"Shit girl, come give your uncle Todd a big hug!”
Todd is not my uncle. I do not want to hug him nor any of my mother's “friends”. My mom likes to party so she brings these scumbag guys around and expects me to be extra friendly with them. Hugs and kisses. Laugh at jokes. Bring beers. Sit on laps.
These guys say inappropriate things to me like, ’If she's old enough to bleed, she's old enough to need...‘ or ’If the field has grass on it, let's play!’ and my mom does NOTHING. She just does her little fake-ass laugh and tells me to lighten up.
I hate every single one of these disgusting bastards. I also hate my mother for bringing them into my 12-year-old life. I feel powerless over my life and who is in it right now.
There is one adult who is different. He is named Dale. Has has come to my rescue several times when others have tried to grab at me or speak to me in their crude ways. Dale is not gross like the others.
There are times he has picked me up from school because it was raining or my mother forgot. He drives an old Ford pick up truck. I call it a "potato truck" because it makes the sound 'potato-potato-potato' when it idles. Dale says he'll teach me to drive it someday. Dale is very nice to me.
I hate Dale the most.
All his kindness helped me figure out that he was, in fact, my biggest threat. Yes, I was young, but not foolish enough to believe his actions were altruistic. I think that eventually, once more trust had been established, he would be the one to attack me.
He wanted it that way— for me to trust him first. He was careful, persistent, and patient. Like a coiled snake watching a clueless mouse. It was just a matter of time.
Luckily, he never got the chance to strike. He got arrested later that year and went to jail for a long time. I never found out the nature of his crime, but I could guess.
Thank you, God, for looking out for me. Certainly none of the shitty adults in my life were.
Not Here for Guidance Counceling
There’s this one kid at work, doesn’t really do anything very well, calls out “sick” too much, probably smoking mail-order weed, you know the type, I’m sure.
Well, yesterday this kid actually showed up for work in a functioning state and wasted about twenty minutes of his time and mine telling me about his tattoos. His sleeve tattoo was $4k. The colored one on his back was $800, the ones on either leg were $300 apiece. He got the wedding ring tattoo for $200 (the girlfriend he got that one with is living with his drug dealer now), the ear gauges were $100, the nose ring $300, and the silver bar thingy through the bridge of his nose was $200.
”How much for the hair cut?” I asked.
”I didn’t get one.” He said
I nodded knowingly. “Cool,” I replied. “I guess you’d be worth way more than me if it wasn’t for that $10k of debt you’re in.
”Hell yea,” he said. “Fuckin’ credit cards.”
”Hey,” I asked him. “Can I get the name of that tattoo guy you use?”
”Fuck yea, Dude! You gonna get a tat?”
”Nah.” I said to him. “I’m gonna see if he’ll promote my next book. I figure if he can sell that shit, he can sell anything.”
”You’re a real asshole, man.”
”Yea. I know. Now get to work.”
They call this "teenage rebellion." I call it classical conditioning.
You'd think adults would realize something was wrong if one of their kids was tormenting the other. Forcing them to do their homework and throwing tantrums until they got their way.
You'd think they'd notice the young girl always on the verge of a breakdown. She's always about to cry and wants nothing more than to be left alone, with her mind at ease.
They told me they knew me better than I knew myself. But why? Why do they know me better? I feel like a different person around them. One who is guilty all the time, a paranoid scapegoat.
"What happened," asked my mother before manipulation shut down her reasoning.
"What did you do," accused my father, unaware he was fooled.
My sister sits idly by—can't blame her, I would to if I had the chance.
Then, there's him. He's younger, but the power he gets is unbelievable. It conflicts with me. Whether to hold him accountable or to find fault in my parents for being twisted to enable him.
It was only a matter of time before I'd stop trusting them. It's like Pavlov's dogs— too much like Pavlov's dogs. Adults were the neutral stimuli slowly being attributed to distrust as they disappointed me again and again.
"Why are you so nervous," I'd be asked, without being allowed to explain.
"You're being dramatic." Became the blanket statement that would fix everything.
Perfect! I would think. Now, my trust issues get worse. It's like there's an invisible tape over my mouth, muffins every word I say so that it can never be believed.
I don't understand why they'd think I'd trust them. If they can't draw the line at this, where would it be?
Kids at school?
A future spouse?
Or would the conditioning go so far that they'd think I'm the problem for everything?
I don't know if I should tell them. Would they even hear it? Should I assume they'd react appropriately if they did?
There was a quote, " Conditioned people only function within the limits of their conditioning." Who wrote that? I can't remember. Whoever it was, they got it right. Is it possible to escape your conditioned environment? Will you be able to realize it's wrong or not? No one's given me an answer. Kids can't. Adults wouldn't. People my age are as lost as I am.
