Jul 13 2011

Top 20 Tuesday for July 12, 2011: The importance of trauma in child-rearing

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I’ve given my dad a pretty hard time the last few days, so let me take this opportunity to say . . . he’s pretty much been asking for it.  I’m going to sort of give it a rest today by including pretty much any family member that has caused my brother or I any permanent mental scars and put them together for my weekly Top 20 list.

As for my father in particular, if you followed yesterdays blog post, mom returned from her trip to Greensboro to take her friend to the airport . . . with a 16″ crack in the windshield from a thrown rock.  You get one guess how that went over with Pops.  I have only just now settled down below the level of blind rage at my father today, so I don’t think I could do another entry about him and be in the least bit funny at this time, so I’m gonna expand the horizon a little bit and try to let some funny back in.

Basically I started to look back at some of the horrifically ridiculous things that my brother and I went through as kids and as teenagers that we really didn’t know at the time were so, well, horrifically ridiculous.  These are some of the things that shaped us into the fine, loving, fucked up individuals we are.

This is:

The Top 20 Traumatic Experiences of Growing Up

  1. When I was a kid, those little plastic caps that you put in unused electrical sockets existed, we just didn’t have them.  Daddy thought his boys would be too smart to put anything in there.  Boy, did I show him.
  2. They did have TV remote controls in 1972.  It’s name was Eric.
  3. A big wheel does not fit under a pool table.  No matter how fast you go.
  4. I was 12 before I realized that saying Grace before eating didn’t mean “Shut up and eat”.
  5. At about 5 years old, I once choked on a piece of hard candy and I couldn’t speak or breathe.  I ran into the room where my father was talking to my grandfather.  He ignored me and kept talking.  I finally managed to dislodge it, onto the carpet at his feet.  He yelled at me to “clean that up!”  I am thinking of adding that as a last step on Heimlich posters.
  6. My brother and I slept in the unfinished basement of my grandparent’s house while visiting them for Christmas in Tennessee.  My grandmother came down after we fell asleep to turn off the heat so that “her basement didn’t catch fire”.
  7. Dad’s idea of helping you with your homework is standing over you screaming “I just don’t get why this is so hard for you to understand”!
  8. If you are going to jump from a rope swing, I recommend doing it over water.  Or a pile of leaves.  Or grass.  Over a big fuckin’ rock is not recommended.
  9. At about the age of 13, I had a wicked bike wreck right in front of my house.  My face got smashed into a parked car.  I was knocked out cold and got a black eye that went down to the corner of my mouth.  A neighbor that saw the wreck brought me up to the house and gave me to my father, who was the only one home.  He told me to lie down on the couch.  Then he went to the Elk’s Club.
  10. Yard Darts, the original ones that killed people, and being a youngster at a family reunion.

    No actual children were hurt in the writing of this blog.

