Monday, July 13, 2009

Thoughts on my childhood summers - part 3

The stepmonster didn't like us being in the house during the summer. So, me, Shannon, and her kids, the twins, were outside most of the day. Some parents would counter that we should be out, playing, taking in the fresh air. Yeah, I get that point. I do. Who wants kids running in and out of the house all day? But seriously, she would kick us out in the morning and not let us back in until shortly before Dad would come home from work, with the exception being the short amount of time we would eat our lunches. And I would turn out looking more like a lobster than a little kid. (Did this woman ever hear of sunscreen? They did have it in the 80's. It's not like it was 1889!)

The stepmonster decided one day that I should be wearing a bra. I was nine. There really wasn't anything there yet. But as was her way, she pushed me to the local discount big box store to buy what would become my first bra (this stupid padded thing that made no sense at the time, and less sense now). I remember when she brought us back home to my mom, her telling us to go inside because she needed to have a conversation with the woman who brought us into the world, and then reaming her out because I wasn't wearing a bra yet.

Needless to say, Mom thought it was kind of funny. The stepmonster was really good at turning these stupid little things into monster-sized horrific situations.

This reminds me of one of the other head-butting-of-the-moms situation they once had. The stepmonster did not like my mom. Despite the fact that mom had bent over backwards trying to accommodate her at every turn, and despite the fact that she had urged me and Shannon to like this new pseudo-parent, the stepmonster found every manner of fault with my mom.

One Thanksgiving, we had turkey hot dogs for our holiday dinner because my sister, whose only job was to take the turkey out of the freezer to thaw while my mom was at work, failed to do so. The result was my mom asking what we wanted for dinner and us, wanting the quickest, tastiest meal possible, said "hot dogs" of course. The fact that they were turkey hot dogs is coincidental. They just happened to be in the fridge. When Dad and the stepmonster called, we didn't hesitate to tell them of our meal. Not a big deal. Not so to that woman, who told all these people, including my dad's sister who still talked to my mom, that Mom was no doubt a terrible mother, completely incompetent. All because we had hot dogs on Thanksgiving.

Note: The irony of this whole situation is that she accused my mother of bad parenting, when you could find fewer specimins worse than the example my stepmonster was (who has Borderline Personality Disorder, by the way). Volatile, mean, and at times violent, she probably still believes she was the better mother. Go figure.

The summer we spent the longest at my dad's, I got very sick from their smoking (I'm both asthmatic and allergic to cigarette smoke - not particulary fun). It turned into a nasty respiratory infection that my body took forever trying to shake. No one bothered taking me to the doctor (though I'd been sick for weeks) until a day or two before our returning home to our mother (the nursing school student). Yes, the stepmonster thought this an imposition, no doubt. But eventually she made an effort to get me well.

Where was Dad during all this? Working.

I suppose he took a bit more time off during those times that me and Shannon were there to visit him. But not a whole lot.

On the upside, at least he did fun things with us, like take us to museums or zoos or on various errands. He'd pretend he was the pilot and we were the navigators when we were in the car. His conversations would be interesting, to the point of philosophical. The stepmonster would take us to the lake and leave us there.

Why did he marry her? We're still trying to figure that out.

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