I have zero desire to be a parent. I have no idea what it’s like, and I don’t want to. But I do know that if I had become a parent, there are certain things that I would have never done.
Sometimes I look back on my childhood and wonder how I ever made it to adulthood. My mother was an amazing human being. You’d have loved her. Everybody did. I’d never be writing this post if she were still alive. But I have to say that some of the choices she made with regard to my upbringing leave me absolutely speechless now that I’m looking back at them as an adult.
I won’t even get into the whole looking-the-other-way-while-I-was-sexually-abused thing. That’s a subject for another day. I’m just too worn out to even tackle that topic.
No. Today I remembered something that makes my adult eyes widen in horror, and sorry, I need to vent. So here goes.
When I was about 8 years old, my mother, my stepfather and I went camping. We had a little trailer and we stayed in a very nice campground. So far, so good.
But after we got there, the campground manager approached us and said that a violent offender had escaped the local prison and police would be searching the area, so we should probably stay in our trailer and lock the door. No sooner had he said that when we saw a helicopter fly overhead with a spotlight. The guy was close.
So we sat in the locked trailer. I don’t know how long we were in there. I was 8, so it seemed like an eternity. My mother was content. You have never seen anyone get lost in a book the way that woman could. My stepfather, too, was content. He fell asleep sitting up, as he was wont to do. The man spent very little time conscious, which suited me right down to the ground. I, on the other hand, was bored silly.
I guess my mother finally got sick and tired of my whining, so she let me sit outside at the picnic table. She kept the door open, but locked the screen door. Safety first, I suppose. For them, at least.
It was pitch black outside. I saw police flashlights in the woods in the distance. I was fascinated by the helicopter.
Then, out of the darkness, I saw a scruffy man approaching. Suddenly I was aware of my vulnerability. I went to the screen door and whispered, “Mom…”
I didn’t want to draw his attention, in case he was the bad guy and he wasn’t heading specifically to our site. I didn’t want him to notice me. And being the respectful child that I was, I also didn’t want to insult him with my fear if it turned out he was one of the good guys. I whispered again. “Ma…”
She was lost in her book. And her parental radar, which was feeble at the best of times, was apparently switched off. My stepfather slept on.
The guy was getting closer. I was terrified. Even after all these years, I can feel my heart beating a little faster just thinking about it. “Maaaaaaaa…” I hissed.
When she finally looked up, I was clawing at the screen door and the man was looming over me.
“You should get your kid inside, Ma’am. It’s not safe out here.”
So she unlocked the screen door and let me in.
And then she yelled at me for not saying something.
It was awful then, but I didn’t grasp how outrageous the situation was, because stuff like that happened all the time to me. I still have a hard time feeling safe to this day.
But from an adult perspective… damn! Who does that? What mother does that?