for some reason, my mom came to me during my 6th grade year and asked if i would be interested in attending a private school. i am not sure what the reasoning behind her wanting me to go or even where she had gotten the idea in the first place. but my guess is that this was another example of my mother’s desire to distance us from poverty. now don’t get me wrong, elevating yourself out of poverty is not a bad thing. it’s just that a lot of times i think my mom wanted out of poverty so bad that if she couldn’t be rich, she would settle for at least appearing so. unfortunately, my mother is one of those people who put a lot of stock into appearances. she always described herself as ‘shy’ growing up, but in reality ‘fearful’ was probably a better description. in her case, labeling her as ‘shy’ is a nice of way of saying she had a fear of being singled out, a fear of being made fun of, a fear of being laughed at, a fear of being around other people, and a terrible fear of her father. being that her father was domineering and emotionally abusive didn’t help the situation.
my mother grew up wealthy. for a time, her father was a VP in a big company and she grew up with planes, boats and nice houses. that was before my grandfather pissed it away and they lost everything. i hated my grandfather growing up and i am pretty sure he hated me. i think the very idea of me repulsed him on so many levels for a good number of years. he terrified me so much that i was afraid to go near him as a young child. that fear eventually turned to hate as i got older. it all changed when i was 13 years old. i was visiting my aunt along with some other relatives in michigan and about this time, i was a pretty big pain in the ass all the way around. because my mother spent so much time trying to discipline/protect/defend/help my brother, i was given pretty much free reign as long as i kept myself out of trouble. with this freedom, i also felt i was free from being told what to do and as a result had developed a bit of a mouth on me. given that so many resources were put into my brother, there simply wasn’t enough left to discipline me and my comments were generally tolerated as a necessary evil. my grandfather on the other hand, the disciplinarian, was not a part of my life, nor was he around me very much. so of course, he noticed my insolence immediately. and of course upon hearing it, thought it was his god-given duty/right to straighten me out. i am sure in his god-complex mind my mother was failing at raising me and she needed to take a lesson from a real pro. maybe if she had been able to keep her marriage together then she wouldn’t be in this situation, now would she? so rather than keeping quiet and appeasing him, i continued to mouth off even more doing everything i could to draw attention to myself.
when he had finally had enough, he dragged me upstairs, bent me over his knee and started spanking me. all through the spanking he screamed at me telling me that he would not stand for my behavior and that every time i acted up from now on, this is what I was going to get. as he spanked me over and over again, the initial nervousness i felt by him dragging me upstairs, turned to pure happiness. happiness that after years of being afraid of him, i had finally beaten him, that he was now powerless over me. his whole goal to control me and keep that fear in me was disappearing. as i lay there getting spanked, i wasn’t really sure if i should be crying or not – 1) because i was 13 and here is this old man spanking me and 2) i wasn’t sure if this was completely obvious to him and by fake crying he would instantly know and thereby be even more offended. i decided to split the difference and let out a few whimpers here and there until he finally stopped and sent me on my way. from then on, in his mind, i was the model child, whether or not if that was true, all because he had ‘set me straight.’ to this day, he still talks proudly of that day, reveling in the ‘beating’ he gave to me, taking complete credit for all of my life’s successes after that point. and every time he does, i smile like a cheshire cat because i know that i will always have the edge of that proverbial rug he is standing on in my hand. and I am ready to rip it out from under him at any moment, shattering that image he has come to be so proud of.
so it was with my mother being single and trying to raise two boys. fighting the demons of her father, struggling to keep the façade going. as time went on, her dread of being poor was passed on to me and is something that would become a major influence in my life (for better or worse). as the man of the house, i took it as my duty to keep the lie going. she worked in nice offices, surrounded herself with wealthy people, all the while working furiously to keep anyone from peeking behind the curtain. it was this constant fear of being exposed as poor that came to drive me. so when my mom came to me and asked if i would be interested in attending private school, of course i said yes…