Photo Credit: Jamie Taylor
A first childhood memory is of me playing on the playground. Kindergarten or grade 1. The older girls had taken my tiny fuzzy hard bear. Pink maybe? They were taunting me with it. Eventually, it was returned. I remember a friend walking alongside me. Comforting me.
It was there I learned that the world is cruel, but having good friends around for afterward makes a big difference.
I remember moving. New school, new town. My mom doing what moms do and finding me a friend. I remember being annoyed and embarrassed in the way only an 8-year-old can. She introduced me to her selection, a girl who lived down the street. We became fast friends and walking buddies.
It was their learned that sometimes moms do know best and that they are trying to help.
I remember going to that same girl’s birthday party. My mom sewed me a new skirt and vest. Pink and black checked. The sight of those pictures makes me shudder now! While I was waiting on the porch the wind blew my skirt up and I felt embarrassed even though nobody saw. We ate cake and our teeth hit the solid tinfoil wrapped coins hidden inside the chocolate crumbs. Frantic embarrassment, feeling warm and safe, the joy of friendship and maybe a bit of jealous. My home was starting not to feel that way.
It was there I learned I have strong physical reactions to emotions and that I always remember how I feel.
I remember when that girl moved away. She moved to Japan to be a missionary. My parents were planning the same. Africa maybe. We were pen pals for awhile, our paths crossed again but it was never the same, that first friend and me.
It was there I learned that life is sometimes about saying goodbye.
I made a new friend. We were inseparable. Her parents scared me little. They were so strict but I never felt jealous. We played for hours and were inseparable her and I. It was I who comforted her one sleepover after she was punished behind a closed door. We would draw pictures on each other’s back to guess. It’s now my daughter’s favorite bedtime game.
It was there I learned that all families have their closed doors.
When we moved overseas it was her who gifted me a pocket of love. A tiny pink construction paper pocket stuffed with kleenex. We were older and wiser and it was a tearful goodbye, both clinging to the hope that this wouldn’t be the end. It was. We wrote letters for a while and I slept with that pocket of love for over a year rubbing it thin in the dark shadows of the night.
It was there I learned that life can be sad and lonely.
I spend a friendless year never quite connecting with the other missionary kids around me. My sisters were my constant companions. We explored the parks around our apartment while my parents studied languages and 100 ways to ignore each other.
We moved again and there I found another friend. We dove in deep, living together in a tent for weeks on the Kenya Savanna. We went to school together. Her parents scared me a little too. They were so strict, but it was a welcome relief from the storm brewing in my home.
It was there I learned that friends always come with time.
We moved back to Canada. My parents divorced. I made and lost many friends along the way. Today I parent. I go to sleep at night reading books about parenting and ADHD and spirituality because I want my kids to feel warm and safe when they sit around our dinner table.
I don’t want them to be scared, I don’t want their friends to be scared. Pain is inevitable in this world, I know that, but I hope that my home and my heart is always a protected, loving place for them to land.
It is here that I’ve learned that the things we do and say matter. They make a difference and they are remembered.
*Writing Prompt #5 from Make Blogging Fun Again.