I'm a little frustrated writing this because I don't have my hard drive right now, which contains most of my childhood photos, poems, journal entries, and stories. I was going to share some of these things in this post, but seeing as I have no idea when I'll get my "computer" back, I'll just come up with something today.
1.) My little sister, Amy, and I must have fought a lot throughout our childhood. My parents were often creating ultimatums as consequences for our fighting. As their desperation increased, so did their ideas.
There was a time when Amy and I were in an argument and Dad picked up the phone, dialed a number, and said, "Hello, is this boot camp? I have two bad little girls that need to be sent to you. Will you make them do lots of push-ups and yell at them?" By this point, Amy and I were crying and pleading with him to not send us to this terrible place. He said he'd call them back and cancel if we hugged and didn't fight anymore that night.
Another time, I was being naughty, so Mom told me that she was going to send me to live with "the nuns" if I didn't start behaving. However imaginative a child you were, multiply that by about three hundred and that was me, so the idea of being sent to live with the nuns sounded extremely romantic and fascinating. I was already picturing myself wearing a habit and singing wistfully as I swept the floors or peered out of the garden gate at the rest of the world, sheltered and alone. Mom saw my eagerness and quickly improvised, informing me that nuns are very cruel. They not only make you work all day and all night, but they beat the children that come to stay with them.
This distressed me a little bit more, but I was still excited about the idea of becoming a nun. I meandered over to Rachel and Rebekah's house and sat down in Rebekah's bedroom. "My mom is going to send me to live with the nuns," I announced, making sure the inflection in my voice held an appropriate amount of sadness and martyrdom. "She said they would beat me every day and make me do lots of chores."
Rebekah was horrified, just as I hoped her to be. "Do you want to come live with me?"
"Your parents would never allow that, Rebekah. They would tell mine right away."
"But I could hide you! You could live in my closet and sleep during the day. We could play all night long and I would sneak you PB&J sandwiches and notebooks so you could write your stories and read them to me."
This sounded far more exciting than being beaten by nuns. Rebekah and I spent the rest of the afternoon planning out my life as a stowaway in her closet and by the end of the day, my mom had long forgotten her threat about the nuns.
All was forgiven.
Once, Rebekah and I were walking in the park that was located about a block away from our houses. We stumbled across a dead bird crumpled in the grass.
"Is it dead?" Rebekah asked.
I shrugged. "I think so."
For some reason that escapes me now, we stared at the bird for several long moments. "I don't think it's dead. Its heart is beating," Rebekah whispered, and as soon as she spoke those words, I couldn't help but imagine its little exposed heart fluttering as it lay paralyzed in the painful throes of death.
"We have to kill it," Rebekah insisted. "We can't leave it there to suffer."
All I knew was that there was no way in a million years I was ever stepping closer to that disgusting bird in the grass. "Go ahead and put it out of its misery," I offered, backing nervously away.
Rebekah hesitated. She was a tender-hearted little girl. We had yet to sit through a movie without her having to leave the room in tears. Her heart for animals overpowered her fear of the dead bird, so she found a pointed stick and began forcefully stabbing the bird over and over again. He lay in a bloody heap in the grass, unmoving as ever. It was impossible for his little heart to ever beat again.
Sobbing, Rebekah collapsed into my arms and I tearfully led her home. I'm pretty sure our mothers were very alarmed when they saw us and thought we'd been through a terrible experience.
One day, I was playing with my toy cars in the tiled entryway of our house when I overheard my mom on the phone with a friend. She was venting about how many things she had to do that day; she was overwhelmed and tired. The person on the other end of the phone suggested something horrible. "Yes, I think I'm going to drown all of my children and my husband too," Mom responded, sarcasm clear in her voice.
I overlooked the sarcasm with ease. It was far more exciting to imagine my mother as someone who was out to kill me. I envisioned a high-speed chase, hiding in a dark garage while my mother searched for me and dragged an axe against the concrete floor, a wicked laugh erupting from her usually gentle throat.
She was no typical mother. She was a killer. And I was a survivor unlike anyone who had ever lived before.
I remember pressing my cheek against the cool wall and inhaling deeply. Was this really happening? The day had finally come. It was time to run.
"Amy," I hissed, drawing my little sister away from her baby dolls. "Mom wants to kill us."
Amy was about four at this time and had no idea what I was talking about, but when I told her we needed to run away forever, she amiably complied. I began to pack everything we needed: a tent, pretzels, bug juice (the drink of my childhood), a blanket, and a toy for each of us. I even tied most of our belongings in a little blanket and hung them from a stick, determined to run away properly.
We wandered down the street and to the nearby park. A playground, grassy field, and comforting streetlights seemed like the perfect place to run away. We stayed there for a while, playing, until a man sat on a bench and watched us to the point that I felt uncomfortable. That was enough of that.
Amy and I fled to our neighbors' backyard, but unfortunately, Rebekah and Rachel were out of town. I felt a little awkward about moving into their yard without the permission of their parents, so that was out too.
There was a lot of gang activity in our neighborhood, and by gang activity, I mean pre-teen boys who would ride by on bikes and pelt us with water balloons, so we couldn't live in the alley. Finally, I made the executive decision that we would move into my family's backyard towards the side of the house. Since technically Amy and I were not a part of the family anymore, there would be no reason for Mom to go out there anyway.
We pitched our tent, rationed out our pretzels, and began the difficult life of runaways.
A few minutes passed. "Girls, it's time for dinner," Mom called, a hand on her hip as she watched Amy and I retreat behind the flap of our tent. "Come inside."
"We'll never come! You'll never win!" I shouted, motioning for my little sister to hide behind me.
Mom looked baffled. "I made dinner. You can play more after we eat."
"This isn't a game! We've run away! You can't kill us now!"
There was a long moment of sighs and shaking heads. "Come inside for dinner, girls, or you'll have something to worry about."
"You said you were going to drown us."
"Emily, what are you talking about? Why would I drown my own family that God gave me?" This made perfect sense. In that moment, I realized my mother probably wasn't a murderer. She most likely wanted to give us legitimate dinner, without poison or anything.
After such a long and difficult journey as runaways, a world-wearied Amy and I moved back into our home and reunited with our family.
After re-reading these stories, I want to clarify that my mother is a woman of God. I was a somewhat disturbed child with an overactive imagination, but I never truly doubted her love for me.
What's a funny childhood memory of yours?
Two years ago: Nice to meet you. I'm me.
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