Nancy Roman

Unhappy Childhood

I have always considered my childhood to be an extraordinarily happy one.

Until yesterday.

I was wandering around Pinterest and I came upon this:


canopy bed

And, oh my, I realized that I had a very unhappy childhood. Because I wanted a canopy bed so much. I wanted a canopy bed a lot more than I wanted a baby brother.

But did I get a canopy bed?


My parents denied me my fondest, girliest desire. And not only that, as a second choice, I asked at least for white bedroom furniture. And did I get that?


I got bunk beds though. And as a consolation, I got the top bunk, so I could pretend I was the princess and the pea. But is that a canopy bed? No, it is not. Actually the lower bunk is closer to a canopy bed, but my brother was only three, so he was not allowed on the top. (and I was afraid he would pee on me anyway, if he slept up there.)

And a canopy bed is not the only thing denied to me by my very cruel parents.

I wanted a pony.

No.  (Second floor apartment)

I wanted a kitten.

No.  (To my mother, a kitten was even worse than a horse.)

I wanted ballet lessons.

No. (My mother absolutely refused to spring for the endless expense of costumes that are part of dancing lessons.)

Since I couldn’t have actual dance lessons, I asked for tap shoes.

No. (umm,,, Second floor apartment. It is totally unfair to use that reason twice.)

How about wearing my white patent leather first communion shoes all year round?

No. (Didn’t go with knee socks. Or snow.)

I wanted a Girl Scout uniform that dated sometime after 1947,

No. (Think of this one as ‘vintage’.)

I wanted long curly blond hair.

No. (Barbershop for skimpy-haired Nancy)

I wanted to go to boarding school.

No. (The tuition for Catholic school is plenty, thank you. My parents didn’t say – come to think of it – “We’d miss you.” Hmmm.)

And – almost as much as I wanted a canopy bed, I wanted this:

chatty cathy

This is Chatty Cathy. You pulled a string at the back of her neck, and she talked. She TALKED. She said ELEVEN different things. Really original stuff, like “I love you!”

And did I get a Chatty Cathy?


My mother said, “Absolutely not. You can make your dolls say whatever you want. Use your imagination!”

And I’ve been inventing stories and making characters talk ever since.

On second thought,

Thank you, Mom!



  1. Oh, dear. I wanted a canopy bed so bad I could TASTE it! (Never got one either.)


  2. mercyn620

    I had the bed – but no canopy, and never did get the pony I wanted. But I also was lucky to have two great parents and a happy childhood.


    • I’m sorry I never got the bed, but I am so happy I never got the pony.


      • But can you imagine how dusty it would be up there?


  3. Ray G

    Well, maybe now you could get some of your things for yourself? Or were they all age-related?


    • Maybe the kitten? Oh wait… I have several.


  4. Deb

    I was sure that one day I would have a chestnut mare named Red that would live in my suburban back yard, and an Irish Setter named Maggie-those were in addition to the canopy bed. Think I got any of them…nope.


  5. This is beyond hilarious. Boo hoo. Why were parents so mean? 😀 😀


    • If they loved me, they would have bought me a pony.


      • Like I said, mean and didn’t love you. How did you or any or us survive? I can’t even guess.


  6. Ally

    I too wanted a canopy bed. And an easy bake oven, and the Operation game. Never received any of the three. Had a wonderful childhood in spite of the meanness!


    • Oh – easy bake oven! I want an easy bake oven!


  7. Sounds like you had a very traumatic childhood and have just been blanking it out :). Shame about the kitten though.


    • I eventually got my kitten. Actually, multiple kittens. Three right now.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Susan

    Now I know why I never got those things, either (except the cat). You didn’t get them first so there were no hand me downs. But I did get the Chatty Cathy! I remember walking back from Montgomery Wards with Mom with it. I had to keep her very close – the boys wanted to take her apart to see how she worked.


    • I remember your doll, and I think Diane Miller’s across the fence.


  9. I always wanted a typewriter, and when I got a box the right shape, I was over the moon until I opened it and discovered………. a piano accordion.
    I also wanted a bride doll. My parents didn’t buy me one, but my brother did. I never played with it though, she was too lovely and had pride of place on the little table in my bedroom.
    I think I had a happy childhood though.


    • My sister had a bride doll. But I thought the doll had a very limited life – what does she do in that dress after she walks down the aisle? She had eyes that opened and closed though, with thick, real eyelashes. I loved her eyelashes. I have FINALLY (at 63) figured out how to duplicate them.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I have to admit though, that I was disparaging of the bride doll because it was my sister’s. Down deep… oh that gown!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I always wanted but never got … a drum set. Can’t imagine why!

    My sister had Chatty Cathy – it was annoying … you didn’t miss much. My dolls spoke French and went on great adventures with her many ponies … 🙂



    • My dolls never had ponies. My dolls were always poor orphans. I had a thing for orphans. Too many Shirley Temple movies I guess. Oh dear, … now I remember how much I wanted a Shirley Temple doll. But did I get one? NO!


      • Guess what? My book arrived yesterday1!! THANK YOU THANK YOU 🙂

        PS I still have my Barbie Ponies & am going to let Grand-daughter play with them next time she’s here!


        • I’m glad you won… I hope you like it! If you do, I’d so appreciate it if you could post a review on Amazon and/or Goodreads – reviews are so important, especially for us indie authors. (But of course, if you don’t like it, let’s just forget the whole thing….;-))


          • I can’t wait to read it – I hope to dig into it this week. I’m sure it’s just great. It was so neat to receive that in the mail – and to hold your book in my hand and say – “Hey .. this blogger I know? She did this” cool!! MJ


  11. OMG. Haven’t seen a Chatty Cathy in 50 years.


    • I didn’t even remember what she looked like until I googled her. That was one ugly doll.


