That’s probably the first time I’ve introduced myself that way. In fact, I usually don’t tell people that factoid until I’ve known them for a while. Why? Because even after forming a relationship with someone, I still get remarks of “Oh, so that’s why you’re a good girl,” or “Really? You seem so well adjusted.”
I wasn’t born into the cycle of moving from church to church common in my denominational background, The United Methodist Church. Instead, my dad was commissioned into ministry when I was 12, a perfect age to remember the transition from pew to pulpit.
My family was moved from Orlando to a small church on the edge of nowhere in Central Florida. Naturally I knew my life would be different, just from the move itself. It wasn’t until we were moving in and I heard church members telling stories of the previous minister’s son, who caught his bedroom on fire and mysteriously went to live with family in Texas, that I realized my siblings and I were fair game for scrutiny.
As someone who was already a perfectionist and not rebellious, the realization only encouraged me to keep on. I know it has been harder for my siblings, but that’s their story to tell.
My parents’ expectations of me didn’t change with the move. They never have. Any pressures I felt as a PK were from the congregation. It was impossible to show up to a church function and not help, even if I had bought my own ticket. It was hard knowing many of the problems happening behind the scenes. When some of my friends’ families left the church, seeing them at school wasn’t the same.
Being a PK had its perks. I had the love and support of a congregation and basically dozens of grandparent-like figures. The day-to-day family life was never dull. I’ve witnessed countless bizarre weddings, taken groceries to a witch after school with my dad, lived in a house with open doors that ushered in exchange students, a foster child and my brother’s wayward friends. We’ve had impromptu dinners with people on journeys: a man biking his way to New York to learn the perfume trade and several homeless men, one of which found a heart in the wood grain of our dining room table we didn’t know existed.
It would be easy for people to assume that I was acting the part because I was a PK and I behaved myself. But I was just being myself all along.