Absence of Parents — Chapter 1

IMG_3554The remaining memories of Oak Street were mainly of being alone. Unlike in the A-frame house, I have no memory of having a family dinner in the kitchen on Oak Street. I have no memories of watching television with my parents and I only have a few memories of playing outside. I don’t know if this was an age thing or if my parents simply were never there anymore. I have very few memories of them. I had lost my grand backyard, so that likely explained why I was never outside. Instead, I lived on a corner at an intersection of a small side street with a four lane road.

I used to lie on the living room floor on Saturday evenings doing a word search puzzle and watching a variety comedy show hosted by Carol Burnett. The show was composed of several sketches. The regulars played characters that would repeat. There may have been other entertainers on as special guests. At this time in television, variety shows were the norm because it was expected that the entire family would sit down and watch the show together. It was important that there be something for everyone. This is in stark contrast to today’s programming where the entire demographic could be as small as a couple thousand people. The rotisserie channel for instance, who watches that?

I have no idea where my parents were on these Saturday nights. I may have known at the time, but I don’t recall now. I know that my father used to work shift work at the refinery. He loved this. He worked three, twelve hour shifts and then had four days off. He felt like he had one the lottery because he had more days off per week than he actually had to work. Occasionally, he would work four shifts in a row so that he averaged a fourty hour workweek. The fact that this meant that he was never on the same schedule as his family did not seem to concern him. I understood that he was either at work, or sleeping because he had worked all night. I’m not sure how the four days off fit into this.

I don’t know where my mother was. She did hang out at the Legion. It was a place where people her age drank, played cards and danced. Some of my happiest memories from this time are when she worked at the Legion, putting on a wedding or a dinner and brought home large containers of mashed potatoes and vats of gravy. Delicious gravy. This was exceptional food.

Otherwise, normal food was distinctly missing from my life at this point. As I’ve mentioned, I made KD and I had learned how to make Hamburger Helper, when it was available, but I also have memories associated with eating the dessert topping that we were supposed to have delivered door to door. I learned how to soften spaghetti by soaking it in water (before I learned how to boil water) so that it would be possible to eat it. I don’t remember having breakfast. I do remember getting up and going to school without seeing anyone.

My sister Vicki was often around. She had friends that she would visit and she dated as well. But, on Saturday nights I always watched Carol Burnett alone.

Another way that I experienced the absence of my parents was through being locked out of the house. Who were they trying to keep out? If someone had wanted to rob us they could easily have broken a window or pried one open. These options were not available to me. I would be there, and not wanting to break in, I would be stuck outside until one of my parents returned, which was often very late. I remember going into the garage. It had a large upstairs room with an open floor and at least one sofa. I would wait in there for them to come home.

I never considered calling anyone and I’m not sure that I knew who to call or where my parents were anyway. Needless to say, most of my memories of Oak Street were not pleasant. I do not, however, remember my parents ever fighting. I just did not see them.

It may have been valuable to me as an adult to know what caused my parents to break up. As I tried to navigate my own marriage, it would have been nice to have been privy to what went on. It was strictly understood, at this time, that any conflict was not to be mentioned in front of the children. This apparently was meant to protect the relationship between the parent and the child. The actual result was to simply distance the parent from the child. It presupposed an ability to have a normal relationship with your child and not speak to them about something significant that was happening in your life. This also explains why some children are totally confused when the parents “suddenly” announce that they are getting a divorce.

In today’s terms what I have described here would have been classified as neglect. What people fail to understand is that I knew no other way of being. There was no set of criteria against which to compare my life. This was my normal and I was no more prepared to recognize it as dysfunctional than my parents were prepared to take responsibility for it.

Keep Reading: Crushing

Read the entire book, now available
Read the entire book, now available

They say when a door closes, a window opens. This telecourse provides some light to guide you between the door and the window.

www.wendypowell.ca

Oak Street — Chapter 1

IMGP6205That was the day that I moved out of Oak Street, but I was there, off and on for six years. These years saw me through public school and into my first year of high school. By grade 10 I was too far away to walk to high school, but from Oak Street, the high school was only a couple of blocks away.

