Every now and then I hear about someone who has vivid memories from when they were three or even two years old. That fascinates me, but I surely do not remember things from that far back. I do have some clear memories from when I was five years old. I am confident of the age because my older brothers and sisters were in school and I was not. In addition, my family moved when I was in first grade and I can identify the old farmhouse as the setting of my memories.
I had two younger brothers, 21 months and 5 1/2 years younger than me. My first lesson in faith revolved around the birth of the baby brother. My little brother and I told our mother that we wanted to have another sister or brother. Mom told us that if we prayed to God we might get one. Oh my, we prayed. And, voilà! We got a baby! And almost immediately! That sure convinced me of the power of prayer and of God.
The baby was born in August and once school started Mom was at home with 3 preschoolers, one of them just an infant. I was her number one helper. I washed the breakfast and lunch dishes and did other household tasks. One afternoon my dad was going to town. I wanted to go with him but my mom told me I could not go because I hadn’t done the lunch dishes yet. Even then I procrastinated. And even at age 5, my parents were instilling a work ethic. I cried but that got me nowhere. So I attacked the dishes and managed to finish washing them in record time. I did get to go to town. I know now that my dad dallied around so that I could go with him. He loved his kids!
The school district that we lived in started optional kindergarten the year I was 5. I was the right age to go and was certainly ready. My brothers and sisters attended a one-room school close to our farm but kindergarten was at the big school in town. The school district was not going to provide transportation. With two other preschoolers at home my mom couldn’t take her turn driving the neighborhood carpool so I did not get to go to kindergarten. But as it turned out I didn’t suffer too much. My sisters were two and four years older than me. After they came home from school each day, and after their chores were done, we would spend hours playing school. They made flashcards with pictures and words. They taught me phonics and sounding out words. They were very proud to impart their great wisdom and learning to me. And I learned to read very well before I started school.
With eight kids in the family, there was not a lot of extra money. Everyone worked hard and we all had our chores to do. But I specifically remember we always had books around. Mom would go to yard sales and thrift stores to buy clothes for us and she also bought books. Love of reading was instilled in all of us at a very young age. We did not have a perfect life. It was difficult in a lot of ways. But fortunately, the filter of age allows me to recall many positive experiences of my growing up years, and not very many of the bad ones.
Early childhood memories, just another thread of my life.