My earliest childhood memories are all good. Playing “cave spelunking” in our basement with my dad and siblings, the big climbing tree in our backyard, playing Indians with shell-face-paint at the beach with my cousins, going fishing with my dad, capturing fishflies and keeping them as pets: a collection of small childhood pleasures like those most of us have stored away in memory somewhere. I liked my early childhood. It was good. I liked my family. My life was safe and happy, and I don’t take those two things lightly! By some odd quirk of personality, I was one of those kids that lived to please. I was not only happy to do my own chores, but other people’s as well, and I used to get scolded for using up whole boxes of Kleenex to wrap miscellaneous small things to give as gifts to all and sundry (no laughing, Kleenex is the imaginative child’s wrapping paper!) My mom would call me “her little sunshine”, and I think in many ways I was my parent’s golden child. My older sister, R, was a free spirit, quite mischievous, with just enormous quantities of energy that she had to expend every waking moment! She was in constant motion for at least 8 straight years. With such an energetic first child, having a second-born who was quiet and lived-to-please must have seemed like a godsend to my parents! My little brother B, who arrived two years after I did, took after my older sister. So that made it two to one, and probably wore my parents out good and proper, while making my halo glow even brighter by comparison!
I was probably about 6 when I came to the dawning revelation that my eagerness to please and do things for everyone was leaving me with quite the unequal work load. I would make my own twin bed in the morning…then my sister’s…then my brother’s…then my parent’s big double-bed, which was quite a feat for a small 6-year-old! I was also a budding perfectionist, so sometimes I just re-did everyone else’s work after they did it, just so it could be done better, to my own strict and exacting standards. In retrospect I sound rather obnoxious, even to myself! In any case, I noticed that I was the one always getting asked to help with everything, while my sister and brother got out of work by virtue of complaining. My good nature was being taken advantage of! This unpleasant discovery rankled in my small soul. I decided it was unfair, and from now on, I was just going to do my own work, and no-one else’s.
I always looked at this decision as the moment when I started to “go bad”. I don’t know if I remember the exact moment or not, but it was kept fresh in my memory because my mom was always asking me about it, for years and years afterwards. “Do you remember the day you decided to stop being sweet and helpful?” she’d ask, sighing a little. “You used to be such a sweet little girl.” She would heave another sigh, and then ask “Do you remember why you decided to stop being sweet and good? Did Satan talk to you, and put that idea in your head? That was when you turned into a selfish girl.” I think this was just my mom’s way of complaining for the good ol’ days when she had at least ONE easy child to deal with. But at the time it instilled all sorts of guilt in me, and left me wondering if I had, indeed, made a pact with Satan that day, because certainly I didn’t act as nice afterwards. This actually became a major point of doubting my own salvation for me, because I had “said the sinner’s prayer” at the ripe old age of 3, and wasn’t I supposed to keep getting better and better after I was saved? But here I was, turning selfish and bad at the age of 6, when I should instead have been comfortably far down the road of righteousness! These doubts and guilt plagued me for years, I’m sorry to say. I always think one should explain salvation a little better, even to young children, so they don’t fall into these sorts of theological pitfalls. Over-simplistic theology definitely never helped me as a child, and I bet I’m not the only one. Anyway, after I “turned bad” at the age of 6, I went on still enjoying my life, despite being the selfish little sinner that I now knew I was. Then, when I was about 7, we met Joe and Mary LaQuiere.