When I think of what I believed and what I didn’t when I was little, it’s just weird. Kids are funny.
When I was three, my mom was expecting a baby. Her belly was getting big. I asked where they would get my baby brother. My mom told me we didn’t know if it was a boy or a girl, but it was growing in her belly. As she was trying to convince me, I looked up at her belly, shook my head and said, “Nuh, uh.” There was no way I would believe there was a baby in there. She had to tell me that God brings the babies to the hospital, and the parents go get the one He brought for them. I had no problem with that. “I want a boy, ‘cuz I want a brother,” I said. My mom said we have to take what God gives us. He gave us a boy.
Then there was the time I was staying overnight with my grandparents. Mema was at the sink in the bathroom doing something that required running water. Her hands were in the sink, but I could tell she wasn’t washing them. I was no more than three years old and couldn’t see what she was doing, and being the ever-curious kid that I was, I asked, “Whatcha’ doin’?” She told me she was brushing her teeth. I said, “Nuh, uh.” She said yes, she was. I didn’t believe her so she told me to come look. I stood on my tiptoes and peered over the edge of the sink. OH, NO!!! She was holding TEETH in her hands! I screamed bloody murder and ran out of the bathroom! I didn’t keep my back turned though. I stopped in the next room and stood facing the door totally terrified and crying. She was a large woman and when she laughed her whole belly shook. And shake it did, because she couldn’t help laughing at my reaction to her handful of teeth. She also couldn’t get me to come near her for quite a while.
One thing I believed was something I think my mom regretted telling me. I was a night owl and I was only three or four years old. My mom put me to bed at 7 pm. (I remember my bedtime because when my older cousin came to spend the night once, we negotiated a later bedtime.) I would still be awake when my parents were going to bed. My mom would check on me and see me wide awake, so one night she decided to tell me something that she thought would motivate me to go to sleep.
She told me I had to go to sleep because the Sandman won’t come until I do. The what? The Sandman? Who’s that?, I wanted to know. She said he walks from house to house at night putting sand on the eyes of sleeping people, but you have to be asleep or he won’t come.
Well, now. I wanted to see this fellow. I thought I’d pretend to be asleep when he came, but I needed to know when he was coming so I could be ready. I figured he probably looked a lot like Mr. Green Jeans on Captain Kangaroo. He would be wearing overalls and a hat and carrying a bucket of sand. That night when my mom was checking on me, she poked her head in my room and saw me on my bed but with my face in the window. Through clenched teeth (my poor mom!) she said, “What are you doing still awake?!” I said, “I’m watching for the Sandman.” She didn’t laugh, but if she told Mema, I bet Mema laughed.