In fifth and sixth grades, I discovered that I was really good at something no one else in my family was good at doing. My sister, 13 months younger, was always keeping up with me. She learned to read when I did, she learned how to ride her bicycle at the same time, and she was starting to master piano playing a lot faster than I was. (Unlike myself, she enjoyed practicing.) I didn’t mind have a sister that excelled in those things; having a sister that was almost the same age as me was so much fun.
Even though my sister and I played together all the time, I enjoyed being outside more than she did. In winter, I was always begging her to put on her snowsuit and come outside to build snow forts with me. In the summer, I went out on my own and rode my banana-seat Schwinn around town. I knew every alley, every small street. I rode the circular road around the water tower and playground, and up and down the hill on the outskirts of town. I rode just for the love of pedaling my bike, and I loved feeling the breeze in my face and hair.
At school, I joined the track and field team. I was definitely not a sprinter. Sprinting required light, quick feet. As I ran the 50 yard dash, my coach yelled “You look like you’re pulling a barn behind you!” I wasn’t fast, but I had a different talent. I had endurance. My coach decided to have me run the mile. Four times around the track. I developed a rhythm when running. I liked the sensation of my feet hitting the track. I liked setting my pace. I liked being able to think about things while I ran.
My parents used the track team to teach me responsibility. It must have been the beginning of track season, and I was supposed to attend a meeting in my sixth grade classroom. I had decided that instead of going to the meeting, I was going home to watch an after-school special…Treasure Island. I loved the book and now I wanted to watch the TV show. In 1980, we didn’t have a way to record it. I walked home from school, and my parents asked me what I was doing. I was supposed to be at the track meeting! They made me turn around and head right back to school. I sneaked into the meeting, late and embarrassed. But I had learned my lesson.
At the end of sixth grade, my father received a Divine Call. A church in the Chicago suburbs wanted Dad to become their pastor. After he turned down the Call once, the church called him again. After much prayer and consideration, Dad felt like God was truly calling him to be a minister to this church.
I was devastated. At 12 years old, I knew my niche in life and I couldn’t imagine moving. Even though I knew the announcement was coming, I started to cry when Dad told our congregation that he had accepted the Call. After the service, I ran to my Sunday School room. My Sunday School teacher just hugged me while I sobbed.
What would happen to this small town girl transplanted to the big city?
Janna of Mommy’s Piggy Tales began a project to share our youth with our children. Every Thursday, I will tell a story about my childhood as if I were telling it to my children. At the end of this project, I’ll have a collection of stories about my childhood for my children to keep, and hopefully treasure.