An organizer of a class reunion posted on the group’s facebook page asking for each of us to post three memories we have of our time together. My family moved away from my childhood home at the end of seventh grade so I don’t have high school memories to share. But that request got me reminiscing about my childhood and my 13 years in that small, wide-spot-in-the-road kind of town.
The good and not-so-good memories churn around, swirling in my mind. Its funny how the not-so-good ones seem to jump front and center. And I think of people and experiences I haven’t thought of for years. Being teased and called names. That sucked. And yet, without those experiences, maybe I wouldn’t be who I am today. ????
My mom was awesome on one particular incident. Before the 80s big hair was ‘in’, she braided my long hair and I slept on the braids. Then I had super kinky, big hair the next morning when we took out the braids. I loved it. These two brothers in 5th grade called me Amazon at school. I was too proud to cry in front of them but I bawled when I got home and mom asked about the compliments I got on my hair. I was never doing my hair that way again!
She sat me down and asked me if I knew what an Amazon was? I had to admit that I didn’t know. She told me that an Amazon woman was a tall, strong, beautiful warrior-woman. She said the next time those boys called me that to consider it a compliment and say, “Thank you.” I was skeptical. But I was also still at an age when I thought my parents knew everything (vs them knowing nothing once I turned 14).
Not too long after the first time, we braided my hair again. The most braids we ever got in were 17. Talk about big hair. I took a deep breath and got on the bus. Then I got to school. Then I heard it. “Hey Amazon!” And lots of giggles and snorting. Summoning up my best imitation of my mother (who was the tallest mom around at 5’10”), I stood up nice and tall, threw my shoulders back, and I looked those stupid boys in the eyes and said, “Hmmph… thank you, I take that as a compliment.” And I walked right by them, head held high, flouncing my hair.
My mom helped me; but she didn’t call the school and complain or tell the principal to do something about those boys. Mom helped me feel good about myself, helped me fight my own battles. She helped me turn something difficult into something positive for myself. And she’s done that my whole life.
Even though its the crappy memories that bubble up more prominently, I still say I had a magical and wonderful childhood because my mother helped make it so. Thanks, mom.