Tag Archives: Chris

Happy Mother’s Day: The Finale of Mother’s Day Posts

“She discovered with great delight that one does not love one’s children just because they are one’s children but because of the friendship formed while raising them.” 
― Gabriel Garcí­a MárquezLove in the Time of Cholera

 

To all the moms out there, this is your day. I hope you get to enjoy it! You do some really hard work and many of you get little or no appreciation for your efforts so GOOD JOB!

Happy Mother’s Day to you.

 

Happy Mother's Day

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“I’ll give you something to cry about”: A Prelude to Mother’s Day

I think it’s fair to say that my mom and I have enjoyed (more often not-enjoyed) a complicated relationship over the years. This is probably true for the vast majority of mother/daughters, it seems to be how these things work. After all, my mom had a complicated relationship with her mother and I don’t think Noelle or Bedot have had it any easier than I, either. Beyond personal experience, look at all the novels, movies, and psychologists who explore this same topic!

If you’ve been here before, you probably know my mom. If you haven’t and don’t, you can introduce yourself to her by clicking the My Horrible Mother tag at the bottom of this diatribe. So, anyway, you  might have guessed that my mom and I, we share a sassy mouth. We both say things that aren’t politically correct…or any sort of correct, really. I’m pretty sure I learned this trait from her. While being on the receiving end of said mouth definitely hardened my skin to a thickness seen only on citrines and rhinos, it was something of an obstacle while I was growing up, resulting in a lot of miscommunication and injured feelings. Some of the slights were real and intentional but most were merely perceived on my part. Regardless, there were things she’d said to me that were burrs in my blanket for years. Or maybe, it was things she didn’t say.

I always wanted to have one of those nurturing mothers, the ones who listen to your hopes and dreams and find ways to help you achieve them, instead of the “practical” (her term)/”negative” (mine) parent who tells you why your ideas won’t work.

The mom I really wanted.

The mom I really wanted.

The mom I felt I had.

The mom I felt I had.

For instance, I always wanted her to like my drawings but she didn’t. I wanted to take art classes but she nixed that plan. I tried to take one in high school as an elective but because she had final say in the matter, I took drafting. I bore so much resentment toward my  mother because I felt she was blocking my attempts to be the artiste I knew I could be, that I so badly wanted to be.  To make things worse, she encouraged Noelle to take art classes, to draw and paint and do all the things I wanted to do. It’s kind of like how I kept asking for Sea Wees for my birthday and Christmas and never got any; Noelle got them, instead. Noelle, who couldn’t keep her poor little Sea Wees’ hair nice and who lost their pets. It’s also like how Chris got ice cream for breaking my Wonder Woman doll! My early life was full of injustice and misery and I’m surprised I survived. Back to my crushed dream, though: I thought my mom would be proud of my artistic endeavors because before she had me, she went to school for art. After she had me, she dropped out and got a job in a deli and never went back. During her angrier moments, on the days that she was probably wondering how she ended up where she was, so far from where she’d planned to be, she told me I’d ruined her life because I kept her from getting a college degree. Remember that smart mouth I inherited? I always reminded her that I did not get her pregnant, I was just the result of her not being able to keep her legs together.

We were an awesome pair. And by “awesome,” I probably mean “toxic.”

The older I got, the more frequent these types of conversations became and it was hard for us to be in the same room for more than half an hour without sniping at each other. I judged her for every decision she ever made. I held what I felt was her lackluster parenting over her at all times. I was self-righteous and constantly told her what she should have already done and what she should do in the future in order to be a better person, a decent mother, even though I hadn’t done anything with my life at that point so really had no foundation of knowledge. Youth allows for a great deal of arrogance, we all know this. But knowing it and being able to deal with it are two different things and I think when your child is battling you with your own weapons, there’s not a lot to do but give up or fight harder. My mom has never been the giving-up kind of person.

I stayed away from the family for a few years. I was so angry, so tired of everything. I felt like I was the only sane one, the only sensible one, the only one who could keep her shit together and nobody gave me any credit for all my hard, honest, upstanding efforts.

Yup. Pretty much.

Yup. Pretty much.

