When You Have Kids…

April 12, 2007 at 10:18 pm 14 comments

My friend Bob correctly pointed out in my last post that the corollary to The Mother’s Curse, is “When you have kids you’ll understand”.   My parents got ME with that one.

When I was about 10, sister-mom’s hobby was painting ceramic things.  I don’t remember all the things she made, but I distinctly remember the pair of siamese cats.  She was especially proud of her work on these two cats, and they resided on a TV in the Living Room.  Like most 60’s and 70’s houses, the Living Room wasn’t really for living…atleast not for kids.  It was the room my parents saved for guests.  We were supposed to pass by it with our eyes averted at all times.  Naturally, that’s exactly where we headed any time she wasn’t looking.

One afternoon she ran to the store and left us, my sister-niece and brother-nephew, on our own.  Mike had a nerf ball we were throwing around, that turned into a game of keep away that turned into a rousing game of monkey in the middle.  Before we knew it, we’d drifted into the living room, someone threw a wild pass that missed the receiver and knocked one of those siames cats off the TV.  It shattered into a million pieces. 

I may have mentioned it before, but it bears repeating.  My sister-mom was very strict.  There wasn’t a single thing wishy-washy about her, she had no interest in being our friend, she was THE MOTHER.  Her punishments were swift, unrelenting and achingly painful despite the fact that we were never spanked, beaten or abused in any way.  She punished us by taking away our fun or our freedom. 

The three of us just stared at the broken pieces, our mouths hanging open, our hearts racing.  We were in such shock we didn’t even pick up the pieces, we just walked to the den and sat in a line on the couch.  Silently.  She came home and seeing us sitting, silently, immediately clued her in that something was amiss.  She set the grocery bags on the kitchen counter and walked off to look for the damage.  We continued to sit, silently.  I couldn’t think of anything but the impending punishment.  No pool privileges, no TV, no movies, no friends, no phone calls.  I assumed we’d be grounded to our rooms, put on slave labor to replace the cost of the cat.  She was always clever in her punishments, there was no telling what fiendish thing she would do to us once she saw the broken cat. 

We saw her pass through the kitchen, heard her walk through the dining room and held our breath for the howling we were sure would start when she reached the living room. We waited.  Nothing.  Minutes ticked by, still nothing.  Finally she came back into the kitchen and took the broom and dustpan out of the closet.  Sister-Mom came back with the broken cat on the dustpan and the other cat in her hand with the broom.  She looked calm, and controlled.  We watched her dump the broken shards and put the broom and dustpan away.  Then she took that other cat and dropped it into the sink breaking it into a million pieces.  Once she’d cleaned up the mess, she looked calmly at us and said “Why don’t you kids go outside and play, dinner will be ready soon.”

We walked on eggshells around her for weeks, wondering when she was going to decide how to punish us.  She never did and I forgot about the incident until I had kids of my own.  I used to be a cross-stitcher.  I had boxes and boxes of embroidery thread wrapped onto spools and stored numerically so I never had to search for materials for a project.  I kept the hoops, floss boxes, patterns and needles in a bag beside my chair.  It was the only thing in my house my kids knew they were not to touch.  I shared everything else I owned with them, but this was mine. 

I came home from work one day and found the boxes a mess, floss all in a tangle, felt pen marks on a piece I was stitching, pages torn out of my pattern books.  The older girls had got into the bag to make bracelets and failed to watch the younger two wreaking havoc on everything else. 

In that moment I knew exactly why sister-mom hadn’t punished us or even mentioned the incident.  What is a suitable punishment for discovering your children don’t respect your passions?  I did’nt mention anything to my kids either, just threw the whole mess away.  I did call my sister-mom, and apologize for breaking her ceramic cat. 

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The Mother’s Curse Who, Me?

14 Comments Add your own

  • 1. hammer  |  April 13, 2007 at 12:15 am

    What a flodd of scary memories that brough back. Breaking somthing back then seemed like the end of the world for sure.

