Tag Archives: growing up

Nighttime Reflections

I am spending the next 3 days with my best friend and her family, and since she has four children under the age of five and a part time job…she’s tired.  She and her husband have gone to bed, so I’ve retired to my room to get a little computer time in before going to bed myself.  I’m so happy to be here with them. Her four kids, my Godchildren, are so adorable and so much fun. I miss the days when they lived only 20 minutes from me…rather than three hours.

Anyway, now that they are in bed and all four kids are asleep (I hope, for their sake, all four STAY asleep for several hours), the house is uncharacteristically quiet.  I didn’t realize this house could get this quiet!  There is usually someone crying or talking…or the sound of little bare feet slapping the hardwood floors.  In effort to keep the house quiet and avoid somebody waking up, I’ve opted not to watch TV or watch YouTube videos (I forgot my earphones!).  With all this silence, I’ve been sitting here thinking about things.

For some reason, I started thinking about high school.  I probably thought about this due to my imminent birthday (March 6)…which makes me realize it’s been quite a long time since I was in high school!  I’ve been out of high school long enough now that some of my old friends from those days have kids well into elementary school, some are getting divorced, some are recently remarried…we’re grown ups!  When you’re in your early 20s, you consider yourself a “grown up” (and technically you are)…but when you reach my age you begin to realize you were still just a kid then.

I sometimes miss the carefree days of college…being on my own without really being on my own.  I had the luxury of coming and going as I pleased without the burden of financial responsibilities bombarding me from every angle.  It was still easy, and almost “fashionable” to stay up until all hours…sometimes it was even necessary if I had a big test the next day.  I was always coming and going, spending more time with friends than alone or with family…and it was a tragedy if something happened to prevent me from spending time with them.  Back then, my family were important to me, but my friends were my life.  I spent hours talking on the phone (believe it or not, I actually went to college during a time when texting had not quite taken off the way it has now), and when I wasn’t on the phone I was with the people I was on the phone with.

During college and shortly thereafter, every aspect of life seemed so emotionally charged.  It was much easier for me to become passionate about things.  It doesn’t take all that much for people of that age to get into arguments with their friends, enter a phase where you aren’t speaking, etc.  Of course, within the week it was all forgotten and life moved on as if it never happened.  In college you don’t care as much about having nice things (except when it comes to technology), matching furniture, fancy dishes, and things like that.  For people that age lucky enough to live off campus, it is not uncommon to have mismatched furniture in every room, sitting atop the 30-dollar rug you purchased at Walmart all on your own and are so proud of.

It’s strange to think about that time in my life, because it wasn’t really that long ago, yet it seems like it was.  It’s strange to see how much your life changes and your priorities change in such a short span of time.  When you reach my age, you have your own house, or at least your own apartment.  You want your furniture to match. All of a sudden you find dishes and cookware interesting.  You don’t have a Walmart rug in your living room anymore.   Instead of wanting the fastest car, you want a practical car that saves gas mileage and has four doors to seat everyone comfortably and isn’t too hard to climb out of.  If you have children, you actually want and maybe already have a minivan.

You realize how smart your parents actually are.  Instead of being afraid of being caught out with your parents by your friends, you start to want to hang out with them.  They are starting to be more like friends than parents all of a sudden.  You don’t spend half the amount of time with your friends that you once did, because they’re all busy with their lives and so are you.  Instead of going to bars or clubs when you do get to spend time with them, you just go out to eat or to each others’ homes.  I never did lead a “party lifestyle” anyway, but I spent more time in bars then than I do now–which is never.  In fact, I don’t drink at all now.

When you call or text your friends now, you don’t get upset or wonder what you did wrong if they don’t answer you.  In fact, you find yourself feeling surprised if they actually do respond in a timely manner.  It takes an awful lot for you to get into any sort of fight with a friend when you reach the end of your 20s.  You’ve grown up and matured.  Stupid petty things don’t upset you like they once did.  And if you do have a falling-out with a friend, it’s over something pretty bad…something you and that person just do not and will not agree on.  If someone hurts you, a lot of times you stop speaking to each other forever…not just a few days.  Luckily it rarely happens, though…well, unless one or both parties have failed to mature with age which sometimes happens.

