Tag Archives: Parent

Accepting and loving the disabled

living with disabilities 3

Is a disabled person as important as a person who is not disabled? That’s an odd question, right? But I’ll tell you why I’m asking that. On the news there was this story about a young girl, suffering from a mental illness. They didn’t specify what kind of mental illness the girl suffers from, but from what I gathered, it could be pyromania (a mental illness that causes a strong desire to set fire to things).
Her parents took her to hospital and she was given medication that contains the illness. Regrettably, at some point, her brother hit her on the head and the illness came back stronger than before and since then it has been difficult treating it.

One day her mom went out and when she came back she found her daughter had set all her clothes on fire. Furious, she brutally dragged her to a secluded shed in the compound and tied her up, in an attempt to stop her from destroying more things.

Days later, the girl’s hands started rotting; I’m assuming her mom tightened the ropes so hard, thereby cutting off the blood circulation in her hands. When she was taken to hospital, the doctor said the only way they could save the girl’s life was to amputate her hands. As we speak, the girl who I judged was in her teenage hood is not just mentally impaired, but also physically.

In all sincerity, I respect all the parents whose children suffer from any form of disability; because they require so much love and attention than an average child. If the girl’s mother had been caring enough, she would have sought treatment for her daughter instead of locking her up so inhumanly.

Now the poor girl is physically disabled. That means even if she later gets her mental illness treated, she will need prosthetic arms. She has an extra disability, thanks to her mother. Judging by the fact that her own brother also aggravated her mental illness, one would assume the girl lives in a hostile environment.

If she was a ‘normal’ child, I bet her family would have loved her a little bit more than they do at the moment. That’s why I asked in the beginning if disabled people are as important as those without disabilities, because some people treat them like they have no right to be on this earth; like they don’t have feelings.

What we need to understand is that they did not choose to be disabled; because in all honesty, who would love to be born with a disability, when it makes one require so much attention from their families/caregivers? Who would willingly choose to be a burden to anyone?

Any disabled person needs to be showered with affection, not to be treated like they are lesser human beings. I find empathy a solution to many things. In high school we were taught about this golden rule: to treat others the way we would love to be treated. For instance, that woman tied her daughter up in a secluded shed, instead of trying to understand the girl’s situation was triggered by an overwhelming health condition; would she like to be treated the same way, to an extent of having her arms amputated?

The girl lost her arms. If she was a burden to her family before, now she will be a bigger burden. She will need people to take care of her, more than she did before. I’m thinking, she will need someone to always take her to the bathroom everytime she needs to go, until she can manage to do without her arms. That’s just unfair.

She already had one disability; she didn’t need anyone disabling her more. The mother should have been more understanding, and loving. Sometimes when I fall out with mom, I always wonder, if she can’t understand me and she is my mother, who will understand me then?

Mothers should love their children the most. What’s the point of going through agonizing hours of labour to bring a child into this world then end up treating that same child so unfeelingly? And those things we wouldn’t want anyone doing to us, why do them to others?

living with disabilities
Disabled people require special attention, not to be mistreated. It’s not their fault they have impairments, which may prevent them from performing some activities. If anyone is taking care of a disabled child/person and they just don’t know how to handle their illness, they should seek help/advice from a professional.

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Negative competition

When I was a kid, the main reason I loved celebrating birthdays, Easter and Christmas was because we (my sisters and I) always got new clothes, and most of the time they were matching Cinderella dresses. Mom always bought us the dresses that were in vogue at that time, and as we grew up it became a little tradition. The best part was when it came to attending mass on Christmas day, because then we’d get to wear our cute ‘princessy’ dresses. In that light, my least favourite Christmas was year 2000’s because we didn’t get new clothes; mom didn’t have a job and dad wasn’t willing to part with his money.

Given the circumstances, we were so disappointed; we refused to attend mass. It felt weird not wearing new clothes to church. Mom was so strict when it came to matters church, but I guess that day she understood our frustrations so she didn’t force us to go. In my family, Christmas has always been treated like an extended family affair so most of the time we hold our annual get-togethers around that time. That Christmas was being celebrated at one of my uncles’ place. Dad went alone.

Seeing as we didn’t attend mass that day, one of our second class cousins, who lived nearby passed by our place. Maybe the frustrations of not having new dresses made us myopic, because I remember feeling like she had only come to see what kind of clothes we had.

