I don't know why or how, but I have a couple memories from before I even turned five. I know I wasn't five yet, because I have a metric. My fifth birthday came almost immediately after I moved out of Buckhead, Atlanta to a suburb north of the city. The first is a memory of the Kindercare daycare that I was enrolled in by my parents. It was located in North Atlanta, maybe around the Cobb Galleria.
One day we had a new teacher. She was young and had just finished her degree. I don't know how I remember that, but I do know why I remember it. We were told by another employee to behave for her because this was her first day on the job as a newly graduated teacher. She must have only been twenty.
She had us all sit at a rectangular table, maybe fifteen of us total, ages three to four, and she was teaching us something. I have very little idea of what it was, and I won't know until the day my physical husk dies and I can look into the akashic record. I do however remember that she mentioned cats.
While talking about cats, she conjured a grease pen and drew little whiskers on one of my fellow students faces. Suddenly, I was filled with my first ever memory of hurt. She'd stabbed me right in my chest. It may have actually been the first time in my life that I was able to even understand that concept.
My lips quivered, but I had to stay strong because I wasn't allowed to cry. I tried forcing myself to listen to her reading her book about cats in order to take my focus away, but it wasn't enough to keep me from cracking. I broke down into uncontrollable sobbing. Surprised, she asked me what was wrong, and why I was crying.
"I want to be a cat too." I was bawling like a baby, because I was a baby, and I can remember how happy she was.
She closed the book, set it down, grabbed my tiny face, and then drew whiskers on my little cheeks. Suddenly, all the other kids began to cry, and she drew whiskers on their faces too. She finally gave up on the book and placed it gently on the table.
We crawled around the room, mewing like kittens as she watched. I can remember her smile and how happy everyone was. Ah, man. It was so genuine. Even a three or four year old me couldn't forget that. I had accidentally made her first ever teaching experience wonderful.
I think the reason I remember it is probably multi-fold, but I do know that only around a year or two after that, I was never a good child again. I would abuse other students, choke the little girls that were my age, trash classrooms, cuss, tear pages out of school books, and lash out violently, until many years later, I dropped out in the eleventh grade and got my GED.
I think I remember that moment, of that day because it really was just one of my first memories ever, or maybe I remember it because I can still see how genuinely happy that teacher was. Maybe it was because in that moment, a complete stranger showed me an unconditional love that we adults all want and have trouble finding, because it's an unconditional love that goes away at some point in our lives, but makes you wish you were a child again.
Tell me I'm wrong and misremembered, but I still have dreams of her happiness at seeing my hurt over something so sweet and adorable. I couldn't imagine me seeing that as an adult. The absolute innocence would make my heart melt, and I'd draw little grease-pen whiskers on every child on this planet so that they wouldn't have to ache because someone else got to be a cat for a moment. I'd draw the little grease-pen whiskers on their cheeks so that they never had to grow up. I'd do it so that they never had to worry ever again. There is still a child in my heart.
My parents eventually took me out of that Kindercare. I don't know why, but I was put into a privately owned daycare that was right across from Miami Circle, along Piedmont road. It's just beyond a set of train tracks, and is currently a bank of powerlines with a train track behind it as well, but back in those days, the powerlines didn't exist. There was also a CUB Foods supermarket in the giant parking lot directly across Piedmont.
I can remember a few things about that set-up, which I won't elaborate on, but the one thing I remember the most, was my last day there. It was my last day there because someone who had stake in the daycare was into touching kids.
Two of the female teachers took me and another girl out. I don't remember much about her, other than that she was older and taller, and very articulate in the way she spoke. She'd also come from out of town and had previously lived in Atlanta and her parents were back visiting for a day or two. They drove us around to multiple businesses and restaurants and even a few museums.
At the end of the day, we stopped at a sandwich shop and they bought us each one of those big chocolate chip cookies that delis always have. I can remember me and the other girl thinking they were one of the most heavenly things ever created, but really, the entire day and everything in it, was as amazing as that cookie. Maybe it wasn't even the cookie, or the day, but the fact that I was forming my first memories.
She was quite the yapper. She talked very fast, and the two old ladies driving us around thought she was adorable and hilarious, and they kept joking that we'd get married one day. We didn't get married though. The last thing I can remember her telling me is that we'd meet again one day. That didn't happen, and I don't know a single one of their names and never will.
I wasn't even five yet, but I remember how much I cared about this person who is like a silhouette to me now. She has no distinguishing features anymore, save for one or two, and one of them is her biting into that giant cookie and laughing. I think it's important to me because it was the first time I experienced loss, but not just loss, irritation caused by loss. To this day, three decades later, I still wonder who any of those people were.
I believe in God, and I love God, and I know that nothing he has ever done on this earth is cruel. I believe in evil and I hate evil, and I want to place the blame for all hurt on evil, but only God could have made memories as vivid and wonderful as those. Only God could have made them end the way they did.
The real cruelty lies in giving someone as young as that the ability to think, and to go so far as to give them the ability to think in words, pictures, and colors.