This is a personal essay I wrote for my Essay Writing elective first semester of my senior year. I never developed it the way I wanted, but I’ve lately wanted to rewrite it. I wrote it about the fifteen-ish years of my life when both of my parents were Episcopal priests, and about growing up in their church and how that affected me.
This year, I had my first PK friend and every so often we’d run across the hall to share a funny moment with each other that only the other would have understood. It’s definitely a unique experience.Just for funsies, here’s a very incomplete list of people who started out as PKs just like yours truly. Some of them are pretty funny: Malcolm X, Vincent Van Gogh, Condoleezza Rice, Alice Cooper (who would guess?), Friedrich Nietzsche (who wrote a book entitled The Antichrist), Denzel Washington, Jessica Simpson, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Elijah Muhammad (of the Nation of Islam), and, of course, the Jonas Brothers.
Here is the first bit of my essay, if that’s what I’m calling it. We’ll see how it goes. Remember: “Pastor’s kids are PKs but regular kids are just OK.”
I’ve always thought I was a terrible excuse for a minister’s daughter. Despite my own experience, I continue to imagine a typical minister’s daughter as plainly and demurely dressed, subdued, and without any controversial opinions. I can safely declare that I do not, and never have, fit that description. On the contrary, it is my belief that being the child of two Episcopal ministers turned me into the skeptic I am today.
As a child, friends at church would playfully refer to me as “PK,” or which stands for “Priest’s Kid”, or “Pastor’s Kid” for most Protestants. I began to relish the advantage I gained with such a title–I could do whatever I pleased. Perhaps I abused my power, but I was too young to feel guilty about it. From the time I was old enough to develop preferences, I was creative in choosing my outfits each Sunday. According to my parents, a favorite outfit of mine consisted solely of my bathing suit under a ballet tutu. Apparently, this was the only way they could cajole me into getting in the car to drive the ten minutes to Yarmouth.
On the first Sunday of every month, when I was not in Sunday school and was instead sitting through a dull service, I would amuse myself by collecting live ladybugs from the nooks and crannies of the church’s wooden flooring; I watched them climb over my fingers and scamper across my palm or into my shirt sleeves until they spread their thin, black wings and flew off with a faint clicking noise.
Frowns from old women never put a damper on my antics. I knew the ins and outs of the church–I had sat in or crawled under every chair, played hide and seek in the closet of robes in the sacristy, acted nearly every role in the Christmas pageant (my favorite was Herod–I got to yell and wield a sword) and heard every parable that Sunday School had to offer.
After the service, during coffee hour, I would stuff my little fists with blocks of cheese, and with my Raggedy Ann doll in tow, would dart among the legs of the parishioners, giggling with my sister and our friends. On days when we were feeling particularly mischievous, we would venture into the women’s bathroom where there was storage space beneath the sinks that was conveniently disguised by a little ruffled curtain. We would cram ourselves amongst boxes of toilet paper and cleaning products, our necks bent at unnatural angles to avoid the pipes that ran overhead. With our bodies tense in our efforts to contain laughter and keep our feet from showing, we would listen to the conversations of the women as they chatted and washed their hands. Sometimes, much to our excitement, a high heeled shoe would nearly tread on our toes or an oversized handbag would push the rough, floral fabric of the curtain against our heads for a moment. We were never discovered.
Once we had exhausted all potential methods of entertainment, I would resign myself to trailing my mother as she spoke with parishioners about the morning’s sermon. I tugged relentlessly on the sash of her robe as if it were a bell. From eavesdropping on my mother’s conversations, I developed my young opinions of church people. At home, when I was about six years old, I requested of my mother that we “play church”. “Oh, hiiiiiii!” I whined. “How are you? I’ve been meaning to call you!”
To be continued…