I can't trust them. My brain's conditioned my not to. It's just instinct. How would I know if they're lying. They could be! I'm not one of them. They wouldn't take me seriously.
"Hello, are you still there," she said. I can't speak. Everything's caught up inside me, ready to run away first chance I get. I nod. It seems to satisfy her. She passed me a small bag.
My instincts tell me to drop it. Throw it away. But that's not what an adult would want. I can't trust, but at least I could fake it if I obeyed.
"Thank you," the words barely leave my lips as I carefully open the ribbon, tying it all together. It's a small plush and an abundance of candies.
"Alright, alright, settle down class. You can eat the candy now but only if you behave." I watched her as she put on a movie. People were yelling out suggestions. She eventually settled on "A Nightmare Before Christmas" and went back to her desk. My body relaxed once she was farther away.
I pulled out the plush. It was a small opossum. Everyone was playing with theirs, so an array of animals were being handed around the room. Everything was real, so why did this seem to fake? Why to all of us and for nothing in return? She and I both know how many of these kids are "class clowns" as they call themselves. But she still gave them this regardless?
My eyes wandered to the small pile of candies. Smarties, different brands of chocolates, and even Starbursts. My mouth watered, but instinct gave way. Why would she do this? Something was going to happen tomorrow. As adults always did, she'd say, "I gave you this one good thing and will now pile on hundreds of bad things onto you!"
Despite my reluctance, my instinct for food triumphed my trust issues. Still, it lingered, I waiting for the inevitable. Nothing happened. The only thing being piled onto us was the story of the movie.
My heart is happy, but my brain thinks it's been tricked. As much as I didn't want to, I saved some of the chocolates and Starbursts. Anything to delay my brain from thinking she would take this away. Still, almost everyone finished. Was this a plan? To wait for all of us and then take this away?
But she didn't. The class ended. I still had my opossum and my candies. I came back tomorrow, and no impossible assignment was given.
Any idea that I should trust her was thrown out the window. It's October. She's biding time. I bit back any urge to ask. How should I know if she'd answer truthfully or that she wouldn't spread my suspicions to my parents and my other teachers. I'd rather have indifference or tolerance compared to this. This was unpredictable. It kicked my instincts into overdrive.
It didn't matter, I can't trust any of the adults. They're all the same. A child's trust is a toy to them. Sure, maybe some of them act careful with it. But it will always be broken. It's beneath them. It would never be their equal because it's not an adult's trust. It's a child's. An easy target's.
There weren't enough candies or plushies in the world that could prove me otherwise.
What do you mean I can't hold it? You use it all the time when you're building things in your workshop. You make those big pieces of wood half the size with a single cut! Is that not something worth sharing with me? Yes, I know that zig-zaggy tool is sharp and as tall as I am, but that sort of technology should be shared! Especially with me! How dare you keep the cool things away from me.
Wait, I spilled that container of silver toothpick-looking metal things on the floor? I don't remember doing that, how do you remember it? It was days ago. Quit dwelling on the past. Wait, the dog ate some, why would he do that? Even I can tell it's not food, that's on her if we're being honest. Don't yell at me for something that could have been prevented with better training... not not with me, the dog!
Okay, but why wouldn't I touch the thing that spins simply by pressing a button? That's a recipe for my interest father. It spins and if I push hard enough, I can make holes appear in anything. I don't understand how this spinning of metal makes these hols in the wall, but boy do I love it.
Alright, maybe I shouldn't have made a hole in the jug holding all that water.
Why blame it all on me? I'm doing nothing more than indulging in my own curiosity, how dare you interrupt the advancement of my mind! Not that I can actually say any of this to you, I can barely explain what I'm thinking when it involves more than ten syllables. But hear me! You never hear me! I am tactile old man, I have to touch it to understand. You don't understand me, none of you people do. The dog will indulge me in my endeavors, but you won't! And she's clearly not as smart as me! What does this say about you, evil warden?
If you ever say that again I will never forgive you! No, I won't understand when I'm older, I refuse to be anything like you adults! Acting like you understand the pain and turmoil you put me through on the daily. You think I need to eat those tiny green trees to be healthy? You never eat yours, so how dare you put such a thing in my lap. Why don't I eat more of those candies that Nana gave me? If you want me healthy, me being happy is the best route for that, and that sugary goodness is what brings me the most happiness, and you refuse to feed them to me at every meal! You've relegated them to being a reward for eating my final meal of the day...a cruel torment, but I'll hand it to you, it's effective. The more I think of it...most of your trickery is effective. You've confused me... I both admire your parenting, and shake my fist at it. I will raise my kids better than you, no trickery, all candy.
You said the same thing when you were my age? Damn you.