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by Juan Hernando

A hit I won’t forget

"Columpios solitarios" by Lograi. License CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

This post is not about another important moment when I had to figuratively pick myself up from the ground to be reborn stronger. The title of the post refers to what it literally refers to. A smack on the forehead. When I was 3 or 4 years old, I don’t remember. But I know it’s the answer to today’s Bloganuary prompt that asks: What is the earliest memory you have?

There has always been a park with swings in front of my parents’ house. And I’ve seen it evolve at the pace of parents who began to stop considering it “normal” for their child to come home with a crack on the head, a scrape on the knees, pebbles in the back and all the other barbarities of children’s playgrounds in the 80s in Spain.

Now everything is safer, everything is regulated, and, at the risk of being nostalgic for times gone by… everything is less fun.

There was a kind of iron sphere that we called “the elephant”. It had several bars that made a spherical shape from top to bottom and then a horizontal bar in the centre as if it were the equator of the planet earth. It also had a vertical bar inside that you could climb up and end up going down the slide – which was the elephant’s trunk. I think it also had some ears.

We loved to race to get to any swing when we were kids. Let’s go on the big slide! Let’s go on the double swings! Let’s go on the elephant! Let’s go!

And that time, I learned a big lesson: you must start figuring out where you can and can’t fit.

In my eagerness to get there first, I didn’t realise that I had already grown big enough not to fit between the ground and the middle bar. It was right at the height of my forehead. And the hit made me fall backwards as if I had been punched in a movie. Seconds of shock. Crying.

That day the games were over for me, and my mother took me home to put ice on my forehead to prevent the bump from being huge. And, of course, I was reprimanded for not looking where I was going!

I know it’s not a great memory (it’s painful but not very painful), and I know that at the age of 3-4, I have other memories related to going to watch my brother play basketball or watching a game on TV at home. But if anyone asks me this question about my first memory, I will answer the same: the day I learned that I was going to grow up and maybe one day I wouldn’t fit where I did a couple of weeks ago.

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