Re-Sealed The Deal

, , , , | Related | July 4, 2018

(It is the 90s, and there is a popular brand of mass-produced, solid-block cottage cheese that is packaged in large transparent plastic bags. My mom has been buying it for us to eat nearly every day for months. Dad always opens it by forcefully ripping up the plastic bag. It has practically become a meal ritual to sit down at lunch or dinner with Dad violently ripping open another bag at the table. I’m not quite nine, and we’ve been in this country maybe three months now. Most of the food packaging here is really different than in our previous country. I’ve noticed that some of the other food items we buy have resealable zippers in their plastic bags, which we’ve never seen before, but my parents do become familiar with these at about the same time I do. One day, sitting at the kitchen table I idly examine an unopened package of the cottage cheese we’re about to eat, and I happen to look closely at the other end of the plastic bag than the one dad always rips open.)

Me: “Mom, look! Doesn’t this look just like the funny zipper on the packages of [Other Food]?”

(Mom looks over idly, mumbles something, and dismisses me. Then, they both sit down at the table.)

Me: “Dad, look at that end of the bag! Doesn’t it look just like the funny zipper from the packages of [Other Food]?”

Dad: *waves me off* “Oh, really, don’t be silly, [My Name]. Of course it doesn’t!”

(He grabs the bag and prepares to rip it open. I reach over, tug it out of his hands, turn it the other way up, and carefully tear off the top tear-off part of the bag, revealing — ta-da! — a resealable zipper; which I then also open with no force required. I present it to them.)

Mom & Dad: “…” *embarrassed silence*

(The looks on both parents’ faces were pretty priceless.)

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Drink This, Then The Pneumonia Won’t Seem So Bad

, , , , | Healthy | July 3, 2018

(I am nine years old. I have a pretty weak constitution and frequently fall ill. Every winter, like clockwork, I’ll get pneumonia, among other illnesses. I learn to recognize and become familiar with the sensation of my lungs feeling full of lead, and sharp, stabbing pain overtaking my ribcage on every inhale. I can’t breathe in enough oxygen to get out of bed. My parents choose their own methods of medical treatment for me. I’ve been bed-bound for days with pneumonia; I’ve got a high fever and am struggling to breathe. My parents have been bringing me occasional water and soup, and some seemingly random, unnamed medicines. Mom comes in, sits on the bed, and hands me a cup of medicine.)

Mom: “You need to drink this.”

(I take a sip. It’s horrifically bitter. I gag, cough, and hand it back.)

Me: “I… can’t… It’s… bitter… and gross!”

Mom: “You have to drink it, anyway; it’s medicine! You need to drink your medicine!”

Me: *panting* “I… can’t! There’s… no… way… I can… drink… that! It’s… undrinkable! It… tastes… like… poison!”

Mom: “Well, if you want to whine about it, fine.” *offhandedly* “Just know that since you’re severely ill, this is the only medicine that will save your life! If you won’t drink it, you’re going to die!

Me: “…” *shock*

Mom: *matter-of-factly* “Yes, you are! You are so horrifically sick that you’ll die if you don’t drink all of this! Probably very quickly! Tonight, in fact! But I guess you don’t want it, so I’m just going to take this away now! I’m leaving with the medicine now, since you’re choosing to die!”

(She pauses.)

Mom: “Now. Are you suuuuuure you don’t want it?!” *wiggles the cup in front of me*

Me: *horrified fear*

(Of course, I reluctantly took the medicine back and choked it down miserably, while gagging and struggling not to throw up or expel my lungs. They continued “treating” me this way for years for every serious illness. Looking back, I think it’s likely it was some “medicinal” Russian tea, or maybe some over-the-counter unflavored children’s fever reducer like acetaminophen or Aspirin, and I really wouldn’t be surprised if they chose an unflavored version to save money. Some of the other “folk remedies” my parents inflicted on me to “treat” pneumonia were much more disturbing and gross. For some reason, they seemed to just treat these illnesses like regular colds. They never once took me to a doctor or hospital, no matter how bad it got or how high my fever, despite living in a country with free social healthcare, and otherwise regularly taking me to a doctor for check-ups and vaccines.)

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Misread The Teacher’s Knowledge Level

, , , , , | Learning | June 27, 2018

(I am a teacher’s assistant at the department of mechanical engineering, teaching mainly an intro-level mechanical design course. As the course is rather difficult — especially given that it is taught to first-year students — it is common for them to do assignments together, in small groups, then hand them in individually as per course requirements. One semester, however, there is a student that does so well that it becomes a habit for him to do assignments soon after they are posted, and then share them with all the other students in the course, at least as reference material. While it is strictly against the rules, I willingly ignore it, as he does help the whole class to do better — but of course I can’t tell the class that I know what’s up… At least until I have to make the following announcement at the beginning of one lesson, after returning the assignments and reviewing common mistakes with the students.)

Me: “Guys, I know that this course isn’t simple; I know that you do the assignments in groups, and I’m quite used to seeing the same odd mistake pop up in several people’s assignments when grading them.”

(I then look directly at that excelling student, and continue:)

Me: “But guys, if all of you are going to base your work on one student’s solution, at least make sure that that one student didn’t misread the question!

(Cue laughter and that student’s face turning beet red.)


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Mom Is Just Toying With You

, , , | Related | June 24, 2018

(A typical incident from my childhood. This is in the early 90s. I’m about nine or ten at most.)

Mom: “Okay, [My Name], if you behave yourself all this week, keep all your things neat, do your homework, don’t bring any complaints from school, and stay quiet at home and don’t bother us, I’ll buy you any toy you want from that toy store you’ve been asking to go to.”

