I never know when my mind is working uniquely and when it’s working the same way as everybody else’s. I am assuming, since we all only have one mind, that no one else ever really knows this either. What I have been forced to realize throughout my life is not everyone thinks about these things.
There are people who wander through their lives, thinking their thoughts and never really questioning whether they, or their thoughts, are unique. There are even those who dread the idea of being perceived as unique. I have never been one of those people.
In many ways, I was that kid that every parent dreads: I’ve never really cared much what other people think of me or how I look at the world. At a small gathering of friends recently I was trying to explain how even as a child I questioned so many of the things we were told were absolutes. My poor mother, she tried her best, but there were times when I just would not accept the status quo.
I do not remember the exact details of the conversations, but I do remember multiple exchanges about religion and growing up. They went a little like the following, (my poor mother’s answers are italicized):
It’s time to go to church. Why are we going to church? So we can worship Jesus. Why do we worship Jesus? He was the son of God. Aren’t we all God’s children? What was so special about Jesus? (Cricket noises from my mom.)
You need to do your homework. Why should I do my homework? So you can make good grades. Why do I need good grades? So you can get into college. Why do I need to go to college? So you can get a good job. Why do I need a good job? So you can support yourself if anything happens to your husband. (Yes, I was of that generation of females.) What does it matter if I support myself? We’re all going to die anyway. That’s why you have children. Why do I want to have kids? So they can carry on your family name. What does it all matter they’re just going to die anyway. (Cricket noises from my mom.)
When I related these stories, one of my friends started laughing. She said those were the thoughts of a pirate and she couldn’t imagine how hard it would be to raise a pirate baby. She said she bet it was really disconcerting having a baby staring back at you with a patch on one eye. I laughed along with her, but there was a kernel of truth in what she said.
My mother loved me, but she never really understood how my mind worked. Mom had her moments of rebellion and standing up for herself, but she had a real need to be perceived as a good person. Following the rules was something she did without question.
Like all mothers whose children have tried their patience, my mother did invoke the mother’s curse and wished that I would have a child just like me. I’m not sure if any of my daughters are JUST like me, but mom’s curse certainly bore fruit.
I certainly didn’t help myself in that area either. I always said I didn’t want boring children. I wanted children who were interesting and capable of standing up for themselves. Needless to say, I said that before I had independent, strong-willed children.
All my daughters presented challenges, and they all have stood up for themselves pretty much from the moment they were physically capable of standing up. However, the story that best exemplifies my mom getting paybacks involves my youngest daughter. When my youngest was all of three years old, she was misbehaving in some manner during the month of December. With great solemnity, I reminded her that if she wasn’t good, Santa wouldn’t bring her any presents. My darling three-year old then looked at me, placed her hands on her hips and said, “Fine. I don’t care. I don’t deserve any presents. Take them away.” (Cricket noises from her mom.)
Evidently, curses work. And thinking like a pirate is genetic. Which is good, because in my opinion, pirates are very interesting people. I’m not only glad to be one, I’m glad I raised a few.