Written by Bert Plomp
The autobiographical narrative “Holiday colonies” provides a penetrating insight into the author’s childhood. As a young child, the author was repeatedly sent to holiday colonies. The writer, self-described as an ‘ADHD sufferer,’ shares his experiences and the impact of this isolation on his life.
The story begins with the author, as a child, having to fend for himself, abandoned by busy parents who dedicated themselves to the Salvation Army. The holiday colonies, originally intended for children with weak health, served more as a penal colony for the author. The description of the authoritarian and military approach by the caregivers casts a shadow over the name ‘holiday colony.’
The author shares his resistance to authority, shaped during his time in these institutions. His independent character clashes with the discipline of the ‘starched white aprons’ who act as surrogate mothers. The mandatory sleep times and unappetizing meals paint a picture of an unpleasant environment.
Despite the negative experiences, the author also highlights the bright spots, such as the daily trip to the beach and receiving mail. His longing for positive postcards and the censorship of outgoing mail reflect the limitations on expressing his feelings.
The story culminates in a serious illness during one of the stays, ultimately putting an end to his time in the holiday colonies. The author reflects on the misunderstood needs of his childlike soul in a time when emotional well-being was not the highest priority.
“Holiday colonies” is a powerful account that takes the reader on an emotional journey through an unconventional childhood, in which the author struggles against authority and seeks his own identity amidst strict structures.
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