Dear Diary: Life at age 10

Feb 15, 2023 by Amber McClain Shaw, in Dear Diary
The first two weeks of my childhood diary disprove my memory that I grew up mostly without TV (I watched Donny and Marie often), introduce the reader to the main characters of my life at the time including my pet mouse and a frequent babysitter, touch on important cultural trends (Pete's Dragon and Shrinky Dinks), friendship (sleepovers, showers and indignation over a bad grade), and my painfully factual reporting on the illness and death of my grandmother. I had a lot to write about at age ten.
Ten-year-old diarist Amber Shaw. Telling it like it is since 1978.

New Year’s Eve January 1, 1978
Dear Diary, this is my first diary I have ever had. I plan to write in you every day. Today Christi and Jana came over (Mom had to babysit them). Me and Christi had fun. Right when we were playing Cowgirls and Indians in the rain, their mother came to pick them up. Jana’s bike fit in the trunk but Christi’s didn’t so she rode home on her bike. I kept bugging Mom to let her spend the night, but she said, “No, daddy will be home at 3:30 tonight.” I felt bad and stayed outside in the rain. But I guess it was on “ok” day. Goodnight. Zzzzzz.

What you need to know: I was ten years old on this rainy New Year’s day. Christi was my neighbor and best friend who lived about a half-mile away, and Jana was her little sister. My dad was an airline pilot and was away at work on unpredictable days at unpredictable times. Coming home at 3:30am was not unusual.

January 2, 1978
Dear Diary, today was a so-so day. I woke up at nine, waited for mom to cook breakfast. Before she got up. I had to go in 2 minutes. I had to get dressed and eat. I took my breakfast with me. We went to see Grandma and she went #2 in bed so we went out while the nurses changed her bed. Tish, we found out, is there now. Tomorrow is Mom’s birthday and the day we go back to school. 

What you need to know: My Grandma, my Mom’s mom, was ill and in a nursing home. I don’t remember who Tish was.

January 3, 1978
Dear Diary, today’s my mom’s birthday. She got an old fashioned iron, earrings and some perfume. Nothing much happened today. I went to piano lessons. School was kind of fun. And by the way, I am almost sure I’m going to get my hair cut. I had fun today.

What you need to know: I have no idea why my mom got an old-fashioned iron or who gave it to her. She definitely deserved a better birthday, but I was ten and still waiting for her to get out of bed and make my breakfast.

January 4, 1978
Dear Diary, today was boring. It rained. We stayed inside at school. Tracy babysitted us and made dinner. Sorry, I have to go. Bye!

What you need to know: Tracy the babysitter was a neighbor who lived on our street.

January 5, 1978
Dear Diary, today is Mr. Gordon’s birthday and Pamela Sue’s birthday. Today it rained so hard! I had a good day. I watched Donny and Marie. I had a good day at school. I had fun today.

What you need to know: Here is where my memory of a childhood experienced almost exclusively without TV is proven to be untrue. I watched Donny and Marie?

January 6, 1978
Dear Diary, I almost forgot to write in you. I made a book report with 300 and some odd numbered pages. Trelawney went over to Keri’s house to spend the night. I cleaned out Muffin’s cage. The cat was looking for Muffin and climbed in the cage. Donny and Marie was good tonight. Tonight is Little Christmas for Christi.
PS Muffin wasn’t in the cage when the cat climbed in.

What you need to know: My grasp of the truth is clearly breaking down here. Although I was a prolific reader and writer, I could not have generated a book report that lengthy before computers, word processing and AI-generated writing existed. Trelawney is my sister, two years younger than me. Muffin was my pet mouse. And, Donny and Marie again? I watched TV two nights in a row?

January 7, 1978
Dear Diary, Christi came over this morning. We played with the Barbie swimming pool. After that we went to Muriel and Jimmy’s. We rode in the back of the truck, and got a truck full of wood. Christi is going to spend the night.

