Even though you are an adult, maybe even approaching your own Senior Citizenship, your own parents treat you like you are an 8 year child.
I am very cognizant of this now that I am a Grandfather. This is in the category of “doing what I do, not what I say,” right. Really, the temptation to emulate my own parents and do the very same thing is palatable.
In my experience, this situation can get to the point where everyone in your immediate family feels the effects of this tempest. In my case, it is ironic that it can first be illustrated by a teapot.
“Jimmy, you can’t pour the hot water into the teapot like that. You’re going to burn yourself?”
Let me introduce you to Hellfire Helen, my redheaded, five foot nothing, fireball of a dearly departed mother. My mother was the size of Smurf but had the tenacity of a pit bull.
“What are you thinking? You can’t go outside without a coat. It’s cold outside. Don’t be so stupid, Jimmy.”
You have to remember that these statements were made when I was in my 50’s, had three children and a wife and, guess what, I was also retired.
“Give me that electric knife. I’ll cut the ham. You might cut yourself!”
No matter how sensitive we were to Hellfire Helen’s age and disabilities, we always felt the wrath of her fire.
Grumpy: “Mom, take your time getting ready. We’ve got lots of time to make it to the restaurant.”
Hellfire Helen: “Stop rushing me. You are always rushing me, Jimmy!”
Grumpy: “No, mom, we’re really not in any hurry.”
Hellfire Helen: “STOP . . . RUSHING . . . ME!”
I almost wanted to shout, “Clean your ears!”
Hellfire Helen: “I don’t want Matt fiddling with my TV controller, Jimmy. He messes up my channels. Sometimes I can’t find the “clicker” when you leave.”
Eighteen year old son Matt, the technical one, is usually the guy that helps Grandma straighten out the mess she has inflicted with her own technology. But, I keep forgetting that in Hellfire Helen’s eyes, he’s a five year old.
I’d tried to call her regularly since we lived out of town.
“Hi, mom, how are you doing?
Hellfire Helen: “I’m watching my program. Why do you always call when I’m watching my program?”
“Well, I could call back later . . .”
Hellfire Helen also talked like a sailor. Her favorite expression was, “Oh, sh*t!”
Is it any wonder that our kids, when they were very little, latched onto this saying with gusto?
EXAMPLE: Four year old Josh drops his basketball at the family Christmas party with an, “Oh sh*t!”
It was hard to take our kids out in public for a while until we straightened that one out.
Hellfire Helen’s other favorite word was, “A- hole” as in “Jimmy you’re an a-hole”, “Don’t be such an a-hole” or just plain everyday “A-HOLE!”
Friends and family love me to tell the story about one particular Christmas. We would bring Christmas dinner along with us, prepared of course by eight year old little Jimmy.
As we sat down to the table something I said set Hellfire Helen off big time. I don’t even remember what it was but when you’re treated like an eight year old, it doesn’t really matter.
But, nonetheless, Hellfire Helen in a very loud voice exclaimed, “You can shove that turkey up you’re a**, Jimmy!”
Merry Christmas to one and all, Grandma!
Here are a few more of her gems.
“You don’t know how to do that!”
“Why don’t you dress the kids in better clothes when you come here? What kind of parents are you.”
“Where are your boots, it’s snowing for crying out loud?”
“Get a haircut for God’s sake!”
“You don’t know how to drive!”
“You dumbbell, you don’t do it that way!”
“Wipe your feet!”
On a lighter side, when my daughter Meghan was around 12, the two of them were sitting together in the mall waiting to meet up with us. Hellfire Helen smiled and turned to Meghan and genuinely asked, “Do you want to have big boobs, Meghan?”
Thankfully, my mother’s lighter side more than balanced her feisty nature. She was generous and loving and very giving. So, don’t get me wrong, her nature didn’t affect me that much, after all, I too married a feisty redhead.
My father handled her very well in their nearly fifty years of marriage. When she got going on a tirade he’d simple say, “Helen, shut up!” He was a quiet, kind, gentle man until Hellfire Helen got going. Fortunately, he was the Ying to her Yang!
There are definitive reasons for this kind of parent-parenting by elderly parents. Doctor Dobson from Focus on the Family has this to say.
North American parents are, he says, “among the best in the world. We care passionately about our kids and would do anything to meet their needs.”
But that very characteristic makes it extremely difficult to let go, he adds. “The same commitment that leads us to do so well when the children are small … also causes us to hold on too tightly when they are growing up.” Some parents — even Christian parents — manipulate their kids to keep control through guilt, bribery, threats, intimidation, fear and anger”, Dobson says.
Don’t want to repeat it!
As Hellfire Helen would say, if she read this Blog, “Jimmy, you don’t know anything, don’t be such an a-hole.”
You know when I first watched comedian Brent Butt’s sitcom, “Corner Gas”. I almost thought he based the character of his father, Oscar Leroy, on my dear mother. Oscar’s favourite expression was, “Jackass!”
For a taste of Oscar click this YouTube Video.
In the meantime I promise to do my very best to not become my mother with my own kids even though I often think, “What the hell are they doing? They should know better!”
I do like one of the comebacks that today’s teenagers use when someone tries to postulate an idea or reprimand them. (Treat them like 5 year olds, if you will.)
“You kids should be wearing a warm coat to the party tonight. It’s going to be cold.”
They simply respond, “Prove it.”
I wonder if that would have worked back in the day with Hellfire Helen.
HELLFIRE HELEN: “You don’t know what you’re doing, dumbbell!”
GRUMPY: “Prove it!”
HELLFIRE HELEN: “And, where are your boots, it’s snowing for crying out loud?”
GRUMPY: “Prove it!”
HELLFIRE HELEN: “Sh*t! Don’t be such an A-HOLE, Jimmy!”