Somewhere between my first and second birthdays, I got hair. Like, actual hair. I sported that reddish fuzz for roughly 19 months. Then, all of a sudden, I had two little boy cousins, another brother and…. hair. Soft, blonde, wavy hair.
But my hair isn’t that important in this chapter.
Let’s talk about David.
David was born 2 years, 2 weeks and 2 days after me. I have an adorable picture of me holding that bundle of irritation for the first time. I loved that baby! I’ve been told that when Grandma was going to change his pants one day, I said, “NO! I’m going to do it! He’s MY brother.”
I was two.
It didn’t take me too long to figure out that MY brother was nothing more than a brat.
I remember one day, David, in all his preschool brilliance, was going to take a swig of ammonia, just to see what it would do. Being the over-protective, attentive big sister that I was, I screamed at him not to do it. He didn’t. (Good job listening, Lil Bro!)
But Mom heard me scream and I was put to bed early for screaming.
The only thing I had to say about that for many years was, “????” And then I got older and wondered how it was better to have a kid drink a cleaning solution than to hear someone speak (perhaps) a little too loudly, encouraging him not to. I’ve never understood that one.
I was bitter about that for a very long time.
David didn’t speak until he was 3. As far as I understand, he didn’t even do the “mama, dada, googoo gaga” thing. But when he was 3, one day he decided to talk. And when he did, he started speaking in complete sentences. It wasn’t that he couldn’t do it. He was just being a brat.
I say “Brat” with as much affection and gentleness as I can muster.
Davie was the baby of the family for quite a few years. He still has bits and pieces of the Baby of the Family personality. Like, he says really outrageous things to try to get a reaction out of people.
Dave has a variety of interests, and a personality that doesn’t let him stop pursuing something until he’s mastered it. Like, flying, for example. He began with kites. Then he moved on to flight-related computer games. His interest in aviation led him to join the Air Guard. He served for 6 years and hated the “military” aspect of it, so when he was done, he pursued his second passion. Frying donuts. (Really.) And since that doesn’t exactly pay well, he pursued his third passion: Music. He’s been part of several bands, and has spent lots of time and energy teaching himself all about sound in preparation to open his own production company, which he did earlier this year.
It took several years, but I did get past seeing him as Brat. We will explore that topic at a later time.
I have two memories of being two.
When I turned 2-1/2, my maternal grandparents gave me a little red trike to celebrate the occasion. (I was always a little spoiled. Ok, so I was a lot spoiled….) At the same time, my grandma got an exercise bike and we have a picture of her and I on our new bikes. I remember begging Dad and Gramps to assemble the trike for me. I spent that winter wanting so desperately to ride the trike, but it was too cold and snowy, so that wasn’t going to happen.
Once, my mom relented and brought it into the house so I could peddle up and down the long living room. I did not enjoy having to wait for it to warm up so I wouldn’t stick to the metal seat. I think I even remember having a temper tantrum over that. Or maybe I just whined. I don’t know.
I don’t remember riding it in the summer at all, but that’s probably because it wasn’t being “withheld” from me during the summer like it was in the winter. I know I did use it in the summer — I just don’t have any solid memories of it.
The other memory I have of being two came roughly 2 weeks after I got the trike. That was a very eventful time for me!
It was Thanksgiving, and we had gone to visit Dad’s family. The very long drive seemed even longer to me because I was 2, I was sitting in a very uncomfortable car seat with a numb bum, I had a baby brother who was yelping like somebody was going to kill him or something, and it was cold! I was tired. I was hungry. I was miserable. And I was DONE being in that stupid car.
So, so, SO done.
When we finally arrived, we walked in the house to find Grandma unconscious on the couch. To me, she was just napping. But she was all white and when Dad tried to wake her to let her know we were there, she didn’t respond.
Grandma was a tiny little thing. She weighed under 100 pounds, so my dad picked her up and put her in the van and started off to the hospital. Mom called the police to tell them my dad was speeding through town trying to get his mother to the hospital.
The details of those few days are sketchy. Time means something completely different to a 2-year old than it does to an adult, so I honestly have no idea when stuff happened.
At some point, my dad did what my dad does best…. He took me to lay down to take a nap. I was a very perceptive kid and was exceptionally good at picking up on emotion. I knew Dad was sad and maybe a little angry and he didn’t do much sleeping, so I knew something was wrong. I think that’s the only time I’ve ever witnessed him having a problem taking a nap.
When I woke up, everybody was there — except Grandma. The first thing I said upon waking was, “Where’s Grandma?” My mom just looked at me with tears in her eyes and said, “Grandma died.”
I wore a pink dress with ruffles and tiny, dainty roses to the funeral. It was polyester. (Really, it was! I noted this when I found it in a box of my little girl stuff years later.) Somebody sang “How Great Thou Art” and for years afterward, that song gave me the creeps. There was a dinner. And everybody went home.
They never found out what caused her to die so suddenly. The doctors best guess was that she had a stroke.
One day, Grandma was there, the next day she was gone, we were all in a funny church service singing “creepy” songs, followed by a dinner with people I didn’t know. And Grandma never came back and I didn’t know why. This event had a profound effect on the rest of my life.
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Mari is the middle of 5 kids — and the only girl — in a male-dominent, semi-quiverfull, rather patriarchal homeschooling family. She was raised in a patriarchal church and most of her social network as a child consisted of children of patriarchal or quiverfull families. This is the story of how she was sucked into the patriarchal/quiverfull belief system, and how she was lovingly (and in some cases, not so lovingly!) escorted out. Read her blog at: http://www.marismuses.wordpress.com
NLQ Recommended Reading …
‘Breaking Their Will: Shedding Light on Religious Child Maltreatment‘ by Janet Heimlich
‘Quivering Daughters‘ by Hillary McFarland
‘Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement‘ by Kathryn Joyce