I have been asked how far back do I remember and what do I remember from those times and why I think that I remember the events? I remember quite far back I guess and I would have to say that most of the memories are not pleasant ones at first glance. I am guessing that although there were good times, that the bad ones shocked me enough to be brought to the forefront overshadowing the good times.
I remember my 1st nightmare, because it came every year at the same time, Christmas Eve. I was 5 years old and it was so real that I woke up with a jolt, in a deep sweat, screaming and eventually just sobbing in the dark alone in my bed, until my brother came and held me and talked to me until still sobbing I fell asleep. They came for me in my dreams these little creatures that resembled men, but were the size of dwarfs and had long sharp-pointed teeth and sharp claw like nails that hooked into you when they dragged you out of your bed. They came down the chimney through the fireplace and down the hall, into the room I shared with my brother, but they never came for him, just for me and no one ever heard me screaming, nobody ever heard them laughing talking about all of the children they would steal that night. I could not figure out why nobody heard my head hit the floor as I was dragged from my bed down the hall towards the living room. I would wake up at the same point of the dream halfway to the living room. I grew to hate Christmas Eve, but it remained a secret to this day between me and my brother and I pretended to love Christmas like the other children and the elves and Santa Claus, but as Christmas drew near I would begin to fear what I knew was coming as soon as I closed my eyes at Christmas Eve.
I remember meeting my cowboy hero while I was attending pre school at the Montreal Day Nursery. I was 4 going on 5, John Wayne was in town and decided to do some publicity shots and one of them was to be at my school. I did not sleep all night, or at least not very much, but nothing could have kept me from meeting my hero, ” The Duke” and so it was I who marched up and said hello. He was so tall and so big, but I got to wear his hat in a picture and I was so proud and happy that my head swelled up and that big hat fit just fine.
I can remember having my hand slapped with a ruler by my mom in grade one for getting a Cee in writing. It was not that the ruler hurt my hand so much, but my feelings had been hurt terribly and I felt like I had let my mother down. A single tear rolled down my face and I walked away with my head down. I would never forget that day and I vowed never to have another, but of course there were many more such days some worse than others.
I remember grade three seeing young boys under the desk of female teacher in grade two. I remember thinking if they were supposed to be on punishment why were they so happy. I asked one of the boys why he was so happy and he said that the teacher did not wear panties and he was going to be bad every day. I was a milk monitor then and only good children got to be milk monitors, so I would never be one of the ones under the desk. That guy is now in jail for raping older women.
I remember not liking to read and my grade one teacher sending me to the Montreal Library for a private talk with a worker there. I remember her saying that if I joined the library I could take home any book that I wanted and that we would talk about it the next time I came. I picked a book on the mythical Gods and soon I was reading all of the time and enjoying it so much that I no longer needed to have a tutor, or guide. I now read 5 books at a time and can read just about anything. I can not remember the library guide’s name, but I will never forget the gift of reading she gave to me over 45 years ago.
I remember always being afraid to look the wrong way, say the wrong thing, or do something that would get me into trouble. As far back as I can remember, I knew it was trouble to ask why, or to question what you were told to do. As far back as I remember I always felt alone even when standing in the middle of a crowded room. I have always I believe been afraid to be noticed, because more often than not to bring attention to yourself meant that you would draw the attention of an adult and most adults would be too happy to put you back in your place.
Today I sometimes shake when slow dancing with a girl I do not know. I have a hard time speaking publicly, whether it be at a family function, or in court. The words just seem to freeze in my throat and refuse to come out. Yes I remember back far to the time when I was almost 5. It was a scary time for me; a lonely time. Oh there were lots of cuddling and hugs, but I only remember them after I am thinking about the hurting. Thinking to myself, there had to be more.
I still remember to this day my grade 7 teacher saying to us on the first day of school as he introduced himself, “You are the worst behaved students in the school and most of you will probably not amount to anything and I will not waste time teaching you what you are incapable of learning. I will teach you what you need to survive and keep you from disturbing the rest of the school. I will be your babysitters”, that is exactly what he did. The smartest girl in the school was in my class and she had never been in trouble. This girl is now a junkie. I was a top student and had never been in trouble before with any teacher and was a little confused as to why I was in this class except that my brother had him as a teacher. They sometimes used this method to determine where to put children, figuring if the sibling was trouble, then the whole family was probably the same. What I do know is that something was changed in me after hearing that speech and being under this teacher’s guidance for a year and it was not for the good.
We must protect the children at all costs, because they are the future, because they are helpless and they are only what we teach them. My wish is for children to remember the good times first because they are so much more memorable than the bad and hope they will not need the bad memories to remind them of the good.
We do not know what a child will remember, or know how far the memories will go back, so why not do the right thing and just love them, encourage them and support them? Let us make them feel safe at all times, no matter where they are. You can start by being your child’s hero and the person your child feels comfortable to come to with for everything. Please take back your responsibility for your children and they will have nothing but great memories, because you will helping with the making of them.