Me: “Really? You’ll let me get any toy I want?”

Mom: “Yes, I promise you can pick any toy you want.”

Me: “Okay! I promise I’ll behave!”

(I behave myself, make extra effort to be neat, do my homework, and stay extra quiet at home, as well as at school, so as not to draw trouble from bullies that sometimes results in me being blamed by teachers. At the end of the week, Mom takes me to the toy store.)

Mom: “Okay, pick the toy you want.”

(I see a packaged set of three very cute doll toys, one of those where they’re the same appearance and everything, but graduated sizes; one is maybe twelve inches tall, the second nine inches, and the third, six.)

Me: “Oh, those look so awesome! I want that doll set, Mom!”

Mom: “Hmm, let’s see…” *checks the price* “Oh, you know, [My Name], I don’t think so; that’s a bit expensive…”

(It’s 20 shekels; about $5.50.)

Mom: “Oh, look here! Here’s another set of dolls! It’s almost exactly the same! And it’s only fifteen shekels! Let’s get you this, instead!”

(This other set has only two dolls in it, and what’s more, it’s quite obvious to me even at that age that these dolls are of significantly poorer quality; they’re uglier and much more rough-looking in shape, color, hair, clothes, joint articulation, etc.)

Me: “No! I want the three-doll set! This one is ugly and only has two dolls!”

Mom: “But [My Name], they’re nearly the same exact thing, really! And they’re so much cheaper! We’ll get these ones.”

Me: “No! I want the three-doll set that I picked! You promised that I could pick any toy I wanted!”

Mom: “Really, [My Name], calm down right now! Stop misbehaving! I don’t know what I’ve done to deserve such a troublesome child! You have to be sensible! I just don’t have the money to waste on useless nonsense like expensive toys for you!”

Me: “But I want that set! You promised I could get the toy I wanted! That’s the one I want! I don’t want that other ugly one!”

Mom: “I don’t care what you think I promised! Just shut the hell up already and stop embarrassing me! I’m buying this one and that’s final! You’re going to play with these dolls and like them!”

(She angrily grabbed the package off the shelf and went to pay, all while forcefully dragging me along by the hand. I was tearing up, on the verge of crying, but she glared at me threateningly, clearly promising that if I made any more of a scene there would be dire consequences. I was extremely upset and disappointed. The two-doll set turned out to be just as ugly and poorly made as it looked in the package. I listlessly “played around” with them once and then abandoned them. Then, in the future, this was used by my mom as further ammunition against me in arguments; she would bring up toys like that set to claim that ANY toy purchases for me were an empty waste of money, since I immediately abandoned them, and that I was clearly a poorly-behaved, tantrum-throwing child due to incidents like what happened in that toy store, so I didn’t deserve any new toys, anyway.)

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An Underreaction To An Overreaction

, , , , , | Healthy | June 20, 2018

When I was in elementary school, my parents had an obsessive conviction that I must never be allowed to stay home alone during summer vacation, even though they were perfectly fine with letting me stay home alone on a regular basis during the school year.

They always signed me up for every single multi-week summer “camp” available, the ones where kids go or are bused somewhere in the morning and return in the afternoon, like with school.

This happens when I’m about 11. My parents both work, so they’ve signed me up for a camp where kids spend the whole day in a water-park, mostly under the sun non-stop, wearing only swimsuits.

One night before bedtime, Mom plugs some kind of new bug-repelling device she’s just bought into an electric outlet in my bedroom.

When I wake up, I’m covered head to toe in large, swollen, red, and extremely itchy hives. They are absolutely everywhere. I look like a horror movie monster and can’t stop scratching.

Mom examines me, and declares that it must be “just” an allergic response to the bug repellent, and that it is “not a big deal.” I must still go to camp as usual. She doesn’t even try to put any kind of lotion on me or do anything.

I protest having to go anywhere in this condition, as I feel terrible and look frightening.

Mom insists, and derides me for being a baby and whining. She repeats that it’s clearly not a big deal.

It’s clear to me that she just wants to go to work as usual, doesn’t want to be bothered today with taking an ill child to a doctor, and still refuses to let me stay home on my own despite me being too sick to go out. But there’s nothing I can do about it.

Being at the water-park is awful. The chemicals in all the pools and being in the hot sun all irritate and inflame the hives further. As nearly my entire body is exposed in the swimsuit, all the other children look at me with contempt and disgust. Pointing and whispering quickly begins, and I become the target of relentless teasing.

There are very few adults around, and none of them notice or care about anyone being unwell unless they’re clearly dying; most of them are either lifeguards at the pools or people handing out our lunches and snacks, so anything outside that just isn’t their problem.

I spend the entire day absolutely unable to stop scratching everywhere and utterly miserable, while worrying that I have some awful disease — I’ve never had allergic reactions before in my life.

When I finally get home, my mom seems terribly surprised that the hives haven’t gotten any better and that I feel awful.

After some lengthy discussion, it’s decided they’ll actually let me see a doctor. Tomorrow. And Dad will be the one to take off work to take me.

The next day by midday the hives have finally began to partially reduce in size… as I haven’t been sent to a freaking water park today. The doctor I’m taken to says that it is in fact clearly an allergic reaction; most likely to that bug repellent device. And that I clearly should be kept in cool and dry conditions until it goes away: no more sun, chemicals, and dampness. And no more chemical bug repellents in my room.

My parents very begrudgingly allow me to stay home for a day or two after that. I can only remain grateful that this is the only time in my childhood I have had any kind of allergic reaction; otherwise, there’s even odds I’d be dead now.

Thanks so much, Mom, for your entire handling of this situation; your caring and consideration of my health will always stay in my heart.

Please don’t do this to your children.

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