I would only engage with my parents on holidays and then only if my nieces (I don’t think there were any nephews during this time) were in attendance. This lasted for three years, I think? It was ridiculous. I was so irate about things that didn’t even exist, not outside of my own mind, at any rate. I was self-centered and self-wounded and it made me reject the group of people I felt had caused all my problems.

Mom and I broke the barricade I’d put up with the most horrible kind of honesty ever. I was over there for some event, maybe Easter, maybe the Fourth of July. Whatever the case, it was a warm day and Mom, tired from preparing everything for the festivities, tired from me sniping at her, tired of being in a house full of people, just tired, went outside to smoke a cigarette. She was sitting on the front step and I followed her. I meant to make some barbed point that would hopefully make her feel awful about one thing or another but…I dunno, something changed. I sat down next to her and didn’t say anything for a little bit. She smoked. I coughed and then I asked her, “You don’t like me, do you? I mean, as a person. You’ve never liked me.” She looked at me and she said, “No. I don’t. You are not the kind of person I like.”

You know what? Even though I knew that would be the answer I’d get, had known for many years, it hurt. I started crying. We sat there some more. She smoked. I sniffled and coughed. She said, “But I love you. You’re my kid.”

Fat lot of good that did me.

So I did what I’ve always done – mouthed-off, then sucked it up and pretended not to care, just shrugged it all off. Whatevs, dude.

There had been many times up to that point that I did not believe my mother loved me. I didn’t think I loved her, either. Sometimes I hated her. But I hated her because I wanted her to be someone she wasn’t, because I wanted things from her she couldn’t give me because that’s not the type of person she was. Maybe that’s why it hurt so much to hear that she didn’t like me, it was one more thing she couldn’t give me. Some of the reasons for her dislike were real, like I was judgmental and arrogant. I was a bitch. Yes, she had to concede that I probably learned that from her but that didn’t make it a likeable trait. Some of her reasons were things she’d made up, like I thought I was better than everyone else because I went off and got a college degree and traveled across the world. I think she took my enthusiasm over the things I had learned as me rubbing my successes in her face whereas I just wanted her to be impressed with all the amazing stuff I was doing because…well, I wanted her to be proud of me and she wasn’t.

So much miscommunication.

I stayed away from home for a long time after that day despite the knowledge that one of the things I had learned early on, something that also came from my mother, was the value of honesty. Honesty was always a big thing in our house. I love to embellish, to make stories bigger and grander but I still understood when I needed to be honest and when people needed to be honest with me. Honesty gets a bad rap because people only want it when it’s nice and pretty, not when it hurts. The thing is, if it’s real, it will probably hurt. Almost always. There are coping mechanisms you can learn to deal with honesty: You learn to take it, let it hurt you, turn into a big baby over it all, then look at it and figure out what to do with it OR you learn to tune it out and rely solely on what you believe OR you learn to change it into something that is pleasant and agreeable OR you learn to twist it into what you want to hear. There are probably other things you can do, too, but I’m not familiar with them, having never employed them, myself.

I tried to learn the first coping mechanism and I think it has done me worlds of good. There’s not a lot that bothers me anymore. Yes, of course I hate criticism but I can tell when it’s meant for real and when it’s meant to hurt. If it’s meant to hurt, I can just ignore it. When it’s meant for real, I can take it apart to see if there’s a misunderstanding on the part of the criticizer or if there’s something in me that needs to be examined or both. This is an excellent skill to have and I have it because my mom did not mince words. School of hard knocks, and all, but come on, it totally makes for a kick-ass character in the long run.

