Monday, May 20, 2013

My Story -Part 5

When I left off with "My Story" in my last blog post, I had gotten up to the age of six years old. In this post, I will cover a few more years of my childhood. If you have not read the previous entries in the "My Story" series, I have included links to them at the bottom of this post.

As I mentioned in my last post, I became an avid reader at a very young age. I enjoyed fiction the most (and I would read fiction in a variety of subjects), though I was also known to take an interest in reading from the encyclopedia and other types of non-fiction. Usually, once I picked up a book, I didn't want to put it down.

I can recall experiences from my childhood that I was more interested in reading than in playing with friends. If I was involved in a book when a friend came by, I'd more often than not want to continue what I was reading rather than  play with my friend.

I did well enough in school in Kindergarten and first grade, though I definitely had an active imagination. And it was very easy for me to get lost in my imagination when I was supposed to be focused on something else. My first grade teacher once had a conversation with my mom about that, and she also spoke of at times seeing me just stare at my pencil for periods of time, probably trying to figure out how the lead was put in there.

Once I entered second grade, being able to focus on school work started to become more of a problem, as I would still find it very easy to get lost in my imagination when I was supposed to be focused on something else. When it came to assignments involving reading, including a class competition for reading, I did very well (in fact, I spent more time reading at home than all but one other person in the class). Though when it came to other assignments, I would get distracted rather easily. I remember charts kept in class tracking our progress in completing various types of assignments, and I was almost always behind nearly everyone else in the class.

Shortly after finishing second grade, I was diagnosed by my pediatrician as having Attention Deficit Disorder. Shortly after starting third grade, I started taking a low dose of Ritalin. This was long before extended release versions were available, and I remember having to stop by the office at lunch every day to take my second dose of the day.

The difference in my ability to focus from before I started taking medication was like night and day. I was now able to focus on my school work and much more easily complete assignments. When I was in third grade, my school separated students into different classes for math and English based on what level they were at. I met with my former 2nd grade teacher for English, and she noticed the difference firsthand.

I continued to do well in fourth grade, remaining near the top of my grade level in reading, and at average or slightly above in most other subjects. I also continued to do well as far as citizenship grades went. I was definitely an introvert during my childhood, and it was almost unheard of for me to be disciplined in school for any behavior problems.

Though Jaron and Evan (mentioned in my previous post) remained my closest friends throughout my childhood, I do recall making other friends during my early years in school. There was Dylan that lived down the street that I was close to for a couple of years, until his family moved away. There was Derek that I met in school, and formed a friendship with due to some of our common interests. And there was Don that lived a few streets away that I was also close friends with for a period of time. Throughout most of my childhood, I was also close to my cousin Lance, who was only a month older than me.

I also had several female friends, one of which lived in the neighborhood for a few years. She was the same age as me, and we were also in the same grade in school. At about the age of seven, it was from this girl that I received my first real introduction to the differences between boys and girls. As this is the only experience of this type in my childhood that had involved any kind of touch, it is something that has stuck with me through the years.

We did not go on too many trips or vacations when I was younger (other than an occasional overnight camping trip, or sometimes staying overnight with my uncle and his family in Wyoming that lived about two hours away), so the few trips that we did take stick out to me.

My first big vacation that I can remember was when I was nine. My grandparents took me, my brother Matt, and my cousin Lance on a road trip. We first stopped in Reno, where we stayed at Circus Circus (which as kids, we thoroughly enjoyed), and then went on to the Bay Area where we stayed for several days with my aunt and uncle. While we were there we visited San Francisco, some some other sites in the Bay Area, and (for us three boys) had our first experience playing on the beach.

The only other vacation I went on during my childhood was about a year later when I was ten. My dad (who at the time did contract work as a drywaller) was offered a job in southern California, and so my parents made it into a vacation for us. We first drove down and stayed in Boulder, NV, where we got to tour the Hoover Dam. After staying there for a day or two, we then drove down to the L.A. area where we went to Disneyland, Knott's Berry Farm, Univeral Studios, as well as another trip to the beach.

One other event of importance during this time of my life was my baptism. About two weeks after my eighth birthday, I was baptized a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Though I had attended church with my parents before this, and continued to do so afterward, this has remained an important milestone in my life.

* * * * *

My Story -Part 1
My Story -Part 2
My Story -Part 3
My Story -Part 4

I am now up to about the age of ten, and once again, this feels like a good stopping point. Stay tuned for future blog posts in which I will continue my story.

As always, feel free to leave comments or ask questions, whether here on the blog, or by sending me a private message.

Monday, May 6, 2013

My Story -Part 4

It's been a couple of months since my last installment of the "My Story" series. Most of the series so far has consisted of introductions to members of my family. This post will resume the sharing of my story. If you have not yet read the previous installments of "My Story," I have included links to them at the end of this post.

As I mentioned earlier in this series, my earliest memories begin around the time I was two years old, which also coincides with the birth of my brother Matt.

My dad has told the story of the day my brother was born. While my mom was in the hospital, and he was at home with me, I made a mess by dumping a ten pound container of sugar all over the kitchen floor. I actually remember this, though it wasn't until much later in life that I made the connection that this was the same day that my brother was born.

Being so close in age, Matt and I were pretty close growing up. We often shared a bedroom and we did a lot of stuff together. And as is often the case with little brothers, he was also good at annoying me (though just as often unintentionally as not), most often wanting to do things with me that I either wanted to do by myself or with my own friends. Though we had many of the same problems that most brothers do, overall we did get along pretty well.

My best friends during my childhood were also my closest neighbors. There was Jaron, who lived across the street from me and was born eight days after me. And there was Evan, who lived next door, and was about six months younger than me. I saw more of Jaron as we were in the same grade in school, though as we got older, our interests diverged. Evan and I tended to have more common interests growing up, and so we would often play together when we were younger, though we were a grade apart in school.

I was very sensitive as a child. I both have been told this by my parents and I have memories of it as well. It would take very little to get me upset over something, usually resulting in me crying. When this happened in public, there were times I got teased or laughed at. I believe that this played a role in shaping my interactions with others when I got older. To avoid negative reactions from others, I often remained quiet, withdrawn and closed off, as a defense against letting others get close enough to me emotionally to hurt me. I would often open up more as I got to know someone better, but early on, I would usually be very shy and introverted.

As I mentioned before, when I was younger my mom taught pre-school in our home. I attended it for two years before I started kindergarten. Being the teacher's son, I think I often got away with more than I should have. I recall at times claiming I felt "tired" as an excuse to go to my room and play.

I also recall experiencing separation anxiety from my mom when I first started kindergarten. I'm sure I wasn't the only five-year-old to experience this, but I can recall not wanting my mom to leave me with strangers I didn't know. Though I was able to adapt pretty quickly, it has left me with a clear memory of my first day of kindergarten. This is one of the first memories I have of the social anxiety that has endured with me into adulthood.

I was also a quick learner. I learned to read rather quickly (having a mother that was also a teacher, and had materials for young children definitely helped). I believe that it was during my first couple of years of elementary school that I developed the love of reading and learning.

* * * * *
My Story -Part 1
My Story -Part 2
My Story -Part 3

Though I have only gotten up to about age six, due to time and space constraints, this seems to be a good place to stop. I plan on continuing with another segment of this series in my next blog post in two weeks.

As always, feel free to leave comments or to ask questions, whether directly on my blog, on the Facebook link, or by sending me a private message.