What parent doesn’t want to tell their child, “you’re the best,” or “you can do anything”?
Giving out trophies en mass teaches children that they don’t need to strive for anything to be rewarded.
And when we tell our kids that they deserve the world and the world doesn’t give them anything – they shout in frustration and wallow in loneliness and lash out.
We tell them to ignore the “haters” because they are better than them. We put one above and one below and lose equal standing.
Here we create their superiority complexes.
So then a child believes themselves to be a god and can control who stays and who goes and doesn’t understand the consequences.
(In hindsight – they understand. They always do. And then they end themselves to keep from facing reality.)
But we have created this. Us, the domineering parents. The ones whose children can do no wrong, can be the best, can ignore all else.
We cannot ignore the warning signs. We cannot give our children the world because it is not ours to give. We can teach them to treat others as equals, and to love the bullies and the loners and the popular kids. There doesn’t need to be a hierarchy in our schools or in their minds.
(There can be winners and losers in games because that is healthy competition and they can strive to be the best of their own selves.)
But if our children are handed ribbons for participation, when they are dropped into the real world they will have nothing.
And their minds cannot coincide with reality because they still believe they are the best. And so it continues…and they suffer…and others suffer.
Because we didn’t get a trophy when we were their age.
Send those thoughts
And send those prayers
If you want to see a change
Then be the one you want to see
I’ve been just like you
Hiding behind friendly walls
That make you feel good inside
They raised me “right”
And they kept me close
They didn’t mean to torment me
But I knew there had to be more
Now they send their thoughts
And they say their prayers
But I’ve been called to action
And I won’t be scared away from it
I don’t care
And I don’t mind
To see you looking down your nose
The one who’s blind
Maybe you’re the canine in sheep’s clothes
There are so many things that our parents have taught us. Many of these things are subconscious. Here are a few quirks and mannerisms that my husband has learned from his parents:
Instead of orange juice, they have “ornch” juice. Despite my efforts, he has and always will say it that way.
His dad has never been one for rushing. even though his mother hustles and bustles about like a bee. One of them is generally ten minutes late while the other is sometimes close to twenty minutes early. My husband has taken on the former habit, having rejected the need to be early to every event. To make up for that, he stays until the end of every get-together. That is actually how we came to start dating. He would come over to the college group that met at my parents’ house and stay until nearly midnight in order to talk to me.
There is no such thing as height. It is “heighth”. Although it is technically not in the dictionary, it is simply a colloquialism from Old English. It also makes sense to say “heighth'” when we have “width” and “length” and “depth”. I have noticed that even his grandparents say it this way. I do not.
A glass of water always accompanies your meal. It has helped me to drink more water, although I’ve had to remind his family multiple times that I don’t drink it with ice (as I am clumsy and tend to spill when big ice cubes get in the way).
He cannot stand being woken up in the mornings. I guess that back when he went to school his mother would have to wake him every morning. Now, it seems to give him a sort of traumatic reminder of his childhood (because getting woken up in the morning is incredibly traumatic).
As he so often reminds me, money should be spent on good shoes. A good pair of shoes is worth every dollar to him and his dad. If the fit is even slightly off, the shoes will be returned and anyone that thinks of buying them should think twice. Both of these men have extremely picky feet, so there are many shoes that do not pass their tests.
Now, let me set you straight. I’m not making fun of my husband’s (or in-laws’) ways. I like to observe and make note of my observations. Next up, things that I do and say that I get from my parents.
I have always been curious as to how people view me, especially upon first impression. Depending on what sort of social situation I am in, I will put out a certain front. If I know most of the group I try to act as I normally am. I will crack jokes, maybe have a few conversations, and then I recluse after I’ve had enough.
As an introvert, I realize I am most at ease when I am alone. After a while, however, I start to crave human company. I need a conversation, an exchange, something to remind myself that I am not a complete recluse. I sit in coffee shops or browse bookstores for the sake of interaction. I don’t need to have a full-blown conversation, normally. I simply need other humans in my vicinity to acknowledge.
So how do people see me, then? Am I a wallflower? A flash of colour passing by? Am I mysterious or intriguing or do I even stand out in any way? Would I be considered awkward or strange? I can be open and talkative one second and then closed up the next. Does that make me confusing or sullen? Seemingly mature or the exact opposite? Do I look world-weary or naive?
What do people see when they see me?
