I have many friends who have young children, so I get to hear all about their days with them, and holidays and everything they do with them and what they need to deal with. The more I hear about it all, the more I realize that my childhood was completely different.
I was raised in what I call now a dictatorial family. I would say that my father was the dictator and my mother the general or whatever head of the army that follows the instructions of the dictator, passes all information and complies with it all.
It felt like my brother and I were mere accessories in my parents’ life. I didn’t feel loved, or cared for, I just felt like we were supplied for.
I see my friends doing lots of activities with (and exclusively for) their kids, such as playing sports, going to movies, organizing costume parties, or basically anything that their kids would enjoy. I was part of the basketball team in my primary school. I was not that good, like many other girls in the team, but I was definitely the only one who didn’t join the games against other schools on Saturday mornings, because my parents wouldn’t take me. Our Saturday morning ritual consisted in going downtown to the market to get fresh produce (even though my mother was a homemaker and could do that every day), and then Saturday afternoon we would go to a department store to walk around. Sunday mornings were made to go to the port and walk around. As you can imagine, it was all very exciting for two kids.
For Christmas one year when I was around 5 or 6 we had a bike as a present. That bicycle sat unused for years and years until we outgrew it while still brand new because my parents never decided to take us out to the street on summer evenings. We never learned how to ride a bike. I didn’t ride that bicycle (or any other) for the first time until I was 16.
My parents were rude when talking to us. It seems most of them times they were annoyed by our presence. My brother and I used to blame each other every time the other had done “something wrong” and had upset my father, because it would put him in a constantly yelling state against the rest of the house for days in a row. So plainly ridiculous, because that “something wrong” was probably that we had argued (as all siblings do about toys or any other unimportant matter).
My parents never asked us how school was. They never encouraged us to talk with them about our lives. But we tried to tell things, until we ended up stopping talking too much. Every time we were excited about something, we would talk about it and their only response would be negative, them telling us why it’s not “as easy” or “as good” or “as special” or whatever, so we always left conversations feeling we had been verbally slapped in the face. Therefore, no more talking and telling things so we wouldn’t have to hear any cr*p from the people that were supposed to support us. However, they would support anybody else except for us, I felt like they didn’t trust us, like we were never good enough. They were the nicest people to whoever that wasn’t us.
My only fun times were when I sat down to listen to the radio for hours and hours in a row. I would keep track of the songs that were played, the artist, the album it belonged to and even the time it was played on the radio! One of the most exciting times of the year was Christmas because all stations had countdown to that year’s top songs. But Christmas in general (and any other family time) sucked real bad.
Every day, my mother was there to tell my father as soon, as he came back from work, anything that she thought my brother or I had done really wrong that day. So as soon as my father came through the door and we went to warmly greet him, he would turn to us and out of the blue slap us in the face and tell us it should be the last time that we… (add whatever trivial thing you can think of: argue with your brother/sister or talk back to your mother, etc.).
We (my brother and I) were extremely good kids. We had ridiculously good grades through primary school and most part of high school. We were not mean kids, we were very good hearted, very quiet and very obedient.
Really, I look at how kids behave now and I am appalled at how stupidly quiet and easy-to-deal-with my brother and I were. When we used to go to the kids doctor for example my brother and I would be seating down, quietly looking at the other kids while they were running like crazy along the corridors, playing hide and seek and making lots of noise, just as kids do. We would just sat there, doing nothing, every single time, because otherwise we would get yelled at.
I remember being yelled at, almost every day, for the most stupid things. I felt like my father was really angry at life all the time and he took any occasion he could to pass it on to my brother and me. My mother was the accomplice, she showed no mercy.
There was one time that my brother came home early from his soccer practice one Saturday afternoon (he was 13 or so) because he had had an injury and had broken his left pinkie finger. What was the first thing that my father did when he opened the door? He yelled at him. And for days he acted around the house as if some major thing have been done to him personally, instead of caring about my brother’s wellbeing. Up to this day I still don’t understand why he was so mad about my brother breaking a finger.
If I look back in time into my childhood there are quite a few moments that I remember and they all bring me the same memories: it was an unkind environment, I was afraid all the time and I was utterly unhappy.
When I was a teenager I started realizing that I felt weird touching people or being physically approached, (you know when sometimes you play silly with your friends and you sort of push them or when you’re trying to console them, you hold them, and hug them or pinch them if you wanted to laugh…etc) I realized that none of those came naturally for me. It was rather the opposite, I felt like I suddenly needed to pull back and not be touched. I realized my parents never held my brother or me, they never hugged us and tell us stories or asked us things, they never tried to console us when we were sad. They would only act as annoyed by our feelings and always said something that made us feel our worries were completely irrelevant and unimportant to them.
If I had to create a list with the top ten most unkind moments in my life, my parents would have been the cause of pretty much all of them.
I feel like we were cheated. We were shown one type of childhood that was completely wrong.
I still feel the pain somehow, because I know that so many ways I act now, have been determined by that absurd upbringing.
That is why I can’t stand unfair treatment, I’ve seen it way too many times. That is why I am scared of “big conversations”, because I feel the outcome will probably completely unexpected and sh*t can come out of the blue for me for no reason.
They created insecure children, who were afraid of standing up for themselves in case they were told off or yelled at because no matter as careful as we could be, we could trigger any unimaginable outcome, there was always a mind that was capable of twisting arguments in an unsuspected way.
Even though I know things have changed because I no longer live with them and their influence over me is not that strong at all (also I am an adult now) at times I think that I hate them. I am aware that my upbringing made me the person I am at the moment but I still think about those moments and I resent them for that. Also because they could be (at least) part of the reason why my brother is no longer in my life. And lastly because they are part of the reason why I am scared of having kids, as I don’t want to be like them, I don’t want to raise a kid to be as unhappy, fearful and insecure as I was.
[This post best read while listening to:
Your Blue Room by Passengers]