Now I swear I'm going to get back to the "kid" thing. It's one thing when one of my mom's friends calls me that, or a family member who has thirty years on me. It's another thing when someone my own age, or slightly older throws it at me. Makes me insane.
Webster defines a kid as: "a young person." (Clever definition I know). And I realize that in many ways, I am a kid. I'm ok with that, and I enjoy the fact that at 24 (as of yesterday) I am still young and successful.
As a 24 year old...I pretty much have it made.
Life is amazing.
But here's my issue. I'm not a kid. I'm not sure I ever really was.
That comment always stuck with me for some reason. Because I wanted to pinpoint the moment that I stopped being a kid.
To be honest...I find that difficult.
There have been some memories lately that have been stuck in my head and haunting me to no end. I'm not sure exactly what threw them in my face, but they've been stuck there, and I'm not sure how to get rid of them. Considering this blog is the one thing that seems to calm me down...it only seems fitting that I finally get them off my back.
When did I stop being a kid?
It's so hard to say, as sometimes I feel like in my father's house...I was born an adult. There was no real childhood.
I remember taking care of my toddler brother on my own when I was my future step daughter's age. Barely 12, and during the summer I took care of him alone. My father would go to work, leave me with the baby, and with a list that I was expected to take care of. Housework, cooking, yardwork, the whole nine yards. Meanwhile I wasn't even old enough to take care of myself alone...let alone a household/another child.
At 11, one of my chores was to ride my bike to the grocery store and get groceries. Most of the time I was given cash and a list of what to get...but there was the occasion where I waited until my father fell asleep and I would sneak money out of his dresser drawer. I still remember the three divider spots in that drawer. One spot for his socks (that I washed and rematched), one for random crap...receipts, ear plugs, junk, and one for his bottles of pills, baggies of drugs, and random free flowing cash. (PS I don't know why I remember the ear plugs...I just do).
Long before my brothers existed though...I remember other things. Nights of cooking dinner, babysitting myself, and mornings of making my dad's coffee, getting myself ready for school, and putting myself on the bus hours before he even got out of bed. I would set my own alarm, get up, feed myself, make his coffee, get ready for school, and leave before he even appeared. I specifically remember this in Kirtland, meaning I couldn't have been older than 8-9 years old.
It's strange how as a child...you tie memories to households. That's the only way I can report dates these days...all depends on what house we lived in at the time. The memories include a house, and then I can usually narrow it down to a year or two, as he rarely lived the same place for long.
So back to the original post. I could pinpoint a few times where I stopped being a kid.
But there is one specific event/time period that pinpoints to me the time when I stopped being a kid.
One night is stuck in my head. I can still see it if I think about it.
Everything about it.
My father and I were staying in a hotel. The hotel had a pool, and my dad had taken me to it for the evening. I was doing laps, while he sat with one of my newborn siblings on the side of the pool. I was on swim team at the time, so I just kept doing laps as he went in and out of the pool area on his phone. My sibling sat in a car carrier next to his chair.
Finally the mother of the child came into the pool area, grabbed the carrier, and ran out of the place. My father jumped up and left me in the pool. I (confused) got up, wrapped in a towel, and ran towards the hotel room because I didn't understand what was going on and why everyone was yelling.
I sat in the hotel room shivering, waiting for someone to show up.
Less than 5 minutes later my father appeared at the sliding glass door with the carrier and the baby. Handed the screaming child to me, and came inside. I took the baby, and sat on the bed...still not having any idea what was going on.
(Turns out my father had stolen the newborn from the mother, and she had come back to try and safely get her child back).
As we're sitting there, he turns on the weather channel (he was obsessed), and he sits on the other bed. At that moment, the mom comes in the sliding glass door and tries to take the baby. I got yelled at to take the baby, and I went running to the back of the room. I held the baby and went back to the bathroom. I turned around for a second to try and figure out what was going on...and saw something that has been "flashbulbed" in my brain for years.
I watched my father get slapped, scratched, and punched. I then watched him attempt to choke a woman to the ground.
At that point I broke from my frozen spot and ran to the bathroom with the baby. I sat on the floor for what seemed like hours trying to calm down a screaming infant. I can still remember the burn in my nose from the bleach they had used to clean the tub.
Years later I know that it had to have been 20 minutes at most...but at the time it felt like days until the police showed up. My father was knocking at the bathroom door and I couldn't bring myself to answer it. I was terrified, and still completely flustered.
I was in a wet bathing suit holding a baby...in the middle of the night, in a bathroom, at a strange hotel...
...and I was in elementary school.
The police came, took the baby (at least for a little while, I do remember sleeping with the baby in my bed that night...so things get a little fuzzy after the bathroom door opened). And that's pretty much the last thing I remember. The next day was my last day of ___ grade. (Specific date left out on purpose).
For weeks/months (I honestly can't say I remember how long it was) my father and I lived in hotels.
A hotel in Wickliffe where I watched Crocodile Dundee for hours. There was a hotel in Eastlake where all I remember is the front sign. There was the hotel in Willoughby Hills (I think that's the city) where the above scene took place.
My mom tried to convince my father that all the hopping around wasn't good for me, but he didn't listen.
We finally settled in a house in Mentor on the Lake, where we lived for a year, before moving, moving again, and then finally moving to a house where we stayed until I was removed from the home.
A lot happened in those houses. There are memories I wish I could forget.
But the fact is...I stopped being a kid before I got the chance to be a kid.
Some will say that I'm making this up. Some will say that I'm exaggerating.
And to them all I can really say is:
I'm glad you don't understand.
Because I couldn't wish some of this shit on my worst enemy.
And for God's sake...make sure your own kid never has to worry about being a kid.