The Young{est} Years

RanBren

Very little sticks in the memory of a young child, except those things with strong emotions attached. I am sure that I had a lot of  very happy moments in my first four years of life, but I don’t remember many. I’ve been sitting here off and on all day, trying to conjure up as many memories as possible.

I’m becoming increasingly intrigued with my child self. I feel that if I can just grasp those memories, those thought processings, I will find a glimpse of my untainted self, for young children are pure personality. There’s very little interaction with the outside world to shape their personality… it’s all just them.

Perhaps that’s why those first few years of a child’s life are the most pliable. The years to be most guarded. It’s important to nurture their personality and protect it from the traumatic experiences that can darken and twist the most secure and happy of personalities.

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As I flipped through an old photo album, I pulled out a few photos that sparked some memories.

Top-Left: That’s me on my first birthday. Don’t remember a single second of it. I just wanted to show you how adorable I was. haha. Actually, it reminds me of my youngest when she was that age.

Top-Right: That’s my mom playing peek-a-boo with me. This is how I want to remember her in all my young memories. Fun, happy. Unfortunately, I don’t. I remember a troubled mother, a sad mother, a confused and angry mother.

But this I do remember… I always loved her. And I still do. She’s my mom. She carried me for nine months, snuggled under her heart. I listened to it’s beating in wonder. It soothed me to sleep. I still hear that beating (figuratively speaking, obviously) and I want nothing more than to be able to bandage that heart and make it whole. I want her to know a joy so deep, she can’t swim away from it.

Bottom-Left: That’s me at the age of two. For some reason, my brother and I had masking tape on our shirts. Our names were written across the tape with a permanent marker. I had pulled mine off and tried to restick it. Any person above the age of 5 would know that was a mistake. The darned thing would not stay on. It was too much for me to bear. I remember thinking that if I wasn’t wearing my name, then I was no longer Brenda. And I so desperately wanted to be Brenda.

I know that’s a lot of memory for a two year old, but I think I only remember that from looking at the picture so often growing up. The first time I remember looking at it and remembering the story behind it was when I was four, but I also kinda remember that that wasn’t the first time I looked at it.

Anyway, I just thought it went pretty well with the theme of this blog. Here I was two years old and already crying over a label ripped from my chest.

Bottom-Right: That’s my older brother Randy and I sitting on the back of my grandma’s black leather couch. He was five and I was three. This is the year the bad memories start. The next couple years would be hard ones for me.

I remember that my dad did not live with us. He drove a truck and we would see him every once in a while. I remember something being wrong with my mommy. She was sad.

I remember that my mom put my brother and I in a children’s home. I don’t remember how we got there or what my mother told us about why we were going there. I just remember how scared I was. (I know now that she was living in halfway house to overcome her drinking – I think???)

I remember being scared of one of the ladies at the home. Her voice was gruff and she often gave abusive threats. I remember crying in bed and one of the older girls in the room told me to shut up. I told her I was scared, and she told me if I didn’t shut up, she’d give me something to be scared of.

I remember not seeing my brother very often except during outside play time. I remember sitting and watching other kids play. I couldn’t play with them because I was sick in my stomach. Something wasn’t right and I didn’t know how to fix it.

I remember an older boy taking my behind the sandbox and touching me inappropriately. I didn’t like it, but I felt powerless.

I remember the gruff lady coming to get me one day. She took me into a room. Randy was already in there. And so was my daddy. My hero had come.

He did not realize until that day that my mom had taken us there. He came to get us out.

He took us to see my mom at the halfway house. I remember standing on the doorstep when she opened the door. We went inside, and I looked around. To the right side of the front door was a long staircase that turned the corner as it climbed up the wall. The banister and railings were stained dark. In the corner, where the stairs turned up, stood a bird cage on a tall post. The metal circular foot of the post pushed down into the plush carpet. I think my mom cried.

Dad took us to his mother’s house that summer. My brother and I had a lot of fun the summer(s) we spent out there with our grandma and step grandpa. There were the swims in the stock tank with little piglets running around it in the mud. I was scared to get out  of the tank lest the piggies bite my toes. There were romps with the dog, Ranger. There were sunny days on the lake. Crickets in the long grass. Daddy long legs. Ice cream. Happy days.

But there was a dark shadow in those summer days. My step grandpa has a teen aged son who stayed with them for several weeks. He sometimes made me do things that were inappropriate. He sometimes made me hide behind the couch and he would do things to me that a three year old should never experience.

The whole situation was taken care of legally. I’ve forgiven him. But that doesn’t take away the memories. It doesn’t take away the sickness as I realize my little Faithy is three. To think of a little girl that young having her innocence stolen. It puts fear in my heart somedays. I want to grab my girls and hold them close. I want to keep them under my constant watch and care.

These were my youngest years. Most memories are flittery like a fly buzzing around the room. But these are the ones that rest long enough to see clearly.

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