Category Archives: Home Life

Events From My Childhood That Scarred Me With Irrational Fears

#1.) Fire Safety Week: five instructional days dedicated to teaching school children what to do should their house burst into flames or they begin to spontaneously combust. Many of America’s youth reflect on this week and recall activities such as:

  • Mapping out fire escape routes in your home
  • Deciding on a meeting place for your family once escaping the fiery place of residence
  • Perfecting the ‘Stop, Drop & Roll’

All classic memories of this week in school.  The week ended, we took our maps and plans and knowledge home to share with our families (along with the death sentence to our furry friends whom we were instructed to leave behind), and continued with our lives.

Except for me.

I, Miss OCD, did not get on and merrily continue with my life.  I lived in deep fear day and night.  Horrific scenes haunted my dreams as I lay, apparently not so safe in my twin sized bed.  Images of becoming trapped in my second floor bedroom flooded my mind.  I even once begged my parents for an escape rope ladder.  (They declined this request.  After a bit of research it turns out said ladder would have been a greater hazard to a child than a fire.)

Denied my one remaining hope for survival, I cowardly climbed into bed each night hugging my most beloved stuffed animal, Ernie tightly to my chest.  “But don’t worry,” I thought to myself, “you can’t take him with you either: no toys!”

I was most distraught by this thought.  I could eventually learn to cope with leaving my photos, blankets, pets, and all of my other possessions to set ablaze in the fire.  Fine.  You win fire safety marshals. But not Ernie.  Ernie was pushing it too far.

It was at this point I began to desperately search for a loophole.  The lovely men at the local fire department didn’t want children burning to death in their homes whilst searching for Mr. Potato Head amidst an array of a toy-covered floor.  That made sense.  But Ernie wasn’t cast off into a vast sea of toys, nor did such a pile exist in my mother’s household.  Ernie slept with me each night; he couldn’t be that hard to find.  Except, sometimes he did slide down and get wedged in between the mattress and the wall or other tricky hiding places.

I had to devise a method to quickly and easily locate my beloved friend should my house erupt in flames.  Running out of options, it dawned on me.  The only items that made it out of my room in such a catastrophe were myself and my pajamas.  If Ernie was in my pajamas, I wouldn’t be breaking any rules.  Just as your pajamas made it out safe and sound simply because you just so happened to have them on your person, Ernie would just so happen to make it out as well.

Thus one day my mother walked into my bedroom to the following site: me, crawling across the floor in my pajamas with Ernie stuffed down my bottoms, head sticking out above my waistband.  (I had to practice.  Duh.) She must have thought I was crazy, or clearly was already messed up in some weird, sexual manner.  I like to hope she recalled the rope ladder incident months before and connected the dots before phoning a psychologist.

*This post inspired by Genesis Meranda


Food for the Hungry

Reflecting on Kindergarten and the many memories it entails, one specific story keeps coming to the forefront of my mind.  I think that this is my own memory, but maybe it’s just borrowed.  Perhaps it is simply one of the stories you have been told over and over and over again that you start to internalize it, and slowly start to mistake it for your own.

Dad always had a soft spot for people in his life; not just people so much as humanity.  There was a man we often saw around town. He had long, tangled hair and was clad in many tattered layers of heavily worn clothing.  He stood on the corner of state route 725 where cars exited interstate 675.

I remember the first time I saw him.  We were driving home from West Virginia, and there he was, standing there, cardboard sign in hand.  It read, “Will work for food.”  I was confused by this and did not understand.  Food came from your refrigerator and cabinets and pantry, and when you ran out you simply went down the road to the local grocery and picked up some more off the shelves of Cub Foods. Armed with this vast background knowledge I had acquired through my five years of life, this strange man holding this strange sign didn’t settle well into my brain.

But life continued as it always does and on occasion we would see him out, holding his weather-worn sign.  One day we saw him while I was out with my sister and dad.  I’m not sure what was so different about this specific day, but on our way to Burger King we once again passed this man.

