Just because I have asked Jesus in my heart, does not mean I have “arrived”. This was drilled into my head after I said that magical prayer. Also now the attention seems to have shifted from me to my little sister. She is only three, but seems to be getting in a lot of trouble. There was a nursery at the school for the babies. The nursery was a tiny room, probably ten feet by ten feet. It was in the entry way of the church. It was probably meant to be a coat closet. I would hear someone talking sternly back there, so I peeked to see who was in trouble. I saw my sister standing in the corner. I felt very uncomfortable seeing this. I knew I was helpless, just like the night Pastor W held her face in his hands. My sister never cried when being punished. Today she stood in the corner for three hours. She fell asleep in the corner and fell backwards. How could a child of such a young age be so compliant? Sister knew no other way. One of the associate pastor’s had four young boys in the nursery with Sister. Their grandma was the one in charge of the nursery. Sister always got in trouble and they never did. I noticed it. I am so frustrated at the injustice. I also knew the injustices that were happening to me, and I had to go through them. I would do everything I could to help Sister, but I know there are some things I just can’t.
When Sister is at home, she is a very happy kid. She runs around and plays with Brother and I. She loves her dolls and is always playing pretend. I love watching Sister playing outside. She makes up stories and sings songs to the birds. I love seeing her imagination at work. She knows every word to Ace of Base songs. Music sticks in her head. I wish that she could flourish. I hope one day that the leaders of the church will see her talent. It is unlikely though. I know that the only people who get to perform in the church belong to one of the two Pastors’ families. A general member never gets to have time in the spotlight. Not for anything good anyway. Sister and I share a room. She sneaks to my bed at night and snuggles close. Then she tells me that my legs are scratchy. In spite of that silliness, I cherish these moments. Quiet moments when it is peaceful and just us. Sister brings out the little kid in me. She gives me an excuse to play simple games and have fun. I love to scoop her up and dance with her around the house. I wished she could stay little and innocent forever. I don’t want her to be hurt.
Once I said that prayer, then I was allowed to go to Youth Group on Wednesday nights instead of Kids Group. I was so excited! But I had to leave Sister behind in the Kid’s Group. Youth Group activities were to play basketball then to sit around for a discussion. I don’t actually remember what the discussions were about. I remember looking at some of the older boys and girls who were not in the school. Some of the boys were cute. The older girls were all pretty. I wondered what their lives were like. They all seemed so confident, but I was told they weren’t as happy as we were. They didn’t have the protection of Jesus and I was told that anyone who was “in the world” didn’t know Jesus’ love and protection. Three years I had been at this school, and I had forgotten what life was like prior. All I knew was the day to day survival. I was aware of being in trouble every day and feeling like I was going to cry most days. They told me that it would all be worth it in the end. That I would become what Jesus wanted me to be.
The school year is through now, and it is time to go to Wild Waves. We go there every year for the end of school field trip. I have so many bad memories. They never allowed me to be in a group with my Mom or Brother. Because it was a school outing, not a family outing. But the pastor’s kids got to be in groups with their family. Even my friend Jenn got to be in a group with her mom. I was irritated, but I went along, what choice did I have? We would play at the amusement park first, then go to the water park in the afternoon. I have always had a fear of drowning, and the wave pool and water slides scared me. What scared me even more was the way Ted was looking at me in my bathing suit. I tried to keep myself busy, and pushed myself past my fear of water to get away from him. But every line I got in, it seemed like he wasn’t far behind. I was in a group with Renee, who was his girlfriend. I tried to tell myself that he was following her. Which was probably mostly true, I just wished he would take his eyes off of me. I did not know what he was thinking, and I was also afraid that someone would see and that I would get in trouble again. It was so embarrassing to get in trouble in public. Jenn and I decided to get in the wave pool. We got about halfway into the wave pool when the waves started. We each had float boards. One of the swimmers next to us started to panic, and was clawing for someone to help him. He pushed my head under the water in an effort to save himself. I was caught and couldn’t get up for air. Starting to panic, I kicked him as hard as I could. He let go of my head and I swam toward the shore. I felt like crying. I sat on the cement wrapped up in my towel. I did tell Renee about it because she saw me crying and I felt like I could trust her. I didn’t want her to tell any of the teachers because I was afraid of getting in trouble. I didn’t want them to ask me why I thought God allowed this to happen. She just told my mom. The feeling of Mom hugging me made it all better.
I was glad school was out for the summer. I was looking forward to family time, and time away from Ted. He has still been grabbing my leg under the desk. When this happens, I try to find a reason to get up and leave the desk. It is happening so frequently that it is going to become obvious that I am away from my desk a lot. At the end of the year the teachers give out academic awards as well as funny awards. I got the toilet award for going on so many bathroom breaks. You would think that would have been a red flag.
Just when I thought I would be getting a break from Ted, I find out that he will be working for Dad at our house this summer. What am I going to do now?