One of the advantages of living that close to the school is that you can go home for lunch. It was expected in grade school. We got out at 11:50 a.m. so that we could observe the proper time for lunch, which was 12 noon exactly. Then, we did not have to be back to school until 1:20 p.m. This meant that you could finish up your meal, help clear the table and do the dishes and then return to school.

Nowadays most children stay at school over the lunch. It is a necessity of the working family that is not in the house to supervise a meal, much less prepare it. My mother took advantage of this great expanse of time by having us deliver something for her during our lunch hours. I remember phone books, dessert samples, plastic bags with soap or shampoo samples in them and a bunch of other things.

There was no question that my mother had ambition that she was trying to tamp down or find an outlet for. Before we had left the A-frame she was trying to collect enough points to win some sort of contest. In order to do this you had to buy a certain cat food, a type of puffed wheat that came in huge bags and some other items. We had excessive amounts of these things in the house. Another peculiar thing to remember. My mother used to mass buy products.

Unfortunately for me, the cat food gave my cat diarrhea. And everyone knows what happens to a cat that has diarrhea for an extended period of time, they get taken to the farm. This alleged farm visit occurred at a very similar time to our move to the new house. It would be consistent with the facts, as I understand them now, that my cat was simply left at the A-frame house. She probably just had no idea where we were or where we went.

I have clear and vivid memories of my cat Squirt. When I got her she was just a handful of a kitten even for a young child. I don’t know how old I was but I do remember walking home with her in my arms. I walked right through the round piece of grass in our neighbourhood and every child from the crescent came out to get a look at Squirt. I was very protective of her. My mother had told me stories of cats that had simply been mauled to death, so I was very careful to not let many people handle her. I felt a deep love for this kitten. She was a soft, short hair, tabby cat that was grey, black and white. She may have had a little brown in her. The pattern of her fur formed an “M” on her forehead, which happened to be my last initial.

But I digress, my mother seemed to have a lot of ambition that she couldn’t direct in a way that she found satisfying. In addition to all of these deliveries, she also took a job at a new start up classified add newspaper. These were a new idea at the time and had yet to become truly viable businesses. She worked hard at this newspaper.

By the time that I was ten I was no longer getting picked up at school to work for my mother. At this time, grade five, I was able to come home and make myself some lunch. One of the things I remember making was Kraft Dinner. This is not the same KD that you can buy nowadays. The flavours were balanced when this KD was reconstituted with margarine. It also had a firm noodle, not the kind that can be microwaved and always gives you the feeling that you’ve slightly overcooked it. These were real noodles.

I had boiled the water, added the noodles and set the timer. When the noodles were done I took the pot over to the sink to drain it into a strainer. I poured too fast and the water splashed up over my left hand scalding it. The skin bubbled up and filled with water. I did not try to call anyone. I did not tell anyone that it had happened. I knew that I was supposed to pull my sleeve down over the burnt part of my hand in order to protect it and I went back to school.

I was in Mrs. Walkers grade five class. I always admired this teacher. She had a calm respect about her. No one misbehaved when she left the room. We all knew how we were supposed to act and it was just expected. I sat behind this large guy who felt like a well of peace and calmness. I told him about my hand after he understood that he was not allowed to tell anyone.

When I got home that night, and my mother returned, she first wanted to “pop” the skin and let the water out. I wouldn’t let her do it. Then, she was concerned that I had called her mother and forbade me from telling her mother that I was cooking my own lunch. Then,…she decided to have a doctor look at it. Essentially, they put a light cast over the area and sent me home. There is no scar.

In hind site it is remarkable that I knew how to take care of my hand. I was protective of it and covered it so that it would not get damaged. It was probably the first memory I have of being taken care of, in the larger sense. The knowledge I needed was available to me when I needed it.

