As far as anyone can call everyone you know on Facebook a “friend,” then I’ll unfriend people for a lot of things. Saying something racist? That’s an unfriending. Having dumbass political views? That’s an unfriending. Continue whining about the same fucking problems without any effort to fix them because you continue to make the same decisions, thereby causing those problems yourself? That’s an unfriending. Also probably an Internet-shaming, as I screenshot those people and save them for later.
One of the things I haven’t unfriended anyone for but that still makes me really uncomfortable is when people talk about how if they did what kids today do (talking back to their parents, staying inside on the Internet all day, whatever), their parents would have beaten their asses. And this is apparently a good thing, because what the world needs now is more children who get their asses beat(-en, but that doesn’t have the same South Side ring to it).
While I understand the thinking behind this and dearly wish that some parents would smack some sense into their kids sometimes (or better yet, that someone would smack some sense into the parents), it bothers me because, as someone who got their ass beat as a kid, I can attest that there was nothing affirming or character-building about the experience(s), and that at 30 years old, I’m only just starting to realize how fucked up a lot of that was. There’s a world of difference from getting smacked once or twice and truly getting your ass beat, and I think that anyone who experienced the latter would share my discomfort in seeing people actually advocating it.
Short of a felony, there’s nothing a kid can do that would merit their parent beating them up. Again, I don’t mean smacking them around a little. I mean actually beating them up. No kid is going to learn something from that experience unless the lesson is “how to get the fuck out of your parents’ way when they get like this.” Maybe it’s because I don’t have kids, but try as I might, I cannot understand the mental leap a parent takes when they decide to just wail on their kid, this person whom they were entrusted to love more than themselves. AGAIN, a swat on the butt or a smack on the mouth (because what else do you do if your kid calls you a “motherfucker”) are understandable, but beating on them? Really beating on them? What on earth could that accomplish?
I didn’t understand it when I was a kid and I don’t understand it now. I’d like to think that some good came out of the times when I was being literally thrown around the room by my father or pushed down the stairs by my mother, but I’m mostly coming up short. On one hand, I grew up tough as shit and I’m not threatened by people who think they can push me around because they’re bigger or angrier than me. I can’t believe I’ve found occasion to
quote paraphrase Liam Gallagher, but I remember an interview where he talked about his father beating him and his siblings, and he said that when you grow up being physically bullied by the person who’s supposed to protect you, you become this person who isn’t afraid of anyone else. Because what can anyone else do to you? How can they possibly hurt you any more than your parent, who’s not only much larger and stronger than you for most of your life, but from whom you can’t run away because they own you and everything around you?
On the other hand, and I’m just as disturbed by this as I am at my ability to remember a Liam Gallagher interview tidbit from who knows how many years ago, I’m realizing that getting your ass beat by your parents isn’t as normal as I thought it must be when I was a kid. I know that everyone begins to comprehend their parents’ humanity at some point, and I think I began to do that sometime around my early ‘20s when they divorced for weird and upsetting reasons, but I’m still struggling with understanding how they found it in them to really go after me. I was an A student. I played sports. I was a bookworm. I didn’t stay out late, I didn’t cut class, I didn’t steal. Aside from normal juvenile smart-mouthedness (which I still contend wasn’t that bad because I never even cursed in front of my parents until I was in my ’20s), I truly cannot think of anything I did that was wrong enough to warrant the times when I was – I’m sorry to say – beaten.
I password-protected this entry because I don’t want my parents (or the people who might tell my parents) to see it. I’ve already addressed this subject with them and their responses were mixed. Both of them first denied any wrongdoing, probably because you have to be a bit of a revisionist when you’re a parent. Then they both acknowledged and (sort of) apologized for it while at the same time defending their actions. Basically, their reasons came down to “you probably deserved it” and “parenting doesn’t come with a manual.” In my mother’s case, I got it worse because “you looked like your father’s side of the family” and she thought I might be “favored” because of that. So she demonstrated differently, I suppose? Which isn’t to say my father was any better, especially when alcohol was involved, especially especially when my mother would get stressed out and leave and I’d have to fight him on my own. Which was almost always.
Thinking back, I can only remember two times when people stuck up for me. Both people were kids – my sister once and her friend Brenda a different time, both during fights where shit got especially bad. I completely shrugged them off at the time, because already I’d developed an “I can handle this” attitude (how could you not?). Other people witnessed it at other times – I can remember one Easter when the entire family was in the next room – but I don’t blame them for not saying anything. It just wasn’t done back then.
So I grew up thinking this happened to a lot of people, and probably it did, and probably most of them are reasonably well-adjusted individuals like me (I swear I am, who told you I wasn’t?!). But I still don’t like that any of it happened and I occasionally get super fucking mad about it, and I wonder why anyone who went through the same thing would want to glorify it on Facebook.
I’m not glorifying it by writing it here, by the way. I’m writing about it because I’ve been thinking about it, and because like I said, I’m 30 years old and slowly starting to understand that it was kind of fucked up. Not as fucked up as my grandparents’ generation being whipped with switches and pipes, and not as fucked up as some kids who were tasked with running and getting the belt, but fucked up nonetheless, and I don’t think anyone should be qualifying their experience by demanding that everyone else live up to it, as well.