No Vitamins, Just Threats. 

My mother felt that she had a duty to be ever watchful and protect us from the evils of the world. Mostly things like vitamins and other modern medicine. That is, when she wasn’t busy torturing us with her own unique parenting style. 

Once when I was about two, she claimed that I was begging her for her lit cigarette. So she gave it to me. Imitating what I learned by watching her, I puckered my tiny lips, stuck that cancer stick in my mouth and sucked through the filter. When my barely developed lungs protested with hysterical gasping and coughing, she laughed. She still swears that’s the reason I never gave in to peer pressure and took up the awful habit of smoking. Nothing to do with the fact that it is absolutely disgusting and terrible for anyone’s health.

Occasionally, I try to rationalize the stupidity of these early incidents by reminding myself that my mother was only seventeen when I was born. (That means that she was impregnated by a fuck-tard of a sperm donor when she was sixteen. Wow.) I desperately wish that I could say she grew out of dumb shit like that. 

Why, just the other day, during one of her extremely rare visits, I over hear her telling my kids, ages 8 and 9, “If you wave your hand through a candle flame fast enough, it doesn’t even hurt. But NEVER do that!” What in the hell do you think an 8 year old boy is going to do with such sound advice?!? 

There was a “tip” that she proudly suggested to my wife and I after the birth of her first grandchild. “Use Vicks Vapo rub under the eyes so she will close them tight and get some sleep.” This was the effect that it had on me when I was a toddler. Not sure if this was actually child abuse or just dumb. 

My mother always bragged that we were the best children and were always on our best behavior. Maybe this had something to do with the terrifying control that she claimed to have on rats and thunderstorms. Allow me to elaborate. 

So when we were having trouble getting to sleep (I guess she was fresh out of Vicks’), she would scratch on the wall near the bed to get our attention. Most kids might ignore this sound. Unfortunately, our little minds were brainwashed to believe that she was summoning forth “The Rats” to get us, eat our faces off and leave us for dead.  How would six and two year old kids get this horrific idea? She told us this would happen. 

*scratching noises on wall*

The rats are going to get you if you don’t go to sleep.” She would state matter-of-factly and obviously pissed. This is a direct quote. I remember her saying this shit.  As for the rest, what kind of imagination do you think you would have in such context? 

For her next routine, she would take advantage of any approaching thunderstorm. In certain situations (I.e. restless toddlers), she would listen carefully for thunder, and upon hearing its rumbling sound effects, would announce that “The Thunderman” would be here any second to “get” any kids who were not sleeping. This was particularly terrifying to my younger brother. I would do my best to get to sleep or at least pretend. Every kid for himself at that point. 

Growing up I learned that I was almost never sick. Likely because I was exposed at an early age to most common germs and had a robust immune system. This woman still swears that living in a smoke-filled household is what actually prevented me from getting sick. Because you know, the acrid smoke and nicotine sanitized the air and killed all the crap that made kids sick. She often reminds me that I was never sick when I lived at home.  That must be why she never bought us vitamins. All make sense now. Huh. 


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