Keep Reading: Absence of Parents

Read the entire book, now available
Read the entire book, now available

 

www.wendypowell.ca

Absence of Parents — Chapter 1

IMG_3554The remaining memories of Oak Street were mainly of being alone. Unlike in the A-frame house, I have no memory of having a family dinner in the kitchen on Oak Street. I have no memories of watching television with my parents and I only have a few memories of playing outside. I don’t know if this was an age thing or if my parents simply were never there anymore. I have very few memories of them. I had lost my grand backyard, so that likely explained why I was never outside. Instead, I lived on a corner at an intersection of a small side street with a four lane road.

I used to lie on the living room floor on Saturday evenings doing a word search puzzle and watching a variety comedy show hosted by Carol Burnett. The show was composed of several sketches. The regulars played characters that would repeat. There may have been other entertainers on as special guests. At this time in television, variety shows were the norm because it was expected that the entire family would sit down and watch the show together. It was important that there be something for everyone. This is in stark contrast to today’s programming where the entire demographic could be as small as a couple thousand people. The rotisserie channel for instance, who watches that?

I have no idea where my parents were on these Saturday nights. I may have known at the time, but I don’t recall now. I know that my father used to work shift work at the refinery. He loved this. He worked three, twelve hour shifts and then had four days off. He felt like he had one the lottery because he had more days off per week than he actually had to work. Occasionally, he would work four shifts in a row so that he averaged a fourty hour workweek. The fact that this meant that he was never on the same schedule as his family did not seem to concern him. I understood that he was either at work, or sleeping because he had worked all night. I’m not sure how the four days off fit into this.

I don’t know where my mother was. She did hang out at the Legion. It was a place where people her age drank, played cards and danced. Some of my happiest memories from this time are when she worked at the Legion, putting on a wedding or a dinner and brought home large containers of mashed potatoes and vats of gravy. Delicious gravy. This was exceptional food.

Otherwise, normal food was distinctly missing from my life at this point. As I’ve mentioned, I made KD and I had learned how to make Hamburger Helper, when it was available, but I also have memories associated with eating the dessert topping that we were supposed to have delivered door to door. I learned how to soften spaghetti by soaking it in water (before I learned how to boil water) so that it would be possible to eat it. I don’t remember having breakfast. I do remember getting up and going to school without seeing anyone.

My sister Vicki was often around. She had friends that she would visit and she dated as well. But, on Saturday nights I always watched Carol Burnett alone.

Another way that I experienced the absence of my parents was through being locked out of the house. Who were they trying to keep out? If someone had wanted to rob us they could easily have broken a window or pried one open. These options were not available to me. I would be there, and not wanting to break in, I would be stuck outside until one of my parents returned, which was often very late. I remember going into the garage. It had a large upstairs room with an open floor and at least one sofa. I would wait in there for them to come home.

I never considered calling anyone and I’m not sure that I knew who to call or where my parents were anyway. Needless to say, most of my memories of Oak Street were not pleasant. I do not, however, remember my parents ever fighting. I just did not see them.

It may have been valuable to me as an adult to know what caused my parents to break up. As I tried to navigate my own marriage, it would have been nice to have been privy to what went on. It was strictly understood, at this time, that any conflict was not to be mentioned in front of the children. This apparently was meant to protect the relationship between the parent and the child. The actual result was to simply distance the parent from the child. It presupposed an ability to have a normal relationship with your child and not speak to them about something significant that was happening in your life. This also explains why some children are totally confused when the parents “suddenly” announce that they are getting a divorce.

In today’s terms what I have described here would have been classified as neglect. What people fail to understand is that I knew no other way of being. There was no set of criteria against which to compare my life. This was my normal and I was no more prepared to recognize it as dysfunctional than my parents were prepared to take responsibility for it.

Keep Reading: Crushing

Read the entire book, now available
Read the entire book, now available

They say when a door closes, a window opens. This telecourse provides some light to guide you between the door and the window.

www.wendypowell.ca

Oak Street — Chapter 1

IMGP6205That was the day that I moved out of Oak Street, but I was there, off and on for six years. These years saw me through public school and into my first year of high school. By grade 10 I was too far away to walk to high school, but from Oak Street, the high school was only a couple of blocks away.

