Peeking Through the Darkness: The First Memory

“Tonight, we’re going to play Russian roulette,” she said in a proud, august voice as she paced between us. I and my two sisters were kneeling and trembling as we waited. I was only four years-old, but I knew what Russian roulette was. I also knew what kind of gun our mother owned, and that you couldn’t play Russian roulette with a 9mm. You could only play with the guns that had spinning bullets.

My knees dug into the brown wooden floor. It hurt so bad that I wanted to fall over. That would be a mistake, though. My hands had to stay behind my back. My eyes had to look straight ahead, too, but they couldn’t. They kept glancing over at my oldest sister, Dessa, to make sure I was doing what she was doing. She knew how to survive Mommy’s moods. I didn’t want to mess up and make Mommy shoot me. Dessa had tears running down her face, but she didn’t make a sound. Her eyes look straight in front of her. She never glanced at me or our other sister, Faith. Mommy liked to take things away from Dessa, things she cared about. Maybe Dessa was afraid to look at her sisters, in case Mommy tried to take one of us.

Faith was kneeling, too. She wasn’t crying, though. She had the slightest grin on her face. Mommy never scared Faith. I used to think Faith had so many abhorrent things happen to her that nothing would ever scare her again. At nine, Faith was just 2 years younger than Dessa, and they had been through so much more than me.

I honestly still don’t know why Mommy decided she was mad at me, too. I think it was because I was Dessa’s and Faith’s favorite little sister. They always played in my hair, and gave me baths, and helped me eat. I was sick a lot, and often couldn’t hold my own spoon, so someone always had to feed me. If I didn’t eat my food, it made Mommy very angry. My sisters didn’t think it was fair for Mommy to be mean to me, I was too weak to be a bad girl, but that never stopped her.

Mommy walked up behind me. “Are you ready to play, Lia?” I felt hard, cold, steel dig into the back of my head. I took in a ragged breath. To me, if I died it was okay, because then I wouldn’t be in pain anymore. My sickness would be gone and my sisters wouldn’t have to take care of me. The only thing that scared me were my babies. I was in charge of my baby brother Jackie who was 3, and our baby sister Asia who was only a few months. I was the only one who fed them, changed them, and sang to them. What would happen to my babies if I lost the game? They might be next.

Click!

“I guess you win, Lia,” Mommy said in a cheerful voice. “Stay there.” My heart beat fast as I listened to her walk over to Faith. In my chest felt like a dozen frenzied beats between each of quick, loud steps. From the corner of my eye, I saw her black dress sway. It was patterned with countless, tiny pink roses and it cinched at her small waist. It was beautiful, just like Mommy. Mommy stopped behind Faith. She bent down close to Faith’s ear and in a mean, throaty whisper she said, “I really hope you lose this round.” In a flash, the barrel was pressed into the back of Faith’s head and she grimaced, but remained silent.

Click!

Mommy sighed. “Dammit!” She slapped the back of Faith’s head. “I can’t believe I have to deal with you for another day. That only leaves Dessa, and there are no more chances.” She tsked. “Faith. Lia. Cover your ears. This is going to be loud,” Mommy said in a sing-song voice and quickly put the barrel of the gun close to Dessa’s temple.  I couldn’t help myself. I let out a sob as I plugged my ears with fingers. Faith just knelt there, her hands still behind her back.

Click!

No loud boom. No thump as Dessa’s body hit the floor. No sound of anything except the pitter-patter of my urine as it hit the floor beneath me. Mommy chuckled.

Mommy said in a teasing, but friendly manner, “Tricked you!” Then her voice turned cold again.  “I guess you all win. Now don’t piss me off again and clean up your fucking sister.”

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Where I Was…

This won’t be long.