You begin to look back at all the friends you once had and you realize just how many people you have lost touch with.  People who you spent practically every waking moment with in school are reduced to a Facebook friend you rarely hear from, with the exception of the random comment or like on your status or photo. It doesn’t happen with all your friends, though.  Some friends you make in high school and college will be your friends for life.  And you realize late in your 20s just how rare that is and how precious they are to you.  You also make new friends at work, people who share your interests and become just as close to you as your college buddies were, even if you don’t spend nearly as much time with them.

While some of this may sound depressing to a younger person, it really isn’t.  It’s just the naturally progression of life that comes with maturity.  One thing you realize at my age is, while you do miss those days from time to time, most people wouldn’t go back if they could.  When you get older and mature, you start to settle down and appreciate different things than you appreciated in school.  I personally loved college, but I wouldn’t go back to those days no matter how much you paid me.  Now those days are just fond memories of a good time, but I’m much more settled down and content with my life and myself than I’ve ever been before…and I like it.

Another thing that happens after school is that you become your teachers’ peers rather than their subordinates.  I’m actually friends with some of my college professors and even a couple of my high school teachers.  Some of the teachers I feared and even disliked in high school, I now look back on with respect.  The ones I liked the least were the ones from whom I learned the most.  Age becomes a far less important factor when you’re in your late 20s.  In high school, it was just much too beneath you to be friends with people more than a couple of years younger, and the people a few years older felt the same about you.  Now, I have friends decades older than I am!  And I don’t think a thing of it.  It’s natural to me.

I guess one of the saddest things to happen when you get older is you start hearing about the deaths of some of your old teachers from high school.  The ones that were older and about to retire when I was in school are now dying.  It makes me sad.

One of my best and favorite teachers from high school passed away not that long ago and I was so hurt by that.  She was one of the teachers most feared by all the students.  I almost took the class in summer school just to avoid taking it with her.  Had I done that, I would have cheated myself in a big way.  I’ve been thinking a lot about her lately.  My senior English teacher taught me almost everything I know about writing.  If it hadn’t been for her, I’d never have made it through college with almost a 4.0.  I’d never have been able to use my writing as a source of income.  You can’t tell from reading this blog, but I can actually write fairly well.  Well enough to be published from time to time.  I don’t take the time to make this blog perfect like I do my professional writing.  I just write as it comes to me.  Proofreading–ha! I just wish I’d have told her how much her class did for me.

One of the best things you can do for a teacher is go back when you’ve grown up and tell them how much their class meant to you or how it was a major part of your success.  I would have told her eventually how much she meant to me and how much I appreciated her, but I never imagined she’d die before I got the chance.  It broke my heart.  It broke a lot of people’s hearts.  She was the best of the best of the teachers at my high school.  It’s still funny to me how one of the most feared teachers at my school (and most hated by students who didn’t care to learn or even try) ended up being my favorite.  After my first week in her class, the fear subsided and I was so glad I hadn’t taken the easy way out of her class.  I miss her.  I miss her so much.


15 Signs You Attended a Fundamental Baptist School

I grew up in a Baptist church and my parents wanted me to attend a Baptist school when they made their decision on where to send me after kindergarten (they were unhappy with the public schools in our district). When they enrolled me in the christian school, they saw “Baptist” in the name and assumed the schools beliefs were the same as their own.  While many beliefs are similar, they didn’t know that the Fundamental Baptists were a slightly different breed. 

1.  You looked forward to Chapel day each week.  While chapel was never what one would call “fun,” it was still an hour you weren’t sitting in class.  It was much easier to pass notes in chapel, and there was always the “try not to laugh out loud when someone’s stomach growls” game.

2.  You know what a “sword drill” is.  It was your teacher’s favorite method for learning the Bible, and you probably considered yourself a master by the time you reached 6th grade.

3.  You learned at least 15 Bible verses as songs.  Someone, somewhere, decided the best way to learn Bible verses was to set the verse to music. If you ever hear these verses today, you probably still sing the tune in your head.