One of the advantages of living that close to the school is that you can go home for lunch. It was expected in grade school. We got out at 11:50 a.m. so that we could observe the proper time for lunch, which was 12 noon exactly. Then, we did not have to be back to school until 1:20 p.m. This meant that you could finish up your meal, help clear the table and do the dishes and then return to school.

Nowadays most children stay at school over the lunch. It is a necessity of the working family that is not in the house to supervise a meal, much less prepare it. My mother took advantage of this great expanse of time by having us deliver something for her during our lunch hours. I remember phone books, dessert samples, plastic bags with soap or shampoo samples in them and a bunch of other things.

There was no question that my mother had ambition that she was trying to tamp down or find an outlet for. Before we had left the A-frame she was trying to collect enough points to win some sort of contest. In order to do this you had to buy a certain cat food, a type of puffed wheat that came in huge bags and some other items. We had excessive amounts of these things in the house. Another peculiar thing to remember. My mother used to mass buy products.

Unfortunately for me, the cat food gave my cat diarrhea. And everyone knows what happens to a cat that has diarrhea for an extended period of time, they get taken to the farm. This alleged farm visit occurred at a very similar time to our move to the new house. It would be consistent with the facts, as I understand them now, that my cat was simply left at the A-frame house. She probably just had no idea where we were or where we went.

I have clear and vivid memories of my cat Squirt. When I got her she was just a handful of a kitten even for a young child. I don’t know how old I was but I do remember walking home with her in my arms. I walked right through the round piece of grass in our neighbourhood and every child from the crescent came out to get a look at Squirt. I was very protective of her. My mother had told me stories of cats that had simply been mauled to death, so I was very careful to not let many people handle her. I felt a deep love for this kitten. She was a soft, short hair, tabby cat that was grey, black and white. She may have had a little brown in her. The pattern of her fur formed an “M” on her forehead, which happened to be my last initial.

But I digress, my mother seemed to have a lot of ambition that she couldn’t direct in a way that she found satisfying. In addition to all of these deliveries, she also took a job at a new start up classified add newspaper. These were a new idea at the time and had yet to become truly viable businesses. She worked hard at this newspaper.

By the time that I was ten I was no longer getting picked up at school to work for my mother. At this time, grade five, I was able to come home and make myself some lunch. One of the things I remember making was Kraft Dinner. This is not the same KD that you can buy nowadays. The flavours were balanced when this KD was reconstituted with margarine. It also had a firm noodle, not the kind that can be microwaved and always gives you the feeling that you’ve slightly overcooked it. These were real noodles.

I had boiled the water, added the noodles and set the timer. When the noodles were done I took the pot over to the sink to drain it into a strainer. I poured too fast and the water splashed up over my left hand scalding it. The skin bubbled up and filled with water. I did not try to call anyone. I did not tell anyone that it had happened. I knew that I was supposed to pull my sleeve down over the burnt part of my hand in order to protect it and I went back to school.

I was in Mrs. Walkers grade five class. I always admired this teacher. She had a calm respect about her. No one misbehaved when she left the room. We all knew how we were supposed to act and it was just expected. I sat behind this large guy who felt like a well of peace and calmness. I told him about my hand after he understood that he was not allowed to tell anyone.

When I got home that night, and my mother returned, she first wanted to “pop” the skin and let the water out. I wouldn’t let her do it. Then, she was concerned that I had called her mother and forbade me from telling her mother that I was cooking my own lunch. Then,…she decided to have a doctor look at it. Essentially, they put a light cast over the area and sent me home. There is no scar.

In hind site it is remarkable that I knew how to take care of my hand. I was protective of it and covered it so that it would not get damaged. It was probably the first memory I have of being taken care of, in the larger sense. The knowledge I needed was available to me when I needed it.

