Saturday, June 16, 2007

The closest thing to humor I can muster regarding my fathers...

World's Worst Dad ContestI was invited to submit an entry for Fenicle's World's Worst Dad Contest. I thought, at the time, that I would have no problem with a week's worth of entries for this contest. After all, I've got a few bad fathers of my own not to mention the ease I'd find in nominating IFKAMH for his failures at fatherhood. Then, I came to understand that Fenicle was hoping this would be lighthearted, stories about fathers doing things we know they shouldn't but can be laughed at now. That made this much more difficult.

My first father, my biological dad, was in my life for approximately 4 years. As I recollect, the last communication I received from him was a birthday card for my 5th birthday. It was sent from prison. We'll not go into the details of the fact that I saw him being dragged away in handcuffs one night outside my mom's apartment after he'd been ranting like a lunatic in the hallway for what seemed like hours and hours...and I could swear I remember the gleam of a knife in his hand. Let's forget that sometime between that night and my 5th birthday he was convicted of some acts or crimes worthy of serving three life sentences. Instead, let's talk about dinnertime while I was in his custody.

For some reason, he believed it necessary for me to eat everything on my plate each night. I guess this was not something unusual for parents to request or even require of their kids in the past, possibly even some still do this today, but rather than just deny me dessert or send me to bed early, presumably still hungry since I hadn't finished my meal, I was punished with spankings. They weren't beatings; they were swats on my 3 year-old behind, nothing painful as far as I remember, but definitely termed as a threat to me by the word "spank". These would generally come after sitting at the table, alone, refusing to eat for about an hour.

I wasn't just penalized for not eating, though. Every Friday night, if I did clean my plate like a good little girl, we'd go to the mall, and I'd get a toy. Rewards for eating everything on my plate to balance corporal punishment for not eating. What a terrific idea! Thank goodness my barely-more-than-100-pounds mother gained custody of me by the time I was 4. Otherwise, I imagine I'd be a bed-ridden 700-pound featured star on the Discovery Health channel because it would be ingrained in my head that I need to eat everything in front of me.

The effects of this training haven't been trampled, though. I still have to consciously make myself not continue eating when I know I'm already full despite there being food left in front of me. I also constantly question myself when talking to M and J about eating, like when I tell them they have to eat all of this food or all of that food before getting pudding or a popsicle. I know it makes sense that they fill up as much as possible on the healthier stuff that they've been given as dinner before finishing off with sugar packaged in plastic, but those nagging voices in my head always say, "Don't force it. Maybe they're actually full." At which point I must remind the nags that if they were actually full, they wouldn't be begging for chocolate or frozen colored syrup as though they were eating for the first time after a 40-day fast.


Cagey said...

The eating thing is a tough, tough one to do as a parent. I also have a problem about needing to finish my plate. And to make a toddler finish HIS plate? You're right - it's tough to see when they are full or not.

Also, sorry you got dealt such a shitty lot when it came to fathers. Yikes.

FENICLE said...

I don't think I explained this contest very well. Live & learn I guess...I was just going to post about my lovely father a post a day - all week....all you had to do was 1 post before Sunday to enter. (And some people think I was entering my own contest...which I wasn't...that would be weird!

Anyways, on to you. The eating thing is weird and I can sympathize, just not nearly to the extent of your specific situation.

I did laugh though at the thought of a Discovery Channel special :) Thank goodness your mom did get custody of you!!

Thank you for participating.

FENICLE said...

Congrats by the way!! You won (the random drawing!). E-mail me your mailing address.

Celebrate Woo-Woo said...

cagey - I'm glad it's not just me with the eating thing. And, you get the parents you get; for all the bad they created in my childhood, it all has contributed to making me a better adult.

fenicle - I didn't think you were entering your own contest...that would be silly;> I was happy to participate...awesome prizes!

YAY! I won!!