It sounds foolish when I think about it now, but we made that deduction based on three facts: firstly, their house was a thirty minutes’ walk away from ours. Secondly, she brought us an old black card with a wine bottle on the front page and it wasn’t even enveloped. It didn’t seem like a Christmas card and given that I’ve never seen it since then, I’m assuming we threw it away that same day. Thirdly, we weren’t really that close. The relationship we had with them was a very unhealthy one; it was more of a competition; seeing who went to the best schools, who lived in a fancier house, who got a boyfriend first (we were still very young but that was also an issue), seeing whose parents drove the best cars, who got the best grades in school…

Based on that, it was difficult to believe she’d walked all the way just to bring an old card; but maybe we were just being paranoid… the only good thing about that day was that one of our aunts-she was estranged from her husband at the time so she also didn’t attend the get-together- brought my sisters and I some cute knickers.

As I’ve mentioned in some previous posts, the things-habit wise- we pick up as kids stay with us longer. In that respect, I’ve always detested any form of competition I deem negative; with my cousins for instance. The madness stopped when we moved to different parts of the city. I don’t think the competitiveness stopped, on their part atleast, because even when we meet one can still feel the tension; the only thing is that distance brought some sanity.

When I was a kid, the relationship we had with the rest of the family didn’t feel any different and as I grew up I started appreciating the distance. We only met up when it was inevitable. For the better part of our preteen and early teenage years we still were linked by the mere fact that somehow my sisters, female cousins and I all went to the same boarding school. So even if we lived far from each other we’d still meet in school.

Slowly, I started hating anything that felt like a competition, because if whatever I had/did wasn’t the best, I’d lie so I wouldn’t feel so bad about it. I didn’t like the person I was becoming. Luckily we went to different high schools and seeing as we were old enough to make our own choices we (my sisters and I) avoided any unnecessary meetings. Sometimes distancing oneself from negative influence is the best solution.

Someone who reads my posts regularly might think I hate my extended paternal family. Truth is I don’t hate them. I just don’t like the person I am when I’m with them. Our relationship hasn’t changed. It has always felt like a competition, and looking back at the life I had as a kid, I know I wouldn’t want to go back to that. If I have to constantly tell lies or lash out at someone because they make it their business to pry into my life, making me feel bad about what I don’t have or what I have, just because they’re not okay with it, I would rather sever all ties with them than do something I might regret for the rest of my life, in an attempt to always top the charts.

second chances

Journey to the past

live life to the fullest

I’ve been trying to retrace my steps with anxiety; I wanted to get a clear insight into how/when it started. As I took my journey back to the past, I realized that the first time I suffered an anxiety attack I was twelve, while in boarding school. It was dark, in the middle of the night. Everyone was asleep, but somehow I couldn’t sleep. I can’t remember what I was thinking exactly, but I started breathing fast as my heartbeat rose. Slowly, as the hours passed, a dull ache developed in my chest. I felt like I had been running for hours.

I’m thinking whatever was going on in my mind that night was nothing pleasant; I know this because most of my thoughts while I was in boarding school revolved around me transferring to a day school near my home. I was never really comfortable staying away from home. I constantly worried about mom an awful lot; if she was doing okay, because everytime I went back home on holidays my small sister would tell me how she and dad had fought.

I was young at the time, but I remember feeling like our (my sisters and I) presence kind of eased the situation because we would stop them from getting into frequent fights. I always worried that maybe dad would hurt mom so bad…it was horrible.

That night I never slept; I tossed and turned in bed, clutching on to my chest. I didn’t know what was happening to me, and that also had me all worried. At day break I went to the sick bay. We didn’t have a dispensary in the school because there was a mission hospital adjacent to the school. The matron who was on duty that day gave me painkillers for my chest pain; they (matrons) only treated minor ailments: headaches, stomachaches sore throats, coughs that didn’t seem severe…

Normally if one was feeling unwell they would go for their morning, afternoon and evening dose of whatever medication (students weren’t allowed to be in possession of any medication). If whatever ailment didn’t subside after three days, they would ask one to visit the hospital on the fourth day.

