Part Five: They Took Me For Granted


All horrified baby boomer parents should take note that these rants happened exclusively on the pages of my journals. At least until full blown puberty freed me to do such effective things as slam doors and refer to my family as “you people.”

In preadolescence, as I frequently remind my imaginary readers, I’m a really just good kid with a lot of rage bottled up inside.

My messy room would feature more prominently than any other source of conflict between my mother and me.

Slave labor. Clearly I am HATING it.

As I remember it, my clutter and crap drew unholy volumes of rage from my mother.  I was REALLY messy. Some of my messes live on in family lore. Like the time she found a body outline where I’d been lying, traced in wrappers, pencils, and scraps of paper. Or the time my homeroom teacher described me as a “mobile nest.”

Sometimes shit got real between us.

August 10, 1995- My mom just spanked me. I’m astounded. I’m HUMILIATED. I’m disturbed. I’m quite MAD! I am NOT a 2 year-old. Two shirt tags on the floor and she spanked me. Furthermore, so what about stupid shirt tags. She just won’t give me my SPACE. Gosh, I’m on an electric leash it feels like. She won’t let me stay up late. She won’t let me see PG13 movies.

Before alcohol would help me loudly fail to resolve my issues, I had an equally unhealthy coping routine. After smiling and saying “yes sir/ma’am” I would go to my room, scream into a pillow and find something I could tear to pieces. Once I had said all of the swear words I knew into the pillow and destroyed some piece of doll clothing or school art project, I would journal.

Or I would move out.

Feb 26, 1994-Ohh this is a terrible Saturday. First I had to clean out my closet. Ewww, you should have seen it. My mom got mad at me so I moved out. I took everything essential books, money, food, drink and blankets. So I lived in my own “house” for around two hours. But then I moved back after I realized I had no extra clothes, VCR, TV, RADIO, NES, ELECTRICITY or heater!

Lest we think that my mom was the only target of my indignant malice, let me assure you that my dad got his fair share.

Aug 9, 1992-I’ll give you one word to describe my Dad slave driver he makes us clean up the playroom while he sits on the couch.

That’s two words, eight-year-old Bekah. And now as a parent myself, I have to admit I feel an ironic sense of anticipation as I clean up the playroom messes I did not make, and dream of the day my toddler is old enough for me to say “clean up your mess in the playroom” and expect it to be done without assistance.

Here I am, sharing the spotlight with my decidedly less impressive siblings.

Another oft-cited grievance was the feeling that I was being taken for granted.

March 29, 1994 -Well today I got up at 3:30 am and went pig hunting. We came back and hung out until dinner time. Then while playing I hit my knee REALLY hard on a piece of wood. (I still can’t walk on it.) Then Andy jumped from the top and broke his arm. Tonight when we prayed, EVERYBODY prayed for him but no, no, not me! (Out of modesty I didn’t pray for my leg.)

This one is particularly cringeworthy, because not only did poor “Andy” break his arm, but he ruptured his spleen and would spend the next three days in the hospital recovering from a partial splenectomy. My huge crush on him was forgotten the instant he stole the spotlight by being more critically injured than I was.

It was one of my secret Anne-of-Green-Gables-inspired fantasies to be seriously ill or injured so that 1) whatever boy I liked would be compelled to my bedside to profess his love, and 2) my parents would be sorry for…well, just sorry.

Actually, in the end, I always came around. I knew my parents loved me, and for as strict as they were, I knew I could tell them anything. Though apparently, little did they know, they were being judged on the quality of their gifts, always springing for a treat just in the nick of time. Money can buy the love of a 6th grader. Or at least it can buy the world-weary acknowledgment that you’re not so bad after all.

June 23, 1995-Gotta make this short and sweet. We went to a little circus today. Looks can be deceiving. It was pretty good. My mom and dad are really great. My mom bought me cotton candy and my dad gave me a cool watch. Just today. Nobody asked them to. No reason. I don’t realize how truly unique and special they are until I see other kids’ parents. If I could have picked, I would have picked them. Despite the kinks and dings.