I was only 12 years-old. I was still in foster care. I sat on the floor of my bedroom looking up at my T.V., tears streaming down my face. I hated this place, the system, the government. I could understand why someone would go into a social services building and blow it up: they facilitated child abuse. In fact, I prayed for it daily. So when I saw an real act of terrorism, I couldn’t understand. These were children, mothers and fathers, husbands and wives. These were innocent bystanders. These were fire-fighters, soldiers, police officers. These were people who were in love. And I was a little girl at home, hundreds of miles away, feeling like the rubble was crushing my body. Feeling like it was me that I saw jumping out of the windows. I don’t remember the news channel I was watching. I don’t remember the name of the family I was with. But I remember sitting on my heels in front of the dresser that held my T.V. I remember wishing I could hug my mother, because she would have never let me see this, or know about this until I was older. I remember the overwhelming feeling. I didn’t know anyone from that horrible day. But I know that a girl that died could have been my best friend, one of the boys might have been my husband, one of the women could have been my mother in law, one of those fire-fighters might have fathered my future daughters in law. That’s what I thought. I felt like part of my life was being stolen from me and so many others before we ever knew it was ours. My heart goes out to those who lost someone. To those who lost many. I know my husband puts his uniform on everyday so that this never happens to us again. I know I was a little girl that day, with no connection to anything, but know that day, and today, I was with you; I am with you.

Army Wife Blundering

My goal is to be like Claudia Joy Holden: Loving mother, supportive wife, successful college student, FRG president. Right now I’m like Roxie LeBlanc: shotgun wedding, living on post, baby-father drama, and I don’t even have a Hump Bar! I am, however, a loving mother,  a college student (success to be determined) and hopefully, come September 5th I’ll be FRG President, too. As for the supportive wife part, I’M TRYING. It’s actually a LOT harder than it sounds.

To love someone so much, we bump heads a lot. Right now, we are in the “Pamela and Chase pre-divorce” stage of our marriage. But I don’t believe in divorce. That sucker is stuck with me forever. He does whatever the heck he wants; apparently, I’m controlling and sometimes emasculating. Those weren’t the exact words he used but that is what I got out of it.  How to be supportive: I have no fricking clue.

How can I support a unit that keeps my husband away from home almost EVERY DAY for 14-18 hours a day? How can I support a husband who would rather play EVEonline than have a conversation with me most times? Don’t get me wrong, I love the Army and I love my husband; sometimes, I just want to kick their butts, though.

So I have recently been called to be the secretary for Relief Society at church, I’m taking 4 or 5 classes with a course-load of 10, I’m going to be the FRG president,  and I’m attempting to keep up with all my surveys because in a week I’ll be in Virginia and I’m going to need some extra spending money.

I’m going to be in Virginia for a month, separated from my husband. On the bright side, I’m going to get to see Jermahl, which is great because Druggie is trying to make it hard for me to talk to him. Unless of course, I pay for a 7-year-old’s cell phone when they have two working phones and 3 computers. They probably won’t let me Skype with him because the house is still filthy and they don’t want me to see it.

Anyway, non sequitur. I feel bad for Judas and Jesse. Judas will be away from his daddy and Jesse won’t have his wife or his kids. L He has this four-day weekend and I want to make it special. Unfortunately, a day and a half of it has been wasted. Claudia Joy would have already done something spectacular for General Holden. I pulled a Roxie and burned the bacon. Even Roland is better at being an Army wife than me.

Maybe I’ll let Jesse play Eveonline the rest of the weekend and Jude and I can watch the 4th season of Army Wives. Jude stops whatever he is doing when it comes on. It makes him do this, though:

He looks like Jesse more and more every day.

Do You Have Your Kids On a Tight Leash?

The other day, Jesse and I were driving home and I saw this:

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That’s right- a lady with her kid on a leash.

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Just yesterday in church, a family that I really like walked in the same way. I obviously couldn’t snap an incognito photo of my friends son with a monkey backpack/kid-leash on, but my mind was taking all the judgment-y pics it needed.

I know, I shouldn’t judge. Sometimes I think my children are animals that need to be restrained, too. But a leash. Really?

I have a friend who warned me ahead of time that she would be putting her future kids on leashes, and I haven’t told her, but I will be setting her poor children free often. Sorry, Lauren.