In case you’re wondering how the whole “I don’t like you” thing turned out? After I sat on that for awhile, pitched some hissy fits, looked at the statement and the feelings behind it for a long time, after I broke so many things down because maybe they shouldn’t have been there in the first place and maybe after I realized I needed to be less of a jerk and needed to respond to my mother as a person and not as my mommy, I realized maybe we could get along. I think my mom had a similar response because after I ended my self-imposed exile, we both worked at our relationship in a different way. I tried to stop judging what she’d done in our past (except for those damned rolls! How could she lie about that? SO EVIL!) and tried to interact with her like I would a normal person, not like I would with my mother. She had to do the same thing, I couldn’t be her daughter, I had to be a person. After awhile, we worked something out. It was fragile, at first, and it was difficult. It was hard for both of us to not revert to catfighting and I know we’ve slipped up here and there. But we made the effort we both needed to make and, after a few years, we became friends. Once we were friends, it was a whole lot easier for me to respect her and appreciate her knowledge and abilities. I don’t know that she feels the same about me, but I know that she gets excited when I do big things now, instead of resentful because I’m one-upping everyone in the family. She’s become more nurturing, actually. She’s become my mom and I like being her daughter.

Look at us getting along like a good mommy and child! You have NO idea the years and years' worth of work this took. And no, neither of us shoved the other in the water after this shot.

Look at us getting along like a good mommy and child! You have NO idea the years and years’ worth of work this took. And no, neither of us shoved the other in the water after this shot.

So I guess she wasn’t kidding when she said I’d better knock it off or else she’d give me something to cry about…but at least I know she loves me!

 

 

 

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“Mom says…”: A Prelude to Mother’s Day

You know how moms say all those crazy things? If you’re a mom, you know. You’ve said words that should never be together in a sentence or, worse, sentences that used to come out of your own mother’s mouth years ago. My mom had no amazing sayings of her own, all hers were standard fare, but she did follow through on her threats.

She was always a big fan of the “If you don’t knock it off, I am going to pull this car over!”

1980_Ford_Fairmont

This was essentially the car she was going to pull over, only ours was silver. Photo swipered from stationwagon.com

 

And she did. Several times.

Once, Chris was being such a little shit that I think Mom considered murdering him. We were going into town and Chris was acting up, per usual. Mom threatened him with the big Pull Over and he didn’t stop so she pulled the car well off the side of the road, well, Interstate, actually, and once The Ford was safely parked, she flung herself over the seat into the back seat to smack Chris only because he was part monkey, he jumped into the far back of the vehicle and a 3 Stooges skit ensued. Mom and Chris were diving over seats, getting out of the car, running around the car and getting back in via another door, Chris simultaneously shrieking and chortling, Mom making dire threats.  A police car pulled up behind us to see if we were alright and Mom used that to her advantage, telling Chris that he’d been misbehaving so horribly that the police had to show up. I don’t remember what happened afterward – I think Mom explained to the officer that she was trying to kill her son because he was being a horrible monster and I think the cop did the disapproving stare and gave Chris a “Listen, Young Man” lecture through a window and then Chris settled down, but I might have made that ending up, I don’t know. I do know that no one was arrested or murdered and we all made it to town and back in one piece.

She also enjoyed “Don’t make me come over there.”

You know, the first ten times you hear that as a kid, you’re maybe a little concerned. But note: there’s no consequence implied. What’s going to happen if you make her come over there? Nothing. So after twenty more times that threat is spoken, you’re not worried because it’s meaningless noise.
Until something does happen because you know what? My mom liked to mix things up. 30 “Don’t make me come over there”s were general operating procedure but she meant the 31st. She came over there…with a wooden spoon and we all got smacked about the head, shoulders, fleeing butts, whatever. From then on, irritating Mom was a little like playing Russian Roulette; we never knew which “Don’t make me come over there” was real.

Once Noelle got old enough, probably Kindergarten-aged, Mom broke out the “Stop your crying or I’ll give you something to cry about” threat. I don’t know that we’d really heard this much before the advent of Noelle; neither Chris nor I were big cry-ers. But Noelle was. By the time I heard that threat, I was eight or nine and logic was beginning to grow in my head. I thought, “She’s already crying about something, even if it’s something stupid. It’s not like she’s just crying on a whim.” Apparently, I was wrong. Mom would go over to Noelle, take away whatever she had, pick her up, carry her to her room, put her in there, and shut the door. That definitely gave Noelle something to cry about.

There was one dire promise Mom never did make good on. When she was totally fed up with us – which was just silly because, honestly, we were adorable little angels all the time – she’d yell, “SO HELP ME, GOD, I AM GOING TO SELL YOU TO THE GYPSIES!” yet she never did. It may have been because there were no gypsies in  Colorado Springs who were willing to buy children. Or, more likely, as she’d explain later, “You children are so bad not even the gypsies would want you.”

