My Letter to myself, Little Elaine, was first published on Candid Slice, whose format has changed. I wrote this start National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, which starts October 1st. I hope it and the following articles may reach and help someone.
In order to deal with some painful experiences in my adult life and to increase my self confidence and self understanding, I decided to write a letter to myself as a little girl.
Each of us is endowed or taught personality traits that prepare us for our future. And each of us has the capacity for strengths and weaknesses we never dreamed could be part of our lives. I hope that someone will see themselves in this post and future posts to realize that they are more wonderful and stronger than they had ever known.
Dear Little Elaine,
Hello, little one. I want you to know that that you are such a precious little girl with a very loving heart. You will find that what you learn now will shape who you become later. I can not change the way your life will go but I do not want to.
These early times will give you a strong foundation to cope with adult things later. You are wonderful and you will do fine in the hard times to come. You are in for a lot of big surprises, happy and sad.
Moma and Daddy love you so much. (I spelled Moma without the extra m for some reason, So I will continue to do so here). You are their first child. Moma said you are a sweet, loving, happy, and intelligent child. You love your family, flowers, music, almost everything moving and alive–except bees, spiders and mosquitoes.
You will be the only child for your first two years until your first sister is born. You will be excited and anxious and later maybe jealous of the attention needed by a new baby. But this is only a temporary and normal part of sibling rivalry. You both outgrow this rivalry and become best friends and playmates.
Your honesty is acquired at the age of about 4 years. You innocently grab some nuts in an open barrel at the Cash and Cary grocery store and eat them. Moma catches you and informs you that you are stealing. Being a child who really tries to be a “good girl,” you feel so guilty and mortified that what you did was so against all you were being taught.
Moma imprints the lesson further on you by making you pay the manager for what you ate. The lesson, “Do not take what is not yours” will stay with you all of your life. You develop a deep sense of what is yours and what belongs to others.
You also start learning it is better to be honest when you disobey your parents than it is to lie about it to avoid being punished. They can always tell when you lie!! You never quite develop a poker face! In fact you often confess when you lie because you were taught at a very early age that lying is wrong. You feel so guilty when you do lie that it just isn’t worth the anxiety and self recriminations when you do. Then there were the spankings!!!
Spankings were the punishment of choice when I was growing up. Anytime you got a spanking, you were given a long talk about doing right and wrong; how disappointed your parents are that you disobeyed them; and how much they love you no matter what you did. Spanking was not done in anger in our home. Spanking was a way of making us remember not to do something we knew was wrong because we didn’t want another spanking later! We were not spanked as toddlers; only after we were old enough to understand right from wrong.
Daddy teaches you how to be a positive thinker, which will help you persevere as you face challenges later. During the times when things get difficult you may first be anxious or scared but your desire to “Make lemonade out of lemons” will help you survive when you get older. You will frequently be accused of seeing the world “through rose colored glasses.” Guilty as charged! Be proud of it!
Your love of people and ability to see everyone as a fellow member of the earth family definitely surprises and warms many people. You are friendly to complete strangers, which probably causes a great deal of concern for your safety for Moma and Daddy.
You are taught early about “doing to others as you would have them do to you.” Living the Golden Rule and loving people will be tested in your adult years, hang in there with your heart and keep on loving and trying to find the good in the bad.
Growing up in the 50’s you aren’t around black kids much since they go to separate schools. But you live part of your childhood on the edge of a black folk’s neighborhood. Moma and Daddy love to tell the following story as an example of your love for all people.
One day you stand beside a little black girl as a parade goes by. You talk with her and put your arm around her shoulders as you excitedly share the parade with her. You don’t know and you don’t care that her skin is a different color.
You learn from your parents and your church that: “Jesus loves the little children, All the children of the world. Red and Yellow, black and white; they are precious in his sight. Jesus loves the little children of the world.” That song stays with you for the rest of your life.
You always try to see the best in people and love them, given half a chance. Later you try to understand why people behave the way they do but this will continue to boggle your mind!
Music will be always important in your life because Moma taught you a love of music. She played the piano, sang to you and taught you how to play the piano.
Your sense of humor is one vital trait you learn from your father. One day you will fall and bump your head and cry as little ones do. Suddenly Daddy will look at the floor where you fell and point out a crack in the floor. With great surprise he tells you that your head made a crack in the floor. After looking with great curiosity you realized that you had stopped crying.
That sense of humor will develop more as you grow older but it will make you somewhat of a clown even when you are little. One of Daddy’s favorite sayings was, “If you can laugh at yourself, you will always have something to laugh at.”(Originally stated by Shirley MacClaine.)
When you can get the humor started before the guilt, anxiety, or fear begin, you will do fine!
Elaine, I want you to know something that you are never to forget!! You are precious and wonderful. Do not let anyone ever make you feel dumb!! In fact don’t let anyone make you feel anything bad about yourself! Your own conscience and your loving heart are there to help you deal with anything.
So always remember: love God; love yourself (because He certainly does); and love your family. Remember that there is only one you. You are a person of love and joy and will always keep that even when your life gets very complicated by a husband who gets sick. But don’t worry about that right now. Just learn to see your good qualities and don’t be hard on yourself. Enjoy your rich childhood.
You are very dear to me! I wish I could prepare you for your future. But you must learn things on your own since that is the way I learned. I’ll write again later, Dear One.
Much Older Elaine