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Erin Merryn earned her masters in social work in 2009. She has been interviewed by a number of media outlets including Oprah, Good Morning America, CNN, and London Times, among others. She was named a Glamour Magazine 2012 Woman of the Year and is the force behind getting "Erin's Law" passed. Her mission is to take this law national as a means to protect children from sexual abuse.
'A child's innocence is priceless.'
May, 1996 8:00 p.m.
On Wednesday, January 30th, 1985 my mom went into labor. Fifty-seven hours later she gave birth to me at home all naturally on a waterbed. She decided with all her pregnancies not to take any medication for pain. I was twenty-one inches long and eight pounds eight ounces. My parents named me Erin Merryn, pronounced Mur-rin, but my dad's family pronounced it Mare-in. 'Erin Mare-in.' They thought it was funny. My middle name was changed to Elizabeth a month later. I like Merryn better. As a baby I was very shy and quiet until around two and a half years of age when I started talking and wouldn't stop. I would talk to just about anyone I saw. At three years old a priest told me his name was Father Deimer. I asked him 'Whose father?' and he answered me that he was everyone's father, my father, my parents' father, my grandparents' father and even their parents' father! I gave him a funny look and said, 'Who are you God?' Everyone got a good laugh especially since it was coming from a three year old. I was considered a daddy's girl from the start. I'd always be sitting by the door waiting for daddy to come home. My mom was a stay-at-home mom raising three girls. I was the middle child. I always enjoyed my mom's macaroni and cheese, which included a song my mom made up that we would sing at lunchtime. Dad works hard running his own business. As a little girl I'd look forward to my kiss, hug, and a high five I received from my dad before he left for work. My sisters are Allie and Caitlin. Allie is two years younger then I. Caitlin is the oldest and three years older than I. My childhood has been filled with trips to the zoo, amusement parks, beaches, trips to Michigan to camp and visit the sand dunes. I never had to go far to have fun. In my own back yard were a swing set, playhouse, and a huge wooden sandbox my mom made and filled with sand. My street was filled with children so anyone who drove down it could hear the screams and laughter of kids. Down the street lived three boys around my age and they were friends of Allie and me. Across the street lived Caitlin's best friend, Carey. The two of them were inseparable. The sidewalks down our street were designed with colorful sidewalk chalk drawings and the driveways were filled with bikes, wagons, and strollers. When it was time to leave for school, the neighborhood kids would meet at our house and my sisters and I would walk with everyone. There was a park down the street from our house that all the neighborhood kids would play at. We would also ride our bikes or roller skate in the tennis court. Summer is the season I've looked forward to most. Running around the neighborhood barefoot with my sisters and neighborhood friends. The hot summer days are always spent in the backyard in the sprinkler or plastic pool. Most of my weekends are spent in Wisconsin at my cottage, which my parents bought when I was one year old. Two years ago I experienced my first big adjustment. WE MOVED! It wasn't far from where I grew up. It is still in the same town and only about five minutes away. The new house backed up to a pond and has a path that leads to the elementary school. Not only did I have to get used to living in a new house, but also a new school. My best friend was moving too, but she was moving all the way to Arizona. Her name was Shannon and I haven't heard from her since I moved two years ago. Although the move was difficult I adjusted well and soon made a new best friend. Her name was Jessica and she was the first one to talk to me when I started my first day at the new school. She was in my class and it was the start of a friendship. The summer after our move we spent most of our time going to our summerhouse and playing at the beach. I also brought Jessica up to Wisconsin where we were dressed in matching red, white, and blue dresses for the annual forth of July parade at the beach. My mom had made the dresses. After a summer of going to the pool, my Wisconsin cottage, fishing in the pond, and the summer day camp run by the park district, it was time for another school year to begin. Another person that came into my life when we moved was Emily. She moved across the street a week after we moved in. So she was new to the neighborhood, too. My sister Allie and I became really good friends with Emily, spending most our time hanging out with her. Early in the school year I learned that Jessica's dad's job was being transferred to Indiana. It was very sad and it was at this time in my life I began to realize that life isn't always fair.
Today I am eleven years old. My mom bought this diary for me at the mall today while shopping with my sisters and me. I live in Illinois and spend a lot of my time in Wisconsin. Both my parents come from large families, but it is my dad's family that we are close with. They all live very close. My Aunt Mary and Uncle Scott live just down the path from us. They have four boys. Jake is their baby. Then there is David, Mike, and Brian the oldest. Mike is my age and Brian is a couple years older then I. I sometimes spend more time at their house than my own since they live so close. My dad comes from a family of seven kids. So during the holidays it is a house full of people. At my summer house I spend the day at the beach, on the boat or in town. At night we do campfires and roast marshmallows while mom tells ghost stories. I love watching the sunset or lying under a blanket of stars in the sky at night. During winter we come to Wisconsin and either go on our snowmobiles, if there is enough snow, or go into town and see the ice sculptures. I also like building snowmen or catching snowflakes with my tongue.
