Sunday, December 1, 2013

Disability and strict parenting.

I had a strict bedtime until I was fifteen. Lights out by 9 pm. It didn't matter if it was a school night or a weekend, if there was a movie that everyone at school was watching or if it was ending in 15 minutes. It simply wasn't a discussion you'd have with my mother. Often it was as simple as a look or a gesture and you knew that you were done for the night. There was no reasoning, no burgeoning with my mother, you could pout until you were blue in the face, proclaim how "unfair" your life was all you wanted, still wouldn't change anything. There was only one way of doing things in our household and it was my mother's. Have you ever seen those movie shows were kids and parents have weekly meetings and debate things? Well, we were not like the Cosbys. Back then I didn't know why she felt to have such strict, "rules are rules" approach to everything. And I still don't get it today. Part of the reason I loved staying with my aunts that much (and you can pick any aunt from either side of the family) was that on the weekends me and my cousins were allowed to fall asleep in front of a TV watching some obscure horror movie on a pull out couch. At the same time my mother felt like a psychic in many ways. Whatever it was she'd always get it out of me just by looking at my face. I simply couldn't lie to her about anything. That was the weirdest thing. I was for the most part, a very good kid. Both of us were, bringing the good grades and honor diplomas. But my brother from time to time would get in trouble when hanging with his friends- boys being boys - playing about in the area. I guess that was the thing. My brother always had other avenues, other places to go all the time. If it so happened that he and my parents had an argument, he'd storm off somewhere. Outside of school, I was always at home.For the large part of my childhood I felt that there was nowhere I could hide from my mother. I was always there, at her mercy, with her ever seeing eye. And as a stay at home mother she was always there as well. My disability only made it more severe as I simply couldn't physically go anywhere without my parents. How can I show my independence, how can I be mad at you if you're always there, I rely on you for everything and you rarely listen. It really was getting me more and more frustrated, especially when I was a teen. I was getting older and nobody seemed to notice. Nobody cared that I was aging and changing, that I had points and ideas and feelings that were valid. Like I was trapped in a cage of my emotions, my body and this apartment and there was no way out.  From time to time I'd throw a tantrum. Not often, and they may have felt like it was coming out of nowhere, but to me it was a final straw. To my parents it looked like hysteria. When I was fifteen my mom went to Germany for three months and I just started new school. My dad had a more relaxed stance on parenting. He also worked nights twice a week, so he had to trust me that I would act in my best interest and know how to get up for school the next morning. For a while I felt like I was one of those teenagers on TV and my new life was just beginning. My new bedtime was sometime around eleven but if my dad saw that I wanted to stay up to watch an award ceremony he was fine with that. When my mother returned that December we went back to a more strictly enforced bedtime, although the bedtime stayed at 11. I think this was one of the points she had to unwillingly cave on. From that point on there were more moments of frustrations, more, "but I'm almost 18" bursts, and more of my mom, as much as we all loved her trying to control all of her dominion. Luckily, as she went to work that year there was less of a need to fish for information of what happened at school and what felt like my inner, deepest most intimate thoughts. For the most time she now wasn't there. And when she was- she was too tired. So the walking in without knocking that try as I may I couldn't educate my parents on even as I was visiting twenty years later- reduced to a more reasonable amount. The going through my things- only happened during cleaning. Did I mention that my parents were always struggling with the word "privacy"? But at least growing up as I look at it now- it was better to deal with "unreasonable" and "nounderstanding" parents then thinking so much about that one thing truly limiting me at the time. My disability

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