“Precious are the children because they know no fear. Only faith, trust and love” That actually is my own quote. Probably something I heard and stuck with me or something I just made up.
But it is true. We have all seen toddlers walk around as if they own the world. Curious, wanting to explore everything using their senses; looking, hearing, feeling, smelling and of course tasting even if it was not what they expected.
I remember the special moments of being a child from 4 years old on up. At the time, my family and I lived in Utah and we were not the same religion as most. My older brother and sister had a more difficult time with that in school than I did. Being young teens there was some alienation from their peers asking why they did not participate in the strongly Mormon faith. My parents then decided to put my siblings in the only Catholic school in town. But for me, I never saw the difference myself. All I saw were kids just like myself and wanted to be their friend. From the neighborhood kids my age, I would hear “my parents say that I can’t play with you because you are not like us”. I couldn’t comprehend that, so I turned to bribing the kids with cookies. “If you play with me, I’ll give you my momma’s great cookies”. That worked sometimes with the girls, but mostly with one boy in my neighborhood who soon became one of my best of friends. Always waiting for me at my home after kindergarten and 1st grade school for more cookies and play. His name was Mikey and he and I were typical kids. We explored places in the wooded areas by our home. Old abandoned homes. At one particular time, for whatever reason, he and I decided that we were going to break into a neighbor’s basement window and take whatever we found. We knew that was wrong, but curiosity got the better of us.
We did get into their basement window one day when they were not home and in their basement were tons of SPAM meat and boxes of sugar cubes. We hit the big time, Mikey and I thought!! So we took as much as we could and while leaving the home, the owners drove up just in time to catch us and take us to our parent’s homes and show them what we did.
I had a glass, pink piggy bank that I was saving money in and my punishment was to not only apologize but give them all the money in my piggy bank. Mikey’s parents and mine were not too happy with us.
In kindergarten, I had a little African American girl friend that I met and liked her right away. I did not see the difference in her skin color than mine. I just saw a great potential friend. Which we continued to be. But not without being bullied by classmates that did not like 1) people of different color 2) people that were not their religious faith. Two huge strikes against my friend, Leetha.
I soon started protecting her from the bullies. I was the kind of little girl that my mom would dress in dresses and matching coats, but underneath, I always put on shorts so that I could play sports or climb trees in. Always half girl half tomboy. One day during recess Leetha and I were sitting at the top of the school playground ladder as the bullies started to circle around below and heckling both of us.
An older boy picked up a heavy metal bolt he had found on the ground and threw it at Leetha. Instead, I moved into the path of the bolt and it hit my left eyebrow leaving a bruise and bleeding. My momma was on her way to school to pick us up any way and saw what had happened. The boy was taken inside the school and punished by the principle. The school nurse took care of my eye and my momma took care of both my friend Leetha and myself by telling us that there were some people in the world that would do that to others. Make fun of, outcast you or try to belittle you. But to not let them get away with that. To not fight them back but instead show them that they too could have meaningful friendships with others that were “different” than us and all that it took was to get to know them first and then make their decision on whether or not they were friend -worthy.
That was the best lesson I learned in life early on. To not look at the world like others did because of the unknown, fear or not understanding. But to instead look at the world through their eyes and feel what they are feeling when ever many were against them. Because hidden gems are found in places and in people’s hearts in all colors, religions and beliefs. To this day I still remember that and have no problem meeting people that are different than I am and just liking them for who they are unconditionally.