I read a good post today- written by a fellow blogger who goes by the name BB&G CMac, about his very first memories.
In reading it, I started thinking about my earliest memories too. I think that was the author’s intent… it’s actually a lot of fun to do!
One thing is certain, I was a weird kid, to say the least.
For all the nostalgia my memories stir, I was definitely unique (that’s what my mom used to call me- UNIQUE!!). I’m just going to blame it on the fact that I was a foster kid. Product of my environment and all that!
I have random memories that really mean nothing significant- but are still vivid. For example, I remember sitting in Ms. J’s kitchen (my first foster mother) as a toddler… 2 maybe… and burning my hand on some fried chicken. Ms. J had made the chicken, and I was really hungry. She put the plate in front of me and told me not to touch it yet… it’s hot. I didn’t listen (a trait I never outgrew) and grabbed a drumstick. It hurt like hell, and I remember dropping the chicken on the floor, and running (clearly traumatized) from the room, in tears.
I also remember the way one of my foster brothers’ bedrooms looked- this was foster home #2. It was decked out in Star Wars. I used to have to take naps during the afternoon while the older kids were at school, and I usually had to lay down in that room. I always thought it was a bit boyish for my tastes. Personally, I’d have liked a little Strawberry Shortcake or Rainbow Brite to offset all that testosterone.
Eventually I was adopted, and no trip down memory lane would be complete without mention of a particular habit I had, one that drove my brand new older brother completely crazy.
I was about four years old and I had this fear… phobia actually… of getting stuck inside a bathroom. No idea why… I had never been trapped in one, but I was very afraid it would happen someday if I wasn’t proactive about preventing it. It was for this reason that whenever I went potty I kept the door open. My brother, disgusted, would come by and say, “CLOSE THE DOOR!!!”, to which I would respond, “I CAN’T!” (except given my southern accent, it sounded more like “AH CAYN’T!”- a fact my brother still to this day has yet to let me live down). He’d end up slamming the door while I was sitting on the pot. I would immediately jump up, pants and undies around my ankles, waddle to the door, open it back up, waddle back to the toilet, sit down, and finish my business.
Usually I wasn’t doin much in there but reading Dr. Seuss’s Dictionary. It was my favorite book and I always kept it in the bathroom… not sure why I kept it there, of all places. I just know that I’d go into the bathroom, pull down the ol’ pants and stuff, sit on the pot and read my book until my legs went numb.
As previously mentioned, I was weird.
I also remember the first time my new family took me to church. Apparently while in my foster homes I went to a good ol’ Southern Pentacostal church. The preacher was all about hell, fire and brimstone and constantly yelled from the pulpit. It scared me- he was big and loud, and I was pretty sure he was yelling directly at me (though I could find no reason as to why that was necessary). Understandably, when my new parents told me we were going to church I got scared. They dragged me kickin’ and screamin’ into the sanctuary. I was cool at first, sitting next to them in the pew… until the preacher emerged.
I spent the remainder of that service UNDER the pew. In tears. I was sure he’d start hollerin’ any second, and this time, he wasn’t going to be yelling at me, dammit (never lived that one down either. Probably never will- not with a family like mine around to continue reminding me)!
Perhaps one of my sweetest memories had to do with my being baptized- or rather what transpired prior to my being baptized.
I was four years old, and my parents decided it was time. They did their best to explain why I was going to be baptized, in hopes that I would understand why such a thing needed to happen. I didn’t know what this process entailed, but I was not happy about it. Something to do with dumping water on my head in front of everyone at church. It sounded dumb, and a little scary. Ok, it didn’t sound dumb as much as just plain scary.
Our preacher, Rev. H was nice enough, but I just did not feel that I knew him well enough… we simply had not yet reached that point in our relationship that I trusted him not to drown me. I flatly refused to participate in this nonsense. I put my little foot down and I meant it!
Rev. H, saint that he is, approached me one day after church and said, “What will it take for you to allow me to baptize you?” I sat and thought about it for a while, finally deciding I’d be honest. I told him I didn’t trust him not to drown me with all that water. I really felt that I needed to get to know him a little better before putting my life in his hands.
Rev. H understood my plight. He set out to earn my trust. This man came over to my house every single day thereafter. He read stories to me, we played games, and he even got on his hands and knees and played Sesame Street with me (I had the entire Fisher Price village… it even had Mr. Hooper’s shop). We took walks around the neighborhood. The entire time, we also talked. We talked about God, we talked about church, baptisms, what they mean, why they’re important, and thousands of other subjects as well. He never pushed the subject of my baptism… he just made a point of hanging out with me.
In short order, Rev. H became my best friend.
Finally, I told him he’d done enough. I trusted him now.
That Sunday I was baptized. Guess what? I didn’t drown. I didn’t even come close.
To this day I hold a special place in my heart for Rev. H. As a matter of fact, I just decided- If I ever get married again, he’s doing the service for me (so what if I haven’t asked him yet. He played Sesame Street with me for God’s sake. He’ll be cool with it). I actually had the opportunity to see him last summer- it had been 25 years since he’d baptized me. He still remembers.
We had a great laugh about what I put him through. He says I taught him as much as he taught me. That’s probably just flattery- he’s polite like that.