I am a Late Bloomer

     I wish I could say that my parents noticed that I had a natural inclination towards being an artist when I was young, but the truth is that they didn’t. They were aware that I liked to sing and my mom took notice that I was a songwriter, when I started writing religious songs about the second coming of Christ. I was a pretty frightened and morbid child and my song lyrics reflected this fear with the description of the people who would be “burning down there”.

         The reason for this constant fear is that we went to church often. Three times a week we darkened the doors and while at church I was taught on a loop that everyone in the world besides the United Pentecostal people were all going to hell.  Even I too could one day end up there if I committed sins such as cutting my hair, wearing makeup, believing in the Trinity, or listening to the devil’s music; rock ‘n roll. Yes, it could all send me straight to the burning lake of fire. Do not pass go; do not collect $200

         To escape, I wrote poems as a little girl, but I don’t think my mom ever knew that nor did my dad. They were living out their version of hell on earth and I was their helpless captive. My dad acted like the devil himself and my mother checked out mentally and emotionally trying to simply survive each day under these hostile conditions. Maybe if she had married another person she would’ve been a nurturing loving mother, but in the circumstances she found herself, I am surprised she didn’t commit suicide or simply pack a suitcase and run for her life.

         Crayons, map colors, markers, scissors, paint, paper, and glue could not be found in my house. I remember turning in a project once and it was so embarrassing b/c I had to glue everything using flour and water. On second thought, maybe I should have used raw egg. It has better-staying power and dries transparently. Is anyone thinking of the stereotype “white trash child” right now?

Conversations with my mom and dad were non-existent. Bedtime routines did not include a well-worn book and a mother or father sitting on the side of the bed. Instead, I crawled into partially damp or dried peed sheets that I had slept on and saturated with pee just the night before. My mom couldn’t be bothered to wash them. This never felt right and in the morning when I awoke drenched in urine once again she may or may not assist me in having a bath on that school morning. Kids notice when you smell like a pee peed diaper.

Now as a parent I realize the importance of giving your kids access to opportunities that help them find out what gifts or interests they have. If there are no paints in the house or no markers then how do they figure out if they want to be a painter? If there is no chance to have a music lesson how will they know if they want to pursue music? If there are no books, how will they learn about the world and hear the greatest stories ever told? If they are without these things, then they are left to figure these things out as an adult. And I did. I became a painter at the age of 32. I am a late bloomer. 

In the photo below, I am the little girl in green.