On the morning of July 24 th , 1991, in a London hospital, I was born. I breathed in the first breath of life as I entered this world, weighing only 5.4 pounds. My parents must have been filled with happiness and pride that day. They had just witnessed the birth of their first child, and they named me Elliot Oliver Robertson Rodger.
I was born to young parents. My father, Peter Rodger, was only 26 when he impregnated my mother, Chin, who was 30. Peter is of British descent, hailing from the prestigious Rodger family; a family that was once part of the wealthy upper classes before they lost all of their fortune during the Great Depression. My father’s father, George Rodger, was a renowned photojournalist who had taken very famous photographs during the Second World War, though he failed to reacquire the family’s lost fortune. My mother is of Chinese descent. She was born in Malaysia, and moved to England at a young age to work as a nurse on several film sets, where she became friends with very important individuals in the film industry, including George Lucas and Steven Spielberg. She even dated George Lucas for a short time.
My mother and father had been married for a couple of years before my mother became pregnant with me. In fact, her pregnancy was an accident. She had been taking pills to prevent pregnancy, but when she visited my father on one of his film sets, she fell ill and the medication she took for that illness thwarted the effect of the anti-pregnancy pills, and so their lovemaking during this period resulted in my life.
Only a couple of months after my birth, I went on my first vacation. My parents took me on a boat to France. I was already a traveler! Of course, I have no memories of this trip. My mother said that I cried a lot.
At the time that I was born, my mother and father were living in a house in London, but shortly after my birth they decided to move to the countryside. We moved to a large house made of red brick in the county of Sussex, with vast grass fields surrounding it. The house even had a name: The Old Rectory. This was where I spent my early childhood, the first five years of my life, and it was beautiful. The memories I have of this period are only memories of happiness and bliss.
My father was a professional photographer at the time, just in the stage of becoming a director. My mother gave up her nursing career to stay at home and look after me. My grandma on my mother’s side, who I would call Ah Mah, moved in with us to help out my mother. I would spend a lot of time with Ah Mah during these years.
This was a time of discovery, excitement, and fun. I had just entered this new world, and I knew nothing of the pain it would bring me later on. I enjoyed life with innocent bliss. I can remember playing in the fields and going on long walks with Ah Mah to pick berries. She would always warn me not to touch the stinging nettles that sometimes grew in our fields, but my curiosity got the better of me, and I got stung a few times. There was a swing in the back of our yard, which I had many good times on.
The first birthday I remember was my 3 rd birthday. My parents threw a party for me in our field. I had a helicopter birthday cake. I can remember one of my friend’s parents cutting off the first piece and giving it to my friend. I threw a tantrum because I was expecting to get the first piece… It was my birthday after all. My father bought me a toy tractor that I could ride around in, and I would play with it all the time after that.
Sometime after my 3 rd birthday, we all went on a vacation to Malaysia, my mother’s home country. I have only flashes of memory of that vacation. I enjoyed it very much. We visited a few of my mother’s relatives.
For preschool, I was enrolled at Dorsett House, an upscale all-boys private school in the countryside, near where we lived. I was forced to wear a uniform, which I hated because I had to wear uncomfortable socks up to my knees. I was very nervous and I cried on my first day there. I can remember two friends I made by name, George and David. I would always play in the sandpit with them.
I didn’t like school at Dorsett House very much. I found the rules to be too strict. My least favorite part of it was the football sessions. I never understood the game and I could never keep up with the other boys in the field, so I always stood by the goal-keeper and pretended to be the “second goal- keeper”. My favorite part was playing in the woods after lunch. There was a particular climbing structure that I had a lot of fun with.
My preschool class once went on a field trip to the park, where I had the misfortune of getting lost. As my class was eating lunch, I ventured off to another area of the park, and when I returned, my class had moved on. I remember panicking and asking strangers for help. It was a terrifying experience for me. I was eventually led to my class by the strangers I talked to. I remember one funny incident when we were taking school pictures. They forced us to sit cross- legged, which I hated doing, so I absolutely refused to sit that way for the picture. The teachers eventually conceded, and the picture was taken with me being the only one sitting differently.
The holiday season was the best part of the year for me. It must have been very cold in England, but I don’t remember the cold. I just remember how much fun I had. I was filled with joy when it started snowing outside – I loved playing in the snow. My father helped me build a snowman once. We would start with little snowballs, and roll them around our field until we formed the body, and then we would decorate it.