29-Mother-hides-her-face-in-shame-after-putting-her-children-up-for-sale-Chicago-1948

If she could have, this would have been me, Noelle, Chris, and Bedot. Sadly, no one would have made an offer. Read more here: http://www.nwitimes.com/news/local/lake/hammond/sold-off-siblings-shown-in-old-photo-tell-their-stories/article_1c095598-89f4-584b-891b-7ef48a1e2082.html

I guess this is what being a mom is all about: Making ridiculous threats, luring your children into a false sense of security, then pouncing! Apparently, it teaches manners or responsibility or twitchiness or something. Actually, not true. You know what we did learn, aside from self-preservation? A sense of humor because we figured out that if we made Mom laugh while we were still on the verge of being in trouble, we could get away with pretty much anything. There was no threat that could withstand the force of funniness and that is why we are all comedic geniuses today.

I wonder if moms still do this – promises of retribution – or if this is something of the past…like Monchichis and  Walkmans? If this is no longer a thing, you kids have no idea how easy y’all got it these days.

 

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If you could change one thing about your body…

Hold up.

This is not an attack on body image, it’s an answer to a question that comes up too often, even now when we should know better.

If you could change ONE thing about your body, what would it be?

I would have my nose hairs altered.

Why nose hairs?

On a biological level, I understand them. They filter things out so we don’t inhale rocks into our lungs. They are like little fur coats, helping to keep our mucous linings warm so we don’t freeze our brains while sucking in cold air (that is not a scientific explanation, by the way; don’t quote that on a test) Yet, I wonder why we have not evolved beyond such rudimentary protection methods. I know my life would be a lot better without the need for these dark strands of evil.

I loathe my nose hairs to such a degree that they represent the ultimate agitation in life, they are the the symbol of all things miserable. I can tell how stressed I am based on my dreams; when I begin to dream of nose hair, I know it is time to go to the hospital.

Here’s what I mean:

Mild Stress Indicator Dream: The standard going to class naked, forgetting the locker combo, getting lost in school and being late fare. This dream shows me I am under some stress but it’s generally superfluous and my brain will work it out on its own.

Medium Stress Indicator Dream: The ex-boyfriend who should have cancer based solely on the amount of ill-will I bear him starts showing up and trying to get my attention or assumes nothing has changed between us an can’t figure out why I won’t talk to him. This dream lets me know that my stress level is now noticeable and is something I should keep an eye on.

Strong Stress Indicator Dream: I find myself needing to poop but there’s some reason I can’t use the toilet or I’ll find a toilet in the middle of a giant, empty room and just as I start stinkin’ up the joint, all these people come in and want to talk to me and I’m pretending nothing is happening but I’m desperate to finish my business and I really want them to leave but they mill around and ask me to do stuff and I need to discreetly wipe before I stand up and there is panic. You can imagine my horror at the Poo-pourri commercial. Sometimes the toilet isn’t even a working toilet; it is there as a piece of art or because it needs to be installed in another room and then I have to figure out how to get rid of my horribly smelly evidence once I sneakily clean myself, pull up trow, and make it look like I was never evacuating wastes there in the first place. Now we are in serious dream territory. My stress levels are high and I need to manage them or else there will be problems. At the very least, I will get sick. At the worst, I will turn into Godzilla and kill the entire city of Tokyo.

Maximum Stress Indicator Dream: I feel a tickle on my upper lip. I am usually talking to someone important like my boss or the president of a country who could make war on us or sometimes even to Jenny Lawson. The tickle worsens and I stealthily brush it away with the back of my hand. The tickle continues and as it grows stronger, I begin to sweat, to worry, to freak out. There’s something on or hanging out of my nose and I need to rectify this immediately but can’t think of a graceful way to break from the person to whom I am speaking. Also, I can no longer let that terribly important person see my face so I am trying to have a conversation while averting everything under my eyes from their gaze. Things get awkward as I surreptitiously attempt to assess the damage. As I lightly, quickly brush the nostril area with curious fingers, I feel fur. Like a mouse. I think there is a mouse hanging out of my nose. On the next swipe, I search for a tail. I find none. As my stress levels rise and I continue to find a way to disengage from the conversation in the hopes of finding a private bathroom with good lighting and a clean mirror, I become more neurotic in my ninja-like fumblings around my nose holes and finally, horrifically, it becomes clear: I have an entire handlebar mustachio emerging from both nostrils made entirely of tickling nose hairs. I cover my nose and mouth and run away crying in shame. My life is terrible, bad things are happening, and I’m probably five seconds away from a heart attack. This is the end. It’s time to take down Tokyo.

