Now here’s an interesting post, etinkerbell’s cultural commentary on parenting of old and instruments of torture, called “on-beaters-wooden-spoons-belts-and-more.”
She got my attention by declaring, “I remember a comedian, who effectively summed up their psychological state saying that they have been the first generation to have been slapped both by their own parents and their children too.”
Right??? So true. I was just lamenting this lost and forgotten Generation X, mine, that kind of got caught in the crossfire when the world went mad and decided to suddenly “progress.”
I have the distinquished honor of having cared for both really dysfunctional elderly parents and rebellious kids, at the same time. Both of them quoting the Bill of Rights to me. I am chuckling here, but you go kids!
(I taught them Constitutional law and they didn’t even realize it. And I really am well pleased about that. I can’t tell you how many times they pleaded the The 15th Amendment which I of course, had to point out grants African American men the right to vote and is not actually related to your right to remain silent, a right I so wish you would just avail yourselves of……)
I also have the distinguished honor of having met the original concern trolls, both Adult Protective Services and Child Protective Services. You’ll have to forgive me my snarky tone, but it is just not a whole lot of fun to be the only functioning adult in any given impossible situation and to just have the entire system come up against you.
I once had a cop tell me I was a despicable character who didn’t care about her father, after having spent the morning in court having a judge tell me I was a despicable character for having tried to violate my father’s rights and get him off the street.
As to child abuse, believe it or not, I once drowned a cell phone in a cup of coffee. Who knew that could trigger a six month investigation into “destruction of personal property and unlawful imprisonment?” It really did, and thank God it actually also triggered a good belly laugh from a judge, once I finally got to court, months later.
So, while I myself managed to avoid falling prey too much physical abuse, I have been psychologically and emotionally chewed up, spit out, and re eaten a few times over. Yep, slapped around by both parents, children, and the system. The system is the worst of all because it is so irrational, because it frequently won’t listen, because it has its proceedures, rules, and red tape, that often have nothing to do with reason or common sense.
I once sat in court with a bunch of guys waiting their arraignment, just filled with envy, with regret, with resentment, thinking, dang if I had just actually slapped someone for real, been charged with an actual crime, I would have all these rights too, a free lawyer, and a system just tripping over itself to honor them. Instead I was always “a party, a victim, a witness,” a place of legal limbo where really all you have is the right to comply and wait patiently for the wheels of justice to come to a grinding halt.
So yeah, I kind of get the melancholy, the dreams of an imaginary time when the world, harsh as it was, still made a certain kind of sense, where the rules were simple, be reasonable or someone will punch you in the head and no one will come to your rescue.
Instead I kind of just got to be the poster child for other people’s unresolved issues around child abuse, mental health problems, the target of resentment about a culture that once failed to protect them. I assure you, I am chuckling in the midst of this great pity party, but it’s a true story. I have been the recipient of projection, the target of misplaced rage, the one who has heard more times than I can count, “You know what’s wrong with the world? You, and people like you. We will crush you, we will annihilate you, we will send you to anger management classes and parenting classes, we will see to it you are re educated and so molded, pounded, and “fixed,” we can now feel better about our own selves….
As to my own kids, I think we did pretty well given the madness of the world. If we erred, we often erred more on the side of permissiveness, on the side of gentleness, reason, and love.
And I do indeed have the scars to prove it.