The Eleventh Year: 1997-98
The Twelfth Year: 1998-99
The Thirteenth Year: 1999-2000
These are the years I’ll remember always as the best years of my childhood. The years in which I may have been fashionably challenged, but couldn’t care less … the years that fill my heart with smiles as I fondly look back … the years of innocence, mischief, and sparkle-eyed wonder at all that life had to offer. Although these years did involve one of the heartbreaks of my childhood – my best friends moving away across the state – I gradually came to terms with it, and found that that just meant exciting plane trips to go visit them!
Three things I’m especially thankful for from those three years:
1) Awana Clubs (by the way, just to clarify an irksome point – there is no “s” at the end of “Awana” because it doesn’t STAND for anything! “Approved Workmen Are Not Ashamed” not “Approved Workmen Are Not Ashamed Sometimes”!!!). I am so incredibly thankful for the presence of Awana in my childhood … not only because it signified a huge part of my social life (and hence, a heightened sense of competition in everything from three-legged races to Bible quizzing and passing the most sections in a night!), but also because it instilled in me at an early age the important habit of memorizing Scripture. Because of Awana, I know verses now that I can quote without hesitating that defend my faith. What a valuable thing for any child to learn!
Those were the days … the days of Chums and Guards … the days of gray shirts and shining jewels that you got to place in your crown … the days of taking first place in the Awana Olympics three years in a row … the days of counting up ribbons earned in the Bible Quiz each year … and the days of determining to win my Timothy Award by doing 3 books in one year! I can still remember the smell that hit me when I opened the door to the school gym, signifying all things Awana … dropping my 50 cent dues in the cup as I signed in, then hurrying to put down my book bag so I could eagerly join my friends in chatter before game time. Those were the days! And I can’t wait for the day when I can work in Awana again and help pass on the importance of Scripture memory to young children.
2) A dear, dear friend named Katie Saunders. She was like a sister to me and a kindred spirit from the moment she came up to me at Awana and asked me about Adventures in Odyssey. I was constantly haunting her house and accompanying her to numerous places … she was the one that got me to volunteer at the library with her (it didn’t seem quite as exciting when she wasn’t there for some reason!), the one with whom I played pool at the Youth Center, along with her brother and Natasha, the one with whom I’d buy loads of candy at the drugstore, and eat it on the sly as we folded papers for her paper route while listening to the Sugar Creek Gang … and oh the movies we watched, the bread we baked, the dinners eaten together before Awana, the adventures she’d talk me into! And of course all the Odyssey episodes we listened to together … for the only bigger fan than me was her! From notes in a code that she made up to musical theater songs sung together to stories she would either loan me from her library or write about us as friends … I will always cherish the memories we made together and the impact dear Katie had on my childhood.
3) Speaking of paper routes, that would be the third thing I’m thankful for from these years of my childhood. I’m thankful that we lived in a town that allowed ten/eleven/twelve year olds to have paper routes, for it was a great way for me to earn my own money, learn to manage it at a young age, and learn the discipline that came from arising at 5am every morning to deliver papers IN ALL KINDS OF WEATHER! Most thankful I am for my mother, though, who got up every morning to accompany me on my paper routes … we’d review our verses together or I’d make up stories for her and sometimes we’d stop at Safeway on the way home to get a piping hot, fresh doughnut – my favorite type of reward. 🙂 Three different routes in total I had, over the course of three years, and I still have dreams about them! Taught me the streets of Moscow like the back of my hand – I’m sure I’d still remember them if I went back today!
The stories that I write [both now and the ones yet to be written in the future] are and always will be peppered with the rich experiences of my own childhood. No, it wasn’t perfect … but it was blessed beyond anything, and I look at it with fondness. This is the type of childhood that I hope to be able to bring – not only to the children I teach, but also to my own children someday. A childhood that is bright and merry, and filled with things to remember.