Am I wrong? Is there some untold joy/benefit in parents leashing their kids that I don’t know about. Besides getting random strangers to take pics and write blogs about you?

Spanking vs. Beating: Where is the line?

Most people my age and older came from a household where spanking was allowed. For me, the two-and-a-half years in foster care and the subsequent butt-kickings from boyfriends have me completely “pro-peace.” I am almost incapable of spanking. Don’t get me wrong. I’ve tried it out on Jermahl. When I was raising him with his pothead father (who Jermahl was named for so we’ll call him ‘Druggie’ from now on), Druggie said you’re supposed to beat your kids. How else are you going to teach them? Mind you I was 15 when I got pregnant, and I thought, perhaps, there might be a difference from what I experienced and what he was talking about.

So if Jermahl was acting bad, I would pop him on the hand or the butt. Just once. But Druggie would slap him in the face or kick him. And God forbid I protested, I would get the same in kind. Well, one day, I was out with a friend going to the market. Jermahl just broke out into a tantrum in front the Food Lion market it was sooo embarrassing and I was getting mad. I kept telling him to be quiet and he wouldn’t so I popped his mouth. But he fell over and he bust his lip. I bawled in front of that store telling my baby how sorry I was. I probably looked like a crazy person, hugging him and crying.  I will never know if my anger made that ‘pop’ a ‘slap’ or if he just didn’t have the balance (my friend tried to convince me it was the latter), but I refused to spank or pop him for a long time after that.

When he was about 3, Chris (sperm donor #2) and I moved to Houston together. Jermahl was out of control because he had been living with Druggie who doesn’t believe in teaching, just beating. So we tried to just show him love whenever he was acting out. Eventually, it got to be too much, and we decided maybe spanking should be part of his discipline. So we sat him down one evening and told him what would constitute a spanking (screaming, hitting, not listening for the umpteenth time, things like that). Well, Chris’ father used a belt, so he thought we should, too, and I figured, as long we didn’t hit him hard, or directly on his skin, just the idea of it would be effective. The belt terrified Jermahl, though, and it wasn’t teaching him anything but to be afraid of his parents. So we used it about three times and retired it.
I had to come up with more creative ways to punish him. We made him stand in the corner, took away his favorite toys until he earned them back. It all depended on the offense. We found something appropriate for his age that he would understand. But I never spanked him again. Recently, he’s been having trouble with lying. So every time he lies, we have him hold a phonebook up for a few minutes. Depending on the severity of the lie, and how many people he could have potentially hurt, determined the size of the phonebook he was holding up. And I explained to him the reason he was holding the phonebook up instead of being spanked, is that spanking doesn’t teach you anything, it just hurts; but, even though holding up the phonebook hurts, it also builds up his muscles and makes him stronger.

At his house, his dad just gets angry and beats him, punches him, hits with random objects (don’t wory, I’m working on getting him out of there). At school, the kids tell Jermahl he’s a weakling because he doesn’t like to fight. So I told Jermahl, and I truly apologize to anyone this offends, anyone who needs to hit or use violence to get their point across is stunted and stupid, and no one taught them how to use their brain to express themselves, so instead they have to use a fist or a belt or mean words.

Jermahl, who is now seven, remembers the 3 times I used a belt when he was three years old.

I choose to discipline with love and until recently, I’ve been under the firm impression that hitting your child is not love. However, a lot of my close friends use spanking as a punishment for their kids.

One of my girlfriends said, “The corner is all fine and dandy, but my kids will stand in the corner and make fun of me because the punishment means nothing to them. Spanking actually resonates with them and they realize they’ve actually done something wrong.”

Another friend said, “You don’t just start off beating the crap out of them. For my son, when he started crawling around 7 months, that’s when I took 2 fingers to pop his hands when he touched something he shouldn’t. Now that’s he’s almost 2, I pop his butt a few times when he does something he actually knows he shouldn’t. When he’s a teenager, I’m going to punch him the chest. I’m not going to actually punch him the chest, but the sight of my fist coming towards him is  going to hurt way more than when I actually touch him.”