The pain in my chest seemed to worsen with each day. On the fourth day I was referred to hospital. After our daily morning assembly that day, everyone who had been referred to the hospital, myself included, waited outside the headmistress’ office so she could give us permission to leave the school compound.  

Eventually I found myself sitted in front of a doctor, telling him how I was feeling. “My heart is beating faster than usual, and my chest pains a lot.” I don’t even remember if I underwent any tests, but I was diagnosed with ‘heart skip’. I didn’t dwell much on the diagnosis; all my mind registered was that I was suffering from a heart condition.

Subsequently, when I went back to school, I pulled out of every activity which I considered strenuous; all games and the weekly manual cleaning didn’t survive the cut. I have always been a sporty person, so I felt a sense of great loss descend upon me when I sat out of a P.E lesson later that day, because I was ‘sick’.

After being diagnosed with ‘heart skip’, the remaining part of that term felt quite miserable. I couldn’t run around the school compound. I couldn’t take part in the games I loved. My life just felt mundane. I was living like ‘Jill’; all work and no play. Nonetheless, all those precautions I took didn’t help my ‘condition’ much. In any case, it seemed to worsen. When I finished my prescription the situation hadn’t improved; I went back for review.

That term I went to the hospital so many times, the headmistress-a distant relative-nicknamed me a hospital tourist; even so, she didn’t bar me from seeking treatment. After two reviews and more medication, nothing had changed; I even felt much worse.

When schools closed, mom came to pick me up. She was incensed, that no one had cared to tell her I was unwell. She couldn’t do much at the time though; there were no teachers around as they had all retreated to their quarters. Early the next morning she took me to our family doctor, who had my chest X-rayed. It didn’t reveal anything. Mom asked about my earlier diagnosis-heart skip- but the doctor said there was no such thing in the medical field. Apparently the pills I’d been taking were just vitamin pills.

The next term I went back to school, I resumed all the activities I had ditched the previous term. Life felt normal once more. The knowledge that I wasn’t really sick psyched me up and all the chest pain became history.

 

 

Opposites Attract

opposites attract

I’ll never understand some things; not because I’m daft, but simply because those are some of nature’s machinations-but I know there’s a scientific explanation to it. Have you ever met two people who are completely different and you wonder how they ended up together?

When my sisters and I were small, my baby sister didn’t understand what was going on between mom and dad; fighting and all… She would constantly ask mom innocently, “Can’t we just look for another dad?” She was too young to comprehend the fact that the two were bound together by holy matrimony; it wasn’t just something mom could fix with the snap of her fingers…but that’s how kids are; they think their parents are super heroes.

She obviously felt dad wasn’t her ideal father, and she felt we would be much happier if mom found us another dad. If only it was that easy. If I had a choice, I would have gladly kicked dad to the curb on mom’s behalf long ago. I fail to understand how she put up with his abuse for so long, but everytime I remind myself, she was brought up in a very religious setting. She was going to join a convent; it was during the early stages of her formation, when she met dad and fell head-over-heels in love with him, plus she was a catechist… and the church preaches strongly against divorce…you know, ‘what God has put together, let no man put asunder’…

That in a nutshell defines my parents; virtuous mom (she’s no saint though) and a phenomenally mean dad (especially when he’s ‘under the influence’), and that is precisely what I don’t understand. They’re so different; completely opposite.

I know more than enough married couples, and there seems to be something common. It’s like nature went out looking for the extreme opposites and put them together to even things out. For instance, there are these family friends we have. We haven’t seen each other for a while since they moved to Australia a few years ago, but their family was a contrast to ours-last I checked.

The mom was the domineering control freak while the husband was so humble. The kids loved the father more. Then I have these four cousins, who have different fathers because their mom cheats on their loyal dad an awful lot. I’m not sure they know it; it’s an open secret.

I just can’t seem to trace any family with two ‘good’ parents. One of mom’s nephews- he’s almost her age- calls her a lot to ask for advice because his wife cheats on him brazenly.  He set up a business for her, lavishes her with gifts… he’s most women’s ideal husband. Lately he’s not been calling, so mom figured she should check up on him because the last time they talked he didn’t feel fine.

