Friday, May 25, 2012

5-19-12 Pictures of Tommy - a memoirist’s blog #20

This is getting to be the painful part of the memoir. . . where the painful mistakes happen and I can’t be too proud of my difficult past. . . but bear with me, please.  This is probably why it’s taken several days to write these blogs and catch up. . .

(Right now, I’m focusing on my memoirist work that I’ll call, simply, “Pictures of Tommy” -- all about my psychotic brother and his legacy. If so inclined, please share, and tell me what you think. . . )

If anybody had told my overachieving, overeducated, hyperintelligent nineteen-fifties mentality parents that they’d be raising two “crazy” kiddies. . .  I shudder.  What a terrible fate. Unless, of course, as the saying goes, “God only gives us the burdens we can handle” or somesuch truism meant to comfort.

(The other one I love: “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”)

Mom and dad did what they could. They really tried.  They had no idea that being strict, or having too many rules/strictures/punishments would be a bad thing. 

Nowadays, the experts are saying that kids need to have borders, limits, structure -- and attention.  Back when I was growing up in the sixties, it was all about parents giving a lot of discipline to kids and only a little attention.  We kids knew the rules -- and learned how to sneak around them.  We towed the line, but sometimes got caught -- and were punished, physically as well as by having privileges withheld. 

I don’t recall getting much praise for jobs well done, or for being wonderful.  In school, the programs were scaled back or nonexistent.  We learned by rote, we were bored to apathy in class (I couldn’t pay attention because my brain was racing.  I read all the textbooks the first week or so).  There was no such thing as individual attention or instruction.  The classes were well over 30 kids, sometimes 40.

In Catholic grammar (or elementary) school, ALL children were left behind, emotionally -- and treated as intellectual equals.  No Special Ed or Talented and Gifted kids, nosirree.  I was second from the top in my class, grades-wise, but never had any support.  A good report card was considered sufficient reward. . .

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