F O R M
The visible shape or configuration of something [noun]. To bring together parts, or combine to create (something) into a specific shape [verb].
– – – – – – – –
When it comes to child development, it’s been said that the most crucial milestones occur by the age of seven. And while the first seven years don’t necessarily determine a person’s happiness in life, the rapidly growing brain creates a foundation for how they will communicate and interact with the world.
“Give me a child until he is 7 and I will show you the man.” (Aristotle)
I have very few negative memories associated with the first seven years of my life. I was simply a happy and content little girl growing up in Africa.
My world back then consisted of my parents, the arrival of a younger brother in my fourth year of life, a huge extended family network (3 of my male cousins lived with us and were also raised by my parents, but most of our family were in a village some distance away from our town), and friends. Lots and lots of friends. I enjoyed friendships with both adults and children, though there were always more adults than children in my world.
Our home was on the campus of a Bible College where my father, an Anglican Minister, taught. He was also the Pastor of the Church attached to the College. My mother, a Doctor, worked at a local Hospital in the town.
Our neighbours were three female Missionaries who worked alongside my father at the Bible College. I called them ‘aunties’ (for a while I actually thought they were my mother’s sisters because they were also white *lol*).
Until I started school, Aunty B, Aunty J and Aunty H were the only connections I had to my mother’s culture. When it was time to start my formal education, I was enrolled in a British International School. With such diverse backgrounds of the various expat and local children in the school, I fit right in with my mixed-race appearance.
Other than my friends at school, and the female students in their dorms, one of my favourite people to spend time with was a young wheelchair bound man who lived near us. He had cerebral palsy. He wasn’t a student, but his parents worked (as gardener & housekeeper) for the Missionaries, and so their home was also on the College grounds.
Growing up in that environment, I was obviously in a very sheltered bubble. Also, unlike the world in which I’ve raised my own children, I grew up without any modern gadgets and conveniences. There were no devices, no TV, no social media. I had books and a small selection of toys (most handmade by my father). But mostly, I was surrounded by adults.
And not just any adults, but adults whose lives were centred on the work of God. So it’s inevitable that my earliest lessons were all about God. Attending Church, reading Bible stories, praying…it was as normal to me as breathing. It was just how we lived. And how I thought everyone lived. I had no idea that some people lived without any awareness of, or acknowledgement of God.
Yes, life was good tucked away my own little “African haven”.
Little did I know my world was about to be expanded in a way I could have never imagined. Not long after I turned 7, my parents announced that we were moving to Australia.