For the Children

pexels-Source 1photo-556669

I absolutely love working with children and teaching them new things. Many years ago, likely in my 30’s, I served as a volunteer to teach illiterate adults how to read. It never had occurred to me that when people grow up not knowing how to read, many of them have also missed most of childhood’s best parts. They have missed not only the wonderful children’s books, generally because they had no one to read to them, but they have also missed out on a lot of wonderful childhood experiences, like being able to go trick or treating or making a costume for Halloween, or having someone help them to learn how to carve a pumpkin.

I know many of you wonder how this could happen. Think about the migrant workers, the homeless people (and yes they often have children living with them), and even my own parents never finished high school. So I went to school, but because I could not depend on my parents to be able to help me with my homework, I honestly struggled with understanding how to do my homework, and when a child cannot do well in school, they often also struggle to fit in socially.

I was bullied a lot because I wore clothes from thrift stores, ate day-old bread from the special store that was so cheap in those days, and I did not know how to make friends or talk to others. To top it all off, I quit school in my first year of high school. I had gotten married instead of choosing to go to Germany with my mother and father during the time of the wall I believe. And so I found myself pregnant, and in those days, pregnant girls did not go to school, at least not where I lived.

But some miracles happened for me. Despite the fact that I was extremely shy and had difficulty with school subjects except for writing, I really did love to read. Thank goodness it was something I learned on my own early on, partly from not wanting to go outside and play with the other children because they bullied me at home as well as at school.

Although my mother had taught me absolutely nothing about having children or anything that was physically personal, when my daughter was born, not only did I breast-feed her and my two boys at a time when women really were not doing that, but I read to my children every single night, and I decided to teach my daughter to read when she was close to two years old. I made some little index cards, and on one side, I wrote a word such as hand in big letters, and on the other side I drew a picture of a hand. I showed her the word, and then said the word, and then showed her the picture of the word, and I would also hold up my hand and say the word. No one taught me how to do this. I just figured it out on my own. Now she had a hunger to learn, and I am telling you honestly that she was trying to potty train herself at six months old in one of those little chairs for that purpose, so I guess it was the same way with learning.

One night I had put her to bed, and I had given her the little Golden Books that she liked to have me read to her after I had read her a story. Out in the living room after awhile, I heard her talking in the bedroom, and went in to see what she was reading. She was holding her book and “reading” all the words and turning the pages at the appropriate times. I could not believe what I was hearing! How could she be reading these words when I had not taught those to her yet? I sat beside her and asked her if she would read me the story, and I watched her carefully and to this day, I remember her not missing a single word, but I realized that she wasn’t reading all the words. She had memorized those stories page by page!

I would not be able to follow my children’s education. I will just say that it was truly a traumatic event for me, and shocking for someone still so shy and lacking confidence to try to stick up for myself. I had never smoked, never done drugs, never drank alcohol, or did anything but to be a mother. She was four when they all disappeared. I did not know where they were until some 28 years later, when I located at least my daughter through the Salvation Army, at that time for just $10, after barely two months. I had not been able to provide much information as I suffered from severe amnesia and PTSD. I discovered that she was a published writer, an artist, and even a fine quilter (I did those things too), plus a lot more that I never did (such as riding bicycles in marathons, etc.) She was only four years old the last time I had seen her. We were reunited but I never saw the boys again. They were too young to remember me.

In later years of my life, I would get a degree in Archaeology and just a few years ago one in Criminal Justice, and I would have careers and even my own businesses. But my favorite career of all has been working as a substitute paraeducator, aide and uncertified teacher for special needs children with physical/developmental and emotional challenges. And I became a volunteer senior tutor for illiterate adults, a tutor for children and adults, as well as a mentor/advocate for challenged adults, particularly for artists trying to establish careers.

It was during those years that I learned how illiterate adults not only frequently cannot read if at all at the lowest levels, but they have also missed out on their childhood memories – parents reading to them, helping them to celebrate rites of childhood, or getting to do things many of us take for granted such as trick-or-treating, or even getting to carve a pumpkin or make a costume. In my case I was shy and my parents could not read at a high enough level. They too had missed out on those experiences many children do have so they didn’t know how to do those with us either. We did do some things, but because I was so shy, I didn’t do as many as my brother did.

