Friday, March 26, 2010

In which Primo has a hissy fit over a broken vase and I realize that he was raised in a truly dysfunctional home

2006 sometime. I don't remember the date. Primo is still in his Fairview apartment with the crazy laundry people upstairs. We are going somewhere. We are in a hurry to leave the apartment. One of us - I can't remember but if I ask Primo, he will remember because he is The Rememberer - opens the freezer.

A vase that was sitting on top of the fridge crashes to the ground. It had been in the back but must have gradually worked its way forward.

I go to get the vacuum cleaner. I do this without more than an, "Uh-oh!"


Freaks out. I mean, total Drama. He says, "Oh no! Oh no!" He is very, very upset.

"Relax!" I say. "It's just a cheap vase from TJMaxx!"

But he is horribly upset. Horribly.

I don't understand. What's the big deal about breaking a $15 vase from a discount department store? It's not like it was a 2,000 year old Ming vase in a museum. In beer units, it was worth three domestics or two imports. It is not a big deal.

"Let's just clean this up and get out of here," I say.

Primo can't relax. I have never seen anyone react so strongly to something that I think is inconsequential.

"Just what was it like in your house when you were a kid?" I ask. "What happened if you spilled milk or something?"

Oh, he got in trouble, he tells me.

"Yeah, but what about when you were little? It's one thing to get in trouble when you're seven and your dad has been warning you to stop goofing off. It's another when you are four. Four year olds have accidents. Big deal."

Nope, he still got in trouble. Big, Sly pitching a fit trouble.

Holy smoke.

What kind of parent yells at a little kid for something the kid does accidentally? Yells at him enough that 40 years later, the kid still gets horribly stressed if he breaks something?

I would say that is a parent with very poor parenting skills.


  1. That's so sad.
    My parents were pretty freaky about spills and breaks, causing me to go the other way with my kids. It sticks with you.

  2. Maureen - I know! There is no reason to torment a little kid over something like this. They are little! They have accidents! Don't let them take juice into the living room and relax. It's easy to wipe up a spill.

  3. Which reminds me of a time when I was watching my friend Anita's little girl, Michelle, who was about three. Michelle wanted some juice and then told me that yes, her mother let her take juice into the living room, which had white carpet. I was not dumb enough to fall for that.

  4. Not just poor parenting skills... poor human interaction skills.

  5. Doc, exactly. A complete misunderstanding of what children are like and overall unsuitability for parenthood.

  6. Hi, Gold Digger, just found your blog today and have been reading from the start. This reminds me of the time we had my godkids for a weekend before christmas a few years back. They were probably 9 and six at the time, and we were decorating our tree when Godson dropped a glass ornament (one of those traditional Christmas balls) and it broke on the hardwood floor. BOTH kids immediately got this deer-in-the-headlights look and Godson said "I'M SORRY I'M SORRY I'M SORRY I'M SORRY I'M SORRY" until I stopped him and said, "SWEETIE. It's okay. I know it was an accident. I do want you to be careful, but I'm more concerned about you stepping in the glass, okay?" It broke my heart to see how totally freaked out they were. :-(

  7. Welcome, pq! I'm glad you're here. Yes, it is sad to see children get that upset over breaking something. Children are more important than things! And children have accidents! What is going on in their life that they are so freaked out?

  8. Alas, their mother is a good friend of mine whom I've watched become a very selfish narcissist since she had children. I wonder if she was always this way and I didn't see it. And yet she really WAS a true-blue friend at a time in my life when I was at my lowest. I dunno. Anyway, these children she simply HAD to have, she screams at when they're not perfect, god help them if they get on her nerves. On Facebook, the only time she ever mentions them is to say something ha-ha negative like "Can't we send him to miliary school?" "You want my kids? You can have 'em." Which ha-ha can be funny... but not if it's the ONLY thing you ever have to say about them. Meanwhile, GodDaughter would call me "Mama" when I was there. Once or twice, playing a game? Okay. But when this went on for literally YEARS, it became unbelievably weird and uncomfortable. I would always say, "No, I'm not your mom, I don't answer to that." Her mom never seemed to care, but I was careful to never undermine her position by accepting this. Oh lord, the tales I could tell...

  9. pq, why do some people have kids? And WHY do they say mean things about them on FB? Do they think the kids will never find them?

    Those kids are lucky they have you in their life.

  10. On one of those questionnaire things on FB, she actually said that, although she loved her children dearly, if she'd know how difficult it would be to have kids at her age (40s-50s) she never would have done it. I hope the kids never ever ever find that... Why have kids? I think narcissists are miserable, and they constantly think that they would be happy if they only were married, they only had children, they only lost weight, they only were a star (for reals, this has been the trajectory of my friend's life).

    1. Why have kids...
      I wonder that a LOT (about people who treat their kids crummy for whatever reason.) I think many people don't give much (or any) thought to whether they should have kids, and why or why not, and whether they would be good parents and be able to give their kid a good life, by which I mean love, patience, support, encouragement, opportunity to learn and grow.
      I had a lot of friends growing up that came from seriously dysfunctional families with all varieties of neglect and abuse. Even very young, I would wonder why their parents had kids when it so obvious (in my view) that they didn't want them. I know part of this is because of the social message that adulting means job/career, spouse, and kids, but when I was born (late 60s) you also had the problem of little or no sex education, lack of access to reliable birth control, or even information on it, but also no safe or legal way to end unwanted pregnancies (that end up becoming wanted, abused children.) Not to get on a soapbox, just making mention because it was definitely a factor with many of the kids I knew in abusive households. Parents got married because mom got pregnant, parents resent each other/their kid(s), parent(s) make kid(s) life a living hell and totally destroy them. That's in addition to the parents who screwed up their kids because they were/are narcissists, sociopaths, pedophiles/molesters, drug/alcohol abusers, and so on.
      Making babies doesn't make one an adult. Being a loving and responsible parent does. Being thoughtful enough to realize you might not be parent material does.
      I was still pretty young when I realized that I do not have what it takes to be a good parent.* So I decided to just not, no matter what. That was probably the smartest decision I ever made, at least in terms of having the foresight to clearly see where that future led. I'll be 50 in a few months, look forward to menopause, and have no regrets.

      *Just to start with, I don't like kids (well, the vast majority, anyway) and do not have the patience to deal with screaming, tantrums, whining etc. I would be that person that ends up losing it and yelling at their kid in public places and smacking them when they misbehave. And they would misbehave, because they would have the ADHD & dyspraxia that I lived with undiagnosed until I was forty-eight. Which also left me barely able to be responsible enough to take care of myself, let alone a child. Then there's the other chronic health issues, that I would feel like a monster passing on to a kid so I could watch them suffer like I did. Or get bullied and ostracized like I did for being 'weird'. And and and... NOPE. No kids for me.

    2. Oh, that long reply. I don't think I ever met a tangent I didn't like.

  11. About 10 years ago my aunt actually said -- in the presence of her two children and however many grandchildren -- that if she had it to do over again, she wouldn't have had kids, that it just wasn't worth it.

    Ummm ... wow. If that is the message my cousins had been getting for the previous 40 years, no wonder they aren't very likable. At least I can have some compassion for them now.

    1. What is wrong with people? Even if you think that, you don't say it. No wonder the cousins didn't turn out.

  12. The broken vase. I've seen otherwise sensible people react that way -- and I never understood why. I'll be less critical of their panic now that I'm aware.

    Thank you,