A Child’s Garden of Misinformation

Art linkletter

Do you remember reading this book as a child? I owned a copy of it and read it cover to cover, over and over again. It was written by Art Linkletter. During his career he wrote many books about and for children, but this one has stuck with me all these years because it is so true. It’s out of print now and considered rare, which makes me wonder if I still have my copy. I’ll have to check on that!

The book contained several entries just like the ones you can read on the jacket cover of the book. A plethora of facts that have been misunderstood when they were graced with the ears and reasoning of a child. It was very entertaining, especially entertaining to the child reading the book.

This is a great lead in, but that’s not what this post is about.  

This post is about misinformation given to a child. One that I personally know and adore. And the misinformation she carried around with her for many years was misinformation her own mother gave her, about me. It wasn’t until she was married and had her own child, that she finally worked up the nerve to have the conversation with me, but she did one day. I could tell this was something that had bothered her for a very long time and I was shocked that a mother would tell a child something so heinous, but worst of all, something that was completely untrue.

She started the conversation by asking my permission to ask me about something. I told her that she could ask me anything. After all, she is my favorite niece. She hesitated and then told me the most gruesome thing you could ever think you’ll hear about yourself.

“My mom told me that you are a child of rape.”

I remember trying to process that statement. I remember the anger that settled over me and how I kept reminding myself that no matter how angry I was with her mother, I could not direct this anger at my niece. She was only asking me about something that she was told by someone she considered a trusted source of information. She didn’t know how it would affect me.

The other revelation was that if she was asking me about it, she must want to know about what happened, or perhaps she didn’t believe it herself and wanted verification. Either way, I was going to have to wade through the details of my conception and my birth with her.

This was something I had always been very private about my entire life.

When my birth mother, Jane, was being delivered, there were complications. Her tiny newborn brain shifted in her skull and the frontal lobe suffered severe damage. She was born with epilepsy, a disorder she would struggle with for the rest of her life.

Epilepsy is a neurological disorder caused by abnormal electrical activity in the brain. It cause convulsions and seizures and can be activated at any time, for instance, you could tell her a great joke and she would start laughing. Once her laughter reached a certain crescendo, she would have a Grande Mal seizure.

As a child she was very loving and gentle. She loved to sit on the back steps of the house and sing songs she had learned in Sunday school. Her memory for things like lyrics and dates is incredible. She can tell you the birth date, wedding anniversary and death date of every member of her family.

Of course, if you happened to walk by and see her sitting on the steps singing, you’d also notice that she was tethered to the steps with a rope encircling her waist. Her mother was always terrified that Jane would wander away to play on the train tracks that ran behind the house. Those days the trains ran around the clock and she never wanted her daughter to play around those dangerous tracks. At the time she had three other children at home and couldn’t always keep an eye on Jane, so tethering her to the steps was the most logical choice to keep her from harm.

Jane grew up and became a raving beauty with a flair for fashion and style. She always wore matching earrings, or “earbobs” as she liked to call them, and matching necklaces. She loved hats and had many to choose from and always dressed to the hilt whenever she was going someplace special. She had fiery red hair and blue eyes and wore a gorgeous shade of matte red lipstick to make the image complete. She was magazine-cover pretty.

To look at her, you would never guess she had any problems at all, but she did. She suffered from Grande Mal seizures every day of her life and with each seizure, her brain suffered more damage. She was never able to go to school for many years and had trouble maintaining enough brain power to learn to read very well.

What she lacked in book learning, she made up for with being incredibly kind, fun loving and gentle.

The frontal lobe of our brain is the part that houses many of our intense emotions, like fear, jealousy, greed, etc. Because this was the part of her brain that was damaged, Jane didn’t have many of those emotions in the intense way most people feel them. She could get scared, but it never lasted long and soon she would be giggling and having fun again. She never got jealous and she loved everyone that came into her life.

This is the sweet young woman my birth father met. I am certain this was the only time in his life he ever experienced pure and unconditional love from a woman, because she loved him to bits and back.

That doesn’t sound a bit like rape to me. In fact, I believe I came into this world from a place of the purest of all loves and I believe the woman that gave birth to me instilled all of that love into my own heart and soul before I was ever born.

I guess he thought he loved her too until the day she told him she was pregnant with his first child. But that love wasn’t enough to make him want to be a father, so she never heard from him again. I can’t imagine the heartbreak she suffered, but I do know that it didn’t stay with her long.

She was going to have a baby! And to her this was the best present anyone could ever get! Her excitement over her pregnancy would carry her through the next grueling months of being subjected to a shaming and a shunning executed and  carried out by the people she thought loved her the most…her own family.

I’m going to end this chapter here. Later this week I’ll write about her pregnancy and what it was like being an unwed mother in the decade of free love. I’ll also write about the details of my adoption and how those decisions have affected me throughout my entire adult life.

I hope you’ll stay tuned.


About Madeline Scribes

A writer with a sense of humor. If anyone can laugh at life, it's me.
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4 Responses to A Child’s Garden of Misinformation

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