This is what I think my nose hair looks like.

How my nose hair feels – and probably looks – in my dream.

Yes. Nose hairs are the pinnacle of awful personal worries, worse than showing up to class sans vestments, worse than being hounded by a hated ex, worse than pooping smellily in front of a crowd. No worry tops the  worry of nose hair.

The most terrible part is that my Maximum Stress dream all too often borders on reality. I’ll be driving to work, breathing, like people do, and I’ll feel a tickle just on the inside of my nostril. I always have reason to believe that I’ve inhaled a cat hair since I tend to smoosh my face into my cats’ bellies or backs, breathing deeply, on a regular basis. I often find cat hair on my person, in my billfold, in my underwear…it’s everywhere, including up my nose. So I’ll lightly pinch my nostrils together and gently pull downward, hoping to catch the tip of a feline fur and guide it to freedom. I would guess that 1 time out of 10, there really is a cat hair and it’s usually one that has wormed so far up that the other end is wrapped around my eyeball and pulling it free is a terrible and strange sensation, resulting in watering eyes and squeaky shrieks of something like pain that’s not actually pain.

Those other 9 times? It’s a nose hair. It’s an errant nose hair that has grown its way to sunlight and is blowing in the breeze of my breath, softly bouncing against the skin around my nostril. Why is this allowed to happen? Why don’t they just stop growing at .1 cm? WHY?

I try to ignore it. I try so hard. But I can feel it, wafting in and out on the tide of breath. Before long, it’s all I feel. There is no autumn sunset on my face, there are no fingertips thawing from scraping winter ice from the windshield, there is no wind in my hair on a beautiful summer morning. There is only the exquisite torture of a nose hair licking my tender skin with every intake and exhalation of oxygen through my nasal passages. Even breathing through my mouth sets the follicle a-quiver.

I lose all sense of sanity and decorum; I attack my face…in the car where other motorists can see me. Making tweezers of my thumbnail and the pad of my forefinger, I attempt to locate and dislodge the offending piece of hair. Often, I find it but lose it after my swift tug yields no result. I drive down the road, pecking at face with my own fingers, shrieking like a banshee as I fly at 75 MPH. There is nothing in the world but this battle.

Inevitably, I win, but success comes with a price. My fingerpad is sore and throbbing from having my pointy little thumbnail jammed into it for minutes on end. And when the root of the hair finally pulls free, it hurts. It’s always a deep root, one that goes straight to the bone of my nose, a bone most people don’t have but I know I do because I can feel the hair coming from there. It is such a sharp, swift pain, worse than a needle, worse than a burn. The pain brings tears. And yet, these minor miseries are nothing in comparison to the hair, itself. I roll it between my swollen fingerpad and thumb, relishing my victory. Then I look upon it with triumph and see that the little bastard is half an inch long.

HOW THE HELL WAS THAT IN MY NOSE?

If you are not alarmed, go get a ruler and look at the length of half an inch. Nothing that long should be up inside anyone’s nose.

Ever.

I scream. I scream for minutes, in pain, in terror, in horrified fascination, and in complete disappointment that my body would let this happen. Again.

My fellow road-passengers hurry to pass me, wondering if I am an escapee from some asylum who will undoubtedly be on the news tonight, in the center of a multi-vehicle pile-up.

It doesn’t end there.