  11. Climbing a billboard on the side of a busy freeway at 1:00 in the morning is not a good idea.  Falling asleep once up there is even worse.
  12. Yes, a 1972 Ford LTD will easily reach 120 mph.  Doing so on a heavily Armor All’d vinyl bench seat without a seatbelt on at 16 years old is not a very good idea.
  13. Visiting my grandmother (my father’s mother) was so exhausting that we had to catch up on sleep when we got home.  We were told “not to touch the walls”, “stay off the couch”, and some other stuff that she said in German so we didn’t understand.  We could be more relaxed in a museum.  We were awakened a few times a night and led to the bathroom.
  14. I got braces when I was in 6th grade and the orthodontist said I’d only have to wear them for 2 years.  I still had them in my senior picture.
  15. Having your little brother watch you get arrested is both a good thing and a bad thing.  At least one of us learned something before something bad happened.
  16. Marine Corps Boot Camp.  Enuff said.
  17. No matter how well you clean up after having a party at your parents house the first time they leave you and your brother home alone, you will forget or miss something.  The plastic cap off the keg will get used as a frisbee and it will end up in the azaleas and the first thing your mom will do when she gets home is . . . prune the azaleas.
  18. Paddling in school should still be legal.  This is not an opinion I held in 1978.
  19. “Fuck you, sir” is not an appropriate response to your Marine Corps Drill Instructor.  Slightly more than paddling was condoned on Parris Island.
  20. I saved the best for last as this is something that both my brother and I will never forget and have reminded ourselves of even now as we raise our own children. . .   When my brother was 4 and I was 7, my father decided to take us to see our grandparents who lived in Florida at the time.  We lived in New York.  It was summer.  Dad felt that this trip should be made in his 1972 Chevy Vega 2 door hatchback.  To “make us more comfortable”, he installed a piece of plywood in the back seat so that we had a larger platform type area to live in for the 8 billion hour trip.  No car seats.  No seat belts.  I say again, we were 4 and 7.  The car had no air conditioning.  My father only stopped when he had to pee.  My brother and I had a coffee can with a hole cut in the top.  I’d like to say that at that age my brother and I got along.  I really would like to say that.  We get along now that we’re older, but cram us into the back of a ’72 Vega on a piece of plywood for 2 days in the summertime with no A/C, we’d probably never speak again.

We still have POW flashbacks.

I apologize that I’m feeling a little off today, but it’s days like these that make me look back and see all kinds of shit I never really thought all that hard about before.  What traumatic events did you go through that turned you into the mental case you became?  Please leave your comments.

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Favorite Facebook post of the day:

Permanent link to this article: http://www.opticynicism.com/2011/07/top-20-tuesday-for-july-12-2011-the-importance-of-trauma-in-child-rearing/

7 comments

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    • Colin on July 13, 2011 at 2:00 pm
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    Watching my best friend die in my arms in Basic Training…yea that’ll do it. Still can smell the sulfur and have nightmares. 4th of July was the scariest shit I’ve experienced in a long time. My friends thought my diving under tables screaming “get down” was hilarious though…until I told them the story.

  1. Wow, it’s so much like my upbringing it’s scary

    1. I was gonna start a support group but the church wouldn’t let me put an open bar in the fellowship hall.

    • C on July 14, 2011 at 8:55 am
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    I have to ask – for #9, who was the neighbor? I don’t know if your family ever knew this, but about 5-6 years before your family moved into that house there was another bike vs. car wreck right in front of your house. There were two boys – twin brothers – only one survived. The other one died while laid out on what became your yard. My Mom was one of the neighbors who saw that wreck & ran out, Mrs. Johnson [the neighbors who lived in the house before your family] was also. I saw the wreck from my upstairs bedroom. [The trees were smaller then.] I’ve NEVER forgotten that but somehow I didn’t know about your wreck. I’m sorry. If someone at my house had realized that you were left alone at your house after your wreck , then we would have taken you in. Really. Even you with your 13-year-old personality. 😉

    1. I was never 100% sure who it was that hauled me up the driveway and dad sure didn’t know since most days he had trouble remembering my name, but other witnesses after that told me that it was Paige Kearns who just happened to be walking down the street.

        • C on July 14, 2011 at 10:53 am
        • Reply

        Paige was a good one. That would explain why I didn’t know about your wreck. Thank you for clarifying that event for me – although now I feel twinges of I-can’t-do-anything-about-it guilt.
        By the way, each morning I check FB for your blog update. You’ve made me spew my coffee more times than I care to admit. “Merry Christmas!” is now a code phrase between my husband and myself for those familial conundrums.

        1. You should have no guilt feelings. I survived and came out just fine. I don’t even twitch much anymore.

          Thank you so much for the compliment. Keeping things funny is just the survival technique I chose to keep myself sane all these years and I’m glad I can share it and I love to hear that it’s working. Please pass the blog around and spread the funny in ever widening circles, like Amway except without the creepy guy.

          Ok, so there is a creepy guy, but it’s ok because it’s me.

          I’m also filing away “familial conundrums” for use in a future blog post. I love it!

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