Well, They Tried. They Get an E for Effort.
Top Ten Ways my Parents Screwed Me Up for Life
Let me state for the record, I love my parents. And, hey, in a lot of ways I understand them—they were a product of their time. For two working-class people who grew up during the depression who never even finished high school, they did all right for themselves.
But, also let me state for the record, holy cow! What were they thinking?
There were some things they did that screwed me up for life. Not that I became a serial killer or anything, but yeah—there are some things a little off about me, some irrational things, and the blame can be traced back directly to my parents.
Let me share with you all the ways my parents screwed me up, but good.
10) They Cut Off Multiple Body Parts
My parents were the worst photographers in the world. You should see my scrapbook. It’s full of pictures that make me look like an amputee. In every single picture, the top of a head is missing, or an arm, or the face or outfit was obscured by a thumb inadvertently placed on the lens.
I know they weren’t professional photographers—but, hell! Hold the camera straight and take your fingers off the lens! Is that too much to ask?
Then there are those rare photos of my whole body— almost every one of these, my eyes are closed and my face is scrunched up. Why? Because they thought that if I faced the sun I’d get better light… then they’d take 5 minutes trying to line up the shot so they wouldn’t cut something off.
I’d be standing there, staring into the sun with an impatient grin plastered on my face. And right on cue, the moment they’d snap the picture would be the moment my tearing eyes couldn’t take it anymore and they’d snap shut. I swear—they had to do that crap on purpose. No one is that bad with a camera, let alone two people in the same household.
9) They Burned Me on a Regular Basis
During summer times in my childhood, I had two looks: boiled lobster and extra crispy.
My parents were firm believers that kids were to be out playing from morning until night—unfortunately, they were not such firm believers in sunscreen. Talk about family photos—you can always tell when they were taken in the summer. Not by my outfit, but because my face, shoulders and arms (or whatever parts actually made it into the photos). I glowed in the dark. I looked like a danger sign on the highway every August.
When I was about 15 I heard of this thing called sunscreen. I approached my mom about this ingenious invention, and she waved her hand in the air. “Oh yeah. I’ve heard of that stuff. Who needs it? Just put on some baby oil.”
8) They Sent Some Mixed Messages
A lot of common parenting tactics in the 70s left much to be desired. My parent’s (actually, come to think of it, it was my whole family—aunts, uncles, grandparents, older cousins even) favorite deterrent to bad behavior was threats. Like tpoliticians, they felt fear tactics worked. They just never made the connection between these fear tactics and the fact that I was a shy, skittish, kid who was scared of my own shadow. My behavior baffled them.
Allow me to explain. If you tried to touch something dirty, my parents would say, “You better put that down, or you’re going to have to go to the doctors and get a needle. Uh-oh... you're gonna have to get needles! Hurry! Put it down!”
Yes, they laid it on thick.
When it was time to go to the doctors, I’d hide. They thought I was being silly. When I had to actually get shots, I’d freak out right there in the office, scream bloody murder and try to run away. My parents genuinely couldn't understand why I made such a fuss.
If you were being noisy and rambunctious, “Stop, stop, stop!” they’d warn in a hushed, frantic whisper. “The Man is coming! Stop!”
To this day, I don’t know who ‘The Man’ is; but when I was a kid I wasn't taking any chances. I was afraid to talk to men.
“Mackenzie, don’t you want to come out and say hello to daddy’s boss?” They’d ask, baffled, as I cowered behind the sofa. I’m sure they would have loved for me to come out, shake hands and impress the guy with a, “How do you do, Mr. So and So…”— but, he might be The Man, and I wasn't taking any chances.