4.  You thought the people in the Bible actually spoke 1600s King James English.  Because KJV was the only translation allowed on the premises.

5. You were proud of yourself for buying a DC Talk CD only to be told at school that it was still the music of the devil.  While most churches accept and embrace christian music, fundamental baptists believe the beat is wicked.

6.  Free dress day. What’s that?  You probably got jealous of your other private school friends when you learned they had “free dress” days. Not you, oh no. You were in that plaid uniform every day, every week, every year.

7.  Culottes were the closest thing to pants girls could wear.  Not on a school day, mind you. Only for P.E. or at school-related functions held after school hours.

8.  You’ve been part of a nativity play more times than you can count.  When you finally get selected to be Mary or Joseph, depending on what sex you are, you’ve reached the pinnacle. The highest honor any christian school thespian can achieve.

9. If you happen to be female, you were jealous of the boys.  Because to a Fundamental Baptist, boys were better. Those rare field trips to a skating rink? Boys could wear jeans. Girls were still expected to skate in their uniform or an approved skirt or dress. Hem below the knee, of course!

10.  You’ve sold enough World’s Finest Chocolate to feed a small country.  Because it’s the universal fund-raising food.  None of those great fund raisers where you can choose what kind of food to order…the only options were plain, caramel, almond, or krispy. Don’t hurt yourself deciding from that expansive list of choices.

11.  Your first exposure to science was creationism.  Saying “evolution” was almost as bad as cursing.

12.  A Beka Book.  You never knew a different brand of textbook.

13.  You never watched a film in class.  Not even educational ones. Like, ever.

14. The school holidays were better.  Because, unlike public school, you probably got the Friday before Spring Break off as well, because it usually coincided with Easter.  And that 3 days off at Thanksgiving business? Ha! You got a WEEK.

15.  You lived in fear of being sent to the principal.  Because paddling was the answer to every bad behavior.

Yes, I realize not every fundamental baptist school is exactly like this, but odds are, this was pretty close!

Summertime: Looking Back at My Favorite Summer Activities and Reminiscing About Growing Up

I was an unusual child.  Unlike other kids my age, I loved school.  While I didn’t enjoy waking up early to go, once I got there I almost always enjoyed my day.  I was shy (I still am!), but despite the fact I was quiet and didn’t have an over abundance of friends, I still loved being at school (I even stretched my four year college degree into a six year experience!).  While I enjoyed school, I still loved summer break and looked forward to it every May.

As a child, my parents both worked so I spend a good deal of my summer with babysitters.  When I was very young–kindergarten through fourth grade–I spent my summers with a family who lived across the street from us.  It was my best friend Ronnie’s house, Ronnie was one of the only kids who lived on my street so we spent a huge amount of time together.  His mother had two boys–Ronnie and his older brother B.J.–and his mom loved me.  She treated me like the daughter she never had and to her I could do no wrong.  We were all relatively poor in that neighborhood.  We lived in tiny two-bedroom houses which, looking back, seemed big to me.  Now I realize how tiny our home was, now that I live in a home of my own–by myself–that is substantially larger.  Money was just not something we had, so Ronnie and I–and sometimes B.J.–had to make our own fun.  Born in the mid-eighties, I was one of the last generations who were born before the age of technology.  We did have video games, but neither Ronnie’s nor my parents would allow us to sit and play them all day.  We spend the majority of our time outdoors, tearing up the pavement riding our bikes up and down Blossom Street.  We also spent countless hours playing games in our backyards.  Mostly my backyard, because we had a large shrub that leaned over, creating the perfect tunnel, which we used at our house.  Ronnie was one of the few boys I knew who was willing to play house.  Though, it wasn’t really a girly game.  And there was no one else to play with on the street so it’s all we knew.

I have memories of doing so many fun things there.  Jumping on my trampoline–being an only child, I was the envy of the neighborhood with my full-size trampoline–and playing on the swingsets in our backyards.  I even remember vividly playing some dangerous games, like shooting roman candles and bottle rockets as we held them.  My mother–and his–would have killed us if she knew we did that.

