Who is on the plum tree?
As a follow-up to our anthology of happy and sad stories from childhood: Every Child is Entitled to Innocence, I asked C.c. Cole to give us some background to her very generously contributed piece, The Window.
When I decided to write the blog post “The Window,” it is, as written fact-based. In very rural settings, every family knows every family, from great grandparents to preschoolers. The teachers belong to many of these families. What’s interesting, as I’ve become an adult are the consistencies that occur regardless of socioeconomic status. In other words, though I grew up in rural poverty, I learned by seeing what “better off” families can go through and didn’t find much of a bargain.
In my family, though well below poverty level, lines were clearly drawn to hold up appearances. No dirty laundry to be aired in the public, which is a cliché for the rich, but no less true for the poor. Also kids don’t like discussing bad events at home; it’s feels like betrayal and the only feeling is shame.
The boy in “The Window” I had known from the first day at school. At our age, we didn’t “hang out.” From common gossip, we kids at school (all of us were rural poor in a very small school) generally had an idea which kids had parents prone to drink, give harsh punishments, or prone to unstable behavior.
The boy was curious, in a pre-adolescent way; and had no business at the house or looking in the window. What he found was more than he expected; instead of girls in nightgowns he found a true nightmare.
I knew we had prowlers around our house at night. When he asked me about my parents, I knew the only way he could know was to look through the window. (As above, no kid asked another kid that question, ever.) When he said “My parents fight too,” I knew he was telling the truth because his sister told me years before their natural mother died and had problems at home. But did I have anything else to say to a prowler? No. I didn’t think he was there to harm us, but he saw the ugly secrets I faced at home, why I did my homework in study hall, why I never took a book home and why I felt shame.
There’s no “binding” I found amongst kids from turbulent homes, and since those days, I’ve known others that endured worse. For some reason, I knew my way out was my brain and I put it to as good use as I could. If there was ever an example of “negative reinforcement” then I’m a prototypical example.
Got your copy of Every Child yet? All proceeds to Child Help Line International http://www.amazon.com/Every-Child-Entitled-Innocence-ebook/dp/B0077E6F60