Memories full of laughter, love, and friendship; these are the kinds of memories that a person’s childhood should be filled with. “Childhood faded away, to a faraway land, simple, so simple were we…,” (Childhood Faded Away”, 4). As James Foulk stated in this poem, childhood fades away, but can also be taken away. No innocent child should be forced to make adult decisions and carry out adult responsibilities. Although there are some experiences in one’s life that can force them into doing those things and forgetting those found memories. This unexpected shove into adulthood can have many long term effects on a person.
It is usually caused by a certain major experience or situation in a person’s life. For example, when I, Harmony Platt, was only seven years old was when the time came when I was warped into a premature adult mindset due to an experience which eliminated all the trust I had for people, the peace within my family, and stripped me of my innocence and dignity. This all started with words so simple, “This can be our little secret. ” As children we are told who we should and shouldn’t trust. We trust our parents, who teach us to trust our families and the people closest to them.
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Parents do this in an effort to keep us safe and to show us that there are people within the world that are good but also some that are bad, but in some cases a parent may be wrong. For instance, as a child I grew up with a big family who knew a lot of people and had many close friends who we considered family. A week before my eighth birthday my parents had to work at the Eastern Idaho State Fair in Blackfoot, Idaho. They couldn’t find a single person to take care of all five of my siblings for the week, so they were forced to split us up between many people.
They chose for me to stay with a close family friend and his family. This family friend had always been extremely nice to all the little girls in our family, so I was excited to stay with him and his family… but the excitement drastically was changed into terror or confusion after the third night staying at their house. This so called family friend sat me, a seven year old child, on his lap and violated her. He had stolen her innocents from me. As the small child I was, I could not understand what had happened but I knew it was wrong. I could not comprehend how someone who seemed so nice could have hid all his evil rom me, from my parents, and from my whole family. This entire experience made me think twice about the characterizations that I had made about all the people I had met and knew, even my own parents. I had lost all trust for people as an aggregate. My whole life had been changed, and my constant questioning of trust made me develop the adult skill of categorizing people and identifying the good and the evil behind their human facades. I was put in a position as a child where I had to make a choice to forget about what had happened or do something about it.
This is one of the hardest decisions in one’s life that they could have to make, but for me, a child, it was the easiest decision in my life. Of course I didn’t want to talk about it, and I just wanted it to go away, but I knew that I had to tell everyone what had happened and keep this terrible thing from happening to any other innocent children ever again. I felt like it was my responsibility to protect others like me and to set an example. I wanted everyone to know that it didn’t matter how scared they were that there was always going to be people there to keep them safe and help they with getting justice.
Justice, of course, was on my mind, but it wasn’t about getting revenge or getting even with him. It was about choosing between right and wrong. All these thoughts that ran through my head and all the responsibilities that I realized I had may seem like adult type things, and they were. Overwhelmed with the stress of these “duties,” I became quiet, depressed, and over all I made a change from an outgoing social young girl to a silent mystery to everyone around me. I became quiet because I feared being in conversation that would bring up the past. Promise yourself to forget the past and press on to the greater achievements of the future” (Unknown, 4). This is something that lived by. I tried my best to have hope for the future, but also to forget my past. Although, not only did the memories of what had happened vanish but many of my other memories did too: memories of my siblings, parents, and friends. Still to this day I cannot recall much of the past, but I still blamed myself and tried to find ways of how I could have prevented it. Therefore, forgiving also came along with forgetting.
I had to forgive myself and stop blaming myself for what had happened. This was almost harder than forgetting. Forgiving, forgetting, characterizing, and categorizing: these are all things that I was forced to learn and coach myself to do. These things not only cause me to enter an adult state of mind, but robbed me of my childhood. I believe that all children should have the opportunity to enjoy and embrace their childhood and take their time learning and developing the skills that I was burdened with. As Lewis Smedes said, “Forgiving does not erase the bitter past. A healed memory is not deleted memory.
Instead, forgiving what we cannot forget creates a new way to remember. We change the memory of our past into hope for the future” (Smedes, 4). This is an impeccable way to explain what I learned from this entire experience and in one of the many things, I personally, conclude to be something that children should be saved from learning until they are no longer debilitated to fully comprehend. As a congregation of experienced people, we need to work together to keep the children of this day safe and save them from a loss of one of the greatest things they will ever have… their childhood.