All Articles Tagged "childhood"
Somebody Lied To You: What Happens When You Believe Something As A Child, That You Never Learn Is Untrue?
It is amazing how creative, imaginative and magnificently wonderful the mind of a child is. Children believe in the fantastic and the surreal and the all-around awesome that rational adult thinkers brush off as fiction. Think back to the days when you were a child. Can you remember some of the things that you accepted as truth without contest and how much richer your life was for it?
When I was a girl, I believed that I could become invisible at will. The secret was baby powder. I’d dust my face with powder and begin to run around my house antagonizing my older sister with the belief that I could not be seen. When she’d say “Stop it,” or “Leave me alone!,” I’d laugh hysterically and just yell out, “You can’t see me—I’m invisible!”
I also believed that I could fly. Not in the way that R. Kelly was saying, but for real. In all of my dreams where flying took place, and there were lots, instead of flapping my arms like wings or extending them straight out in front of me, I flew precisely the way I would swim. With long strokes, I’d extend one arm out in front and gracefully bring it back toward me and repeat that motion with the other arm, only I’d be in the air. The faster my strokes, the faster I’d fly. I flew so often in dreams that I really thought that flying was one of my natural abilities. I believed that if I were ever in danger, I could simply fly away. Luckily for me, I was never in a situation that caused me to test that belief. And also fortunately for me, I learned well before adulthood that I could neither fly nor become invisible.
But what happens when you believe something as a child, that you never learn is untrue?
I remember listening to an episode of NPR’s “This American Life” that aired years ago called “A Little Bit of Knowledge.” The segment discusses exactly this scenario. There is a guy that recalls that he was about 11 or 12 when he first heard the term Nielsen family from a group of adults he overheard talking. From the conversation, he gathered that networks consulted with Nielsen families to see how popular a television show was, but he wondered why they only asked families named Nielsen. He came up with his own answers and assumed that the networks had done research and found that it was a common name and that it cut across class and economic lines. Perhaps, he thought, families with the name Nielsen were an accurate sample size. He said he didn’t think about it again, except from time to time when he’d wonder why T.V. continued to use such a primitive way to collect data. He then went on to say that years later as an adult, one of his friends mentioned that her friend’s family had been asked to become a Nielsen family. He asked, “Isn’t it funny how all of them are named Nielsen?” A long silence ensued and he realized that they are, of course, not all named Nielsen. He was 34 years old at the time.
There was also a woman who spoke of how she believed in unicorns as a child. She said that in her mind there wasn’t much difference between a zebra and a unicorn and that whenever she thought of them, they were in a grassy plain in Africa drinking from a watering hole with the wildebeest and impalas. Fast forward years later, she was at a party and about seven people were standing around a keg talking. Randomly, the topic of endangered species came up and she asked, “Is the unicorn endangered or extinct?” She said that there was a long period of silence, then everyone laughed, and then the laughter was followed by another gap of silence when they all realized she wasn’t laughing. She realized for the first time that unicorns are indeed unreal, and to think so as a grown woman came off as kind of pathetic.
I could not imagine being in either of these situations. How embarrassed they both must have felt. I believed in some pretty interesting things as a kid and I’m grateful, mostly, that I shed those beliefs when I became an adult. A child’s mind is certainly an amazing thing and the things that children come up with are usually quite extravagant, all the more reason why seeing them as fact into adulthood can be hard to live down if/when your friends and family find out…
What did you believe as a child and do you have any stories of finding out late in life that what you’d believed all along was false? If so, we’d love to hear them.
Sheena Bryant is a writer and blogger in Chicago. Follow her on twitter at @song_of_herself.