She rang him today. Apparently, his two kids-barely teenagers-threw their mom out. They asked her to take some time off to figure out what she wants to do with their father. I’ve never met her honestly, but from the description I get of her, she drinks a lot, doesn’t visit her kids in school, spends nights out, away from home… He, on the other hand is a quiet, laid-back guy.

That got me thinking; those kids wish for a better mom, like my sisters and I were wishing for a better dad. It almost feels obvious, if the wife is good, the husband is the villain of the piece…and if the husband is good, the wife is wicked… Opposites attract, literally; but for what it’s worth, I hope I’m wrong.

Damaged

depressed

Ever since I was seven, I’ve been watching my parents fight; I would wish it wasn’t that way but unfortunately it is. One thing I’ve gathered over the years is that parents should settle their ‘beef’ away from the children. If I’m anything to go by, parents should never fight in front of their kids. It’s just destructive; it messes a kid up on so many levels. That’s a vital lesson I’ve learned.

When I was nine-by then I had gotten used to seeing my parents fight; it felt normal- I got caught up in one of my parent’s wrangles. I don’t remember how it started, all I remember is finding myself in my parents’ bedroom; I had heard mom shouting. When I walked into their bedroom, I was horrified to find mom pinned down on the bed beneath dad. He was hurting her.

Instinctively, I rushed in and started pulling on dad’s pants. My hands were tiny at the time, so I just got hold of one leg. Furious, he kicked hard and I staggered a few steps back, falling on my bum. I don’t remember getting hurt; I was reeling from the shock of seeing mom calling for help. That was all my mind could register; mom needed help, and I couldn’t help. So together with my sisters, we started wailing, asking him to let her go.

I don’t remember how long he went on, or when he stopped. The next morning, I was still distraught from watching the scathing scene. I felt like a lifeless zombie as I walked on the school corridors. That day I talked to my class teacher about it. I just couldn’t take it anymore; I had to tell someone. I can’t quite remember what she told me but I remember feeling relieved.

Since then I have witnessed so many similar scenarios, but that one refused to go away completely. It torments me; I guess because it was the first time I saw mom so helpless.

Unconsciously, as I watched them over the years, I started building my defense; even when I didn’t jump in to help I’d start contemplating the best counter attack; if someone said something nasty, the best thing was to lash back. If someone hit, hitting back would happen almost naturally. It all happened in my head and as it turns out I’m really good at visualizing stuff; that’s how I learn most of the practical things.

When I learnt how to belly dance for instance, I just watched my big siz doing it, visualized it when I was in bed at night, the next morning when I got out of bed I just tried moving my hips and voilà, I was doing it like Shakira; it just took a little practice to smooth out the rough edges. That’s how it was as I watched mom and dad fight, hurling expletives at each other; it is those same obscenities I would hurl at other kids whenever I found myself in some altercation. Coming from a kid, the words were X-rated.

Naturally I have a quiet demeanor; most of my extended family only know my calm and composed side, because I always prefer to take the high road even when I feel they’re driving me nuts. The upside is I sleep comfortably at night, without any guilt troubling my conscience…and for that peace of mind, I always opt to walk away from heated scenes. It does get unbearable sometimes and inevitably I lush out, but nowadays such moments are rare.

The longest time I stayed home was after leaving high school. Normally I’d just be home for a few weeks on holidays but at that time, I didn’t have the option of taking a break from all the drama while away in boarding school; I hated life there but it did break the monotony of watching my parents fight. Watching them at it, tempers flaring, constantly brought back the violent side I had tried so hard to bury while in high school. Worse still, as I watched them go on and on about matters I wished they’d deal with out of my sight, I started building my defense again, countering them in my head.

At the time, mom’s regular run-ins with dad also made her snappy; her words were ever clipped and she just felt cold. I wrote a lot at that time, because I realized it felt therapeutic. Sometimes I would just cry it out. I grew tense from all the madness; I didn’t want to say/do anything I would regret, so I held it all in.

I fell into my first bout of depression at that time; I didn’t know what it was then. I just felt miserable; like life had lost its meaning. Everytime they started fighting I would get muscle spasms from all the anxiety. I ended up getting medical treatment for it, after developing an incessant headache and insomnia, which stayed with me for one and a half years.

