Day Four–Writing Challenge–Age Four

This is my fourth day of the October Writing Challenge that I am participating in. My childhood was not ideal but nevertheless, I have a fond spot in my heart when I remember back on my early years. Life is not always easy and my mantra has been for years that a diamond has to go through fire before it is a diamond. This is the first time I have written my story out, I have talked about my childhood plenty but never written anything down.

The age of four was my last year as an only child, my baby brother was born the following year. I was spoiled rotten at this point and a happy child. I never met a stranger. Even at the grocery store I would talk to everyone. My mother would warn me about how I shouldn’t talk to strangers but I couldn’t help myself.

School awaited me the following year and the thought of starting kindergarten was something that I absolutely could not wait to do. In fact, I bugged my mom so much about going to school that she made flashcards of the alphabet and numbers and bought me work books. Lupe would do flashcards with me every day until Sylvia became jealous of the extra attention I was receiving and threw a jar of pickles in the floor one day in protest. I guess she was pretty spoiled too.

One thing very vivid about the age of four for me was my smart mouth. I would back talk to my mother every chance I had and when she disciplined me, I became defiant. I would laugh when I got in trouble, play when I was in the corner and just generally test my limits every chance I had. My mom ended up reading psychology books that gave her new, effective ideas for discipline that seemed to work a little better. She says that she had to do something because she hated using corporal punishment and it didn’t faze me anyways. I was actually pretty hateful sometimes and sometimes if I was really upset I would throw huge temper tantrums in the floor. That was at home though. No one ever sympathized for my mom when she would talk about my behavior problems because I behaved very well in public and no one ever saw me act the way she described. I’m sure this was very frustrating for her and she handled it the best she could but there was an underlying problem that was never addressed or recognized back then. Acting out at the age of 4 may seem pretty normal however, the degree I would take it too was a bit more extreme than your average child.

I haven’t mentioned my dad to much thus far but I want to say that until about the age of 9, he was my hero. When I was four, I was a daddy’s girl. I couldn’t sleep at night until he would come and rub my back and I would drift off. My mom would read me a story every night before bed and then my dad would come and put me to sleep. He tried to be a good dad and there is no doubt in my mind about how much he loved me and still does. But he had anger issues  and I grew up in an environment that did not feel safe. He was never abusive to me but my poor mother got plenty of it. It was mostly verbal–there was a lot of screaming and yelling but sometimes he was physically abusive with her as well.

Some people are resilient to trauma but I unfortunately am not. I don’t want to go into the details quite yet because it wasn’t something that I comprehended when I was 4 and honestly, I have forgot all memories of it until I was 9. But I want you to be aware of my environment because what in my mind I remember as a happy home actually wasn’t and the effects of my home life are directly reflected in my behaviors and attitudes through out my life.

I am just telling my story the way it happened and am not looking for sympathy. The whole point in me writing is to educate  adults about the effects of trauma on children. This field of study is still being explored and I encourage you to research “Developmental Trauma Disorder” if you know a child that is living in what I call a toxic environment. The idea that children are to young to comprehend is pretty accurate but do not think for one second they do not see what happens and try to rationalize it in their minds. In fact, when a small child or infant witnesses something considered traumatic on a consistent basis they begin to believe that something they are doing in fact is what is causing the action that is so scary. Their cerebral cortex has the potential not to develop correctly creating a whole slew of other problems. This is a very real disorder and will most likely be included in the 2013 edition of the DSM-V. It is thought that many people/children have been misdiagnosed with post traumatic stress syndrome which is another beast altogether.


About lilmommacass

I worry about the environment. I cloud gaze often. I dream of the sea. Doodler. Waitress. Nomad of sorts. River swimmer. I have a small westie named Lulu that I sleep with like a stuffed animal. And maybe one day they will say, "and who was she really anyway?"
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8 Responses to Day Four–Writing Challenge–Age Four

  1. Good observations. I agree that it is so important for stories like this to be told so that there is better understanding for all involved.

  2. Hi Jessica,

    Obviously a lot to process in your childhood home, complicated by the fact that you care for your folks and they sound like they adore you. Life can be very messy, can’t it? And you came out of it all as a crafty girl–creating inspired works out of unassuming materials.

    • lilmommacass says:

      Thank you for the sweet comment. Life can be very messy and complicated but it’s not all bad. Creativity has always been a positve outlet for me. I think the arts in schools is so necessary for kids. Thanks again for the comment and reading my blog:)

  3. You’re so right. I remember a teacher in Grade 5 shaking a kid for not knowing the answer to a question. When she let him go, he lost his balance and fell into the corner of his desk, cutting a deep gouge just above his eye. Blood came pouring out. Just observing all this, I was traumatized – not just scared, but something more. Violence had been inserted into my world for the first time. Fortunately, I didn’t have to live with this sort of thing, but I’ll never forget it. Thanks for having the courage to write about it.

    • lilmommacass says:

      You are so right Jane. Removing a child from his primary care giver before the age of 6 is extremly dangerous for the child. And repeated moves for the child is even worse. I was majoring in social work but when I read statistics I couldn’t do it. Now I am majoring in counseling.

    • lilmommacass says:

      Wow that poor kid. I understand what you mean when you say not scared but something more, it freezes you and you can’t look away, time seems to be irrelevant or nonexistant all together and you think about it for days and weeks afterwards. What happened to the teacher?

  4. So true. When children are subjected to abuse (even if it’s “just” emotional as in having to hear people screaming at each other, threatening each other, saying things that they would never even carry out) it changes them. they often feel they caused it somehow, and either they withdraw or they try to do and say things to “fix” it. Or they act out in ways that bewilder everyone. And they take those feelings through the rest of their lives.
    I’ve found, in doing this challenge, that I’ve learned a lot about myself and my family that I’d tucked away in the recesses of my mind. It’s been a good exercise.

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