Feeding The Flames Of Bad Parenting

, , , , , | Related | October 6, 2018

(I am seven. A couple of months after the carnival, I become very ill. I’m so ill that I’m taken to the hospital and stay there overnight with medicine and IVs. This is, understandably, upsetting and frightening. My mother is the one who takes me there, but as soon as the staff are done asking questions, she leaves. I ask the nurse to call my dad, and he visits me. Shortly after he arrives, I suffer a grand mal seizure and get taken for an emergency surgery, since I’ve injured myself. I wake up hours later.)

Me: “Dad, what happened? Why does it hurt?”

Dad: *doing his best to keep me calm and explain how a child could understand* “It’s okay now. You got too hot from being sick, so your body panicked. And when your body panicked, you got hurt. The doctor fixed it. But hey, since you’ve been so good, I called your mom and she said she’s on her way with chicken nuggets.”

Me: *satisfied by the answer, but a little grumpy* “Okay, I guess. Can you stay while I read?”

Dad: *smiles* “Okay, let me know if you find a hard word.”

(Two hours pass. We are both hungry.)

Me: “Did Mom drive to another city?”

Dad: “She shouldn’t have. I’ll page her.”

(My father uses a payphone to page my mother. She arrives twenty minutes later, dressed like a jazz singer, in a flashy dress with a slit up to the hip, with makeup, jewelry, and perfume on. This is strange because she never wears perfume or dresses formally without reason. A man in a button-up shirt is with her but waits outside the room.)

Mom: *maximum sass and attitude* “What? I was on my way. Why couldn’t you just wait?”

Dad: “It’s eight pm; you know we usually have her fed by seven pm. She was worried. I called you hours ago. Where were you?”

Mom: *sighs indignantly* “I had a job interview!

Dad: “Since when do you go to job interviews with perfume and a dress that’s cut up to the hip?”

Mom: *shouts* “Since I said! Now shut up and eat.”

(She throws the bag of food across my legs. Being hungry, I grab what is obviously meant for me and take a bite.)

Me: *sad* “It’s cold.”

(I put my food back in the bag, grossed out.)

Mom: “Well, if you waste it, I’ll make you wish you’ll have to stay here longer! So eat!”

Dad: *takes the bags off of my legs* “No. If she doesn’t want to eat food that’s been sitting out long enough to get cold, she doesn’t have to. Kids have instincts about stuff like this. What if she is this sick because you forced her to eat bad food already?”

Mom: *smirks, then turns to face the hall and shouts* “HOW DARE YOU ACCUSE ME OF CHILD ABUSE! YOU’RE THE ONE WHO DIDN’T GET HER ANY FOOD!”

Man In Button-Up Shirt: *impatient, speaking to my mother* “Come on. Let’s just go. We are going to miss the movie!”

(Yes, my dad did get investigated. However, it was determined that it wasn’t unreasonable of him to trust that my own mother would bring edible food after agreeing to get dinner! And the man in the button-up shirt who waited for her? He became my stepfather within a year.)

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