I can’t help but be drawn to languages. Communication and the fine use of words are beautiful things. It bothers me when people do not care about the language they are speaking. A lot of people only speak half a language; they speak a watered-down version of English, full of crass and mispronounced verbalizations. I understand that upbringing plays a large part in this, but then there is also the world of the Internet in which many people get lazy. From laziness comes a lack of care which becomes a bounty of grammatical errors. I am not perfect in this as I also grow lazy with my words.
My mom read to me and my five brothers when we were younger. She has always had a compelling storyteller voice, and even as we grew older, we would still listen in as she read to the younger kids. This brought a love of books to our family. We would collect series and try to read books before anyone else got to them. Our favourite series was the Redwall series, written by a man named Brian Jacques. We would take his fantastical stories to the backyard and pretend to be talking mice and otters and foxes. Even as an adult I am sure I would still play those games if it were societally acceptable.
I was lucky to have the childhood I did. I can speak and write and I hold a desire to learn inside of me. There are those, however, that never were given the chance. Kids drop out of school, dread homework, can’t even add sums or multiply simple numbers. It’s a hard world for learning, but I must reiterate: the language you speak is important. It is the difference between a high-paying career and minimum wage. It is the difference between forgiveness for a ticket and an instant fine. This is a prejudice but oftentimes a truth. We can use language to our advantage. After all, it is what convinces a nation to vote for a president, to believe what they read, and to take a single comment as complete truth. The moment someone types your instead of you’re, their opinion is instantly disregarded. It matters.
While I intend to complete my knowledge of the Spanish language, I am still learning the English language. There are words that I have never heard or have never dared to utter for fear of mispronunciation. English is complex and brimming with rules and exceptions to these rules. I occasionally bend these rules for the sake of rebellion and/or poeticism. All in all, maybe I simply wish for everyone to have the same draw toward their own language. Perhaps then our communication wouldn’t be so lacking.
While I look at my child as he crawls and climbs and falls, it occurs to me that I was once a child like this.
I look back at my childhood dreams and teenage stupidities and wonder what sort of dreams and stupidities my baby will have as he ages.
I made life so hard for my parents. I hated them at some points, even. The worse thing my child does to me is try to run away as I change his diaper. He may have a day where he hates me. It may last longer than a day and it seems so hard to believe.
Motherhood is hard. Parenthood is hard. My husband just had to do compressions on a man who committed suicide. His own mother was the one that found him, and that scares me.
I guess all I can really do is teach my child to love and to value the fragility of life. As his mother, I want to protect him and keep him in a perfectly safe bubble, but this will make him value so little. He needs to experience the harshness of life to understand the beauty of it.
But I am afraid. I cannot help it. Forgive me.
Pain was necessary to make me who I am. Even though sometimes the thought of what I’ve gone through is crippling, I know for a fact that it was the turning point for my becoming. Without pain, I would never have held a relationship to the wild step of marriage. Without pain, I would never had given it my all to birth a child. I wouldn’t have the determination that I have now to experience life to its fullest. But, oh, how it hurt at the time.
When a fifteen-year-old finds herself at the mercy of two grown men, so many things can happen. I could have died. I could have been abducted, sold, lost. I was violated but so much worse could have occurred in that moment. I survived to have a family and a life of potential. It killed me then, but it drives me now to love beyond reason the harshest of humans. Somehow I still see the light in this world.
In the year following that moment, I was dark in my soul. My mind shouted and my nails were used to scratch red, bloody words onto my skin. I wrote horrible notes to myself where no one would see them. To me, I was nothing. Ruined. A whore. I kept my dark secrets buried and let them simmer and shape me into a bitter cynic. I felt ugly, inside and out. And to me, every man, both young and old, wanted me as a toy to play with and then leave in the dirt.
What changed this horrible mindset? I had a mental disease that was eating away at my core. Whatever could possibly heal me of it?
There is a love that reaches deep into your heart and strengthens it and fills it where it once was empty. I may yet be cynical but I believe wholeheartedly that there is a God that mends the broken mind and drives us to live again. He let me realize that the darkness in me was my soul crying to be whole. I was not abandoned or ruined or the putrid heap I thought I was. I was loved. I was beautiful.
I hope that in my sharing of this there will be someone that will understand. Do not allow those that hurt you to win. You can still stand strong and tall and live life wonderfully. I hope you find the healing that I did. I hope you have better days. I hope you grow old with your family and can look back to see that pain only made you tougher and didn’t cripple you. You may still cry or flinch at little things but it will get better over time. Survive. Do not dwell on the past, as it cannot change, but it can change you for the better if you’ll allow it.