Even though we didn’t have a lot of money, my family still went on a few really great vacations.  The first vacation I really remember was our trip to San Antonio, Texas.  It was my first trip on an airplane.  I remember I had a stuffed “Littlefoot” doll from The Land Before Time.  I clutched him the entire time, and he had to go through the x-ray machine at the security checkpoint.  My parents let me sit by the window, and I sat glued to it, staring at the landscape below with wonder.  I remember seeing the Alamo, riding in a boat on the river, and a horse-drawn carriage ride through the city.  We also went to Sea World, the highlight of the trip.

Other great vacations we took included a trip to St. Louis, where we saw the Budweiser Clydesdales and spent a day at Six Flags.  Other memorable vacations from my childhood include a trip to Orlando, Florida for Disney World; a trip to Portland and Bar Harbor, Maine;  and a trip to New York City.

We eventually moved away from the tiny house in the city to live in a quieter, safer neighborhood in the suburbs.  My parents were making more money and had been toying with the idea of moving for a while.  They made up their minds firmly one evening when a gang had a party in the area and a rival gang showed up and started a fight.  Shots were fired–numerous shots–and the police actually found several of them hiding in our backyard.  Our house was for sale very soon afterwards.

Our house sold long before the new home my parents were building was ready, so we had to find a rental property until the house was completed.  I remember looking at several apartments downtown, right in the middle of the city, in a historic district.  The apartments were very unique and different from our house, but ultimately the house directly across the street from the one we lived in came up for rent.  So we packed or stuff and walked it across the street to the house where we would spend the next several months.

That house was absolutely horrible.  It was disgusting from the family who lived there before.  I had never lived anywhere but our tiny house.  The rental house was much larger.  It had a living room, a den, a dining room, and three bedrooms and two bathrooms!  I had a nice bedroom, but I never slept in it.  I was terrified in that room and didn’t sleep one night in it.  I would always end up begging my parents to let me sleep in their room, so my dad ended up moving my bed into the formal living room.  I slept better there, because it was right next to my parents bedroom.  They would keep their door open so I could even see them from my own bed.

It was a miserable time.  I was right next door to Ronnie, which was ok, but I hated everything about that house.   It could have been great.  It was so much bigger, it had a large enclosed front porch, it had two bathrooms–making it much easier and more efficient to get ready in the mornings–it had two living areas so we didn’t have to all agree on what to watch on TV, and the yard was huge.  The weird thing about it, though, was the “backyard” was actually on the side.  The backyard was fairly small, but apparently the original owners had bought the lot next to the lot where the house was built, thus making their yard twice as large.

The negatives outweighed the positives, though.  We lived very minimally in that house.  75 percent of our things were in boxes and all stacked in one of the bedrooms.  The downstairs den was large, but the previous renters left it in a horrible state, including an infestation of fleas from the two large chows that lived INSIDE the house.  It took a substantial amount of time for my parents to get that room clean and flea-free.  We still ended up spending most of our time in my parents bedroom and the living room which had become my bedroom.  It was miserable.  I cried the day we moved out of our first house, but the day we moved out of the rental I had never been so happy!

When we moved to the suburbs my life changed.  My family started going to church, where I met my current best friend.  I liked the small town life.   The town has since grown to be quite large, but when I was a child, we couldn’t go anywhere without running into someone we knew.  The people there were different, they had more money.  We didn’t have to worry about someone breaking into our house or getting shot in the street. Life in the suburbs was good.

Overall, I had a terrific childhood.  I made many memories that will last a lifetime.  I was luckier than many children.  I never had any siblings, the only part of my childhood I wish were different, but I had parents who loved me and included me in everything.  I always had something to do and never had to work for their affections.  I had numerous health problems, which required major surgeries, which resulted in my being forced to stay inside a lot.  I think it was this which helped me discover my creative, artistic spirit.  I loved to write stories, paint pictures, and pretend.  Being an only child, I played by myself a great deal of the time, so pretending was necessary.  Though I had problems and setbacks, I believe my childhood–especially the special things my family did during the summers–helped shape me into the person I am today.