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I remember it was a hot day in August. My friend’s neighbor dragged her 9 year-old little girl by the collar during the annual block party I attended in Philly. In front of all the women standing around the punch and potato salad, she said, “Dede, stop dragging yo’ feet and tell em’ the word that won you the spelling bee.” I looked in the little girl’s eyes who nervously stood with flawless brown skin sparkling in the sun, and hands behind her back. She said, “Extrapolate. E-X-T-R-A-P-O-L-A-T-E” and the ladies clapped. Then her mama said, “that ain’t nuthin. Tell them what the word means!” The little girl’s eyes never left the concrete as she said, “to attempt to solve, to deduce or estimate.”She fell silent under the sound of applause. As if putting your child on display like some circus sideshow wasn’t enough, what her mother said next sent me into a quiet rage. “Now take yourself over there and sit down. She’s just as ugly as her daddy but at least she is smart. Mama always said, ‘if you are ugly, you better be smart and sweet.’” My eyes followed the little gorgeous girl with bouncy curls as she settled down on the pavement near a fence that blocked off a basketball court.
Unfortunate. Unattractive. Dragon. Troll. Ugly.
These are the labels thrown at some children and threaten to define them. Girls are taught to ‘make up’ for what they lack in ‘beauty’ with achievement and accolades. Yet, we carry those labels with us into adulthood and despite our successes we cringe every time we pass a mirror.
When I was young, I had thick side burns and was teased mercilessly. Boys used to call out behind me, “Elvis has left the building!” I was the nerdy church girl that wore orthopedic shoes, white stockings in the summer time and I was socially awkward. The teasing turned into labels: Unfortunate. Unattractive. Dragon. Troll. UGLY. So I studied. I read. I wrote. I became the queen of debate in the classroom. I worked.
I saw myself in that little girl that day. She was determined to leave an imprint, determined to prove to the world that she was worthy of their admiration. I reached in my bag and pulled out a beat up pocket thesaurus. I crouched down beside Dede and said, “When I was a littlegirl the teacher’s told my mother that I belonged in the ‘special’ classroom. My mother was ashamed. But my aunt gave me this little book and told me to write down an adjective for everything that I was and everything I wanted to be.”
She smiled as I handed her the beat up book that was given to me decades before. “So,” I continued “get a notebook and make a list. Let that list be your mirror and do not allow anyone’s opinions change what you see.” I paused. “You know what?” “What?” she asked scrolling through the book. “I think I have the perfect word for you to begin with,” I flipped to the front of the book and pointed to what I had highlighted in 50 different colors and written in the margins, “here it is.” She smiled so hard I saw all of her gorgeous teeth. The word was BEAUTIFUL.
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If you watched HBO’s hit drama, Oz, you will no doubt remember Adebisi, the tough as nails African prisoner who intimidated almost everyone at least once, played by Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje. Well, the England raised actor recently did an interview with The Guardian in which he discussed his new project, Farming, a movie based on his own life. Sounds a bit much for an actor and perhaps even a little cocky? You might not think so when you hear this.
Although he was born in Nigeria, Adewale’s parents gave him to a white family in a practice called farming which is defined as informal fostering. His foster parents who sometimes housed up to 10 African children at a time were what he called “ignorant” because they didn’t understand how to take care of them. They also appeared to harbor certain racist views which lent to their ignorance. Adewale grew up wanting to be accepted in a neighborhood full of Skinheads who beat up anyone who even remotely looked non-white.
So in an attempt to avoid those beatings and also a way to let out his own anger about his birth and foster parents as a confused teen, Adewale became a member of the Skinheads. He hated the fact that he was Black because not only did he not fit in to his “European” world, but he also did not fit in to the “African” world since he hadn’t grown up there. Adewale took on the racist views (and the bald head) of the Skinhead group and participated in various crimes. As he put it:
“When a child wants to be accepted,” he explains, “he’ll do anything. And if it means you’re getting a certain amount of notoriety from a fight, that’s what you’ll do. If all you’ve known is racism, abuse and persecution, then all of a sudden you’re getting some recognition, that’s your new drug. That’s what you want. By the time I was 16 I was someone to reckon with. I was so eager to repudiate any connection with any immigrant race I would go above and beyond. I was desperate to belong to something. That was my drive as a teenager.”
