Monday, April 5, 2010

Go Out And Play (a new meaning)

Here is where the really weird stuff started happening in my life. There may have been other things earlier, but this is one of my first memories of it.  Looking back at it now, maybe it's when my mother actually started going crazy.

While my dad was off in the Navy, we lived with my grandmother in North Long Beach. My grandmother worked, but my mom was usually home during the day. She wasn't what you would call a "doting" mother. Her children were more of a nuisance, than a pleasure to her. When my mom said go out and play, that is what I did. I was only 4 years old at the time and although outside was fun, I'd eventually need to pee, get a drink, or whatever. I would go back into the house to take care of those things, or at least I'd try to. My mom started locking the screen door and would get very upset at my knocking and yelling.

She solved the problem by putting a harness on me. I think it was the same kind you’d put on a dog. She’d tie one end of a rope to the back of the harness and the other end to a post on my grandmother’s front porch. I didn't like it, but she wasn't the type to put up with complaining. Her last words to me before going into the house were, "if you want a drink, use the hose" and "don't you dare knock on that door."

As I began to socialize a bit with other kids, I learned that for most of them a violation of a "now don't you dare" threat, usually only resulted in a different threat like "I really mean it" or "you are going to go your room." In my family a violation of the "don't you dare" warning, ALWAYS resulted in lightning quick physical punishment from my mom. Usually a slap or punch, to the face or head.

Okay, I got it... the rope would allow me to reach the curb, but not to step into the street. Everything was going along just fine, until the huge amount of hose water I was drinking, caused another problem. I really had to pee. What to do?  The absolute last resort would be to go in my pants. That was a discretion worthy of some really heavy punishment. The kind of punishment that you'd trade for a punch or slap to the head any day. I finally figured it out. The rope went to the curb, so that is where I went. And that is also where I "went." I don't remember how long it lasted, but one day, one of the neighbors came out to talk to me while I was "tied up." The practice stopped pretty soon after that.

The really sick thing is that my grandmother had a perfectly good fenced in back yard.  I even heard my mom and her arguing about it. My mom said she wanted me in front, where she could "keep an eye" on me.
I still don't get it! And of course my mom would never discuss her actions.


  1. Pat, I honestly feel sick from reading this. I truly do. I don't even know how to respond. I give you credit because I'd be so filled with hate and rage to this day. I have no idea how I'd learn to let it go :(

  2. How you turned out to be such a nice guy with this kind of a childhood, I don't know. That's just no way to treat a human.

  3. If there is a purple heart medal for surviving childhood trauma you've certainly earned it, and then some.

  4. Thanks All!!!

    Ally - I had a lot of hate and rage towards her. An entry is coming up on that subject soon.

    TS - It took a lot of work!

    Big Pissy - Thank you!

    Copyboy - By the time I finish, I might be eligible for a silver star!

  5. Seriously!!! To me, there are people that survive childhood trauma's like you did, and turn out to be loving, caring adults, ONLY with a lot of hard work throughout their lifetime. They don't want to give up because facing the past is too painful. They motor through the hard, painful truth and blossom into wonderful people. Then there are people that THINK they had a horrible childhood because someone cut their hair too short or colored their nails the wrong color or they aren't treated like a priveledged child anymore as an adult. Then all of a sudden, life is horrible and couldn't get any worse!! I am proud of you Pat!! You worked hard to get where you're at today, and I love you more than anything......

  6. Oh Pat, my heart simply breaks for that little boy you once were. Your mother was obviously a very damaged person, the horror is magnified that you were left so vulnerablly alone to deal with whatever neglect or abuse she chose to meet out. Seems others certainly knew of the cruelty you endured, yet did little to intervene. It is testimony to the remarkable man you are, that you not only survived, but grew to be the compassionate, loving person we know.

    You deserve huge respect, my friend.


This blog is word verification free.
I love your comments and will do my best to respond to each and every one.