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I'm not a fan of resolutions, but I told myself -- in a low-key fashion -- that I was going to clear out the drafts in my list of posts. I started this one in July 2008. At the time, I wasn't able to share these thoughts because they were too personal. Enjoy!

I recently had an interesting conversation with my boss. For those of you who don't know, I'm working with children for the first time in my life. Their idiosyncrasies are as interesting as they are infuriating, and dealing with them on a regular basis is testing the limits of everything I know to be right and good.

Anyway, I was telling him about a particularly trying encounter I'd had with a group of teenage girls. They're not bad kids by any stretch of the imagination, however, I wasn't equipped to handle them. As any boss would, he said that I need to be ready for anything. When I reminded him that I'm still learning how to deal with the youngsters, he was like, "Well, you've been a kid before." That's when I informed him that while I had lived through the age range of the children in question, I'd never acted like that. That's when he told me that I'd never had a childhood.

I didn't really know how to take that statement. Now I will admit that I've spent way more time with old people than with youngsters, but to say that I'd never been a kid was a bit more than I could handle. In his opinion, the fact that I don't know how to yo-yo, I've never jumped Double Dutch, and I've never flown a kite meant that I was the oldest-acting 30-something year old person he knew. I wasn't sure if should've been offended, hurt, or what.

In true MackDiva fashion, I analyzed the situation. My mother is the youngest child of an older woman. I, on the other hand, am the oldest child of a woman who was way too young to raise me. Since my mom was in college when I was born, my grandmother took over my primary care until I was four years old. Even though my mom took me after that, Granny was still the primary person in both our lives. It was almost like we were sisters and my grandmother was our mother.

When I was little, there weren't many children in our neighborhood. The kids down the street were considered undesirable by my grandmother for two reasons -- one, because their parents were the local drug dealers, and two, when they would come down to play with me, they would steal my toys. Consequently, I spent a lot of time either by myself or with my grandmother. She really was my first friend and my best magic. While Granny was healthy when I was small, she couldn't jump rope or fly kites with me.

Meanwhile, my mom was too busy trying to negotiate her life as a young single woman with a child in the pre-baby mama era. It's hard to imagine it, but there was a time in the not-to-distant past when a woman with a child was looked down upon in our society. Then she married my brother's father. While I'm not in the mood to go into details, let's just say that my mom was more concerned with keeping her marriage together than she was with making sure I was emotionally stable. My stepfather absolutely hated me. He didn't steal my toys, but he did steal my security and sense of well-being.

Consequently, I don't trust people much. It's kinda hard when the people who are supposed to love you unconditionally really don't. I've always felt like I had to be something extraordinary to be cared about, which has led to a life of overachievement and chronic insecurity. I've never done well in situations where I'm feel like I don't know what I'm doing. As for the kites, we lived around too many trees for that to be a feasible activity. None of the kids in my area knew how to jump Double Dutch, and yo-yos were something my parents had played with.

What I realized was that my childhood in rural East Texas is completely different than what children experience in inner-city Los Angeles. Does that negate it as a childhood? Not hardly! For example, I know how to make a zoo-zoo with a button and thread, and play-doh with flour, salt, and food coloring. And I know how to be tolerant of people have different backgrounds and experiences.

Comments

Angie-Nuvision said…
Excellent piece!!! This is what I'm talking about. Wonderful!!!
I saw it all. I felt it all.
Good job!
Yeah, it's your story. But the way you told it is what impresses me.
I'm a fan!!!

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