When I get home that night, I wage war. Me, the tweezers, and the bathroom mirror, we are the Allies. I pull out every damned hair in my nostrils, every single one I can see, feel, or whose presence I merely suspect. They all come out. I do not care that it hurts, I do not care if I make my nose bleed. I do not care that this results in minutes-long sneezing fits. Furthermore, I do not care if I start inhaling boulders into my lungs or if the air I breathe turns to ice when it passes my brain resulting in permanent neurological damage.

I. Do. Not. CARE.

The nose hairs have to go.

Do you know what my brother told me recently? He told me that he had this blemish on his nose that hurt like nothing he’d ever felt before. It lasted for weeks and would never come to a head. It was just a big, red, sore spot that persisted despite all his attempts to rid himself of said blight. The pain became unbearable and he was left with only one option: dig at the spot until something happened.

It runs in the family, ok? We’re all still alive, so just shut up.

Anyway, do you know what he found?

An ingrown nose hair. A nostril hair that he’d pulled months before had grown back on the inside of his nose, all curled up and evil. He said it was a good half inch long when he straightened it but that it would’t stay straight and kept springing back to its mutant form.

When he told me this, I passed out.

The only thing worse than a half-inch nose hair is the half inch nose hair you pulled out but that returned INGROWN.

Now that I know this, I suspect my Maximum Stress dreams are about to become that much more horrifying.

I hate nose hairs. 

And that is the one thing I would change about my body if I could.

**This post is lovingly dedicated to Sam from Normal For Norfolk as she is my sister in nose-hair hatred.

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I was an angelic child – or – Grudge Number One

I attended a Behavioral EQ workshop yesterday where I was once more reminded that I have the emotional intelligence of a hermit crab. At least I’m consistent, I suppose, as these test scores never waver, not in ten years.

You know how workshops go. You build up through the information and then put it all together to get to the pivotal learning moment, which I did. Yay. However, the thing that has stuck with me was one of the beginning questions: “Can you think of an instance in which you became upset and reacted violently?” (not necessarily physical violence, just more along the lines of the Fight part of “Fight or Flight” response). Here’s something neat about me: I tend to get overwrought, upset, hateful, retributional…retributioney? Retributive!…and then I get over it, move on, and typically forget it ever happened. I have three grudges and maybe five regrets for my entire life, thus far. Most everything else that has upset me greatly is now forgotten, though probably never forgiven, knowing me.

Because of this ability to let go of all the things that piss me off, I wasn’t able to think of any recent instances in which I had been so upset that I reacted horribly, fighting instead being receptive to the elements of my situation and reacting accordingly. I thought back, thought back further, continued to think back until I finally settled on probably one of the two most crucial stress situations in my life. The topic? My First Grudge.

Dial back to 1979. It’s January. I’m probably in third grade. Chris is not in school yet; he gets to stay home with our mom all day, doing the things that non-school-attending children do. The holidays are over but I am still basking in the glow of my amazing loot haul. It had been a Christmas like I had never experienced. I got all the things I’d asked for from Santa plus a whole truckload of other great gifts. However, there were two presents that stood miles above the rest in my love and esteem: My beautiful, new, 13-inch Wonder Woman doll and my incredible Barbie Perfume Maker. I adored these toys more than I had ever adored anything else in all my life. They turned me into Gollum.

Are you with me, so far? Good, because here is what happened next:

You know, in my memory, she is much more beautiful. I’d kept the leotard for a long time but it didn’t fit any other doll so I don’t think it survived to my adulthood. However, the pink halter dress is still somewhere in my family. Perhaps Not-Little B has it?
Image swiped from My Toy Collection blog

Look at it! Just LOOK at it! Doesn’t it make you want to grab a powder stick, fill the little reservoir with water, and create heavenly scents? Oh, the longing I feel when I gaze upon this picture.
Image swiped from Sprinkles and Puffballs: Girl’s Toys Of the 80’s

During the holiday break, I had spent hours and hours creating beautiful perfumes, unique scents you would find nowhere else in the world except for maybe the bedroom of another child who also owned this magical maker of aromatic elixirs. I was ever so precise in my eau de toilette masterpieces, bottling them lovingly, arranging everything so that the glory of my art could be understood no matter who viewed it. In retrospect, maybe I made the wondrous little manufacturing station too alluring.