I think for the remainder of my life, I will tutor illiterate adults when I have an opportunity, and help them experience the things they missed out on earlier in life. And I will volunteer to help others who have some form of physical or other challenges as well. I can honestly say that I don’t regret any part of my life, even those times that were painful spiritually and otherwise. It has all been good. I could not have the compassion I do now for others if I had not struggled my own self. And I will remain a student of the world for the rest of my life too. I love learning, and often as I sit pouring over something I have read, I look back in my mind’s eye and see that little beautiful daughter of mine delightedly memorizing and “reading” herself one of the stories she loved.

44 thoughts on “For the Children

  1. Hi Anne, long time and hope you are well. I have really enjoyed reading your post. What beautiful but poignant memories and I think it is wonderful that you are able to give so much bto these children under your care.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so kindly, Margaret. I have been so busy with Richard’s healthcare, legal issues, and trying to get qualified to find a manufactured or mobile home in Kingman or Payson, AZ, and to be able to get it while we are still young (chuckles). We have certainly had a lot of help from someone up there for sure. I hope you are well and enjoying each and every day of this life we are given – such a gift.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so kindly, Len. My hope for all of us is that once one young person learns how to read and how to help others, our world will be a better place. Today at a Veteran’s Day Celebration, there were young people everywhere helping everywhere in all capacities. I was not only touched to see all the different veterans, both women and men, but also all the children who were really just past toddlers carrying little flags to give to the vets. The young people are our hope for the future. Thank you Len, and I hope wherever you have been today and what you have been doing, it has made your heart smile.

      Like

  2. Bless you, Anne. When God closes a door He opens a window. You knew instinctively what was the best thing to do for your child, reading aloud. Then, even after loosing her and your family, you found the path that was right. I want to read aloud to others for the rest of my life. Thank you for being a ray of sunshine for others.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Thank you so kindly, and as always, I am very glad to respond to any comments that people give me. It is very appreciated. Yes, in those days the laws were different and I lived in an “Old Boy” state in so many ways. The man was very abusive, and what happened to me at that time was so traumatic that I developed amnesia and could not even remember my own children’s birthdays or names except for my daughter. I am glad that somehow from somewhere within, I found the strength to go on and make something of my life despite no support from any direction within my own family. I would never have left my children there if I could have taken them with me. Friends helped me find a job at White Sands Proving Grounds. It is hard to remember that all of this was more than 50 years ago. What I want everyone to get from all of this is that no matter what happens to you in this life, you can keep moving forward, even if with a lot of tears and heartache. You WILL recover and you WILL go forward and perhaps be able to have a heart for helping others who have also suffered in so many ways. Thank you again, and I wish everyone a happy Autumn celebration.

    Like

  4. I’m so sorry for all you endured Anne, but was happy to learn you reconnected with your daughter. I can’t even imagine. Yet, your heart was big enough to soldier on and continue to help others. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so kindly. That is what life is all about. If I had never had the challenges I have, I might never have developed compassion for others I have, or known what to do to help them, and I would never have been able to look beyond what is in front of me to understand in depth a lot of other things (such as how a person can grow up and because of not being able to read, not ever having had a real childhood).

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you very kindly, Mary. I don’t regret any parts of my life. At the time, it seemed like a true horrible thing, but I grew up beyond it and my daughter did too. Life does go on and it is what we make of it. It didn’t happen overnight, but it did happen, so that is all that matters.Happy Autumn!

      Liked by 2 people

  5. What a beautiful and inspiring story, Anne! You are a true teacher! The best teachers take the things that they’ve learned from their own lives and apply them to their present situation,

    As a former elementary teacher, I tried to do the same. I saw many children just like you who were shy and yet had so much to offer. I used to be one of those kids too. When I overcame my shyness (facilitated by caring teachers), it opens up a whole world. Applying this in my own classroom, I looked for safe public speaking opportunities for my students. I saw so many students blossom when they felt good about themselves.