Keep Reading: Absence of Parents

Read the entire book, now available
Read the entire book, now available

 

www.wendypowell.ca

Absence of Parents — Chapter 1

IMG_3554The remaining memories of Oak Street were mainly of being alone. Unlike in the A-frame house, I have no memory of having a family dinner in the kitchen on Oak Street. I have no memories of watching television with my parents and I only have a few memories of playing outside. I don’t know if this was an age thing or if my parents simply were never there anymore. I have very few memories of them. I had lost my grand backyard, so that likely explained why I was never outside. Instead, I lived on a corner at an intersection of a small side street with a four lane road.

I used to lie on the living room floor on Saturday evenings doing a word search puzzle and watching a variety comedy show hosted by Carol Burnett. The show was composed of several sketches. The regulars played characters that would repeat. There may have been other entertainers on as special guests. At this time in television, variety shows were the norm because it was expected that the entire family would sit down and watch the show together. It was important that there be something for everyone. This is in stark contrast to today’s programming where the entire demographic could be as small as a couple thousand people. The rotisserie channel for instance, who watches that?

I have no idea where my parents were on these Saturday nights. I may have known at the time, but I don’t recall now. I know that my father used to work shift work at the refinery. He loved this. He worked three, twelve hour shifts and then had four days off. He felt like he had one the lottery because he had more days off per week than he actually had to work. Occasionally, he would work four shifts in a row so that he averaged a fourty hour workweek. The fact that this meant that he was never on the same schedule as his family did not seem to concern him. I understood that he was either at work, or sleeping because he had worked all night. I’m not sure how the four days off fit into this.

I don’t know where my mother was. She did hang out at the Legion. It was a place where people her age drank, played cards and danced. Some of my happiest memories from this time are when she worked at the Legion, putting on a wedding or a dinner and brought home large containers of mashed potatoes and vats of gravy. Delicious gravy. This was exceptional food.

Otherwise, normal food was distinctly missing from my life at this point. As I’ve mentioned, I made KD and I had learned how to make Hamburger Helper, when it was available, but I also have memories associated with eating the dessert topping that we were supposed to have delivered door to door. I learned how to soften spaghetti by soaking it in water (before I learned how to boil water) so that it would be possible to eat it. I don’t remember having breakfast. I do remember getting up and going to school without seeing anyone.

My sister Vicki was often around. She had friends that she would visit and she dated as well. But, on Saturday nights I always watched Carol Burnett alone.

Another way that I experienced the absence of my parents was through being locked out of the house. Who were they trying to keep out? If someone had wanted to rob us they could easily have broken a window or pried one open. These options were not available to me. I would be there, and not wanting to break in, I would be stuck outside until one of my parents returned, which was often very late. I remember going into the garage. It had a large upstairs room with an open floor and at least one sofa. I would wait in there for them to come home.

I never considered calling anyone and I’m not sure that I knew who to call or where my parents were anyway. Needless to say, most of my memories of Oak Street were not pleasant. I do not, however, remember my parents ever fighting. I just did not see them.

It may have been valuable to me as an adult to know what caused my parents to break up. As I tried to navigate my own marriage, it would have been nice to have been privy to what went on. It was strictly understood, at this time, that any conflict was not to be mentioned in front of the children. This apparently was meant to protect the relationship between the parent and the child. The actual result was to simply distance the parent from the child. It presupposed an ability to have a normal relationship with your child and not speak to them about something significant that was happening in your life. This also explains why some children are totally confused when the parents “suddenly” announce that they are getting a divorce.

In today’s terms what I have described here would have been classified as neglect. What people fail to understand is that I knew no other way of being. There was no set of criteria against which to compare my life. This was my normal and I was no more prepared to recognize it as dysfunctional than my parents were prepared to take responsibility for it.