So there I was, freshly home from my first day back to school. I’d brought Wonder Woman with me, of course, and was taking her to my room so I could help her change into after-school play clothes, as we did back then. I walked with my doll in hand, probably talking to her, down the short hallway and could smell the Barbie perfumes I had made rushing to me, greeting me, beckoning me to come mix a new scent, to rearrange the bottles, to sniff the pastel-colored powder sticks. Filled with joy and anticipation, I flung open my bedroom door and found a  nightmare before me. His name: Chris.

My little brother was in my room, a place he was neither allowed nor welcome. I don’t know if he had been drawn to the perfection that was the Barbie Perfume Maker or if he hated me so much, he wanted to crush my dreams while I watched, but he was on my bed, frolicking like an imp, a small, plastic bottle in each hand with several more dancing at his feet. He was sprinkling the last of my hard-won, carefully-planned, beloved perfumes on my bed. He’d already relieved the rest of the bottles of their magic, dousing my throw rug, my stuffed animals, anything he had been able to find.

Rage.

So much pure red rage.

He was laughing. He was jumping up and down, from bed to dresser to desk, knocking things over and destroying my entire life. I screamed. No animal on the planet has ever before bellowed such a yawp, no amount of pain, suffering, or agony in any other being alive could have produced a cacophony as feral as mine was in that moment. I had Wonder Woman by the legs. I charged Chris. In my need to stop his carnage, I brought the doll up, up, up and then DOWN right on top of his hideous little head. My screams of outrage were immediately matched by his of pain and shock and probably fear. Blood geysered from his skull as if he were a whale just up for air. I looked at the red lifeforce gushing forth like my own anger and felt justified in my action until I realized his knobby little noggin had split my beautiful, my treasured, my precious Wonder Woman doll in twain. The upper half of her body dangled lifelessly and would have fallen to the floor had it not been held by her patriotic leotard while her legs remained firmly gripped in my angry fist. My shrieks, monstrous before, ratcheted up another several octaves, gaining volume and momentum as each second passed.

I probably could have forgiven the destruction of my life’s work, especially since the perfumes could have been recreated. Maybe I could have also come to terms with the demise of Wonder Woman; already the back of my mind was tracking down the nearest duct tape. It was not to be, however, because my horrible, terrible, cruel parents made two disastrous decisions that night and my first-ever grudge blossomed. When it comes time for those “people,” and I use the term loosely because it will soon become obvious there is no humanity in the souls of either my mother or father,  to move into nursing homes, they will wish I was beating them with a 13-inch piece of hard plastic.

My parents ran into the room to find the source of the commotion. I know they could smell the mixing aromas of strawberries, lilacs, little boy’s blood, tears, plastic, and hate and do you know what they did? DO YOU KNOW? They took Wonder Woman from my trembling hand but not with the intention of fixing her sad, broken body. They took her and they threw her away followed closely by the entire Barbie Perfume Maker and all its apparatus (except, as I found much later, for one empty bottle, sans lid, and the white trellis that had fallen behind my desk during Chris’ scamperings) My dad took Chris to the kitchen to apply pressure to his goddamned stupid, hard, toy-breaking head and then to feed him ice cream and I…I! The victim of this heinous double crime! I was lectured, probably spanked (who remembers by that point. What could they have done to me to punish me further?) and told to stay in my room for the rest of the night while the two things I loved most in the world were taken from me, put out in the garbage can, and placed on the curb for morning pickup. I had no dinner. No family TV time. No bath. I couldn’t even brush my teeth. I am surprised, in retrospect, that I did not die of dehydration in the night, since I had nothing to drink and I am fairly certain I cried every ounce of moisture from my body. And it’s not like I could subsist on perfume water as it had all been tossed away.

I will never, ever forgive my parents for coddling my evil little brother and punishing me for his misdeeds and while I appreciate the strides his wife has made in recent years to correct his long-ago dastardly acts, Chris is on my shit-list for all of time, as well.

And that is the story of My First Grudge, the first time my amygdala urged me to fight with fury instead of flee with fear.

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Filed under Adventures, In my backyard, My Dearly Beloveds, White trash childhood