Last week I posted three “nun” stories. One concerned the life of a postulant. The other two explained why I ultimately left the convent. The second posting clearly revealed my immaturity.
Why was I so immature at age twenty-two and throughout the rest of my twenties, thirties, and forties? I’d romped through the first five years of my life. Any of you who’ve read my "Growing Up" postings will know what a happy child I was. But that carefree childhood ended the summer after my fifth birthday.
For the next few weeks, I’ll explore that time in my life and how it catapulted me into years of insecurity. By the time I turned six, I’d become a solemn, quiet, reserved, stoic child. I forgot how to giggle. I'd lost the linchpin of my life.My self-assurance as a young child came from the security of being greatly loved. My parents often told me that they’d had to wait eight years to welcome a baby into the family. They'd hug me and say, “Dodo, you were worth waiting for.”
Their delight in me didn't keep Mommy from scolding me when I was naughty. Like when I ran away or lit a fire in the hallway. But I had heard her tell Daddy more than once that even though I was an “imp,” I made her laugh. I learned early in life that I liked making people laugh.
Of course, that could make trouble for me too. The summer after I turned three, I trotted out into the front yard of our apartment building, waved to my daddy and the other men eating lunch across the street at the public water works, pulled down my panties, squatted, and peed.
The men hooted and slapped Daddy on the back. I waved some more, pulled up my cotton panties, and did a little rain dance around the puddle that was seeping into the ground.
Just then Mommy hurtled out the front door. She grabbed my hand, pulled me into the hallway and up the steps to our apartment, took down a curtain, and smacked my bottom with the rod.
“You’re an old meanie,” I cried.
Mommy hugged me afterward. “Honey,” she said, “you don’t pee in front of people. That’s something you do in the bathroom.”
After work, Daddy said, “Dodo, you made the guys laugh today.”
I nodded. I’d heard them chuckling.
“But there’s a time and a place for everything. You pee in the bathroom from now on.”
I got the message. If I could “hold it,” I peed in the toilet.
Yes, my childhood was idyllic. I never doubted my parents’ love. Probably most children don’t just as they don’t think about the air they breathe. They simply accept the world in which they live. And I lived in a world in which my parents treasured me. Day and night, I basked in their love.
That all changed the summer after my fifth birthday. I entered the time of abandonment.
(to be continued on Thursday . . . )