After recovering, that’s when I realized I didn’t want to be a part of it anymore. If they decided to fight, I would just watch impassively. Going with barely any sleep for close to two years had taught me a tough lesson. I wasn’t going to live their life anymore. That was one of the toughest decision I’ve had to make in my life. I reset my thoughts and focused them on the positive things in my life, and to date, that’s how I deal with it.

My baby siz however, hasn’t mastered the strength to be indifferent; so everytime she hears people-even outsiders-talking with their voices raised, even when they’re not necessarily fighting, she stiffens with fear, her heartbeat rapid. If she’s asleep, she’ll suddenly wake with a violent jerk, perturbed by the noise. I sympathize with her a lot. I don’t like to hold my parents responsible for it, but as much as I hate to admit it, this could have been avoided.

I couldn’t do much to change that part of my life, but I know one thing for sure, I wouldn’t want my kids to go through that…no one should. Parents should remember kids rarely forget; they could block it out, but most of the time the memories haunt them into adulthood. It is damaging. I feel damaged.

I’ve grown up with so much violence around me, I’ve become naturally defensive. Even when I walk away, I do it consciously, fighting all the urge to lash out. Sometimes it is difficult to hold back, especially when it’s a recurrent issue; when one keeps pushing all the wrong buttons because they don’t see me snapping. In such instances I just let it out.

I hate it when I do it, but sometimes it’s just inevitable; one can only take so much. I wouldn’t want to subject anyone to the life I’ve lived, so every day I strive to find the peaceful way out when faced with a challenge. As it is, I feel damaged, but I already resolved to make different choices…to ‘make love’ not war.

My peace-deprived childhood makes me crave serenity so intensely; that’s my ray of hope; that after all, I won’t be extending the emotional turmoil from my past into my future, God willing.

 

HOW FAST BABIES GROW…

baby boy 1

I’ve found a new admiration for babies. A few months ago, a friend visited with her baby. The last time I’d seen them, her adorable son was still learning how to walk; he had just realized the joy of standing on his own two feet as opposed to crawling. He had grown up so fast.

When they had visited previously, he couldn’t stay in a room if his mom wasn’t in it; he was always looking around to see if he could spot his mom anywhere; if he did he would go on with his business, playing without the slightest care in the world; however, if he didn’t, he would become tremendously restless, and would start wailing uncontrollably.

At one time during their previous short visit, his mom left him in our –me and my sisters’- care as she went out on a date with a guy she’d met recently. when she left her seventeen months old baby boy was deep in slumber, so he remained oblivious to his mom’s absence; I watched admirably as he lay on the bed peacefully, away in a land of his own… I wonder if babies dream…

It was all rainbows and unicorns, until he suddenly woke up from his short nap, wailing, calling out, “Mama, mama…”

I panicked; his mom had already left. I didn’t know what to do. I had hoped he would sleep, atleast until she got back… well, shock on me.

I remembered what my big sis always tells me; to always take a moment to breathe in deep; take a long  inhale, then exhale slowly… to calm down, when I find myself in a panicky situation, like the one I was in at the moment. I did just that. When I was certain I was feeling collected, I picked him up. Funny thing I noticed with babies is that they could cry for long and only shed countable tear drops. He cried, cried, then paused; I thought he was all cried out…and when I was about to start thanking my lucky stars that he had finally realized his mom wasn’t showing up, he started crying again, this time louder than before.

Apparently he had just paused to revitalize his healthy lungs… I tried everything from feeding him milk, to rubbing his back gently, hoping it would calm him down; but it was all for naught.

Then luckily, his eyelids started closing; he was falling asleep. I started feeling relieved. “Thank God,” I sighed. His eyes finally closed. After a while I put him down on the bed, but as I pulled my arm from underneath him, he woke up, crying…

My sisters came to my rescue, but nothing we did could calm him down; he was just asking for a teensy weensy thing- his mom. “Is that too much to ask?” I could almost hear his distressed thoughts amid that noisy wail… I pitied him…

When we had run out of baby soothing options, we resulted to ‘mommy 911’. I rang his mom… telling her to come back soonest she could, because her baby wouldn’t stop crying. She, obviously, was none too pleased about it-we had cut her date short- but we had given it our best shot, all to no avail.

An hour later the baby was still crying, and his mom was nowhere in sight. It was frustrating.

