Without a Childhood
I was four years old when I was first neglected. My biological mother, grandmother, my sister and I were coming back from Victoria, Texas. We had decided to visit an aunt and an uncle there for the weekend. It was very late when we got back to Corpus Christi. I was sleeping in my car seat when we got to the house. I woke up briefly to see we were parked in the driveway. Everybody was getting out of the red, four-door Honda while I was still strapped in to my car seat. I went back to sleep, hoping that somebody would undo my straps. I was wrong.
I woke up the next morning to find myself still in the god damned car seat. I heard a ‘good morning’ in the front. There in the driver’s seat was my grandma. I had slept all night in the car! My mother didn’t know where I was! I couldn’t wait to get home and to assure her that I was alright. Grandma drove us to the pharmacy so she could get some medication for herself and then we went home. I imagined how worried my mother must have been when she realized that I was missing. I knew that my sister must have been scared, too. When I had gone inside, nobody realized that I was gone. Nobody missed me. Hell, nobody even noticed that I was wearing the same clothes from the night before. Then I thought that everybody must have been busy that they had forgotten about that night.
Life resumed like nothing had ever happened. Jessica was playing Super Mario Bros. on the Nintendo and I was reading a book that I found behind the bunk bed in our room. I also forgot about the incident in the car, thinking that it was just an accident. I was sitting on the top bunk going back and forth between watching my sister play on the Nintendo and reading my picture book. I finished reading my little book and climbed down the ladder of my bunk. I asked my sister if I could play next.
“In a while,” she said.
When she meant a while, she meant two or three hours later. By then I got tired of waiting and decided to play with the Game Boy we had. By the time Jessica got done playing with the Nintendo, I got involved with the Super Mario game on the game boy. She wanted to play with the Game Boy, but I wanted to play a little longer. Of course, my sister decided to abuse her power of being the eldest and got her way. I surrendered peacefully and went to play on the Nintendo.
I didn’t know it then, but my sister was very jealous of me. She always bossed me around, telling me what to do. I had no idea what hate was, but I was always angry at my sister. She always played with my stuff without asking and I had to ask to play with hers and that wasn’t fair. I hated being the youngest. She and I fought over just about everything. We fought over who got the top bunk of the bunk bed or who got to play with the Nintendo or the Sega Genesis. I couldn’t understand why we couldn’t get along. Wasn’t my sister supposed to share with me? Wasn’t she supposed to watch out for me? No. She just constantly picked on me and ignored me. I didn’t know why she was acting like that, but I thought it was normal and I just accepted the abuse. I was only four years old. I wasn’t a prodigy. How was I supposed to know that abuse wasn’t normal? I didn’t even know what the word ‘abuse’ was!
When I got older, I started to notice how bossy my sister was. I began to hate it. I hated the power that she had over me. Who the hell was she to boss me around? Didn’t she see how bad it hurt me? Of course not. Everything was about her. Sometimes I thought she would kill me…literally. I don’t blame her, not anymore. I understand why now. My sister was tossed aside when I was born. I was turned into a little doll that everybody liked to play with while my sister was ignored. The woman who had called herself our mother wasn’t doing her job at all. The neglect was obvious to my grandmother and no one else. She did her best to take care of her granddaughter. Poor Pana (that was what my sister and I called our grandma). She had to deal with an ungrateful and neglectful daughter.
There was one thing that I noticed about my sister. I noticed that she had one extra toe on both of her feet. Every time I looked at her feet, I would count to be sure that I wasn’t crazy. Every time I counted, I came up with six toes every time. I didn’t understand why she had extra toes and just wrote it off as my sister being a special person. Needless to say, when I got older, I found out why my sister had extra toes. Our “mother” was an alcoholic and apparently she had been drinking when she was pregnant with my sister and me. For me, I had no extra toes, but I believed that my growth could have been stunted by the alcohol. According to my grandmother, the woman had been drinking since she was twelve years old. It amazed me that she was still alive after all that time. Whenever I had bad days, I often thought about how the woman deserved to die from alcohol poisoning.
I remember when I was still in preschool. I was about five and there was a Halloween Carnival at St. Cyril Catholic Church. That was where my sister and I had attended. My sister was a fifth grader then. Anyway, Adriana and I were waiting in line for the hay ride. She said that she was going to be waiting for me when I got back, but that turned out to be false. When I got off of the trailer, she wasn’t there. I started to cry, screaming for my mother. People around me tried looking for her too, saying that I needed an adult. I went around the corner of a building and there she was, ordering a stupid slice of pizza. She scared me! I thought I was lost! How could she have done that to me?
Several years later, we were visiting my aunt up in Victoria. My aunt (Mary Jane) and cousin (Stephanie) had come along as well. We had planned a trip to Six Flags in San Antonio. We get there towards early to mid-afternoon. We had also rented a room for the day. So we’re out having fun, getting wet and exploring everything. Later, when it was completely dark, Jessica, Adriana and I went out to little souvenir shops. There was this one little shop that we had stopped by. There were shot glasses and coffee mugs and every kind of cup imaginable there. I happen to stop and look while my sister and my so-called mother went on, not realizing that I wasn’t with them. I walked around for a little while trying to find them. I wander outside and sit on this concrete seat that was there. I looked down the seat and saw my cousin and my aunt talking. I went back to wondering where my “mother” and my sister had gone. When I looked back towards the end of the seat, my cousin and my aunt were gone. I was totally scared.
What was I supposed to do now? I knew that they were around somewhere. I went back inside the store, looking for my “family.” I kept running around, not knowing where they were. I was crying by then. I crashed into a woman, whom I sensed that she was running the store. She picked me up, knowing that I was lost, and took me back outside. She tried her best to console me and slowly, but surely, I did. There were even fireworks going off by then. I was exhausted by then and I wanted to sleep in the woman’s arms. I had never felt so secure, so safe. My sister then showed up, with (surprisingly) a smile on her face, ending my illusion of security.
Since then, I had problems with separation anxiety. When I joined a bowling travel league in Louisiana, I was still scared of leaving my dad and my stepmom. I had never gone anywhere without them before. They were the ones who kept me together. I eventually learned not to be afraid when I went on a trip to a bowling tournament, weather it was in Houma or Lake Charles. I knew that they would be waiting for me back in Baton Rouge and they always were. Even today, at twenty years old, I still hate being separated from my dad. I suppose it’s because that hardly ever knew him when I was growing up. He was a police officer for the Corpus Christi Police Department and he worked for most of the day. He wouldn’t come home until late at night.
© 2013 Jennifer