Reading books like Escape makes me realize how sheltered I was.
I wasn’t taught to fear strangers. I wasn’t in an environment where abuse was rife and women forced into loveless marriages, all stamped with God’s approval. And I was taught games like Kick-the-Can and Hide-and-Go-Seek. No one ever taught me to play Apocalypse.
Carolyn’s FLDS community taught kids that the End Times were coming, and when they did, God was going to save them, but kill all the wicked people and destroy the world. Hurray! But first, God was gonna let the wicked government people try to murder his special children. But, no worries, as long as you’re faithful and pray, God will protect you from the danger he’s allowing you to be in. Then, after he’s finished all the mass-slaughter and destroying the world stuff, there’ll be 1,000 years of peace – so everything’s just spiffy!
The kids would rehearse this end-times madness by playing Apocalypse. The game involved a lot of running, and hiding, and screaming, and freaking out the younger kids, who had no idea this wasn’t for real. The rules were pretty simple. If you could be seen, you’d be killed. Kids shrieked about the bomber planes coming to kill them all. But then God would send resurrected Indians (the American kind) to brain the pilots with tomahawks, or split their hearts internally, thus saving the faithful kiddies. Then the evil government and commie countries would send in ground troops, but the power of prayer circles with the Resurrected Indians would kill them all dead. Then it was famine time! There wouldn’t be enough food for everyone, so you had to split into little groups. If you were caught being the messenger between groups, bang, you’re dead!
And this was understood to be not a for-funsies fantasy or fake-historical game, like Cowboys and Indians, but a sort of sneak-peek at what was going to happen, probably within their lifetimes. So very wholesome, innit?
There were end-times stories told by cousins around the campfire, like the one where God would give the survivors a bunch of hidden gold they could “pave roads and build houses with.” Which, considering how heavy and soft gold is, doesn’t sound like a fantastic idea.
And, they’d be told, there were a bunch of “white Indians” being trained in the Yucatán right that minute. Their end-times job: to strip off everybody’s clothes and kill anyone who isn’t wearing their magic undies.
My cousins looked as scared on the outside as I felt on the inside. Only those who covered every inch of their bodies with blessed garments would be saved and get to live in the millennium of peace. It was sobering – especially to a 6-year-old – to think that you could make it through all the different destructions but still end up dead if you didn’t wear the right clothes.
Their God is a mean-tempered cuss who likes to destroy stuff when he’s mad. Carolyn and friends were told that God created the Grand Canyon “on a day when he’d been extremely angry.” He dropped an entire mountain on a city that pissed him off, too. Looks like FLDS geologists have their work cut out for them: hey, is this a natural feature, or result of a deity with anger-management issues?
Carolyn tells us that she and the other kids would go trooping out to hunt the buried treasure in that anger-bear mountain, because her cousins were dirt-poor and figured their parents really needed the gold.
Another game the kids played was with spanking. Carolyn’s cousin Shannon treated them all to punch one day, and it wasn’t until the kids had finished drinking it that they found out it had been obtained under false pretenses. Their Aunt Charlotte was furious. Any kid who’d partaken, even innocently, were guilty of the crime, she said. Punishment for anyone with punch-colored lips! But the cousins weren’t worried, because, they said, Aunt Charlotte’s spankings, much like Baby Bear’s bed, was neither too hard nor too soft, but “just right.” And if you screamed like you were being tortured to death, Aunt Charlotte would get upset and stop hitting you.
Adults thought they were correcting kids by beating them. The kids treated it as a game, and life went on exactly as before.
I was so sheltered. I never played games that were basically rehearsals for the end of the world. I was never taught that God was a violent, angry fucker who might strike the earth open or drop a giant chunk of it on my head if he got pissed at me. I never had to manipulate my parents into beating me less, or become a discerning judge of proper spanking technique at age 6.
I wish all kids could be so sheltered…