Friday, May 4, 2012

The Difference Between Us

I have written before how how my father was an abusive addict. About how I feared telling him things that would rattle any sense of stability that we had. As the Supergirl is growing, maturing, and forming her own unique personality I realize that my father may have made me a very different person than what I should have been. That this timid, scared person that I have always been, should have been someone else.

Fear was rampant in his household. There is not a single memory, not a single time that I was not in fear. That fear stayed with me through my first year of marriage, almost 3 years after I finally stopped living with him. I was 30 years old when I realized that there was nothing more that he could do to me, that his yelling, his barking had dwindled to idle threats over the years.

I did not have to be afraid anymore.

I wish that we could have had a better, stronger relationship after the fear had finally worn away. Instead, he died when I was 31, a shell of the monster that had reigned over so much of my life.

I see the Supergirl dancing freely, jumping off of furniture, so insanely LOUD all of the time. None of that would have been allowed in my father's house, there was very little tolerance for behaving like a child at all. Let me rephrase that, there was very little tolerance for the children to behave like children. The "adults" had other rules. 

The Supergirl has never known fear. Not real fear. Up until this point of her life the worst punishment she has ever received is the day I took all of her Christmas toys away from her (and she totally earned that). She does not know what it is to fear innocent objects (like belts, shoes, and hairbrushes), she doesn't know how the sound of change jingling in a pocket behind you can make your blood turn cold, cause your entire body to tense, and the bile to rise to the back of your throat.

Sure, she complains about the dark and the Boogie Man, and we discuss what makes her scared, but these fears are more about the attention that she receives for talking about them than actual fear.

Yesterday, I gave her a harsher punishment than I normally do. She was hurting the cat, and as patient as he was being, I knew that the situation would end badly for her if she were to continue. Besides that, being mean to the pets is NEVER an option and I have had to tell her far too often.

I got out the paper and a pencil. At the top of the paper I wrote: I AM SORRY, OLIVER. I asked her to take a seat at the dining room table.

"Supergirl, you need to copy these 3 times" (for those of you thinking that is too light of a punishment, she is 4 and writing at all is pretty new to her, 3 times was going take a LONG time). "It says, I am sorry, Oliver."

"But I am not sorry momma, I do not like the cat. He is mean to me." By mean to her, she means that he will not allow her to dress him in doll clothes, or walk him in her stroller, or lay him down in a box with a pillow in it.

"You should be sorry, we are not mean to our pets. You will write him the letter or you will go to your room for the rest of the night. There will be no tacos and there will be no ice cream."

"MOOOOOOMMMMMMMAAAA!" She groaned, looking like I had placed the weight of the world onto her shoulders.

"Write the letter, Supergirl." and I walked away.

Her punishment took her almost an hour to complete. There was a lot of groaning and crying, but she was never afraid.

I know what my father would have done for this exact offense, I remember quite well what happened to a good friend in a similar situation with my father when we were around the same age.

I am proud that my daughter will have the freedom to grow into whoever it is that she should be, rather than being stunted by the darkness of fear.

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