So, my parents are interesting people.
I’m currently living in a house with two new parents, and as such I have observed that the parenting techniques with which I was raised are quite a bit different than the approaches that seem to be popular at the moment.
Not so much in the technique, per se, but more along the lines of communication and jargon.
It was really a situational thing. Observe:
*Note: Please keep in mind that the following -isms were said in jestful, humorous situations, not incidents of verbal child abuse. Otherwise instead of sharing them, I’d be at my therapist.
1. Leaving the door open:
“Were you born in a barn?”
2. Standing in front of the TV:
“Your father weren’t no glassmaker, move!”
3. Random acts of illogical behavior:
“You wouldn’t know your ass from a hole in the ground!
4. Inability to find objects in plain sight:
“You couldn’t find your ass with both hands!”
“If I wanted shit outta you, I’d squeeze your head!”
6. Talking too much:
“What, you got diarrhea of the mouth?”
7. Asking for something I was too lazy to get up and get it myself:
“What, yer legs broke?”
This one was my grandpa’s:
Flicking the top part of my ear with his fingers:
“Does that ear-itate ya?”
Driving his knuckle into my friggin’ ear canal:
“Does that bore ya?”
And my mom thought I had “selective hearing disorder”. Ha.
Though, one of the funniest memories I have from my childhood has nothing to do with me, but my brother, who is 5 years my junior.
Where we grew up in Issaquah was somewhat of a rural area, so it was not unusual to have an area of suburban-style homes surrounded by farmland and pastures.
Our house was in such a location.
Right across the street was the property of my friend Tricia’s family, who owned some kind of gravel company. So on the right side of the street, you had houses. On the left, barbed wire forming a barrier between the grassy acreage and aforementioned houses.
I liked Tricia because she had a really cool house, big dogs, and horses.
Big, beautiful ones that would come up to the barbed wire so you could feed them grass and their fuzzy muzzles would tickle your hands.
I was 8. My brother was 3.
Three is like two on steroids. Only more mobile.
A little too mobile for my mother’s preference.
One afternoon I had come running into the house to grab some Kool-Aid or a Twinkie or some other overly-advertised cliche-ridden icon of my childhood, and my mother asks…
“Where is your brother?”
I dared not respond with any biblical references.
“Uh, I dunno..”
“He went out there to find you!”
“I said I dunno! I didn’t see him!”
“Oh for chrissakes,” she muttered, and went storming out the screen door.
About 18 seconds later:
(oh, shit…he got the two-name salute…kid’s in deep shit now…)
“Get your ass back over here RIGHT NOW!”
Like any good sibling, when you hear your brother/sister getting the riot act, you have to run to the scene immediately in order to be in sufficient gloating range.
To my combined delight and horror I saw what was causing my mother’s elevated blood pressure.
My brother, all three years and 2.7 feet of him, had miraculously wedged himself between two rows of barbed wire and was now grinning like a dope…
And standing right behind the McCann’s 23-year old, curmudgeonly, 1100-lb Quarter Horse mare by the name of Stella.
I have to confess my gloating waned a bit.
We eventually got him back on the safe side of the fence (the busy street with no stop signs) and with the stereotypical “young man!” and “never, ever…” and “wait till your father gets home” tirades she shuffled him back through the aforementioned screen door.
(I would like to interject that this will be the same screen door that my right arm will plunge through two years later when my brother slams it on me while I had my hand outstretched. Only it plunged through the glass portion. Another time, perhaps.)
My mother thought long and hard to come up with a solution that did not involve locking my brother in his room.
She had a giant supercomputer named Deep-Thought built in order to…
Okay, maybe not. But she did have what she called “A moment of genius!”
Complete and total abject horror from neighbors and passers-by. And reassurances from my mother that it was not considered child abuse and was in my brother’s best interest. And Stella’s.
On occasion you would hear mournful, dissatisfied wails from a small, toe-headed boy who had inadvertently wrapped himself around a tree and was flailing helplessly against his new restraints. He did not consider this a good prize. After much diligence he figured out a system. Partly out of convenience, partly defeat. He often glared at the equines across SE 134th st.
Stella swept flies off her back with her tail.
Voulez-voulez-vous when I was your age…