As far as school goes I am about to finish fourth grade. I had an awesome teacher this year. Her name is Mrs. Ackman and she has been the greatest. We just went on our school field trip to Springfield. We took a coach bus and left at six in the morning. We saw some interesting places. My favorite was Lincoln's Memorial. For dinner we stopped and ate at an Old Country Buffet. I sat with all my friends. We didn't get home until after ten. My dad had to come get me off the bus since I'd fallen asleep on the way home. The next day at school all we did was talk about Springfield and watch movies. All together it was a fun experience. One I will look back on for years. I do very well in school except for math. I struggle with all the equations. I would rather spend my time daydreaming then learning my multiplication tables. Reading and writing are my favorite. Well, it is getting late so I better end this here for the night. I need to get some sleep. My prayers tonight are for all the sick children who are in hospitals and aren't fortunate like me to have such a happy and healthy life. Good night!
June, 1996 4:15 p.m.
It's the last day of school. I am sad because I have made so many new friends this year. One of my very best friends this year was the new girl, Asha. She has very long black hair. Hopefully we will have fifth grade together. I am going to miss Mrs. Ackman, but she told me I have a great teacher for next year. I am excited for summer to spend it going up to Wisconsin. I can't wait to go to the beach. My uncle and dad take my sisters and I along with our cousins tubing. I tend to go very slow because I am terrified of speed. My sister Allie and I bring up our best friend, Emily. Emily is Allie's age, but we both hang out with her. Emily likes to do lemonade stands with us during the summer. We even sell homemade peanut butter cookies that my mom baked. My grandparents also have a summerhouse and condo in Wisconsin. All my other cousins stay at my grandparents' house when they come up. My Aunt Jenny is getting married next month and I'm a flower girl. My sister Allie and our cousin Molly are also flower girls. A bunch of my relatives are flying in from around the country for the wedding. My mom just came in my room and told me to pack my suitcase for Wisconsin. I'll write more later.
June, 1996 6:20 p.m.
My summer is going good. Today was a fun day. Allie, Emily and I spent the day playing with our dolls. We took them on walks in our strollers to the park and pushed them in the swings. When we came home we played school. I was the teacher and they were my students. We played for a couple hours and then Emily had to go home for dinner. She is coming back later to spend the night. My sister just came in my room to tell me dinner is ready. We are having chicken pot pie, one of my favorites.
July, 1996 10:05 p.m.
Well, my Aunt Jenny got married. It was a fun wedding. Being a flower girl was exciting. There were hundreds of people there. The reception was the best part of the wedding. We did a lot of dancing and didn't get home until really late. It was a night to remember. We later went up to Wisconsin and went over to a house where relatives were renting. We did a bunch of dancing and videotaped the whole party. The fourth of July was also spent in Wisconsin. Our private beach association does a parade each year. We decorate our golf cart and wear our American dresses in the parade. After the parade we eat hotdogs and spend the rest of the day at the beach swimming. Our beach has a slide and a pier that has a diving board and then a raft you have to swim to that has another diving board that is a high diving board. I play a water game with my cousins and sisters called, 'rag tag.' It is like the game tag, but instead you have a rag you throw at a person. We also play king of the raft and chicken fights on the diving board. So far my summer has been a blast. This week I am having a lemonade stand with Emily and Allie. We are also walking to the store and going shopping together. I'll write more another day. Good night.
July 1996 10:45 p.m.
I'm having such a fun summer. I spent the weekend at the beach and then had a huge campfire at my grandparents' house in Wisconsin with all my cousins. Tonight I went to my Aunt Mary and Uncle Scott's house and while the adults played cards I played in the basement with all my cousins and sisters. We then got into wrestling and I was beating up my older cousin Brian and my other cousin Mike. Brian is stronger than I, but he let me win. We then had foosball tournaments against each other. Allie and Mike went against Brian and me. Brian and I won. We then watched a really scary movie on television until it was time to go home. It was a fun night!
©2008. Erin Merryn. All rights reserved. Reprinted from Stolen Innocence. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the written permission of the publisher. Publisher: Health Communications, Inc., 3201 SW 15th Street, Deerfield Beach, FL 33442