When we arrived at the drive-thru, Dad ordered one meal more than what our family required.  This, he informed us, was for the hungry man who stood on the corner.  After getting our food we turned out onto the road and headed back in the direction from which we came.  I felt proud of my dad for such a kind deed, and even quickly forgave him when he reached for the wrong cup and took a sip out of the drink which belonged to the man we were doing this act of kindness for.

We pulled the truck to the side of the road and rolled down the window.  Dad handed him the meal.

“Hey partner,” Dad started.  Dad was always calling people ‘partner’, only it came out much more like, ‘pardner’.  I’m not sure why this was, but I always thought it a perfectly normal thing to say.

“Here you go,” he continued, handing him the bag, “Sorry, but I did accidentally take a sip out of your drink,” he explained as he handed over the cup.

I’m not even sure if this man spoke any words at all, but the next thing I recall he was throwing the cup of Coke back in Dad’s face.  The dark liquid flew through the air in the midst of the cubes of ice splattering down the side of the truck.

Everything beyond the moment is a bit fuzzy in my brain.  I imagine my father didn’t say a word, and somberly drove off, perhaps muttering to himself under his breath, or, perhaps not.


Dead Fish & Day Care

For the majority of my life, I was fortunate enough to have one parent or the other around frequently enough to avoid all forms of child care. However, Mom conquered the near impossible and earned a college degree while raising three children, therefore some sort of child care was inevitable. Thus second grade was the year of AM Day Care. Now, admittedly, I was at first excited at the prospect of this. Apparently, I thought that this would be cool. Seven year old children are strange; I suppose it had some type of social appeal. I went, I believe, for two days a week in the morning before school.

I suppose it went alright at first.  At least, I think I liked it. I remember eating dry cereal and playing downstairs in the facility. There was a fifth grade girl who befriended me, but I thought she was a bit strange and fat. She wore these clunky black platform shoes with a buckle across her foot that her chubby little ankles hung out over. I thought such a shoe was not only unnecessary, but rather repulsive and decided I did not care for her. I remember riding in the van to school from the Three Bears Day Care and listening to country music on the radio.

You start walking your way, I’ll start walking mine, we’ll meet in the meadow and we’ll both be fine.

Yes. Sing-a-longs occurred. To this day I have no clue what song this is.  I remember that I liked that one the best. I had never really heard country music before.

But then things began to turn less than ideal as things often do. Let’s just say the lovely women of Three Bears were not so wonderful or lovely.  In fact I feel quite certain they maintained a deep rooted loathing of children. In addition to this wonderful attribute, they also vastly underestimated a seven year old child’s observation skills.  Either they were extraordinarily foolish, or I was exceptionally brilliant. In hindsight, I’m going to go with the former.

Their favorite game they taught us was one called, “Dead Fish”. In case the title isn’t sufficient, allow me enlighten you. It worked like this: lay on the floor, and pretend you’re a dead fish.  Still.  Silent. They especially liked to make us play this one if we were being too loud, or getting on their nerves with our basic needs or silly things of that nature. Sounds fun, doesn’t it? (Parents, I hope you’re whipping out some paper so you can take notes for effective child-rearing techniques). I myself didn’t find this so entertaining. To the contrary, I found it rather degrading even though I didn’t know the word for it yet.

Already disenchanted with these women, whom I imagine were middle-aged, overweight, and in general were lacking in the personal hygiene department, I really was not impressed by the manner in which they physically handled children.  Judging by their actions, the best manner in which to handle an upset young person is to pick them up by their arms and toss them into the timeout corner. I guess I missed that day in my behavoir management courses while in college.

Needless to say, with my astute powers of observation, combined with my desire to engage in conversation I disclosed all of this information to my mother. (Good ol’ mom.) A meeting was promptly set up between the faculty and my parents. While I do not recall the verdict of said meeting I do remember that I was swiftly removed from the center. Thus ended my childhood experience in day care.