During Christmas, my parents always had parties and gatherings. My father’s best friend, Christopher Bess, who was also my godfather, came to our house frequently. We would often go to my father’s parent’s house in Smarden, Kent. I would call my grandmother on my father’s side “grandma Jinx”. My memories of my grandfather, George Rodger, are faint; he had fallen very ill at this period. My father’s brother, uncle Jonny, had a son one year younger than me, who was named George, after my grandfather. I always played games with cousin George in grandma Jinx’s garden. The two of us got along well. On New Year’s Eve our neighbors once set up a bonfire party in the field next to our house. I was fascinated by how big the fire was. I had never seen anything like it, and it astounded my little mind. This was also the first time I saw fireworks. My father gave me one of those sparklers to play with, which I was enraptured by.
There was one very special place that my father would often take me to. It was at the top of a range of beautiful rolling hills that I termed the “London Hills”, because I thought that London was on the other side of them. We would go there to fly kites. I can remember these experiences vividly. The hills were full of tall straw-like grass, and the weather was always windy – perfect for kite flying.
It was a time of utmost happiness and joy for me. My father taught me to fly a kite by myself. The wind was so strong that I feared it would lift up my frail little body and carry me into the clouds. Once I got the hang of it, it was exhilarating. We would fly our kites together and run with the wind. I will never forget that place.
My favorite childhood film was The Land Before Time. I used to watch that movie all the time with Ah Mah. It was about a baby dinosaur named Littlefoot who had just lost his mother and was journeying through a dangerous world to find the “Great Valley”, a land of prosperity and peace. I remember the feeling of utter sadness I felt during the scene when his mother died, and the triumphant and happy emotions that swept over me when he finally discovered the Great Valley, after going through all the hardship to get there. I watched this movie so many times that just thinking about it brings the emotions back. It was a big part of my childhood.
Already a world traveler, I went on a trip to Spain with my parents and my parent’s friends Patrick and Lupe. It was the fourth country I’ve been to at such a young age. We stayed in an exquisite castle- like house that I believe was owned by a friend of ours. The house had a tower that I was extremely curious about. At one point, my parents and their friends ventured up to the top of it, but they made me stay below because I was too young. I was sorely disappointed. As they were climbing the tower I went outside to look at the cacti surrounding the house. These cacti also sparked my curiosity, and I foolishly decided to touch a cactus. I ended up getting cactus needles all over my hand, and it took a long time for my mother to remove them.
Shortly after my trip to Spain, we went on another trip to Greece. We stayed at a hotel near the beach. It was very hot there. The weather was new to me, as I was used to the cold British climate.
The trip to Greece was significant because during this time, my father received the news of the death of my grandfather George Rodger. He died of natural causes on my 4th birthday, at the age of 87. It was the first experience I had of the death of a close relative, and the first time I saw my father cry. My 4 year old self could not imagine my father ever crying, and so when I saw him cry that day, I knew how shaken he was. It was a very sad day for all of us. We immediately flew home.
I believe that it was during the time after my 4 th birthday that my father came to the decision to eventually move to the United States. As he was just becoming a director, he believed Los Angeles would offer more opportunities. We took a short trip to California to gain an initial look at it. I don’t remember much of this trip, but I do remember having a good time. At the age of 4, I, Elliot Rodger, had already been to six different countries. Who can claim that, eh? The United Kingdom, France, Spain, Greece, Malaysia, and the United States.
It was also during this time that my mother became pregnant again. I was going to have a sibling. My parents decided to have another baby, this pregnancy being planned, so that I can have a sibling to grow up with. We later discovered it was going to be a girl. Before my 5 th birthday, my mother went into labor to deliver the baby. I can remember the night vividly. I was very ill that night, a bad omen. I stayed at home with Ah Mah while my mother and father were at the hospital, and we watched movies together. I was fraught with anticipation the whole time. And then my parents came back late in the night, and with them they brought a little black-haired baby wrapped in a bundle. I had a baby sister, and they named her Georgia. I have no memories of what happened on my 5 th birthday. Shortly after it, we were making plans to permanently move to the United States. The news excited me, but I was sad at the prospect of leaving my life in England behind. My father took a short trip to the U.S. by himself to scout out houses. I remember talking on the phone to him while he was there. He told me he found a very nice house for us to move to. I asked him if it had a swimming pool, and he said it did. This news made me very happy.
And then the time came. We started packing everything up at the Old Rectory. On my last day at Dorsett House school, my teacher was giving all of us candies when my mother came to pick me up early. I said goodbye to all the friends I had there. That was the last time I saw them.
My father was given the offer to buy the Old Rectory for about 400,000 Pounds (we were only renting it at the time), but he declined, a decision he would regret later on, as it would have been a worthy investment. I cried as we drove away from the Old Rectory. All the experiences I had there; playing in the fields, driving my toy tractor, tending to my garden, going on walks with Ah Mah, swinging on the swing; all those experiences were gone. I was about to start a new life. We boarded the plane and took off to America.