Before I was the size of a dot, you were thinking about the wonderful things you were going to do in my life and all the gifts that were to be bestowed upon me. Most of the blessings you knew would not be offered because I deserved them, but because of your love.
When I opened my mouth for the very first time, you were there to breathe air into my tiny lungs.
So on my very first day at school, when my teacher threw my crisps in the bin and decided she would hate me forever, you were there, protecting my little spirit from the evil that was spewing out of her heart.
I did not know what hatred was at that age and it is only as I grew older and heard the stories of how on Open Day, my humiliated parents had to stand in a classroom and listen to a crazy woman’s insults, that I realised that this world is sometimes not a very nice place.
Mother: “Er…can you please tell us why there are pictures on the wall drawn by all the other children except ours? Why have you not put any of her drawings on display?”
Teacher: “Because…your child is educationally sub-normal.”
Mother: “Pardon? Excuse me?”
Teacher: “Your child is backward, retarded.
Teacher: “She draws people with no necks. Humans have necks but she puts their heads right on top their bodies. I’m not putting pictures up like that.”
Mother: “But she’s five years old!”
Father: “Yes and that boy has drawn a man with 6 fingers and there’s one over there who has a mouth that reaches up to it’s eyes. Because they are infants!”
Teacher:“Well, she’s not normal. And I don’t like the fact that she is holding back little Karen. I don’t want them playing together.”
Karen’s Mum: “Erm, Miss B, I am Karen’s mother and I have no problem with my daughter playing with this couple’s child. How can you say she is holding my daughter back? She is four and their child is five – how much hindering can she do?
Later on, the mother of this pretty blonde girl pulled my parents aside and told her how embarrassed she was that this ridiculous incident had taken place.
My mother promptly booked an appointment to see the Headmistress the next day and after painfully relating the story, the head teacher could not believe what she was hearing. She summonsed the teacher to her office.
Headmistress: “Is this true? Did you really say these things to Sharon’s parents? Do you really think those things about her? Did you really say all that in public?”
Headmistress: “What?! Why on earth…?”
Teacher: “Well, I have never taught a black child before. She’s different and I don’t know how to relate to black kids.”
The head teacher held her breath and for a moment both her and my mother thought they would faint in shock. The face of the head mistress turned a bright purple as a tirade of words were hurled at the arrogant woman.
“Just get my child out of that class at once.” My mother said.
Naturally, if something like that had happened in this day, the teacher would have been sacked on the spot. And there would have been a national outcry because most parents would have had the sense to take it to the newspapers. Oh Lord, I realise my poor mum was only 31 and just did not know what to do. And as you know, dad could never cope with parental stress, so he buried his head and hoped the memory would fade away into the sand.
Thankfully, I do not remember much about this teacher, only that she allowed a horrible girl called Sandra to constantly spit in my face.
So as I sit here many years later, on the last day of my forties, realising that tomorrow, I am officially middle-aged, I think of all the disappointments, insults, bullying, name-calling, missed opportunities, snobbery (much from Christians), pains, sicknesses, accidents, fears, anxieties, and I thank you God for all my experiences, good or bad.
You have been with me the entire time and you have not played a quiet role in the background, but been very active in ensuring I am at peace, guided, given wisdom, comforted, loved, cherished and made into the happy soul that I am today.
I don’t deserve your love and many times I have acted so bad that it would have been right for you to have called me retarded. Why do we make the same mistakes over and over again?
There is absolutely nothing I would change if I had the chance to live my life over again. Yes I would change the sins I committed and the ugly words threw at others and the hurtful things I have done to different people, but I would not change any hurts done to me. No insults, no blame, no hypocrisy, no betrayal, no rejection.
Through all my hard times I have discovered that Jesus, you really are who you say you are. You are the lover of my soul, my rock, my anchor, my strength, my guide, my salvation, my hope, my joy, my everything good.
Thank you Jesus for protecting my memories. Thank you for cherishing me when nobody else could care less if I was alive or dead.
Thank you so much for being there for me when my mum and dad could not.
Looking back I can see that you truly have been and still are, my best friend.