Keep Reading: Crushing

Read the entire book, now available
Read the entire book, now available

They say when a door closes, a window opens. This telecourse provides some light to guide you between the door and the window.

www.wendypowell.ca

Absence of Parents — Chapter 1

IMG_3554The remaining memories of Oak Street were mainly of being alone. Unlike in the A-frame house, I have no memory of having a family dinner in the kitchen on Oak Street. I have no memories of watching television with my parents and I only have a few memories of playing outside. I don’t know if this was an age thing or if my parents simply were never there anymore. I have very few memories of them. I had lost my grand backyard, so that likely explained why I was never outside. Instead, I lived on a corner at an intersection of a small side street with a four lane road.

I used to lie on the living room floor on Saturday evenings doing a word search puzzle and watching a variety comedy show hosted by Carol Burnett. The show was composed of several sketches. The regulars played characters that would repeat. There may have been other entertainers on as special guests. At this time in television, variety shows were the norm because it was expected that the entire family would sit down and watch the show together. It was important that there be something for everyone. This is in stark contrast to today’s programming where the entire demographic could be as small as a couple thousand people. The rotisserie channel for instance, who watches that?

I have no idea where my parents were on these Saturday nights. I may have known at the time, but I don’t recall now. I know that my father used to work shift work at the refinery. He loved this. He worked three, twelve hour shifts and then had four days off. He felt like he had one the lottery because he had more days off per week than he actually had to work. Occasionally, he would work four shifts in a row so that he averaged a fourty hour workweek. The fact that this meant that he was never on the same schedule as his family did not seem to concern him. I understood that he was either at work, or sleeping because he had worked all night. I’m not sure how the four days off fit into this.

I don’t know where my mother was. She did hang out at the Legion. It was a place where people her age drank, played cards and danced. Some of my happiest memories from this time are when she worked at the Legion, putting on a wedding or a dinner and brought home large containers of mashed potatoes and vats of gravy. Delicious gravy. This was exceptional food.

Otherwise, normal food was distinctly missing from my life at this point. As I’ve mentioned, I made KD and I had learned how to make Hamburger Helper, when it was available, but I also have memories associated with eating the dessert topping that we were supposed to have delivered door to door. I learned how to soften spaghetti by soaking it in water (before I learned how to boil water) so that it would be possible to eat it. I don’t remember having breakfast. I do remember getting up and going to school without seeing anyone.

My sister Vicki was often around. She had friends that she would visit and she dated as well. But, on Saturday nights I always watched Carol Burnett alone.

Another way that I experienced the absence of my parents was through being locked out of the house. Who were they trying to keep out? If someone had wanted to rob us they could easily have broken a window or pried one open. These options were not available to me. I would be there, and not wanting to break in, I would be stuck outside until one of my parents returned, which was often very late. I remember going into the garage. It had a large upstairs room with an open floor and at least one sofa. I would wait in there for them to come home.

I never considered calling anyone and I’m not sure that I knew who to call or where my parents were anyway. Needless to say, most of my memories of Oak Street were not pleasant. I do not, however, remember my parents ever fighting. I just did not see them.

It may have been valuable to me as an adult to know what caused my parents to break up. As I tried to navigate my own marriage, it would have been nice to have been privy to what went on. It was strictly understood, at this time, that any conflict was not to be mentioned in front of the children. This apparently was meant to protect the relationship between the parent and the child. The actual result was to simply distance the parent from the child. It presupposed an ability to have a normal relationship with your child and not speak to them about something significant that was happening in your life. This also explains why some children are totally confused when the parents “suddenly” announce that they are getting a divorce.

In today’s terms what I have described here would have been classified as neglect. What people fail to understand is that I knew no other way of being. There was no set of criteria against which to compare my life. This was my normal and I was no more prepared to recognize it as dysfunctional than my parents were prepared to take responsibility for it.

Keep Reading: Crushing

Read the entire book, now available
Read the entire book, now available

They say when a door closes, a window opens. This telecourse provides some light to guide you between the door and the window.

www.wendypowell.ca

Oak Street — Chapter 1

IMGP6205That was the day that I moved out of Oak Street, but I was there, off and on for six years. These years saw me through public school and into my first year of high school. By grade 10 I was too far away to walk to high school, but from Oak Street, the high school was only a couple of blocks away.