    Thank you for being one of those teachers and sharing your inspiring story.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Robera, Sometimes things happen to us that are horrible, and there are no options open to us to do much to help ourselves out of our challenges. In my case, my husband was abusive from the beginning – he didn’t hit me and he did not drink or smoke – he was a non-practicing Mormon. But he would call me at all hours of the day, and if I didn’t respond to the phone, I would be in trouble. I was very physically ill with kidney issues, and in his mind that did not exist, so he ignored my pleas for help, etc. He would not allow me to learn how to drive the car so I could go to the grocery store, etc. during the day. I only learned by sneaking over to a neighbor lady’s home during the day when he was away. Then too, I never had a cent of my own. I had to get money for the groceries from him and then he counted the change and if it wasn’t correct, he let me know about it for sure. It became so dismal the way I was living; when he came home at night, I’d better have the food on the table, and also once he got the first color TV, I had to put the children in their bedrooms at night and close the door and not talk to him at all while he watched TV. I tried hard to take the children for walks during the day, but again, if I took them out and he asked me where I had been, he told me he did not want me to go outside with them. Ultimately I wanted to end it all, and when I found myself thinking about it to the point of doing something, I finally realized I had to get away from him. I was, I think 20 or 21 at the time, so when I went to talk to an attorney, he just figured I was too young to be on my own, and he just told my husband.

      We did end our marriage with a divorce, and he got all the household things, and supposedly we both had visitation rights, but he would get custody, for in those days, that is how things were. Remember that I am 78 this month. Anyway, he immediately took the children and disappeared and no one would tell me where he went. I had asked my family, as bad a choice as that was for me and the children to take us in, but they refused. After he left with them, I developed severe PTSD and amnesia after my mother came up, crazier than ever, and she hit the top of my skull with a glass ashtray. I never smoked in my life, but I had one in the apartment where I was staying. It belonged to a lady who worked at the grocery store, and she smoked, and also had her own children so we worked out a thing where I could stay there in exchange for some help around the apartment and with her children. My mother came up with my brother who drove her up, and she knocked me in the head with the corner of the ashtray, splitting the top of my head. I drove out to White Sands Proving Grounds in my friend’s car as I had a couple of friends out there, blood streaming down my face, and crying all the way (about 90 miles). They were trying to help me get a job there and they did, and so that helped me have something to be able to pay my own way.

      I was so traumatized, and in those days, no help was available for me. I had no insurance for health or anything, and he certainly did not leave me any money to live on. Well, that is how the children ended disappearing and me not finding them for 28 years. I am amazed I managed to live all those years. I did do a lot of things during that time such as getting my GED and then attending junior collage when I finished that. By the time I got to college, although I was so damaged, I enrolled in Archaeology and I met an architect and ultimately we got married. I never went to a psychologist during those years, or any other mental/emotional help, and I still had incredible amnesia and have all these years until I went with a girlfriend who was disabled (took her in my car) to the Mormon library in our town since she wanted to do some genealogy work. While she was doing that, they were giving a talk in another room on how to locate your parents if you were adopted, so I went in to hear that, and while I was there, I asked the people if they could find your children if you lost them. It cost $10, and I did it and within less than one month, they had found my daughter.