    It would have been almost been better to be punished instead of having to worry about it so long.

    These days wit my kids accidents get a scolding to be be more careful, wanton malicious destruction gets much more of a response.

    Reply
  • 2. Linda  |  April 13, 2007 at 1:35 am

    Sophia has just starting to realize that she will be in trouble when I catch her doing things. If she is being bad she might hide what she is doing. Of course I already know what she is up to and she is surprised when she gets into trouble for things. I was too scared to be very bad when I was a kid, so I try not to make her too scared of me.

    Reply
  • 3. Shelli  |  April 13, 2007 at 8:38 am

    That is an awesome story. Me, I would have ranted and raved and screamed and cried. Okay, maybe not all that, but I would have been sad. I have to search around because I feel stupid that I don’t know the story behind “sister-mom”. I hope it is in your 100 things.

    Reply
  • 4. Shelli  |  April 13, 2007 at 8:45 am

    Okay, I found the answer. Did you call her Mom? Also, what is SCA? I also forgot to mention in my previous comment that I totally know what you are talking about with the Living Room thing. It was a formal room and NO ONE was allowed in there except the parents. It was kinda freaky and a waste of space, now that I think about it.

    Reply
  • 5. katcampbell  |  April 13, 2007 at 2:17 pm

    Hammer – I think I walked around most of the time just waiting to get in trouble for something.

    Linda – That’s all we can do, try to be better than our parents.

    Shelli – SCA – Society for Creative Anachronism. Living rooms were a waste of space. They always had those lines in the carpet though, that’s cool.

    Reply
  • 6. Mr. Fabulous  |  April 13, 2007 at 2:20 pm

    Wow…this was…I don’t know what to call it. Thought provoking.

    Reply
  • 7. katcampbell  |  April 13, 2007 at 2:28 pm

    Mr. Fab – What are you doing over here so early?

    Reply
  • 8. Janet  |  April 13, 2007 at 6:34 pm

    I think I preferred getting yelled at rather than the scary complacency.

    We didn’t have a big enough house for the “don’t touch” living room, but some of my friends did. My best friend’shouse had one, and if we walked through that room on our way somewhere else, I kind of held my breath and…averted my eyes. I wonder why I did that?

    Reply
  • 9. katcampbell  |  April 13, 2007 at 6:38 pm

    LOL Janet! Formal living rooms have a scary vibe all on their own. They’re like rooms frozen in time.

    Reply
  • 10. Shelli  |  April 14, 2007 at 9:06 am

    You have been awarded a Thinking Blogger Award. Come to my blog and check it out.

    Reply
  • 11. Catch  |  April 14, 2007 at 9:58 am

    I remember when we were young ( my 2 brothers and I) Dad would be at the office and for a time Mom worked for him, one day he called home and told us not to leave, he wanted to talk to us when he got home. We were on pins and needles….all trying to guess what we did wrong! When he got home he told us he had taken Mom to lunch that afternoon and she started crying b/c we had been fighting so bad she couldnt take it. ( we did used to really fistfight..lol) We all got grounded….and I know we didnt stop fighting but maybe kept it down to a low roar…lol..those were the days!

    Reply
  • 12. katcampbell  |  April 14, 2007 at 5:37 pm

    Shelli – I’m speechless.

    Catch – OOOHHH, waiting for punishment was the very worst!

    Reply
  • 13. jackiesgarden  |  April 14, 2007 at 10:56 pm

    Kat, your Sister-Mom sounds like one smart woman, and looks like you learned well! I had forgotten how, when we were very young, children were to be seen and not heard – and were not allowed in certain areas (our mom’s bedroom, etc.). Times have changed. Am I getting old?

    Reply
  • 14. guyana-gyal  |  April 17, 2007 at 11:31 pm

    That’s it Kat. I’m not having any children.

    Reply

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