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That Was What Hurt Me the Most Page 3

Updated on January 10, 2019

Page Three

I think I was ten years old when my father first ran in a local election with the hopes of becoming a city Councillor. Either we were too poor to pay for supplies or my father was too cheap, regardless we ended up re-using the left over signs from one of my father’s Councillor friends from a past election. I can still remember my embarrassment as I heard the volunteers making fun of my father’s cheapness as they rolled black paint over the old signs. It was my job to lay the wet signs in the sun on the grass until our backyard was completely covered. After the signs were dried I would collect them and place them in a pile, ready for the next step. My father had had a painting screen made. The volunteer would place the sign under the screen then pour this neon green paint on top. He would use a stick-like device to spread the paint across the screen. I would again place the signs in the sun on the grass. I liked the look of the neon green words against the black background. I also liked the fact that my father was so focused on this election that in his eyes I suddenly became someone he needed. Even if it was only to place wet signs on the lawn, I became a help rather than a nuisance.
My mother was very stressed through out the whole process. My father was using all of their money for his election expenses and he was never home. I remember the day we were going to get our family photo taken for his campaign pamphlet. My mother was in a mood, as usual, and was brushing my long, thick hair very aggressively. The brush kept getting caught and she would tug on it harder to get it loose. I said ‘ouch’ too many times. She told me to ‘shut up or she would give me something to cry about”. I tried to stay quiet, as I was getting a headache from the tugging and just wanted her to hurry up and braid my hair. At one point the brush became really stuck in a knot. My mother tugged so hard that my neck gave out and she pulled my head so far back that it felt like my neck was going to snap. I cried out and she whacked the side of my head with the hair brush, then pushed me away. My sisters and I always had our hair braided. On that day, in that family picture, on that brochure, my hair is a loose mess.
My father lost the election. For a time afterward our house was quieter than usual. My parents weren’t speaking to each other and my sisters and I were on our best behavior. The last thing we wanted to do was to poke the bull. I was sad that my father lost the election because during the whole process I kept imagining us being a happy family once he was in office. It didn’t take long for the house to settle back into our normal routines, only now both of my parents were angrier than usual. My father was focusing on the next election where he would again be a candidate.
I started smoking cigarettes when I was twelve years old. My parents had left a partial pack on the coffee table when they went out that night. My friend and I decided to try smoking. It tasted disgusting, made us cough, and gave me a headache but after a while we got pretty good at it.
It was a grade seven, over-night school trip when I first got caught smoking. My friends and I decided to sneak out to go hang out at the boys motel. We barely made it out of the driveway when we were caught and carted back to our room. I think we had maybe two or three cigarettes between the four of us. We locked the door and shared them. When our teacher came by to check up on us, the room was still smoky. We admitted that we had smoked a few cigarettes. After a short discussion among the chaperones, we were told to tell our parents what we had done as soon as we got home, -before the school called them. I was the only one who was worried about this. The rest of the trip I was ill with a migraine. At that time my father was running his business out of our house. I walked in the front door and he was with a customer. They both looked at me and my father asked me why I was as white as a ghost. I didn’t want to embarrass myself in front of the customer but I had to tell my father before the school called. I began crying and told him what happened. He became extremely angry but he could not explode in front of the customer. He angrily but calmly told me to go to my room and he would deal with me later.
After the phone conversation with the school, my father came to my room. My face was red and my eyes were swollen, -I had been crying for hours. My head was pounding with a migraine. I sat up on my bed waiting for the beating I was sure was coming. My father told me that the four children, their parents and school staff were going to have a meeting where together they would decide our punishment. He told me I was grounded then left my room. I thought about how odd it was. This was the worst thing I had ever done, and I even embarrassed my father when I blurted it out in front of his customer, but he did not hit me. He didn’t even yell at me. I was frightened more than ever.
The following day we all met at the school. No one said a word as we took our seats in chairs that had been placed in a circle. I did not like that, I felt very exposed because everyone could see me. There was no one to hide behind when we were all facing each other. I was afraid because my father had been too calm and my mother hadn’t said a word to me. The conversation started and the parents of the other children explained their disappointment in their kids. They told the school staff how they all disciplined their children at home as they saw fit and would accept whatever detention, chores or extra homework the school wanted to hand out. That was when my father spoke up. He went on and on about how horrible we were and that he thought we should all be suspended. The other parents immediately disagreed because we hadn’t hurt anyone or done any damage, and of course they did not want suspension on their child’s records. My father became quite angry and began yelling at them. He told them how he believed that we were a ‘gang’ and I was the ringleader. He went on about how he thought we stole, took drugs and painted graffiti all over the city and he could not have a daughter who acted out this way because he was in the public eye. I could not look at anyone. Everyone now knew just how crazy my parents were. I lifted my gaze from the ground to look at my mother hoping that she would make my father stop, but her eyes were also fixed to the ground. Even my crazy, cold, uncaring mother was embarrassed by this scene. For a moment I thought I had a chance to connect with her in the midst of all this craziness. I reached out and touched her hand. She pulled hers away and folded her hands on her lap. That was what hurt me the most.


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