I sense it. Can all but touch it.
Last week we hit the upper seventies in my little corner of the Ozarks.
Yesterday? We struggled to make it past the freezing mark.
Last night? A hard freeze. My poor crabapple trees, laden with fresh, new buds and ready to bloom, may not—at least, this spring.
Alas. There’s a life analogy in that, of course.
Sometimes, spring isn’t what we thought. It doesn’t come as soon as we expect, or perhaps, it comes too soon and temperatures plummet again. New growth and vibrant blossoms are temporarily stunned—dazed by nature’s cold fist and the parting season’s last hurrah.
It was a hard time. A time of loss and mourning.
Why did Daddy have to accept the job promotion in the northern part of the state?
Why couldn’t we just stay where we were?
Why did we have to leave our home, our church, my school, and especially, my dog?
Would making more money really matter in the grand scheme of things?
At twelve, I didn’t care about job security, a bigger house, better clothes, and certainly, college wasn’t even on my radar yet. Of course, these things concerned my parents, and ultimately, that influenced their decision to move.
Today, I realize how difficult their choice must have been. As a parent, I can appreciate the desire to provide more opportunities.
I understand the financial sacrifice that comes with higher education.
However, to a twelve-year-old whose world was her home, her town, her pet, and her peer group, I couldn’t imagine anything worse than moving to a clannish town with an odd school and an even odder house to live in—one where the homeowner wouldn’t allow pets.
The first day at my new school was anything but fun.
To give you some background, from the time I was dubbed “Princess of the Class” by my kindergarten teacher, all the way up through sixth grade, I enjoyed school. I was a rule-follower and a people-pleaser.
I made friends easily. I loved to smile and laugh. I liked reading, writing, and recess. Arithmetic? Not so much, though I tried hard to like it, too.
I *may* have been a teacher’s pet, though that wasn’t my intention.
On the other hand, I wasn’t perfect or privileged. My parents were hard workers who raised me with a tender heart and a love for others.
Like a lot of kids I had my moments, but for the most part, I was a well-rounded, well-adjusted little girl who adored living life and learning.
The day I set foot in my new school, however, everything changed.
Dread curled in my stomach, making it difficult to eat or sleep. It was more than just the normal period of adjustment. Something about the place—the town, the people, the house—seemed off.
It was as if I’d stepped into The Twilight Zone.
“Mama, the kids are different at this school. Even the teachers seem…weird.” I dropped my book bag on the dining room table after school one day and poured out my heart. “No one smiles. The teachers hardly talk—unless they’re teaching. The lunchroom monitor wears a whistle and marches between the rows of lunch tables like a prison guard. We’re never allowed to talk—period. It’s a demerit if we do. Library time isn’t even fun. If we ask the librarian a question, it’s a demerit. If we look at too many books, it’s demerit. In music class, if we sing too loudly? Demerit.”
I was pretty sure my new sixth grade teacher, Mrs. L, didn’t like me either. In fact, as I walked into the classroom one day, I overheard her as she spoke to another teacher. “She’s a strange bird, that one. All she ever does is smile. Well, it won’t take long. We’ll set her straight on a few things.”
Of course, “her” was me.
My heart plummeted.
Huh? All I ever do is smile? Is that bad?
The other teacher glanced my way. “Shh. Here she comes now.”
Mrs. L realized I’d overheard, in part, what she said. A muscle ticked in her cheek and she fidgeted with the pencil in her hand. “Well, go take a seat. I don’t know what you think you heard, but imagination can be a terrible thing, Cindy.”
What? Did she really just say that?
My hands trembled as I headed toward my desk.
I sat down and dragged out a textbook and some paper. For the first time since enrolling at this school, I realized I was up against something I didn’t understand. How could a teacher be filled with such animosity toward someone—her student, a child—for no intelligible reason?
I didn’t share this incident with my parents until months later—when Mrs. L’s behavior grew more outlandish.
Mama consoled me with hugs and sugar cookies as I shared selected snippets of school life. I didn’t want to overburden her with too much because I knew she’d worry.
Meanwhile, my little sister adjusted to school and the new routine in her own way, too.
Days grew long as I clung to old memories. Great memories in our old hometown.
When bedtime came, Sis and I snuggled close in my bed and fell asleep holding hands. It didn’t matter she had her own set of twin beds right there in the same bedroom.
We gathered strength from each other as we recharged for the next day and whatever else it would bring.
Sometimes, spring doesn’t come by way of a calendar. Sometimes, God’s timing differs from ours.
The move during my sixth grade year changed me. (Part Three of my spring series).
Did you move as a child?
What has God taught you about difficult seasons?
More to come ~ Please join me Friday for the final installment of my spring series. You won’t want to miss it!