Story of My Amish Childhood
This is the story of a little girl growing up Amish. It is my childhood story, my Amish heritage; and is very personal for me. There are certain details about my growing up years that I will not share because it's too personal. But I will try to give you a glimpse into my life as an Amish kid and young adult.
As I've mentioned before, in my post "Growing up on an Amish Farm"; I grew up in the New Order Amish church. We were considered the Fancy Amish; so my story will not be the same as a lot of other Amish kids. But this is my story.
As New Order Amish, We Are Different
Do you know how little kids will usually believe anything you teach them? Kids are very trusting, and typically whatever mom and dad tell them, that's what they assume to be the truth. And that's why it's so important to teach your kids the truth. Teach them to love everyone, no matter the color of their skin, handicap, etc. Teach them that Jesus loves them.
My parents taught me their way of life. I grew up thinking that the Amish lifestyle was the only right one, thinking that we may very well be the small minority that would make it to heaven.
We always looked at outsiders as untrustworthy, and we just wouldn't have any fellowship with "those" kinds of people. I never questioned why we were so different from everyone else? It's just the way it was, and we were the ones who were right, so why should we question it?
My Amish Childhood Story
I was the third to the youngest child in a family of 10 kids, surrounded by brothers. So I was a bit of a tomboy and didn't ever want my brothers to outdo me. At a very young age, we were expected to help with chores and be responsible. And I was out in the barn and fields a lot, even though I had to help my mom with household duties as well.
Life was always busy on the farm. We grew a lot of our food in the garden and preserved it for the winter months. We butchered our own meat and always had plenty in the freezer. (And yes, we had our own freezer, since we had electricity. Our Old Order Amish neighbors had to run their freezer items into town where they had lockers for them to rent.)
The Amish have very specific gender roles. It's usually the man's duty to work hard and provide for his family. And the wife is supposed to take care of the kids, garden, cook, and do all the housework.
Life wasn't always easy on the farm. There were times when my parents struggled to make ends meet, and this put extra stress on my dad. He was a man of great faith, and he loved God. But he did have some anger issues, and this made things unpleasant in our home at times.
He was a very strict disciplinarian, as are a lot of Amish men. They expect their kids to be obedient and respectful without questioning why. And I guess I always was a bit of a rebel at heart. So I never liked my dad too much, sadly. Until I left home, then I finally learned to respect him.
The Amish typically have their own church school, and only live within a few miles of their schoolhouse, so that the kids can walk there. Unless, of course, there's bad weather, in which case, someone has to hitch up the horse and buggy and drive them there.
They just have one classroom for all eight grades and one teacher. The men usually assume the helm of leadership roles in the home and church. But when it comes to teaching school, that is a job for a young girl. Typically just a teenager herself.
My oldest siblings went to a one-room Amish school, even after my parents left the Old Order church and went with the New Order. But after several years, they decided to start sending us to a local conservative Mennonite school. Some problems were going on at the Amish school, with the teacher and oldest schoolboys, and they decided it was time to switch.
I went to a very Conservative Mennonite School
So, I grew up going to a Mennonite school. We had some Beachy Amish/Mennonite neighbors whose kids attended there, so they would pick us up and give us a ride-along to school.
This is not a very good photo - below. But it's an old photo of my classmates and me, in the second grade. I am the Amish girl in the front, left. I'm not looking very happy, but I think what happened was: we were not used to having our picture taken. I have no photos of my childhood, except for my school photos that our teacher took of the class once a year. In my first grade photo, I blinked, and my eyes were closed. So this time I was determined that my eyes were not going to be closed - hence the serious look. lol
The Amish girls all have their hair parted in the middle and rolled back into a bob. And wear the same pattern of dark-colored, homemade dresses.
The boys just have a plain rounded haircut. They wear a homemade shirt and pants along with suspenders. And most Amish boys wear a wide-brimmed hat, but our church didn't have that as a requirement. Although, I do remember my dad struggling to get my brothers to wear their hats. And we all had to wear black shoes.
This is another poor-quality photo of the girls in my fifth-grade class. I'm on the right. And yes, I was chubby! I think we started having to wear the head covering and an apron over our dress to school, when I was was in fourth or fifth grade.
We had four classrooms in our school, and they actually did offer classes through tenth grade. Some of the Mennonites went on through tenth, but all of the Amish only went to eighth grade. I remember my dad actually pulling my brother out before he was finished because he needed help on the farm. They wanted us to learn how to read and write, but education was not very important.
I was a rebellious Amish girl
Regrettably, I was not always the most well-behaved and kind little girl at school. Although I was sneaky enough to not get into too much trouble with my teacher. I did, however, give my parents enough heartache over the years. Because for some reason I always had a rebellious streak, along with my brother.
When my brother, just older than me, was a teenager, sometimes he would ride his bike to school. And one day he decided to ride to town afterward and bought himself a radio. I was close enough to him that somehow I always got in on his antics. And we would secretly listen to it from time to time. Most of the time he kept it hidden in the haymow, in the barn. But one day my dad discovered it, and of course, he was in huge trouble.
My brother and I both secretly hated my dad when we got punished, and I remember one day we were plotting a plan to run away from home. But, of course, we never did, because the problem always was that we didn't know where to go.
What did we do for Fun?
Of course, as kids, we played and had fun together. We'd get together with friends, or our cousins, and have good times. As a family, we would frequently play a game of croquet together on Sunday evenings after the chores were finished. But otherwise, our life consisted of mostly work.
You could probably call me, along with some of my other siblings, a workaholic. And honestly, I think we enjoy working. It's just been our life, and we cannot sit idle. Although in recent years I think I'm slowing down a little - I do enjoy sitting and watching a good show now and then :).
And after some of my siblings got married and we were all growing up, my dad planned a fun family outing somewhere, about once every year or two. I remember the first time we did this. We hired a taxi and went to the zoo. In my memory, it was an amazing day!
My dad also loved deep-sea fishing. We were only a couple of hours from the ocean. So on several occasions, a group from our church hired a taxi, and a van load of people went fishing on the ocean. That was a lot of fun!
Summing Up an Amish Childhood
Because of the strict discipline that Amish kids grow up with, you will not usually see them throwing a temper tantrum or any such behavior. They may look like perfect little angels to you. But trust me, they still have a sinful nature and are quite capable of being very naughty. Maybe they're just better at being sneaky instead of being outright bad.
My childhood was far from perfect, and things went on in our home that my parents never knew about till years later. But they loved us and did their best at raising us. They left us a Godly Amish Heritage.
Click here to read part 2 of my story
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