"What Did You Say?" MAG

August 9, 2011
By Mark Phelan BRONZE, Rumford, Rhode Island
Mark Phelan BRONZE, Rumford, Rhode Island
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

Her reaction surprised me. I really didn’t mean to say “Leave me the hell alone,” but the words tumbled out in a moment of pure emotion. Her face contorted in disbelief and anger, and I knew immediately I was in for it. She managed to get herself under control and slowly, – very, very slowly – she opened her mouth to speak.

“What did you say to me?” she asked accusingly.

“Ah, well, um, leave me the hell alone?” I repeated meekly, staring down at our tiled floor, wishing I was anywhere, anyplace but there. Without another word, she simply pointed in the general direction of my room and at that point I knew I was really in for it. I trudged up the stairs and waited for the inevitable arrival of my father, who upon hearing what I had said, would lecture me on the evils of insulting one’s mother, and the future consequences of such an action.

This wasn’t the first time my mother and I had had a little “disagreement.” I was only 12 years old, yet my life seemed filled with skirmishes, sometimes all-out wars. I hadn’t liked her going to my baseball games, yet she still showed up, shouting and cheering in a way only parents can that would make any kid cringe.

I was in sixth grade, and it seemed as if she was a part-time teacher; she constantly volunteered to monitor field trips, much to my embarrassment. When I informed her one day that she was the only parent who ever offered to come on class trips, she looked shocked, then launched into a tirade about how lucky I was to have a mother who cared enough to bother.

Time and time again, my mother shocked, scandalized or just thoroughly embarrassed me, yet she never seemed to notice. She just continued, oblivious to what she was doing. I certainly couldn’t accuse her of ignoring me, or not loving me or maliciously trying to hurt me. Rather, it was just that she didn’t really understand me, or maybe I didn’t understand her. After all, I wasn’t a parent, was I? I didn’t know what it was like to raise a kid. It just might have been one of those parent things that made her flip out. She didn’t deserve what I had said to her. She was just trying to be nice, but she had gone overboard as usual and tempers had flared.

The noise of a car turning into the driveway jerked me awake. I heard a car door slam shut and fearfully peeked out my window to see my father, the judge, jury and executioner slowly walk to the door and enter the house. I knew what was coming next. There was a brief pause, as my mother related the events to my tired, unsympathetic father, and then a shout, calling me down from my sanctuary. I took a deep breath.

He stood in the doorway, a figure of doom, waiting to hand out my punishment. Standing just behind him, not quite in view was my mother, pretending to wash the dishes and not doing a very good job of fooling anyone. Without warning, the storm was upon me, as my father, in graphic and gory detail, described to me what would happen to me if I ever, ever even came close to acting the way I had today. Behind my father lurked my mother, continuing her farce of washing the dishes, but I knew she was listening, and probably gloating. The remorse I had felt disappeared in a flash, replaced by pictures of overbearing parents yelling at their poor, defenseless child. As my father’s hell and brimstone sermon came to an end, I put on my worst scowl, glared at my mother standing in the kitchen, turned on my heels and stomped up the stairway. Maybe she did deserve it after all.

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