My sister-in-law says that with her 1.5 year-old nephew (whom she’s raising for now), when he touches something he shouldn’t, she says no, pops his hand and moves him. And she does this over and over until he gets the idea.

So what do you do? How do you discipline your children? When do you start? If you spank, how do you know you’re spanking them to discipline and not just because you are angry? Obviously, a punishment needs to happen immediately for a child, but if you are angry at the same time, is the discipline as  effective? And how do you show your child you still love them after a punishment?

I’d REALLY like to hear everyone’s opinions on this this. What is the difference TO YOU between spanking and beating? And should it happen at all?

Weekend Woes Pt. 1

I had surgery this past Thursday. I developed a hernia above my navel when I got pregnant with Jude. After I had him, I decided I was super woman and did too much, giving myself yet another hernia…this time directly behind my navel. So, yeah, I had to get them repaired before they got worse (which was happening).

It’s always a hassle for Jesse to get time off. Jude was c-section, which means Jesse was supposed to get an automatic 10 days off. I had to deal with going allll the way above his superior officers heads because they didnt want to give him his time off. :/ Having this surgery meant another 10 days. It was a hassle…and they only agreed to give him his time off he promised to come to work Monday, Tuesday and Thursday. I love the military but sometimes I hate his installation.

Anyway, Jesse is supposed to get time off because I can’t do anything for myself. I’m not even allowed to pick up the baby forat least a week. These 10 days are supposed to be me being able to drown myself in pain meds and not do anything. Because that’s pretty much what I’m supposed to do. I have Percoset. It makes me groggy; I pass out at random times, my vision is totally blurred (I’ve just been a typist for years so I can do this with my eyes closed). So, yeah, Jesse is supposed to be helping me like a good husband, right?

Day 1: Surgery…he wakes me up, I kiss Judas good-bye and leave with my friend Miranda, he drives me around the world because I lost my wallet (in my Miranda’s couch) and then takes me to the hospital. He drops me off at the door so he can park and smoke and I can check in. He doesn’t come in for like 15 minutes. That’s fine. When he does come in, he sits with me. When they take me up and I have to wash, he opens my socks for me…which I thought was really cute. We go to the pre-op room, and we talk and laugh and he tries to calm me down because I really thought I was going to die. He was great up until he needed to be calmed down because he wanted a cigarette so bad and they were taking too long to come and get me. So, he stood outside my curtain practically flagging down anyone with a hospital badge on, like, ‘Are you gonna take her yet, or what?’ LOL.

My fall risk and allergy bracelets 😛

They came and got me. I barely remember the anesthesia kicking in. They put something in my I.V., we went into the elevator, I woke up in the recovery room. Alone. Because he left to buy me a stool to get in his super-high truck and was still outside smoking. And no nurse could get a hold of him. So I called him, told him I needed him. My surgeon never came to talk t

o either of us about how the surgery went. They just discharged me when I was lucid enough to stand. I was really high. It felt extremely strange. I was in a lot of pain. Jesse put my clothes on me. All of them. So sweet.

We went back to Miranda’s. She and I talked a lot. Jesse helped me move around a lot. He super sweet about taking me to the bathroom. When we got home, he helped me inside. He changed Jude’s diaper (he rarely does that). He was just amazing.

Until he got sleepy. After that I was on my own. He is not a mo

rning person. He hates being woken up…But neither am I. I still have the common sense to not be a blow-hard at certain times. He was pissed he had to make the bottle. He was pissed he had to keep getting up to help me go to the bathroom. He was pissed he had to hold the baby. So I had to wake up from my Percoset-induced stupor and nurse Jude, get myself to the bathroom, cry a little.

I finally got to sleep, only to be shocked awake by the glorious feeling of my drugs wearing off and the pain coming on strong. It took 30 minutes to wake him to find my pills. This is all within like the first 24 hours following my surgery. :/ Tell you more about Day 2 later today.

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