What you need to know: I loved that Barbie swimming pool. It was inflatable and had some kick-ass green and white inflatable poolside furniture that I would love to have today. Muriel and Jimmy were older relatives that lived about 30 miles away. My two sisters and I regularly rode in the bed of the pickup truck, sitting with our backs against the cab, and we are still alive. I’m not sure how we got back home with all the wood. Maybe we sat on top of it?

January 8, 1978
Dear Diary, today was so-so. I don’t get to have allowance when I forget to clean up the bathroom. I got sick in the car when we went to Uvas. Mom is mad at me and said, “I’m going to start leaving you out of things.” That hurt my feelings a lot!

What you need to know: I had a sensitive stomach on curvy drives. And sensitive feelings too.

January 9, 1978
Dear Diary, I don’t have much time so . . . OK. School was good. Heidi hasn’t had her babies yet. I went to a 4-H meeting and got some suckers to sell. I came home and Tracy and Dad were telling jokes. I stayed up until 9:00 and went to bed.

What you need to know: Heidi was our miniature dachshund.

January 10, 1978
Dear Diary, today at school Deanna got in trouble. So did Leonard. I went to piano lessons and had a delicious dinner. It was chili relleno and augratin potatoes. It was so good. My compliments to Mom. I had homework.

What you need to know: Deanna and Leonard were neighborhood kids in my class.

January 11, 1978
Dear Diary, today our class made some posters that say “Vote for Amber.” I made Shrinky Dinks that say the same thing. Today was a good day. I wish our Arrow books would come in! Leonard was on our property today.
Love, Amber
Vote for Amber

What you need to know: I don’t remember what I was running for at school, or what Leonard was doing on our property. Part of our property was across the street from his house, so probably not as weird as it sounds.
Shrinky Dinks.  In this entry I am experimenting with writing in cursive, as opposed to printing. I frequently change writing instruments and styles of writing from here on out.

January 12, 1978
Dear Diary, today was tiring. All day I worked on pins. Erin and I put up the posters around the school. I found out that Christi is going to spend the weekend again. Mom said she is going to clean out my whole room! Wait, Mom just said that she is going to take us and Christi to Pete’s Dragon! Yea! We did some Shrinky Dinks and they didn’t turn out !? I wonder why? Christi’s going to stay over ’til Monday night!

What you need to know: Pete’s Dragon trailer

January 13, 1978
Dear Diary, today was a bad day–but not for me though. For Christi. Poor Christi. Her teacher pisses her off on reading. She gives her a whole bunch of homework and what does she get for it? An F, that’s right, an F. It isn’t fair huh! Well, at least coming over helped her. She’s not going to tell her mom until after she spends the night. Good idea if you know what I mean! Donny and Marie was good tonight. 
(Sad face)
PS Christi’s teacher is gong to talk to Mrs. Lima and she might have to quit flute! (Sad face)

What you need to know: I was a loyal friend and I also seemed to have invented emojis in my diary before there were computers.

January 14, 1978
Dear Diary, Guy! Today it rained very very hard! Me and Christi went to drawing class. We learned about drawing trees. Me and Christi took a shower. Today was fun.

What you need to know: Yeah, I am questioning the shower situation also. 

January 15, 1978
Dear Diary, today we went to Pete’s Dragon but they were sold out. We went to Mary and Ron’s for a while and then Fran’s for dinner. It was so good.
Goodnight says Christi.

What you need to know: Mary was and is a close family friend. Fran was a friend of my Mom’s.

January 16, 1978
Dear Diary, today Grandma passed away. Christi came here on the bus. Tracy is babysitting because Mom and Dad are at bread-making class. We got Grandma’s TV and stuff. Wait ’til Mrs. Barranti hears. Tomorrow is the election. Tr was very upset. So was I.

What you need to know: That can't be right, I’m not sure I have the passing of my grandmother and the bread-making class timing right. Mrs. Barranti was my 5th grade teacher.