One of the advantages of living that close to the school is that you can go home for lunch. It was expected in grade school. We got out at 11:50 a.m. so that we could observe the proper time for lunch, which was 12 noon exactly. Then, we did not have to be back to school until 1:20 p.m. This meant that you could finish up your meal, help clear the table and do the dishes and then return to school.

Nowadays most children stay at school over the lunch. It is a necessity of the working family that is not in the house to supervise a meal, much less prepare it. My mother took advantage of this great expanse of time by having us deliver something for her during our lunch hours. I remember phone books, dessert samples, plastic bags with soap or shampoo samples in them and a bunch of other things.

There was no question that my mother had ambition that she was trying to tamp down or find an outlet for. Before we had left the A-frame she was trying to collect enough points to win some sort of contest. In order to do this you had to buy a certain cat food, a type of puffed wheat that came in huge bags and some other items. We had excessive amounts of these things in the house. Another peculiar thing to remember. My mother used to mass buy products.

Unfortunately for me, the cat food gave my cat diarrhea. And everyone knows what happens to a cat that has diarrhea for an extended period of time, they get taken to the farm. This alleged farm visit occurred at a very similar time to our move to the new house. It would be consistent with the facts, as I understand them now, that my cat was simply left at the A-frame house. She probably just had no idea where we were or where we went.

I have clear and vivid memories of my cat Squirt. When I got her she was just a handful of a kitten even for a young child. I don’t know how old I was but I do remember walking home with her in my arms. I walked right through the round piece of grass in our neighbourhood and every child from the crescent came out to get a look at Squirt. I was very protective of her. My mother had told me stories of cats that had simply been mauled to death, so I was very careful to not let many people handle her. I felt a deep love for this kitten. She was a soft, short hair, tabby cat that was grey, black and white. She may have had a little brown in her. The pattern of her fur formed an “M” on her forehead, which happened to be my last initial.

But I digress, my mother seemed to have a lot of ambition that she couldn’t direct in a way that she found satisfying. In addition to all of these deliveries, she also took a job at a new start up classified add newspaper. These were a new idea at the time and had yet to become truly viable businesses. She worked hard at this newspaper.

By the time that I was ten I was no longer getting picked up at school to work for my mother. At this time, grade five, I was able to come home and make myself some lunch. One of the things I remember making was Kraft Dinner. This is not the same KD that you can buy nowadays. The flavours were balanced when this KD was reconstituted with margarine. It also had a firm noodle, not the kind that can be microwaved and always gives you the feeling that you’ve slightly overcooked it. These were real noodles.

I had boiled the water, added the noodles and set the timer. When the noodles were done I took the pot over to the sink to drain it into a strainer. I poured too fast and the water splashed up over my left hand scalding it. The skin bubbled up and filled with water. I did not try to call anyone. I did not tell anyone that it had happened. I knew that I was supposed to pull my sleeve down over the burnt part of my hand in order to protect it and I went back to school.

I was in Mrs. Walkers grade five class. I always admired this teacher. She had a calm respect about her. No one misbehaved when she left the room. We all knew how we were supposed to act and it was just expected. I sat behind this large guy who felt like a well of peace and calmness. I told him about my hand after he understood that he was not allowed to tell anyone.

When I got home that night, and my mother returned, she first wanted to “pop” the skin and let the water out. I wouldn’t let her do it. Then, she was concerned that I had called her mother and forbade me from telling her mother that I was cooking my own lunch. Then,…she decided to have a doctor look at it. Essentially, they put a light cast over the area and sent me home. There is no scar.

In hind site it is remarkable that I knew how to take care of my hand. I was protective of it and covered it so that it would not get damaged. It was probably the first memory I have of being taken care of, in the larger sense. The knowledge I needed was available to me when I needed it.

Keep Reading: Absence of Parents

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Read the entire book, now available

 

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