Now that we’ve heard how things developed into what they are now, let’s get started with my actual memories and stories.
Growing up as the oldest girl, I was the one with all the responsiblities, but never the rights. Though I was supposed to discipline the younger ones, my younger brothers had a sort of authority over me. They were allowed to point out “misbehaviours” to my parents which I would get punished for.
After me, my mother had 5 kids within 5 years. Two boys, Jacob and Nathaniel, two girls, Ida and Kathy, and another boy, Samuel (all names changed). The actual responsibilities around the house and with my siblings started when I was 6. At that time, I was supposed to do easy tasks on my own, without supervision, and do them correctly and to my mother’s satisfaction. It wasn’t hard labor, but there were some things that might have been inappropriate for my age at that time. I was supposed to dust everything I could reach in the living room and dining area. I had my own little “cleaning bucket”. It consisted of a bright blue small sized plastic bucket for water, a bottle of glass cleanser, a bottle of standard alround cleanser, a small sponge for cleaning up spilled liquids and such, a dusting towel and one for drying wet surfaces. I was so very very proud of myself at this point. I wasn’t allowed to touch my mother’s cleaning stuff, but I had my very own that only I was allowed to use. I even got my own corner where I would put it when I didn’t need it.
Whenever one of the small ones spilled food or drinks, I would stand up, walk to my bucket corner, carefully take out all my cleaning materials and place them on the kitchen counter. Then I would fill up a bit of water into the bucket and wet my sponge. Depending on how bad the mess was (sticky liquids), I would add some alround cleanser to the water. I put my towel for drying surfaces over my arm, take the bucket and walk up to the mess. First, I’d remove the pieces and puddles of cornflakes and milk. Then I’d rinse the sponge in my bucket and keep cleaning the spot until I was sure it was as clean as the dining table. Then, for safety reason and to avoid wet socks, I dried it all up. I ordered the younger ones to stay away, let me do my work and not touch my bucket. I took this very very serious.
I actually had to take this serious, because leaving back a mess would result in a punishment for me. A messy big sister is a bad big sister. And while cleaning messes up was fun for a time, I quickly began to hate it. Constantly I had to jump for my bucket. I couldn’t play for 20 minutes straight without having to clean something.
As I was allowed to discipline my siblings I found out that if I acted like mom and dad did and just spanked them, I wouldn’t have to clean up as much. So I started spanking my siblings whenever they “needed” it. While this wasn’t much of a problem for me at a younger age, as I was rather thin and weak and didn’t think it would actually hurt them, I hated myself for losing my tempter once I got older and bigger than them.
My mom was happy about this. I had taken over a huge load of her work, namely keeping the house half way clean during the day and taking care of the older kids, while she cared for the babies most of the day.
And while I acted like a mother, I didn’t have any rights. My word did not count over the one of my younger brothers.
I remember playing outside with 3 of my siblings, my two younger brothers Jacob and Nathaniel and Ida, the smaller sister. Being the fundamentalists we were, girls wore skirts. No exceptions. Girls wore skirts and skirts only. We had a cherry tree in our garden. It was summer and the cherries were dark red and tasty. Since we had already eaten up all the cherries on the lower branches, I figured I’d climb up and get some for us. I had knotted my cotton skirt on the left side of my leg so it wouldn’t get caught up in the branches. I was a lightweight and rather fit, so I managed to climb up into the branches without much of a problem. Standing on a solid branch and having moved around a lot, the knot in my skirt came loose, but I didn’t mind. I had a safe stand and started picking cherries. I ordered Ida to hold her dress up for me so she could catch the cherries I was throwing down. My brothers, who before were running around, being very excited about the cherries, ran up to Ida, stealing the cherries. She got quite jealous as she couldn’t eat, needing both of her hands to hold her dress up for me. However, she didn’t think that far – she was small 🙂
She let go of one side to have a free hand. OF COURSE allll the cherries dropped to the ground. Ida was confused. She didn’t expect that to happen! I laughed and decided it was enough for us anyway. When I jumped off the tree, my skirt got caught in one of the lowest branches, which were just 3 or 4 feet above ground. I wasn’t very high up either. About 6 feet, if even.
As my skirt got caught, I tried to fiddle it lose. Jacob watched the scene and exclaimed “Lisa, I can see your underpants. That’s immodest, you can’t do that with boys around.” Mind you, I was 8 years old. I told him not to talk to me like that, he knew I didn’t mean to do this, I was only trying to make the day fun.
As we later went back into the house, my dad was doing some fixing around the house. Jacob went to talk to dad. Just a few minutes later, dad came into the living room with a very serious face. “Lisa, we need to talk. NOW.” He led me into my bedroom that I was sharing with Ida and Kathy. “I have heard that you didn’t act like a lady outside. You climbed a tree and the public could see your underpants. Is that true?” I tried to explain the exact situation to him, but no luck. I had done something that wasn’t appropriate for my gender. I was careless and offered my backside to be seen publically. I had failed. My dad explained that I needed a spanking. I asked him if Jacob would get one too – tatter taling usually got one at our house. My dad explained to me that Jacob wouldn’t get one as he did the right thing, protecting my purity and his fellow christian brothers. I always remember what my dad said: “Even if he’s a boy now, he is still a man-to-be, and that means you are subject to his authority, younger brother or not.” I ended up getting a spanking and no dinner. My dad was still convinced that I was under the influence of the Evil One, and no matter what I did, nothing was good enough to prove the opposite.