When she showed up later, I couldn’t believe the instant change when his mom picked him up… the baby, who had cried for a duration possibly longer than all my crying moments summed up, stopped crying and a wide grin plastered across his face, as contentedly he called, “Mama…”

It was undoubtedly a happy reunion; for him atleast. His mom took him on her laps and she nursed him. He even looked playful as he suckled. I could not comprehend how it had all happened. He was happy, had I not witnessed it happening, I would have thought all the wailing had just been a bad dream.

That’s the memory I had of him, until they visited again a week after valentine’s this year. He was all grown up. At thirty months old he was walking on his own two feet… running even… The idea of moving from place to place like ‘flash’-think crawling- enthralled him. He was all over the place… turning anything he could lift into a play thing; if it was big but movable, like the foot stools, he would roll them on the floor like a tyre.

He wasn’t suckling anymore, so it didn’t bug him if he wasn’t in the same room as his mom. After lunch we moved from the dining to the living room, where we did our nails as we relived our valentine’s day. He came where I was, asking me to do his nails too. I thought it was fun, so I painted his finger nails in baby blue nail lacquer.

Evidently he loved it, because right after, he placed his legs on my laps so I could paint his toe nails too. I did. He then went and squeezed on the couch my big sis was sitted on. They were a lovely pair; I took pictures of them making faces, sticking their tongues out…

At one time I accidentally left the door open and he ran out… I had trouble catching him as he was too fast for me. If he saw me drawing close to him, he would will his tiny legs would propel him further away. I just waited for him to surrender, when he was out of breath from all the running.

If you ask me, he had really grown up fast; later that day, at sundown, I realized we’d run fresh out of milk, so I went to the shop to get some more. He stood there at the door and shouted, “I love you”… I grinned all the way to the shop and back.

He said it again when I got back… I was awed. “You really are teaching him well, “I smiled at his mom, who was loving how fascinated we were by her son. I know in her heart she felt proud. I would have been proud too, had that been my son.

That night, I was the one who went to bed last, as usual… I went to check if they were comfortable.  His mom was sound asleep, but he was just sitted on the bed, wide awake… I didn’t know how to get him to sleep without waking his mom up; but then I got a brilliant idea; if I switched the lights off he would slip under the covers on reflex, afraid of the dark… I went on to carry out my plan, which I soon realized was so half baked…

I had expected to see him make some rapid movement triggered by fear but shock on me; he was left seating on the bed, unperturbed. He didn’t squeal; he didn’t flinch. It’s as if he couldn’t tell light from dark.

Even when he saw my silhouette in the dark, he didn’t move a muscle…

Then it hit me, normally our fears are conceived in our minds: we relate them to some experience in our lives or just some horrifying movie we watched. He was only thirty months old, so basically he hadn’t been exposed to scary stuff.

I admired him; he wasn’t afraid of the dark… when I was small I watched horrifying movies that worked my imagination everytime I went to bed. Then I realized, what we watch impacts our lives tremendously… we are what we watch after all.

The thing he’s so afraid of- I noticed- is being spanked by his mom when he errs… other than that, everything is just bliss…

MATTERS PARENTING-FROM A DAUGHTER’S PERSPECTIVE

parent  Everytime I talk about matters parenting, I always feel like I’m doing parents a major disservice; mainly because I haven’t walked down that road yet. Nevertheless, I feel I know reasonably much about parenting; I’ve watched my parents raising three daughters- me included- and even though I’ve only been watching from the sidelines, I formed my own opinion on the matter. If I may put in my two cents worth, parents should use a relatively soft approach on their kids. This however doesn’t mean they should be lenient; overlooking mistakes and all… Fundamentally, the idea is for parents to understand their children; to walk a mile in their shoes, so they can simply get the rationale of their complexities.

For this to be successful, parents would basically be required to lay the ground rules, which would be used to guide members of the family on what is/not allowed. Parents would also be required to put their feet down, just to ensure that the rules are adhered to.

The term ‘rules’, I realize, brings out the idea as a scheme by parents to tyrannize their children, but that is not it. The rules imply to simple things that are done in the home; for instance, sitting at the table together for meals, doing chores, running  errands… etc. Setting of rules would help parents keep their children in check, and this would help them identify any snags that would arise in relation to that.

