Saturday, July 31, 2010

Parents Need Patience

Parents Need Patience

  • I was perhaps five years old and riding in the back seat of our 1939 Chevy, Dad at the wheel.

    Donnie: "Daddy, why is this called the twentieth century when it's the nineteen hundreds?"

    Dad: "Well, from zero to one hundred was the first century. From 101 to 200 was the second century. From 201 to 300 was the third century . . . ."  (At about the tenth century, he began rolling his eyes, groaning, taking exaggeratedly deep breaths, and mugging at me in the rear view mirror.)   " . . . From 1801 to 1900 was the nineteenth century, and from 1901 to 2000 is the twentieth century."

    Now these were the tail end of my pre-logic days, and I was half convinced that he had tricked me somehow. Also, I had greatly enjoyed the faces and groans he had used to spice up his little monologue.

    Donnie: "Do it again."

    Dad: "Jesus wept!"

  • In Portsmouth, New Hampshire, we lived in the third (from left to right) of four apartments in a row house. There was a cellar with coal bin and furnace, ground floor, and second floor. On the second floor there were three bedrooms. My parents had one, my brother and I had one, and the third was used as a playroom.

    One night when I was around seven years old, my brother and I were playing with blocks in the playroom. The light bulb burned out. The light fixture was on the wall, too high for me to reach, so I passed the news to my parents and returned to the playroom and my brother.

    A moment later my Dad appeared, light bulb in hand. He replaced the bulb and turned to us.

    Dad: "Now you've been sitting in the dark and at first this is going to seem very bright to you. If you look directly at it, it will hurt your eyes. Don't look at the light when I turn it on."

    My brother and I dutifully lowered our eyes to the floor, but I was skeptical about the "hurting the eyes" bit, and when Dad turned the light on I immediately looked at it.

    Wow! Major squint time.

    Dad: "Goddamn kid!"

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