by Peggy Goldtrap
If you’re a regular reader of Seniors Today you were probably born in oppression. Remember when you criss-crossed a neighbor’s yard, they’d yell at you for trespassing and killing the grass. Yeah, those days when a kid was considered a wild thing that needed taming. No doubt the neighborhood watch prevented you from riding to Juvie in a ’38 Ford.
Like you, I didn’t ask to be born. I never met my parents until I was pulled kicking and screaming into a cold world, then slapped seconds after my arrival. My parents were total strangers, why should I care for them. I couldn’t walk or talk, so I had no say in any of their decisions. I was an innocent bystander, a victim.
It’s not my fault that my dad worked hard so my mother could become a great homemaker and an awesome cook. She forced me to eat cereal when I wasn’t hungry, and drink milk which I bubbled all over my bib. The wringer washer worked overtime because of me. As I grew, my momma insisted I take big bites of the world’s best banana pudding, then as a threat, she cajoled me into seconds. Horribly, she’d let me lick the pudding from the pan.
When hens committed suicide just to be in my momma’s frying pan, she’d plop two plump, crispy, sizzling, fat friendly pieces on my plate; two legs and a gizzard, my favorites. To make matters worse, she made milk gravy to pour over her fluffy, hot biscuits and angel light, cream whipped mashed potatoes.
When I was sick, what did she do? Feed me, of course, whatever I wanted. “Here, take a little bite, you’ll feel better.” Years later she chided, “Quit taking such big bites, you’ll get sick.” Trickster, temptress, dangling desserts in front of my eyes, and then ripping them away in favor of fruits. “Fat is not my fault. It’s in my jeans.”
My parents forced me to attend school even though I knew much more than them. I studied Latin. My dad insisted I learn to type. “You can always get a job if you’re a fast typist.” I pictured Hell as rows and rows of typewriters I was condemned to tap for all eternity. We warred. He won. I type today on the computer and it’s his fault I’m fast.
My parents expected me to work and earn money when most of my friends were at the lake, or in the mall. On weekends I had to stay home and clean my room, ugh!
My dad taught me to balance a checkbook and pay bills. Can you imagine? Why take the time and patience to teach? It was not something I asked him to do, no sirree, he did that on his own. He and my momma were real killjoys when it came to money; always nagging me about thrift and saving and living within my means, whatever that meant. Oh yeah, and that delayed gratification stuff they repeated.
My relatives were part of the parents’ plot. They feigned interest in my future.
Teachers pushed me to achievement. “No way,” I reasoned. Study, study, study, too much effort. The teachers are only following their job description.
So my life went on, one boring event after another until I went to college, away from home, finally free. Hurrah! I can do, go, and be whatever I want.
Unfortunately, by that time, I was tainted by positive influences. I could not “forget” homework. The “dog ate it” excuse didn’t work anymore. The burning desire to be a goof-off fizzled no matter how hard I flamed the fires of mediocrity. My parents, friends, teachers, extended family had ruined any chance I ever had at failure.
The circle of meanies even influenced romantic relationships. Their rules and standards affected my choice of spouse, my mate of almost 50 years. The meanies nit-picked faithfulness, loving kindness, nurturing, and tenderness. Can you believe that they taught me to treat others, including my husband, like I’d want to be treated myself? What goes around comes around blah, blah, blah! They wouldn’t quit! Virtue, truth, justice, honor, fidelity! They nagged the devil out of me.
It was their fault that I inflicted my children with those same old-fashioned values; drumming morals into their conscience, traumatizing them with Biblical stories, epic characters, mythical heroes; consequences of actions.
In the tradition of turn about is fair play, and because my free spirit was disciplined, my children were also corrected from top to bottom. I can only imagine what might have happened, how rich my life experiences might have been. Since I was never allowed to “find” myself, what have I lost? I’ll never know. It’s too late to change now. I’m set in my ways, just like them.
It’s all their fault for having such high expectations of me, for “setting the bar” high. I’ll probably live and die a reasonably responsible, reasonably upright, passionate, compassionate human—becoming one who loves multitudes of people inside and outside the family.
No doubt, you, the reader, can relate and remember the old days when children were to be seen, not heard. When an idle mind was the devil’s workshop and we didn’t want to be in his employ.
Beyond a shadow of a doubt, it’s their fault that our dreams and realizations of the good life have come true. As therapy, why don’t you call, write, or send this article to some of those busybodies, caring critics who never stopped believing in you. It’s time you gave them a piece of your mind.
Dear, whoever, it’s all your fault I’ve been blessed. Thank You.