I knew, but I didn’t know that I knew. I knew that there was something ‘different’. In my own uneducated, illiterate, naïve, ignorant mind, Erica was just a pain in the butt at times. When she wasn’t in school, she would be right next to me when I would be on the phone or visiting with a friend or family member. Right there, making every attempt to fit in to ‘my world’. As early as 5 years old, she would want to take part in my relationships with other people and I pushed her away. I set her up. I cherished her when I discovered she was a girl. She was so affectionate, loving and receptive to me. Our bond was so strong, it was lethal at times. My relationship with her was like night and day compared to Bryan. He just played. He was a boy. Although I had no brothers or experience with boys, he was easy to raise. It just came natural with him. Then, once I had Lindsay, I was convinced that my thoughts about Erica were spot on. Everybody else was in agreement with me, so how could I be wrong? She must have been like her father, because she certainly wasn’t anything like me or my family. (When I divorced him when Erica was 5, he turned his back on her and her brother).
But, when Erica was about 6 or 7, things started changing with her. She wouldn’t play with the other kids. She only wanted to hang out with me. I didn’t think it was normal. I wasn’t raised that way. I didn’t have the education for raising children. I didn’t know what to do. She would make every attempt to be involved in my conversations. She would try to finish my stories when I would be talking. She was wise beyond her years. I was oblivious. I didn’t know. I didn’t know how to “feed” her. I only thought that if I bought her books, then that would help alleviate some of the ‘clinginess’. It did. Her imagination was sparked. Seeds were planted, and they grew. At times, she was incapable of distinguishing reality from fantasy. Her dreams became her reality. She believed with all she was made of some of the stories she would tell. Until she was 17 years old, and ran from home for the very last time, she was ‘stuck’ in a world where she didn’t know reality from fantasy.
Once she left home, we seemed to get along much better. She was around people who really didn’t know her or have the same investment as I did. They were able to process her much different than I. She always thought that she could help people. She would counsel people when they were struggling. She even tried doing that with me. It just didn’t work with me because her immaturity would inevitably come through, and reality came into being. She would get frustrated with me. I wasn’t receptive to her ‘armchair’ psychology.
But, as she matured and refined her talent, she had a following of several thousand people who found her fascinating. People throughout the world who she was able to talk with on the phone, advise, cry with, and ultimately help. I put this in the back of my mind and was in denial until now. I shut down her Facebook with several thousand friends and followers. I didn’t want these people to remember the “Erica” that I didn’t know. She was gifted. She had a craving to learn. She started at just 4 or 5 years old to learn. I always told her that she could be whatever she wanted. I just was incapable of recognizing certain qualities and gifts that she had. She wanted to be a journalist. Then she wanted to be a lawyer. She would have been excellent at both professions. Ultimately, they bored her. What was her ‘God given’ gift? Psychiatry. That was her niche. She had a way of talking to people that was soothing, gentle, yet brutally honest that got their attention and would be able to help them. Much of what she learned was through life experiences, the classes she took at UC Davis, the books (100’s of them), and soaking up every single word, thought and conversation she could absorb while growing up. Had she finished, she would have been very successful in that field. She finally discovered her true calling.
I’m proud of the fact that so many people were helped and touched by her life.
While pregnant and raising our children, we always feel that WE’RE the ones who are teaching, when in reality, if we were to stop and access the situation, our children are teaching us.
God blesses us with these precious souls to love, cherish and nourish. I know that I failed in so many ways while I was raising her, but I also know that I taught her much more than I’ll ever know.
So many times, she would call me, tell me how she respected me, and my opinion and ask me for help on something. I really must remember those times more often.
If you have children, please pay attention to their interests. If they’re immoral, wrong or illegal, refocus them. If you don’t know how, learn. Get the help you need to help your children. Knowledge is POWER. Not just for you, but for them as well.
Just because we produce a child, it grows inside of us, doesn’t mean that we can do whatever we feel is in their best interest. Often times, we need to learn what ‘best interest’ really means. Every child has their own individual thoughts. They don’t always think the same way we do, or the way most people we know. Sometimes they’re an entity all of their own. Think about that.