Posted by: anniewilson | September 16, 2009

Whatever. At least I’m not dead.

What do YOU remember hearing your parents say?

I remember a lot of stuff. I heard them say that 18 is the magic age, after that we’re on our own. Of course, as the oldest of 6, I was dumb enough to believe it. After I left, very few siblings ever left home on good terms.

I heard them say that we needed to shut up, clean up and grow up. I don’t know about growing up or cleaning up, but I learned the wisdom of shutting up quite early. I don’t think I spoke a thousand words in my parent’s house over the last 5 years of my “childhood”.

I heard a lot of “Go to my closet and get me my belt.” That was quite a task, not because it was difficult…it might have been easier had I already been schooled in physics. Then perhaps I would have been able to answer that age old question, “Does a wide 60’s belt hurt more than a thin 70’s belt when applied to the thigh?” I never had to be quick about that task so I was able to spend a LOT of time in front of the closet as my patient father sat waiting with a newspaper.

That man was far too calm about spankings…no kid deserved to get spanked if the crime didn’t invoke anger, terror or some sort of passion in a parent. Not that you need to go off half cocked…but if you have time to premeditate a spanking, chances are pretty good that you had time to discuss things and threaten all kinds of crap should the incident be repeated. I saved spankings for kids dumb enough to run into streets without looking both ways, rock throwing incidents and spontaneous “Fuck you’s!”

But by then I had already considered the fact that perhaps my parents were nuts. It occurred to be that I had learned all sorts of what NOT to do’s…but the to do’s had been left out. Certainly the CAN DO’S were non-existent. What self-esteem I did have was garnered when I pretended to be a Brady kid.

I remember my fifth grade class standing around a piano as Mrs’ Nichols was playing. We sang some long forgotten song and I seemed to have made some sort of impression on Mrs. Nichols from behind her. She turned around and told me that I was a very good singer. That meant so much to me that I thought about it often afterwards. Only when I was in my 20’s did I realize why it meant so much to me. It was the very first positive comment that I had ever heard about myself. As the years went on, that comment pretty much remained the only nice thing that I ever heard from an adult.

That is, until I met Frank Tarango….teacher extraordinaire. I’ll go to my grave remembering the look of glee on his face when I told the DUMBEST joke IN THE WORLD during my try-outs for the speech team. We eventually competed in Reader’s Theater statewide with a scene from “Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up?” That guy can still crack me up and it’s been decades since I’ve seen him.

For years I’ve been aware of the implications of not ever hearing positive stuff. You don’t have to do it often, although often could only help, but you really need to point out the good in a child at LEAST as often as you do the bad.

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