  12. As the fourth of five children I got … hand me downs. Hand me down bed, hand me down clothes, hand me down shoes, hand me down toys. I did, however, get a REAL ballerina doll the Christmas I was seven, She had blonde hair and wore a lacy tutu, pink stockings and black ballet slippers – and her knees and elbows could actually BEND so you could put her into various ballerina poses. She was so special, I’ve kept her all these years.


    • Christine

      I don’t remember any toys I especially wanted, although I’m sure there were many, but I remember how badly I wanted to wear nylon stockings and shoes without straps to hold them on. When Mom finally decided I was old enough, I was very disappointed to find out how uncomfortable nylons were (this was before pantyhose and you needed a garter belt to hold them up) and how easy it was to get blisters when your shoes were always slipping off your feet.


    • Your ballerina was very wonderful. If I had seen a ballerina doll, I certanly would have wanted her more than Chatty Cathy.


  13. This is absolutely priceless! Awhile ago, I read a status on facebook asking what she should get her 7 year old daughter for her birthday. Answers were things like, ipad, iphone, xbox….I was the old bitch in the group who asked, what ever happened to toys like Littlest Pet Shop or lego? You know, the ones where kids have to use their imagination to play?

    I think she unfriended me after that!


    • We often made our own paper dolls and clothes for them to wear. I usually liked creating the doll more than playing with it.


  14. I did get a horse when I could pay for it myself. Dumb idea! Lots of work and I didn’t have enough time (because I needed to work to support us both). Mom did get me a cat though. From the sound of the responses maybe we could get a group discount rate for therapy.


    • Can you believe how very MEAN all of our parents were? Being pony-deprived has a traumatic effect on one’s adulthood.


      • That’s right. We weren’t prepared for the mucking of the crap that we had to do in our business life.

        Liked by 1 person

  15. Why do women (even Oprah) lust after Chatty Cathy? I got one for Christmas when I was very young and my parents said that when her internal battery wore out (or, more likely, when I wore out the string you pulled to make her talk), her sentences were long, drawn-out moans, which I would imitate over and over.


    • I can’t imagine why I wanted one. The images I see now look very homely to me. We had Revlon dolls as kids, and they were very pretty.

      Liked by 1 person

  16. You thought you had a wonderful childhood and I thought I had a pretty lousy one; however, your post changed my opinion forever because – I got dance lessons with tap and toe shoes, I got to wear my black patent leather shoes EVERY Sunday and I was the only kid (I’m the baby) in our family to receive a Chatty Cathy doll. YOU have made me reevaluate my entire childhood – thanks!!


  17. I think I just found the counterpoint to that oddly favorited “A Christmas Story”! It mighty not be an air rifle, but a canopy bed or Chatty Cathy works pretty well. This is a wonderful reminder as we enter that all consuming holiday season of those “cruel” childhood memories. Thank you for the smile.


  18. This was cute! My mom had a Chatty Cathy doll, but her sister cut the hair off of it. I’ve always wanted to get her a new one for Christmas some year, but I kind of think my aunt should have to….


    • Buy the doll and send your aunt the bill!


  19. I dreamed of a canopy bed, white furniture, and baby blue everything (carpet, bedspread, curtains). Never got any of it but probably a good thing as I’m sure the very next second I’d want to change everything up (pink, yellow, purple, who knows!).
    BTW, Nancy, I read your book. Loved it! 🙂


  20. Laurie

    OMG, you are me! I wanted to go to boarding school. I wanted to go so I could wear those cute British uniforms. Of course my parents, worried enough about college, refused. And the truth is, I would have hated boarding school. By the time it was time for me to attend college I knew better – and I was happy to save money and live at home.

    Uniforms – I had hang-ups about GS uniforms too. My mother wouldn’t let me be in the Brownies. I wanted to be in the Brownies so I could come to school in those cute uniforms, which looked like British boarding school uniforms. My mother did allow me to join the Juniors. Unfortunately, by the time my parents said, yes, we will get you a uniform, the organization had decided to switch to a more modern uniform. I settled for that jumper and blouse but I so envied the girls with the shirt dress uniforms.

    Canopy beds – yes, I wished I had one but I knew I wasn’t going to get one. For a long time we had to sleep on camping cots or share an old rollaway bed. When we got new bedroom furniture I had no say. And we didn’t get beds with headboards and I had to have a bed that lay lengthwise. My sister got to have one where she could sit up and prop her pillow against the wall. She also got a desk. I didn’t. She also got way better grades than I did. But canopy beds – those were for rich girls. Princesses.

    I also really wished we were Catholic so I could have a communion dress. I used to stare at the ones in the Sears catalog (yeah, so classy.) I also wanted to attend Catholic school so I could wear a uniform. Not quite the British style but the plaid jumpers would do. And I liked Catholic services when I had a chance to attend one.

    I did go through a pony phase, though when I took lessons I learned that there was work involved and sometimes ponies threw you. But the kids in the Enid Blyton books either went to boarding school or rode their ponies to the local school.

    My little brother was fun to play with, though.

    Anyway, great job here, as usual


    • I really wanted an up-to-date girls scout uniform (mine was a hand-me-down from someone 20 years older than I, I think) – but I wore the old one anyway, because on Girl Scout day I could wear it instead of my catholic school uniform. I was so bored with wearing the same thing every day.


  21. Like you, the word “no” was the common answer in my home as well. We didn’t have much but somehow we learned how to fend for ourselves, use our imaginations, take responsibility and basically grow into a functioning adult. Sadly these children who have “everything” have no life skills. Their parents have done them a grave injustice.


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