August 17, 2007

Did You Ever Wonder

Did you ever wonder what children really think about? Do you remember what you thought about? Can you still remember the emotions you felt? Do you remember fear? Do you remember feelings of security? Do you remember the emotion elicted by a harsh tone of voice, or an endearment? I do...and that is why I can never be deliberately harsh, or cruel, with anyone...especially a child.
When I was a very young little girl, my mother and I lived with her mother. My mother, nor my grandmother were ever mean or harsh with me. I was very blessed in this way, but I always felt very empty, and lonely inside, and no matter how many others were around, I still felt that deep lonliness which I was not even old enough to understand.
The greatest desire of my heart, even at that young age, (I think that I was only about three at that time because that is how far back that I can remember) was to have a daddy. I had never had a real daddy, my own father having left my mother while I was just a baby. I would see other children, other little girls with their daddies, and I would envy them, I suppose, not really understanding the meaning of the word...I just knew that I wanted what they had.
We lived in a little house on Canal Street, in Cedartown, Georgia. I know that it was my mother, my grandmother, and myself in that house, and I remember a couple of uncles, only teenagers, really, but I don't remember Papa being there, so possibly my grandmother, who was a widow, had not remarried at the time.
There was a little girl who lived about two houses away from us, and she had a real family. Sometimes, I remember that we would play together, until one or the other of us got called into supper. When she was called in, I had to go home.
I remember this one time, that they called her in to eat supper, and I only pretended to go home. I waited until I knew that they would all be in the kitchen, eating. It was warm weather, and as everyone else did, they had the backdoor to the kitchen open, It had a screen door, which was the common thing, too, which allowed a cool breeze to blow into the kitchen.
I stood at the back steps for awhile, just listening to the voices rising and falling in conversatiion, with an occasional outburst of laughter. I stood there, just soaking in the sounds, and the smells, and the feelings that I felt. Finally, I could stand it no longer, and walked up onto the porch, and stood at the screen door, leaning inward against the screen, with my hands cupped around my eyes, so that I could see more clearly.
There they all were...a mama, a daddy, and a little girl. A family. A word that I did not even know the meaning of, and probably had never heard it in conversation, but I knew what it was. It was the thing that I wanted with all of my heart.
I was not even aware of anything but what was before me. I was not aware that they could even see me...I had not even thought about it. But suddenly a harsh voice rang out, "What is she doing here? Who told her she could be here? I thought I told you to tell her to go home!"
It seemed as if my breath stopped. I was frozen. I didn't know what to do. Then I heard the soft voice of the father, saying, "Awww..let her come in, and give her something to eat. She's probably just hungry."
"No! No, I will not! She will go home where she belongs, right now!" In anger, she jumped up, and ran toward the door, shooing me like an animal. "Git outta here...go home where you belong!"
I turned and ran, stumbling home, blinded with tears. I hadn't wanted food. I hadn't wanted anything, but to stand there and look at them...that's all I wanted. I wanted to see a happy mama, daddy, and little girl.
I can't describe to you the emotion that I felt. It was a crushing, heavy, constricting feeling that seemed to fill my throat with an ache that went down through my whole body...cutting off my breath.
I remember sitting out on the steps of Big Mama's back porch. It was about dusky dark, and the evening was warm, but I was cold, through and through. I shivered, but I am not sure it was from feeling cold. I stared at an old dead tree that was back there, and thought that that was how I felt inside. I felt sorry for that dead old tree.
I have never, even after all these years, forgotten a single detail of that day, and I don't think that I ever will. And that is why I could never, in a million years, be unkind to a child...because the hurt never goes away. Not even if it is buried deep inside where no one else can know about it, it is still there.


rockync said...

I also have painful memories that made me determined to raise my sons without ever calling them names or lashing out at them in anger. Adults don't realize how an offhand comment can so cruelly affect a child. I make it a point to instill in children a sense of worth. And I always listen without interupting to whatever they have to say.

Jan said...

That's're a good mama!

Anonymous said...

I too grew up in Cedartown; however it was my older siblings that I hear talk about living on or around Canal Street. Times were tough for my family at that time; I came along 13 years after my siblings. They all seem to think I was spoiled; even though they each had a big hand in that. There are some great tales to be told about growing up in C' town and I am sure that you have more stories. Even I can remember when things like this happenened, because I too once lived with my mom and grandmother there at the place known as "standpipe hill" - my grandmother would have been one of those that would run a child away, but she had seven children a lots of grandchildren and had a hard time feeding them all. I know that should not be an excuse, but it seems to be what gets you through the bad memories.

Jan said...

anonymous...a very interesting comment..thanks for dropping by.

I'm afraid that I don't have a lot of stories about growing up in Cedartown, because I moved away just before my ninth birthday.

I'm not sure that I know where 'standpipe hill' is, but I do remember the mill village.

I understand what you are saying about your grandmother. I guess folks do what they have to do to get isn't always easy.

I hope that you will come by again.

sue said...

What a cruel thing to do! I have lots of memories growing up and I, too, used to love to watch the "happy families" from a distance and envied what I imagined their lives to be...

Jan said...

There's a lot of cruelty in the world, and sometimes, they don't even realize they are being cruel.

Even so, I think that we can learn from such experiences, and determine within our own hearts, to do better.