After leaving Texas our family pulled into Littleton, Colorado. A time when both of my parents were working and I landed in preschool at The Little People’s School House. The take away from my stint there was a dread of nap time, green peas and fly swatters. I also learned that people other than my parents could love me, as much as a 4-5 year old grasps the idea of love. I believe at that age it is about the basics, “I am seen and valued, I feel safe, I am fed.” This is love to a 4 year old, and in retrospect, is integral in healthy adult relationships as well.
On to kindergarten and 1st grade—a condo community, baby sitters and lots of free time, all of which introduced my little self to many of the extremes that life can offer.
My school was a short walk away, so walk to it I did. The playground was first class and the food a step up from The Little People’s School House. Friends were few, but, oh, that playground!
Each morning before school I was left alone waiting for the kitchen stove’s buzzer to go off, my queue to head to school. I made it most days. Some days, fishing in the pond that our condo community surrounded was more enticing. I got away with it until the day I snagged a fish hook through my fingertip and fingernail. The neighbor kid I was fishing with had his mom pull the hook and call my mom, a hard day for us all.
These were the years of peeking early at Christmas gifts, birthday gifts, “I blew it” gifts and having the first conscious understanding that some folks’ love language is the giving of stuff. For a child, in the moment, that is great! What little person doesn’t like new, pure-bred kittens named Hope, or every single thing that Mattel could come up with for Barbie and Ken? I had little red, plastic ski’s in winter and a new bike in summer. Stuff, stuff, stuff equating to “I love you.”
I was introduced to restlessness, nomadic life. Dad would pile us into the car and off we would go and the next trip mom would pack us up and off we would go: Cripple Creek, Colorado where you can walk the dirt streets and dig up turquoise. I still have a stone or two. Moffat Tunnel where a mule tried to make his way into our family car. I had the privilege of seeing Doc Severinsen, the great American jazz trumpeter, at the Red Rock Amphitheater. I was introduced to a horse named Jeep that insisted on unseating me by brushing himself sidelong against trees. Along with Jeep came a lady named Cheryl that taught me how to command the horse by silencing and overcoming my fears. Jeep no longer sensed fear in me and we were all the best of friends for quite some time. At the end of those nomadic days I came to understand that parents can have friends-with-benefits and that families can and do survive such things.
On the home front, some of our neighbors stand out in my mind, as in their kindness, they became babysitters. From them I acquired an appreciation for live music and a love for big trucks and heavy equipment. I saw many a gig with babysitter #1 who had a boyfriend that played the steel guitar in a local band. I never saw any bar brawls but, everything else bar?…Yep. Babysitter #2 had a husband who drove semis. This fascinated me so he brought me a toy semi and answered every question I had regarding them. I can still remember sitting on their front patio as he gave me a ‘backing lesson’ using that toy semi. Another lesson came when the condo road was being repaved. He explained each of the machines, their purpose and even asked the asphalt roller driver if I could sit with him while he packed the blacktop down. What a thrill!
When the parents were at work and there were no baby sitters there was free time. This free time left me with one of those memories that get buried deeply in the dark corners of the human psyche. For years I could only catch glimpses of it. Who was that boy? Why are the residence of the entire complex standing at the backdoor of this boy’s condo and screaming at his mother? Why is she pointing and yelling at me? What did I do wrong?
Only as an adult, after God Himself redeemed my life, was the entire story allowed to play from beginning to end in my mind. If my parents knew, they never spoke of it, but as I stated in an earlier blog, parents do the best they can with what they have been given and I hold nothing against them.
I whole-heartedly believe humans can become better people through every experience they walk through. Even experiences 4-6 year old kids do not have any control over. Experiences that, in the human realm, demand the brand “victim”. How can I believe such a thing?
The statement ‘…yet, God…’ is my answer to that question. It is for me the great mystery that is always working good out of the bad, creating victors out of victims. Place any tragedy in front of …yet God…, and everything behind it will be a story of reclamation, redemption and restoration because that is the business my God is in.
Yet God…the filter through which my experiences are processed, it is the world view I have adopted. The filter through which I have learned to live, allowing reclamation of, redemption of, and restoration of joyous, full life.