Wow. The story is absolutely compelling and continues to dig deeper about how he got out of that life and the roles both sets of parents played in his life, if any, as he got older. I’ve heard some pretty radical things over the years but it would have never crossed my mind to think that someone could hate themselves so much that they’d join a gang to hurt the very people who look like him.
Please make sure you read the article right here.
Is being confident relevant to one’s existence? Does it make a difference in having low or high self-esteem? What exactly is self-esteem? Self-esteem is the realistic respect, or favorable impression a person has of themselves. It is who one believes they are, believing in their abilities, or the lack thereof. It is also who one believes they can be or desire to be. Self-esteem or the lack of comes from within and is revealed in the way a person walks, talks, their style of dress, the way they interact with others, etc.
A person’s self-esteem is a key part in who they are, who they will become, and what they will do. It starts developing as a child, and continues to develop as an adult. The relationships we encounter, the people we surround ourselves with, our parents, community, etc. all play an intricate part in the initial development of self-esteem.
By Kariba Williams
I was only five when I realized that my mother had a drug habit. She would stay in the kitchen for hours at a time with some of her “friends.” She would only come out when she needed to prevent me from venturing into the kitchen or when it was time for her to go to the “store” to feed her habit. By the time I turned six, my first brother was born, however, my mother continued her drug use and wound having two additional children in a span of three years. My mother was not a “typical” user. She went on heavy binges. She didn’t use every day, but when she did use, she would be hard to reach for days at a time. Because of this, my siblings became my responsibility at a young age. I ensured that they were fed and tried to show them the right things to do, despite my own lack of guidance. I was a good girl for the most part and my mother knew it. As her disappearing acts caught the attention of neighbors, authorities were called in and my siblings and I were removed. This became the norm. She would get us back, we would be removed again, and she would somehow get us back once more.
When she got us back for a final time, she still wasn’t through with her addiction. She knew how to straighten up long enough for the court to believe she was rehabilitated. My mother loved us very much, but her inner demons ran rampant. She had minimal strength in fighting her addiction and that made me an adult before my time. I made hard decisions and became the most consistent thing in the lives of my siblings. I was their guardian. I felt an incredible need to protect them. The feeling was so strong that I couldn’t even fathom the idea of going to college outside of the city. If I left, who would protect them? My life was about them and never about me. I was more selfless than selfish for the first half of my life.
One night, my mom went to the “store” and didn’t come back for two days. I was 21 years old, had a job and was enrolled in school full time. And at that point, I was fed up. I was tired of playing mommy. My siblings were teenagers and one of them was becoming rebellious: arrests, stabbings, juvenile detention, breaking curfew, and possible pregnancies. Things were beyond the usual meetings with the guidance counselor. Things just became too much for me, and I finally realized how overwhelmed I was. For the first time, I knew it was time to pull myself together for me. When my mother came back from that two-day binge, I moved in with a relative and started doing my own thing. From there, I got my own place a year later.
For most of us when we were really young, like toddler-aged, our parents were the closest things to super heroes. Our mothers were beautiful, our daddies had super human strength and both of them were smart so we trusted their judgment. Then something changed. Call it puberty, call it experience, call it our parents’ very real flaws, whatever it is there comes a time when we start realizing our parents don’t know everything but we, their offspring, we definitely do. No one needs to tell us anything because it’s our life to live and in our minds, we’ve done all the growing and maturing we need to. Ironically, right around this same time most of our parents are talking to us more than ever, trying to guide us in the right direction. While we may not have appreciated what they had to say, with a little time and a lot of maturity, we came to see the truth behind their words.
