Friday, November 11, 2005

Father Knows Best

I am always thrilled to tell people about my childhood. Not knowing any better, I lived my life much like the characters on Leave It To Beaver. It was not until Junior High that I discovered that not all mothers stayed at home while father went to work, that couples actually argued and fought and that not each street had a newspaper published by the neighbourhood kids. Shadylawn Court was the name of my street. It was just off Suburban Drive. I now realize it was one of the last bastions of suburbia. I no longer have the desire to live in suburbia, but it had its charms growing up.

People often disbelieve my tales of an idyllic childhood that included nightly games of hide and seek with groups of 20 or more kids (all within about 5 years of age) and a street where kids were welcome to come and go in the homes of their friends as if they were there own. Even more disbelieving for many is the fact that I was never subject to corporal punishment. My dad would occasionally grab for his belt or we may not get dessert, but that was about it. There was the occasional grounding as well, but that rarely stuck.

My dad was much more of a “mess with your head” type of guy. My siblings and I have all turned out to be upstanding members of society – one of us is even a policeman – but I was not without my challenges growing up. I would set my sister up to get blamed for things I did (who can forget Hair Gel gate) and just pester my brother for no good reason. If the tables were turned however, you better watch out, as I kid I did not believe in “you better be able to take what you dish out.” I could cross “the backseat line” and invade the space of my siblings, but I would scream blue murder if they did it back.

One evening on the way home from the grandparents, I was in fine provoking form. Having poked, prodded and pissed off my brother and sister I sat back to squeal as they retaliiated. My father calmly pulled over to the side of the Burlington Skyway, hauled me and Winnie the Pooh out of the backseat and asked if I would like to either walk home or be left on the side of the road. The effect was instantaneous. The tears poured forth and I begged to be let back in the car. Promises of obedience flowed. Winnie fell to the ground. He was on his own. Get your own damn lawyer! I sat silent and still as a statue all the way home wishing I hadn’t abandoned Winnie. He was next to me in bed when I awoke the next morning. If I’d known the bear could walk home (my mom told me he showed up in the night with sore little paws) I would have been more defiant and walked home too.

Now, I was not alone in provoking my parents. Another trip found us coming home from visiting relatives late one night. Non-stop caterwauling came from all three of the Mitchell spawn. Again, calm as can be, my dad pulled over and ran into a cornfield. Not to be outdone, my mother turned to us and said “now you’ve done it, you made your father leave.” After a pause filled with nothing but deafly silence, tears rolled down our little cheeks (we liked to stir the pot, but we were still cute) and we asked our mother what it was we could do to make dad come back. In a few minutes, he returned to a car filled with silent children. Turns out, he had just stopped to pee and mother made the most of the situation. And we thought we were so smart.


Blogger Kathleen Callon said...

I know exactly how you feel. I had a Little House on the Prairie kind of life. I'm one of six, and my mom is still a stay at home mom, and my Dad still sneaks grabs at her butt when he thinks no one is looking. I never worried about them splitting, grew up with a treefort my dad helped us build with a bunch of 2x4s and not enough plywood. As a kid, a dozen or two of us would get together and play War or Cowboys and Indians in the woods, or we'd play football or go sledding in a field. Can't tell you how many times I fell out of trees while having snowball and chesnut fights with my brothers and friends... sorry for rambling, but we're lucky, very lucky. Peace.


4:49 PM  

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