I remember being about 7 or 8 and we use to have this neighbor who also had a girl around my age and we would play together in the backyard from time to time.
Like most young girls, sometimes we didn’t play well together and when this happened we would just not talk to each other for a few days and then things would be back to normal eventually.
We never stayed mad at each other long. My parents also knew not to get involved because we would get over it like we always did.
However, when her father would get involved and tell her not to play with me because of our childish antics, we would not play with each other even longer. Her for fear of getting in trouble for playing with me, me from fear of her father.
My dad tried to talk to her father and explain that us arguing over who got what Barbie doll wasn’t something they should involve themselves in, yet he still took our arguments personal.
I also remember them being very religious and she would introduce me to Christian songs I never heard when I would ride places with them or when I went over to her house to play Barbies.
She was my first “Christian” friend and I judged her family off the belief that they would be loving, kind, and friendly towards me.
One incident out of the 3 years we lived next door that I will never forget is when she invited me over for dinner. She asked her mom was it okay and she responded that it was fine and my mother said it was okay as well.
That day they were having a picnic in the front yard with salads and I was excited to be a part. Her mother had put onions in the salad and I made me a bowl and simply left the onions in the salad.
When her mother came out the bathroom she grabbed the bowl out of my hand and said “oh you didn’t know I like onions” and begin to fill the bowl up with onions and other veggies I had left out.
Her daughter and I looked puzzled as we both knew it was MY salad and we had asked if it was okay for me to eat over.
I sat outside with them and watched them eat as I was too ashamed to go home and tell my mother what she had done. While they were eating her mom made comments about how wonderful it tasted and how fresh the salad was.
That was the first night I ever went to bed hungry and felt “shame”. I never told my mother about it and to this day I am 29 years old and she still doesn’t know.
About 3 years ago the daughter found me on facebook and I couldn’t bring myself to add her. That memory from over 20 years ago has never left my mind and it changed how I interacted with new friends and their families from that point on.
I never asked to eat at anyone’s house again.