      She and I got reunited, but the boys were too young to remember me and they were too much like their father so I don’t think I could have dealt with them. My daughter is very artistic in many of the same ways I am – she loves wildlife photography and is an excellent photographer. She also loves to make quilts that she designs as I do, only hers are more traditional in nature, and she is a writer like me and I think she also does greeting cards and calendars with her work on them. And she is also very involved with those marathons on bicycles. She is married the second time (her first husband left her and the children she was adopting – a boy and a girl at that time. It was sad because those were foster children who had been through so much with their mother dying of a drug overdose and all the men she brought into the house. My daughter worked full-time after her husband left her and still managed to get the children to therapy, took them on hiking and camping trips and taught them everything like skating and skiing and all sorts of things. But when they were teens, the son ran away and took up living with a homeless person and was doing drugs. The daughter also did drugs and also had children who were special needs by various men, none of which she ever lived with for long. So my daughter was heartbroken. The daughter was diagnosed with schizophrenia and the son became a full-time criminal and no telling what has happened to them now. Anyway, my daughter is not super emotional around me, but we do keep in touch and she never fails to send cards. I think it was very hard for her because she and I had such a good relationship, and the new mother that he married had children of her own – six I think, so her father was not good with her and her brothers, but turned instead to the new mother and her children instead. So that is most of the story. There was a lot more in the way of the most traumatic things that happened to me that most women will never I hope ever have to deal with. I still cannot talk about those things for it was something that to this day I cannot believe happened, but I can say with honesty that I hope other women never have to deal with what I did, before my children were taken.

      Life now is so much better and I have someone in my life (my dear hubby) who is loyal, mostly quiet, and who is generous and kind to me to the max. And so we go forward day by day. This is at least the second time I have had PTSD and the doctors said that it is permanent and severe. I do try very hard to overcome that by doing the best things I can think of. I am sorry to make this so long, but you asked, and I wanted others to know the “rest of the story.” Thank you so kindly.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. A very tragic story, Anne. I am so sorry but you have your hubby and you have a relationship with your daughter. You couldn’t have stayed with that man. It is just so terrible that no-one helped you or stood by you. You have do wonderful things on your own. My son suffers from PTSD and OCD. He had 18 operations as a small child and his condition is improved but on-going. It is not easy living with a child who has such severe mental health issues but at least he is alive and in good health. His condition is controlled. My younger son nearly died twice too and is still very sickly. He has a temperature of 38 degrees tonight so I think we will be at the doctor tomorrow. When I used to sit in the hospital for all those days with one or other of my boys, I would see other moms whose problems were so much greater. I have always remember that and how lucky I really am. Thanks for sharing your story and have a wonderful weekend. Hugs.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so very kindly, Jim. I am very glad that I have done what I have to help others. I was a volunteer when I was 14, and I also was always an entrepreneuring young person. I was earning my own money when I was 10, babysitting for neighbors, ironing for them (yes we ironed clothes in those days) and cleaning their homes when they needed that help (when someone was in the hospital, etc. They would drive across town to pick me up and take me home because I was so reliable and would not only do a good job with the children, but would leave their home better than when I got there. So a lot of good from those times.

      Like

    1. Thank you most kindly. It was good to be able to continue to help others and I guess the learning I did in taking care of my own daughter helped too. Not so much with my sons. When they were born, I was too ill and often had to crawl around to take care of the children. The doctor had been over-medicating me, and who would have known about things like that. I finally started getting a little better when I took all my medicines and flushed them down into the toilet. Peace and happy autumn!

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Thank you so kindly. Sometimes we need to go through some heavy challenges to become who we are meant to be. I am sure there have been many others thru time who suffered worse, and came out on the other end to take care of others in this world. Peace and blessings always, Anne

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I’m so sorry to hear of the trauma you’ve had to endure, and the fact that there was no one you could turn to for help when you needed it most. But it was heartening to read of the memory you carry of your daughter memorizing the books you’d read to her so that she could pretend to “read.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you most kindly, Liz. Yes, there are things I will never forget that I hold near and dear to my heart. I am not sure I have ever told her about those things but I am glad I had those experiences and the memories to go with them.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Thank you so kindly for your volunteer work. The world needs more people like you. People who deal with illiteracy can be taken advantage of every day. I appreciate that you are doing this important task.

    Like

  8. I’m so sorry all this happened to you, Anne! I can’t imagine the pain of losing your children! This was a very touching article and I admire your strength and willingness to carry on and be a positive person after all you’ve been through! Wishing you nothing but the best!

    Like

  9. Thank you so kindly. A alot of us suffer in this life, but we go on and do the best we can because others need help too. They need us too, so we must turn our attention and help those we can. I have helped a lot of children in this life, and that is a good feeling.

    Like

Leave a Reply to Alethea Kehas Cancel reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.