When I Was A Child

Iiris got a great idea to draw on the closet with a marker. Iiris says she still remembers that thrilling moment when she got to draw on the wall.

Of course we got caught. I ran over to distract parents and to save my sister from the trouble. I even remember this myself. I was just putting sunglasses on when the camera flashed.

Our parents couldn’t even be angry, the photo captured two cute deer in the headlights. In my opinion the best is how Iiris is posing perfectly, even so we thought we are in so much trouble.


This is my photo with my older sister and my mom. The baby sitting in the middle who wants to talk something is me.

I was too young so I can’t remember what’s going on here but I heard the story of this photo from mom. It was my second birthday and before I tried to blow the candle my sister immediately did it so I cried whole evening.


I guess that my emotions towards my elder sister, who is 8 years older than me, are not unique in any sense. 8 years, when it comes to children, is a cosmic difference. My sister seemed to me to be an adult; incredibly smart, cool and almost all-mighty. I was filled with awe and curiosity in all her affairs, a burning desire to be somewhere around with her and her friends, and at the same time some kind of a sacred fear associated with my unwillingness to disturb her with my childish stupidities. As a child and until now, my imagination was and is unrestrained and limitless. I’ve always loved the play on words, pun and associations, and if I didn’t happen to know the meaning of a word, I came up with my own. A popular Soviet song “What are you dreaming about, cruiser Aurora” got stuck in my brain for some unexplained reason. It was dedicated to the symbol of the 1917 Russian Revolution. I didn’t care about the Revolution, moreover, I didn’t even know what a cruiser was. And since I didn’t know this word, I decided that in my paradigm it would be a cracker (those two words somehow rhyme in Russian). I don’t know how this logical chain occurred in my head, but when I was humming this tune to myself, I was thinking about me and my sister. That she is a beautiful and enigmatic Aurora and I’m just a little cracker.


When I was a toddler, I was very jealous of my sister’s beautiful dresses. I didn’t understand why I didn’t have any of my own. My parents convinced my sister to share one of hers, and set up this adorable photoshoot.


When I was a little kid I was very shy. When meeting new people, the first thing they were always asking me was : “-Are you the only child?” This question always seemed strange for me. Every time I was replying yes to them, a peculiar candid smile appeared on their faces. They immediately started to pity me. I never quite got it.

I was happy playing alone with my dolls. When I was playing with my best friend I’ve always needed to compromise something. When my parents bought me my first bike, my grandfather taught me how to ride it. By the time I learnt how to do it, I felt so free. -Now I can ride my bike alone! What a relief!

I guess I was a weird child. I still am. The only difference is that nowadays I am longing for a brother or a sister who l can tell everything without being judged, who I can call anytime when l have a breakdown and who I can love unconditionally and have a bond for life. Now I have to rely only on myself. It might be sad in a way, but I know this makes me stronger.

I am still asking my parents from time to time why I don’t have a sister or a brother. They keep saying that I was crying every time they suggested me this.

But my parents are cool. They took me everywhere with them when l was a child. ln our family trips, my father was always my playmate. He is still like a child now. We were running in the forest, swimming in the sea, making sandcastles, laughing until our bellies hurt and then a little bit more- Every single time. My mom was the cameraman. She was recording everything on tape.

One of my favorite part of every trip was to surprise my parents wearing my dad’s clothes. After taking one of his big shires, his travelling hat and his huge shoes, I was fooling around in our hotel room, pretending to be dad while my mom was filming everything and both of my parents were laughing with tears.
My lonely childhood was great.


When I was a child, we had PlayStation 1 with only two games and neither of them were a two-player game. We had one demo cd with upcoming games and I used to put the cd playing from TV and tell my little brother to play a multiplayer game with me. Of course, it was only a video of a game and we were not actually playing but it just made me happy that my brother believed me and was happy to play with me.


When I was a child, I remember a lot that I ran from one place to another, smiling, playing with my sisters.

There came a time when they no longer played with me, I was dragged to grow with them, to the rhythm of them; today they still let me be a little immature, I still feel like a child, and my sisters are still an example for me.


I remember them telling me he will come back.


When me and my little sister were kids we used to play together quite a lot. Sometimes we got bored with our old games and needed to invent some new ones. Once we were explorers, and Afrikan tähti (The Star of Africa) board game as our map we started our journey from Tangier to Cape Town. It was a long way and before reaching our destination it has become so late we needed to go to bed. We went to the bathroom together because we didn’t want to stop playing and stood under the shower imagining that we were bathing under the Victoria Falls. When we went to bed we pretended to be camping near the waterfall and the next morning we continued our journey to Cape Town. I’ve forgotten if we ever got there or did we decide to play something else before that, but the journey was certainly more important than the destination.


Collaborative project made with: Mikael And, Miriam De La Cruz, Ximena Fabián, Anna Haaraoja, Jenita Lindfors, Maria Mikhaylova, Aleksandra Näveri, Ian McIntosh, Luiza Preda, Isabella Presnal, Kim Turru, Jasmine Winter & Seyoon Yoon

Siblings are usually an integral part of children’s social world (Furman & Buhrmester, 1982; Lamb &Sutton-Smith, 1982) and older brothers and sisters are often role models and teachers to their younger siblings. These relationships have various forms like competitive, harmonious, conflicted or co-operative. This project is examining the relationships and power status between siblings, and how they affect one’s identity.

When I Was a Child is a series of stories, telling a childhood memory with siblings. These stories have been told from the point of views of oldest siblings, middle children, youngest of the family or only children. The collection of stories is intimate and personal, as usually only friends and family have heard them, and the photographs are taken from family albums. The truthful point of view gives the viewer an opportunity to experience childhood happenings through the write’s eyes.

Why are these stories remembered? How does our brains choose which ones to leave out, and which ones to keep? We can remember the silliest and the most arbitrary details from childhood, but also many times, childhood stories are not remembered by the persons themselves but they have heard them for countless times from their parents and grandparents. It is impossible to know when this border gets blurred and we start building our own memories around exaggerated anecdotes. The writers were not led with strict directions, simply to write a memory with siblings that comes to mind.

Memories also affect building one’s identity. Many times, we tend to remember when a sibling broke or took something that belonged to us, how they fooled us or hurt us by accident or intentionally. All these negative experiences build the relationship, as well as the happy ones. The project is also examining does the relationship remain the same in the adulthood, or does it become the opposite?

Even though participants of the project are from different countries and continents, it would be hard to tell the difference without seeing the photographs. The memories we keep are unique but they share certain similarities: funny accidents, simple happiness and the excitement over small things.

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