Monday, January 2, 2012

I Was a Rotten Child, Part 1

Every once in a while, I'm going to treat you with a story I remember from my childhood. I've done it for you before, and it will continue. If you don't like it, tough-I get to do what I want.  If you do like it, you're welcome. And if you were a victim but have forgiven me, thank you.  Thank you, thank you, thank you. I wish I could tell you why I did the things I did. And yes, my kids are turning out just like me. Which should please you immensely.

When I was seven years old, my mom found out she was pregnant with what would be my brother. Also, seven was the year that I recall being at my worst, save for puberty. And my toddler years, if my mother is to be believed. Basically, I was NOT a good kid.  Adventurous, curious, inquisitive.  All these words equate bat-shit crazy to my mother. My brother and I are 8 years apart, with no other siblings. There is a very good reason for that, and her name starts with an A.
I can only imagine what was going through my mother's mind when she found out she was pregnant. I was so amazingly rotten, I didn't even like me very much. The depths of my rottenness sank lower and lower each day, my internal tectonic plates a jostling angry mess.

Why am I telling you this?

Well, let's see. When you were younger, did your mom ever say, "I hope one day, you have a child just like you"?  Mine did. And after I got married, and found out I was going to have a Monkey Boy all my own, I remembered this. And the stories began. Stories that had my husband saying, "Wait!  I was GOOD!  Why do I have to pay for her mistakes?!?"

Have we paid? Yes. Dearly. Twice, with 5 years in between to regain courage.  And just the other day, my dear sweet Princess did something that reminded me of myself.  Literally, I tried almost the exact same thing, and I was able to share with her the very real, very horrifying results. Everyone stood shocked, listening to my tale. Except Sky King. He knows what he married. And still, he loves me.

Way back in 1979, I was one cute little girl. I had a smattering of freckles across my nose, and I wore hand-me-down toughskins with my sparkly T-shirts.

I was also smart, trying to come up with amazing inventions. Plus, I didn't have the option to sit around watching Cable cartoons all day, or zone out on the gaming system. Now that I think about it, I bet the people that invented 24-hour cartoons were parents. Parents of kids like me.

It was the summer of 1979 and we lived in this amazing tri-level home. You came in the front door, then up the stairs to the main level, then another set of stairs to the bedrooms. The staircase was the first I could recall, and I really loved it. I remember taking my hard-backed picture books, and using them as sleds to slide down the stairs. Crawling inside a sleeping bag was good, too. You could just slide right down. I still hadn't figured out how to go from the one set of stairs, and turn the corner, proceeding down the second set. But my plan was slowly forming.

One bright sunshiney day, I conjured up a plan. I wanted to have my own horse-drawn carriage. We had pets: a dog, and several cats. That particular day, I must have decided that the dog deserved to have a day off from me. But Bubba the cat? Tough shit for him. He was big, which was in his favor in my book: more horse-like than the scrawny other cats.

There I was, poised at the top of the stairs, a metal picnic basket under one arm, poor Bubba under the other.

And a rope. I needed a rope.

So, I got the basket minus the lid. I got the cat, and some rope. I've tied the rope around one handle, and the other end is looped through the cat's collar. I'm trying to get my faithful steed to hold the fuck still. I'm angled towards the bottom of the stairs, trying to convince Bubba to hold still, and face the right way. I'm still unsure about my plan to grab the railing at the bottom, hoping to swing 45 degrees and down the second set of steps, but I'm planning on giving it a damn good try.

Then, somehow, the picnic basket hit the wrought-iron railing. Which startled Bubba. 

Startled cats tend to bolt. With or without metal baskets tied to their necks. Bubba bolted, and that basket clanged its way down the stairs, trailing the fastest scaredest cat you've ever seen. I'm still at the top, in my "about to enter my carriage" position, watching the entire thing unfold.

Bubba hits the bottom of the stairs, and runs toward the couch, leaping over everything in his way, which causes more clanging. The clanging merely convinces Bubba to go faster and faster, over end tables, past large glass lamps, acrylic bunches of grapes, and macrame throws.

I'm still at the top, witnessing the tragedy unfold, helpless, stunned.

At some point, Bubba's speed, and possibly his encounter with a lamp, separated him from the basket, and he ran to hide as far as possible from the short loud person with hands of death.

All that was left was a little girl still waiting for her ride, a broken lamp, and the sound of an angry mom's footsteps.

I wish I could tell you he gave me the beating of a lifetime.  But I can't recall what my punishment was, which means it clearly did not fit the crime. Nor did it deter future crimes. My dad was a softy.

Fast-forward to last week.
There was Princess, poised at the top of Auntie's staircase. She had an inflatable boat filled with books (for weight), and was pushing it towards the top of the staircase. She was about the get in, when we all began congregating at the door to say our goodbyes. We all looked up and saw her. Most of the family was confused. I wasn't.

Me: Princess! That's not okay. Put the boat and books away. I know it looks fun, but it won't end well. It's not the smooth ride you're anticipating, trust me on this one.
I gave her a look that said, "I KNOW what you were going to do, and NOT just because you're prone to creative trouble. I KNOW because I practically invented creative trouble".

She acknowledged the look, and reluctantly put the boat back where it came from, her dreams of a smooth sail dashed.

Thank goodness we don't have any cats.

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