1. Your attitude is not cute
I hit puberty pretty early, so my teenage angst started when I was like 10. I had a problem with everything. Everything got on my nerves, everything was beneath me, no one understood me. In essence, woe was the 10 year old, perfectly healthy, well-fed, loved and cared for me. I’d probably still be walking around with a stank face if it weren’t for my mother telling me, with a look of slight disgust and severe irritation that my lil attitude was not cute. Whoa. My pre-adolescent mind was blown. While I could have ignored the truth, I really took heed to my mother’s words. And I’m so glad I did. While, we’re not all like this, we know the last thing the world needs is another black woman with an attitude.
As a kid, everyone had their favorite toys: whether it be a doll, a cool tea party set, a teddy bear–you name it, we claimed it, and when we got old enough to act like we didn’t care for toys anymore, we were still sad when mom decided to give our favorite toy to someone who needed it more. Yeah, childhood was great and simple, and our toys made it that much better. After seeing that there is a toy fair going on in NYC currently, it inspired me to create this ode to the dopest toys from our childhood. Time to walk down memory lane ladies!
Born and bred in the 1960s, the Easy-Bake Oven was most young girls’ first real foray into cooking. While the boxed oven of goodness came with cake mix, if you were like me, once those sweet concoctions ran out, you were working with anything you had in the house. I can’t tell you how many Frosted Flakes and grape jelly cakes I was cooking for folks in my house (they weren’t too excited to eat them though…). Definitely a defining toy in many homes for the little gals and the hungry big brothers.
There’s a certain glowing beauty about a woman who is with child. It’s a precious time of choosing names and decorating nurseries, but more than that, it is a time in a woman’s life that is filled with excitement and joy. With all of the challenging bodily changes you’re experiencing and every developmental milestone occurring to the life growing inside of you, it can be a frightening experience to believe that your pregnancy is progressing any less than perfect. Unfortunately, sometimes things can go very wrong, and although there is no exact way to prepare for the pain, you can be aware of warning signs of complications and find ways to move past especially difficult circumstances.
Miscarriages can generally be described as a spontaneous termination of pregnancy. Miscarriages affects up to 25 percent of all women and typically happen between four and six weeks. Miscarriages can happen for a variety of reasons including fetal abnormalities or the egg attaching in the wrong area in the first place. Recent studies have shown that many miscarriages that occur early can in no way be prevented by the mother.
Miscarriages can occur between the fourth and sixth months of pregnancy and are usually caused by abnormalities present within the mother such as chronic illnesses like lupus, diabetes, fibroids, or the abuse of nicotine, alcohol or other harmful substances. Symptoms of a miscarriage include moderate or severe spotting within the early weeks of pregnancy, severe abdominal pain, passing anything that resembles tissue during your pregnancy or the sudden absence of pregnancy symptoms like nausea or breast tenderness. Trust your intuition; you know your body best and if you have the slightest suspicion that anything isn’t quite right, you should seek medical treatment.
Oh, the innocence of childhood. When you’re a kid (well, at least way back when), you’re not worrying about who or what is messing up the economy, you’re not jaded into dressing or trying to look a certain way (especially since moms wouldn’t allow it anyway), nor did you have a real understanding about sex and foreplay. Or at least, you really shouldn’t have. You may have been filled in about what sex was, but when you heard songs about it, you were pretty much listening for the basics. As a kid, if you turned on a good beat with a catchy chorus, I was going to sing along. Now that I’m older, I can only laugh at my young self for singing these songs out loud not knowing how ahead of my years and knowledge they were.
*NOTE: I’m not THAT old so just keep that in mind with some of these picks (smile).
You never know when and where you’ll pick up a love lesson. Most of our feelings about love and relationships can traced back to childhood. In addition to learning proper grammar and long division, we undoubtedly stumbled upon some gems when it came to relating romantically as well–even when we swore we didn’t like boys.
One writer over at Your Tango.com was home-schooled by parents who advocated courtship instead of dating but despite their views she was still able to learn a thing or two about love.
Read her very interesting story over at Your Tango.com.