Tuesday, April 17, 2012

How to be a Good Parent 003

For this week's post, I am going to attempt to make up for my previous slams against my mother, Janet DeRossett. Occasionally, when I am feeling nostalgic, I write in a rambling Microsoft Word document labeled Memoir. I write down these snapshots of important moments in my life, the little mosaic pieces that are now the mural of who I am. I went back to that document and pulled a story from my childhood, which I will share with you below.

(It is what it is.)

My mother with my cousin Kellie in 1994

My relationship with my mother will always be a peculiar one, though it is now perhaps better than ever (grandchildren will do that, you know). But the following story is the summation of the relationship between the sensitive child I was in my youth and the mother who helped raise me to be a man, despite the fact that she often (to me) seemed determined to keep me a child forever:

We were in Wal*Mart in Easley, South Carolina. At the time, it was the only Wal*Mart around. I was perhaps six years old. I wanted a small toy truck. She told me she’d come back and get it later. I don’t know why. I shudder to think that we didn’t have the three dollars it cost locked away in our checking account, but I have no clue. Perhaps you assume that she told me she'd come back as a ploy just to shut me up, but it is not true. Because, sure enough, she went back to get it perhaps a week later.

The problem is, she brought home the wrong toy. And I can’t even remember what I originally wanted, now. I only remember what she brought me: a Cookie Monster concrete mixer that really tilted its dumper.

I was so angry at her for bringing me the wrong toy. I can remember shouting and yelling in the kitchen in our house. I can remember being so, so angry. This was, in my opinion, the first time I came face to face with a monster that would haunt me for years—even now as I write this it lurks warily in the back of my mind —that  quick temper that would one day cause me to shatter over half of my wedding dishes in one single blow, and would that day cause me to shout and shout at my mother right in the face of the nice thing she'd done for me.

Some weeks later, though, I can remember playing with that little dump truck in our old dirt driveway. I had a cup of water from the kitchen and was making concrete out of mud. I enjoyed the toy. All that anger, and I still enjoyed the toy. I loved the toy.

I did a Google search for that toy about a year ago. I can't find anything that looks like what I remember.

I think I wrote my mother an apology letter. If I never did, I’m writing it now. Because one sure-fire way to be a good parent is to love your kids and keep your promises and endure their evil tempers. And, because I lost that little dump truck.

And I’ve never forgiven myself for that.

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