Friday, November 24, 2006

Past humiliations

First off, Thanksgiving was fine, no fights, no one got drunk and fell over a chair, the turkey didn't end up on the floor. Dullsville.

The constant rain, along with seeing my family yesterday reminded me of something.

When we were growing up, my parents were in no way rich, but we were not starving either. But my mom is so damn cheap that she sometimes humiliated me.

When i was 11, i went off for two weeks to girl scout camp. As with all these camps they send you a list of stuff that you will need to bring with you. On that list was, of course, rain boots. I can still hear my mother saying (shrill voice here) "I'm not going to buy you rain boots just to have you grow out of them in two months."

So over my tearful objections, she sent me to camp with two big plastic bags and two rubber bands. I prayed that it would not rain those two weeks. Of course, i was not that lucky. I refused to wear the bags though, saying that i had forgotten to bring boots. One of the counselors called my parents to see if they could bring me some boots. Uh oh.

So i was forced to put the dreaded bags over my already soaked feet. Instead of braving it out with a ha ha isn't this funny attitude, i retreated into sullen angry preteeness with a vengeance.

Now i wish i had a picture, but at the time i thought i was going to die of humiliation. I think about the vision i must have made, a very big 11 year old with huge feet, wearing clear plastic bags tied over her boots, with her lower lip sticking out 2 inches from pouting. It must have been a sight.


Lynnea said...

Its funny (well now it is) how these things remain in our memories so clearly. I remember having to wear hand me downs from my older brothers which for a girl was just not that fun. I hated those damn clothes, but my mother doesn't remember that at all. Go figure.

You in plastic sack boot covers would make quite a picture. Maybe if you had stuck your lip out far enough, it would have shielded your feet from the rain...I was known as quite the pouter myself. My mother said my lip would stick out so far, you couldn't see my chin anymore. Ha ha.

thailandchani said...

Well, we wouldn't be pre-teens if we didn't pout. I was a door-slammer. If I didn't get my way, I'd stomp to my room and slam away.

Aren't you glad we're not that age anymore? LOL



Anonymous said...

I was definitely a lip poker when I was a kid. As an adult, I've matured.... and graduated to face rubbing. I place both hands over my eyes and and then slide them down until they cover my mouth to prevent me from saying something grossly inappropriate.

Girlplustwo said...

oh honey. i want to take that little girl with 2 plastic bags over her feet and hug her tight.

i can't speak to the financial limitations of your parents, but my god, i'd go without a few other things in order to make sure, even if they were secondhand, that my child wasn't humiliated, all alone at camp.

urban-urchin said...

I'm with Jen, I'd give that poor humilated 11 year old a big hug. I know EXACTLY how you felt. Men I apologize now for the following:

I went to sleep away camp with my school for a week, right after I had first started getting my period. I accidently leaked on a pair of shorts which I dutifully rinsed out and hung over the low part of my bunk to dry out (essentially hiding them). I came in from kyacking and Courtney S. had hung them up on our door and then pointed them out to the boys on the trip. I hear you about thinking you were going to die of humilation.

Courtney S. was a real bitch, I hope she never reproduced.

Check out Nordstroms right now they have some really really cute rain boots for the grown up Meno....

sc@vp said...

I suddenly feel like my mom might have been the best mom in the world.


Anonymous said...

Your mother is getting me really pissed. I can feel it in my armpits (do you know what I mean? That prickly feeling?).

Anonymous said...

There was a girl in my class who had a coat with fur around the collar and fur-trimmed matching gloves that ATTACHED to her coat. I thought she was the luckiest girl in the world. But growing up in hand-me-downs does serve resourcefulness.

Imez said...

"I'm not gonna buy you rainboots and have you outgrow them in two months!"????

That's like, "I'm not gonna buy you penicillan just to have you eat it up in two weeks!"

I guess this is one of those character building experiences that made you such a good blogger.

Andrea Frazer said...

I probably am the worst, but I kind of agree with your mom on this one.

Anonymous said...

childhood humiliations, while long past, still carry some sting. as mothers, we can probably all see your mama's point of view - TO AN EXTENT - but, to echo jen, all alone at should have had boots. like I said before, and you already know, the mother you have, has made YOU the mother Em has. she's blessed, unfortunately, you weren't.

I'm glad there were no thanksgiving casualties.

meno said...

maggie, i'll bet you that my mother doesn't remember this, nor does anyone from the camp. I too wore hand me downs from my brothers. but i don't remember that bothering me. I was a tomboy. My mom used to say that a crow would come and land on my lip when i pouted.

chani, I didn't slam doors, but i'll bet that would have been satisfying in a temporary way. And oh my goodness yes! am i glad not to be that age anymore.

patches, sometimes i do that too, or just hide my head in my hands. And sometimes i just say the grossly inappropriate thing and have to apologize later.

jen, you know, i would like to give her a hug too, and tell her that things were going to be okay some day. But i think if i had managed to pull it off with an attitude, it would have been okay. At this point i think of it and laugh, but at the time i wanted to die.

u-u, This must be why they say that camp is a character building experience. God, i am so sorry. If you like we could hunt Courtney S. down and beat her up. Nordstoms is about the only place that might have boots in my size.

d-man, did you wear the plastic bags on the inside or the outside?

s@bd, i am really hard on my mom i know, but damn she makes it so easy. Glad i could help you appreciate your mom.

de, i feel it in my knees and as heat when i get pissed. She really is a good object lesson in how not to behave.

holly c, you are right. Em wore hand-me-downs for her first 5 or so years, because she didn't care, and i hate to waste things. If there was still anyone to hand things down to her, she might still be wearing them, because she still doesn't care. That's my girl!

esereth, it did make me want to try and understand how a child might feel.

mamap, you are not the worst, but i am curious about your logic. It didn't kill me, but i remember the humiliation SO sharply. Plus really, plastic bags are terrible rain boots in a camp, they get tears in them and end up flapping around the rubber bands on your knees.

holly, yes, my mother did help make me the mother that i am. I will have to try and find it in myself to feel grateful for that. I feel like i should, but it's not there yet.

mombat, Up to a point kids just don't care, but at that age, i was so sensitive. I hate to waste things too. So i rationalize by giving them to the Goodwill or handing them to someone else. The Mister just wants to buy stuff without regard to the use it will receive. So my mother lives in me.

Bob said...

I carry my daughter's passport picture in my wallet. (she was born overseas and had to have a passport to get into the US). The picture was taken when she was 5 weeks old and her bottom lip is pooched out as far as it can get. It was a harbinger of things to come.

Having kids, especially when they are pre-school, means having to replace clothing and shoes well before they are worn out. Kids grow, it is a fact of life. There is nothing wrong with being frugal either. So, you scour the good will or salvation army stores for used boots, and you "return" them or give to relatives when outgrown.

however, this will not address the humiliation doled out by those that always get the newest fashion item and then tease the others wearing last year's fashions. No childhood is completely safe from that.