So...my friend has posted in her blog somwhat recently, both of her memories of her own childhood and also a guest post of her husband's childhood, and it got me thinking back to my own childhood...
I didn't have a bad childhood. Actually, it was pretty darn great, to be honest, with a lot of happy memories. I didn't have a whole lot of problems, save the normal high school drama we all get sucked into. Even so, I would not call it my glory days or anything close. I had a happy childhood, and now I am glad to be in the midst of a happy adulthood. I do not wish it back, happy or no. But still, based on that previous post my friend made and a conversation my mother and I recently had, I got to thinking the other day about the days of my childhood...
Okay, well, let's start by a little physical description of myself...and that actually says it quite well. Little. I was short, pretty much the shortest kid in my class...okay, grade. I've always been little, and I suppose that would make me look like an easy target for bullies and the like...
Only I wasn't.
Because I was tougher than I looked. LOL No, really, though, I was. Call it wiry or spunk or whatever, but I was not an easy person to pick on. I was not above defending myself or another, and often did defend many of my friends who do not know about this, because I did not tell them, even willing to fight someone, should it escalate to that, though it thankfully never really did...though I did do some damage digging my fingernails into a couple bullies' arms once or twice. They pretty much left me alone after that. I did have one girl in high school think she would be funny one day, and she yanked down my shorts in the middle of P.E. when the teacher wasn't around. I don't know what she thought it would accomplish. Perhaps she thought I would turn red and cry or run humiliated to the locker room while they laughed at me. Well, I did turn red, but it wasn't embarrassment. It was fury. I lunged at that girl and chased her around the room until I couldn't breathe. (By the way, I strongly believe GOD kept me from catching her. Because I know if I had, angered beyond reason, I would have beat the living daylights out of her and therby gotten myself into a lot more trouble.) And interestingly enough, the girl NEVER mentioned it to me, NEVER bothered me again. I think, perhaps, she did NOT get the reaction she'd been expecting. Maybe I even scared her a little, because I'm sure my anger burned in my eyes. And even at half her size, I guarantee you I would have inflicted some damage had I caught her... Mama always used to say, "You're little, but your tough." True enough.
I've never been a wallflower. I am not shy, not quiet, unless, of course, I have nothing to say. I have always liked myself, always tried to be the kind of person I wanted to be, to be someone I, myself, could like. Part of this is from my mother. She always told me, "Like yourself. Sometimes you're the only friend you've got," and through the years I've come to see how true that can be. Friendships can be so superficial, so fragile. Friends can be both thoughtless, underhanded, mean, and cruel. Both on purpose and also not. I've learned a lot about friends over the years, and sadly, so many do not live up to my expectations of what a friend should be, of what I always try to be for them.
But that's what my mother was trying to teach me early on, and even though it still hurts, when friends forsake you, I did listen. I was at least somewhat prepared.
I also had parents who always told me I could do anything I set my mind to. And they truly believed it. And so do I. Still do, pretty much. Determination is more than half the battle in most things. And my parents did encourage a healthy, full self-esteem of not just myself, but of my heritage and my family name. I was proud of who I was, of where I came from. Still am.
And, of course, I had God. This is by no means the least of my assets. Quite frankly, the opposite. I was raised in a God-loving, God-fearing (that means respect, for those of you who have never heard or used that particular phrase before) houeshold. We went to church pretty much whenever the door was open, but that wasn't it. I was taught to seek Him, to love Him, and that God loved me sooooo much, that I was special to HIM, that He made me exactly like He wanted me to be. I found salvation at an early age, and though I have sinned as anyone, I was so young (fifth grade) that rather than all the things He'd forgiven me of...it was more of all the mistakes He would help to save me from. Oh, yeah, I've messed up. I've sinned. But I look back and see all the things He helped me with, helped me go through, and yes, even saved me from. I had Him to rely on when so many people do not. I honestly don't know how anyone does it without Him.
My mother asked me recently what it was, I thought, that made me different, that made me not a follower of the crowd, not subdued by peer pressure in high school. Was it just my personality, or my raising, or God? What was it? I told her I honestly believed it to be a combination of the three. I am outgoing, I am sure of myself, and my parents only fueled that with praise and compliments and encouragements. And God, of course. He gave me strength, assurance of His love and care for me, and He helped me to want to choose the right path, to make the right choices. (Oh, but don't we wish we'd listen ALL of the time!?? LOL) And he kept me from catching that girl in P.E. :)
I don't like bullies. I think they are cruel and mean, and I was raised to stand up for the "little guy," to not sit idly by and let someone get picked on and tormented. That is how I try to raise my children now, to teach them to do the right thing. To not let someone be trampled upon and to certainly let no one treat them that way. I am not too worried about them. None of my children or quiet, timid, or shy. My daughter, I think, has the gumption to stand up for herself, and I try to encourage her at home, to know that she doesn't HAVE to let someone do something just because they say they are her friend, but she also does not have to get mad, does not have to fight with someone. Just say no and walk away. She made me proud doing this the other day during a play date, instead of butting heads with the little girl who decided she wanted to rename Little Bit's doll. I was in the other room and heard her calmly say, "No. I don't want to," and she did not fight or argue with the girl, as they have in times past. :) As for the boys, they are twins, so it eases my mind to think that they have each other's back. Though, truth be told, sister is probably the one people better watch out for. I don't think she'd take too kindly to anyone messing with her baby brothers. :)
That is another thing that was drilled into me as a child, and I now drill into my kids' brains...Family is important. Most important. (After God, of course). Friends are all good and well and wonderful, but family is forever. No matter where we go, what we do, we will always have our family, and God gave them each other to love and to care for and to protect and to love them back, to care back, and to protect them back. Built in little best friends, I tell my oldest. Even when they disagree, they have to love each other. They have to compromise. They have to bend. Oh, they're not perfect. No one is. But it hurts me to see so many families who think anger and hatred and jealousy between siblings is a NORMAL thing, something you can do nothing about. They don't realize it has to be TAUGHT. Sure, they're going to argue sometimes, they're going to fuss, but it is NOT okay to hate, it is NOT okay to hurt. No matter what, they HAVE to love each other. Families stick together through it all. I wish everyone could see that, could teach that, could have that in their families. Things would be so much better in this world, were that the case.