Teenage Witch.
The whole being born under a cabbage patch idea just seemed flattering really, kind of like the baby was sent back in time by a higher power for a specific purpose, in a similar fashion to Arnold Schwarzenegger in Terminator 2 where he is just unassumingly beamed down to earth naked. Cabbage Patch dolls were all the rage at the time also which amplified the attractiveness of being born under a cabbage even more. All in all, a great way to come in!2. You were delivered by a stork!
The stork story originated from Greek mythology where the evil Hera decided to turn her arch enemy Gerana in to a stork. In revenge, Gerana in stork form then tried to abduct Hera’s child. In popular western culture however, the common image of a stork bearing an infant wrapped in cloths held in its beak was more positive and the stork, rather than trying to kidnap the child, is depicted as delivering the new baby infant safely to its parents.
I for one didn’t like the idea of being delivered by a stork. Yes sure the storks look lovely and cute in the cartoon pictures but have you ever seen a real life stork? They look like they’d kill you-Scary!
I was not lucky enough to have been told either of these common, harmless birth fables. Oh no, my evil brother had to be different and decided to rather confuse and terrify me about my origins!
3. You were abandoned in a field by your biological wolf mother!
Yes my brother told me that I was born under and abandoned by a wolf. Yes, a wolf. According to his reliable intelligence, my human mother was just out for a walk up the road adjacent to our house and sure there I was drinking all the milk from my wolf mother’s teats in a field when my human mother came along. My wolf mother then ran away and left me because as he put it, she didn’t really want me anyway because I was an “awful nuisance” and “a greedy milk guzzler” and then the person who I had previously considered to be my real mother felt sorry for me so took me in and acted as my birth parent.
He didn’t just stop as most normal children would at merely telling their sister this horrifying story in its rawest form, oh no, he had all kinds of props and pictures to illustrate what my real mother might look like. One day he brought home his Primary School Religion book and proudly showed me a picture of a bronze coloured wolf statue with babies underneath it. He informed me that the wolf in the picture was my mother and the other baby in the picture was the one that was kept because he wasn’t as big of a nuisance as me. He would open up that page almost on a weekly basis to bring crashing back to the forefront of my mind my unflattering heritage and chase me around the house with the opened book as I cried.
After some research on the internet, I found the exact picture that he used to show me (see below) and thanks to wikipedia discovered that it was in fact the statue illustrating Romulus and Remus, the founders of Rome which his torture was derived from.
The fact that my real mother was a wild, hair covered canine was a horrifying thought for me as a five year old. I would cringe every time I’d hear a dog bark in case it was my real mother coming back to collect me. I would have lucid dreams where my entire body would suddenly be enveloped in dog like hair and wake up in a cold sweat, certain that the dream had been real, lifting up my pyjama sleeves furiously to check I still had skin!
Certain television shows soon became difficult viewing. X-men was ok to watch until the sight of Wolverine on the screen became just too much to bare. The Animals of Farthing Wood plunged me in to a shallow pool of muddy depression and don’t even get me started on the devastating impact of Dogtanian!
“If thy brother wrongs thee, remember not so much his wrong-doing, but more than ever that he is thy brother.”
Epictetus, to whom this quote is attributed, obviously didn’t have a brother like mine to conjure up such a touching sentiment. Years of childhood spent living in fear that everyone would find out I was a hairy, undesirable wolf baby. Years that could have been spent rolling around in the cabbage with my Cabbage Patch Kid doll if only I had been told a different story! I’ll never forgive him!