In case you’re wondering how I came to this, I mentioned in down memory lane: my childhood sweetheart that I went to boarding school. I was only eleven at the time and I detested it with every ounce of my being. My mom thought it was the best idea though; there were many distractions at home and she felt boarding would counter all that. True to her suppositions, it did just that. She only intended for me to get good grades, which I did…

Looking at the bigger picture though, I impute most of the barneys I had with her as a teenager to that simple fact that she shipped me off to boarding school. See, when I went there I was quite young; at such a pliable age. It was then that I learnt how to spread a bed impeccably, do my own laundry… most importantly, I also learnt how to verbalize my emotions. Before I enrolled there, I was just an introverted girl; I kept to myself a lot. I didn’t bother standing up to other students because I knew all I had to do was squeal on them and my mom would take up the matter with the concerned teachers; I wasn’t bratty though, just that I didn’t find it necessary to engage in squabbles when my mom could easily intervene.  Every once in a while though, I’d find myself in messy fights with boys in my classroom and that would have my mom summoned in school. In the teachers’ presence she would vindicate me, so much so that I always got off the hook easily.  I don’t remember being chastised by any of the teachers on any one of those accounts; but when I got back home, she would set things straight. She would scold me sternly or give me whatever punishment she thought suited the nature of my transgression. She’s always been zero-tolerant to impertinence.

Sometimes teachers would find themselves at the receiving end of my mom’s backlash. If you ask me, they deserved it all… they were brutal! Students who arrived to school late were caned mercilessly with peeled tree branches, which only made it twice as painful. At times they would cut hosepipes into pieces of considerable length and those too would be used to inflict pain on us. Some teachers even went ahead to fill the hollows in the pipes with stems, to intensify the lashes so that whoever they landed on would never be tempted to repeat whatever had brought them there in the first place. My mom hated seeing us (my sisters and I) bruised or with our knuckles swollen because a teacher had hit us with a ruler, so she took it upon herself to discipline us. She didn’t want us to turn out unscrupulous, but at the same time she didn’t want others to maim us alleging corrective measures; therefore she made sure we grew up straight to prevent us from getting in trouble with them. She chose to personally, nip our wrong doings in the bud.

When I went to boarding school I didn’t have my mom to defend me. I only had my big sister who had gone there a year before I did. She’s only a year and a half older than I am. The good thing about my new school was that caning was prohibited. The headmistress was a distant grandma; a strict disciplinarian, who pervaded fear in the other teachers as much as she did students. From the movies I watched as a kid, she was the angelic version of Miss Tranchbul in the movie, Matilda. She embodied perfection. Stained tunics with hanging hems or torn pockets weren’t tolerated; socks and blouses had to be dazzling white; those with discoloured ones were punished. Seeing as the school was catholic sponsored, she made it unmistakable that masses were not optional. That regardless, didn’t exorcize the little ‘demons’ in the school; some of the older girls were brutes. Consequently, I learnt how to defend myself. Slowly, the introvert I was developed into an outspoken lass… no one would mess with me again.

Out of those eight years that I was in boarding school, six of them I spent in school while the holidays only summed up to two years only. During those six years a lot happened; that’s when I learnt who I was…I became distinctly aware of my emotions, formed my own independent opinion of things. I’m not sure if it was just sheer ignorance, but my parents didn’t seem to realize I had changed. Many are the times I felt my actions were misconstrued and anything I said only ignited fights. Whenever I talked with my mom a certain phrase invariably popped up, “You don’t understand me!”  Disappointingly, my parents never made any efforts to understand the ‘new’ me. I only learnt to adjust to my surrounding when I got tired of fighting.

That ‘phase’ I was in, as many parents would refer to it, is a crucial stage in children’s lives; that’s when parents who previously  were awfully close with their children find themselves so detached, feeling like total strangers. Not all parents send their children to boarding school, but the same scenario plays itself out when parents are too busy working that they seldom spend time with them. Sometimes parents fail to realize that kids grow up fast. A month, or even a week could be enough for a child’s perceptions to be realigned; even a day’s occurrence-if incubated- could slowly change a person.

In light of this, I feel that parents would achieve much if they focused more on trying to understand why their children  act the way they do as opposed to just jumping into conclusions- that they’re only going through a phase -and consequently grounding them or giving punishments…