I was thinking. I need a little intermission from my abusive life because my emotions need a little break. But, I don’t want to stop my momentum with the fear I won’t finish my story. The fact it’s taken me 9 years to finally write the words,”My Abusive Father” I certainly can’t stop now. So, is there such thing as a commercial in a book? What about a “book-mercial”? Or what about a book-ter-mission? Oh, I’ve got it. This will be a “chapter-mission” or how about a “chapter-mercial?” Whichever you prefer let this chapter be deemed as such as I take you through a funny random story from my childhood as only I could make it happen. So, sit back, relax and enjoy a laugh or two.
It was a Saturday and my 8th birthday. My parents had left my presents downstairs for me to open when I woke up. By the way just so you know, I never could have been Christian because there was no way in hell I could have looked at my wrapped presents sitting under a tree for a month without opening it. No way! As it was Momma had to hide my birthday and Chanukah presents until the very day I was opening them.
My sister told me she wanted to see me open my presents so she asked me to wake her when I got up. Did I mention I was turning 8? I’m sure for any of you with children understand there was no such thing as me sleeping late when I knew I had birthday presents waiting for me. And can I tell you how they were calling for me? Well, they were!
It must have been 6:30 am when I woke up that day. I was so excited to get downstairs to see what I had gotten. I went to my sister’s room and tried to wake her. She barely opened her eyes when she told me it was way too early on a Saturday to wake up. Too early? What did she mean? It was ONLY another 30 minutes before the sun was to rise. Come on. It was my birthday and I was anxious to see my presents. I kept trying to wake her but it was futile. She begged me to wait one more hour and then she promised she would get up. She told me to come back then. I was so disappointed.
OK, before I continue with my story I must explain the type of child I was. My sister was 7 years older than me which made her 15 at this time. Momma was the bread winner of the family and worked long, hard hours. And Daddy? Oh, forget Daddy right now. He gets enough recognition in the rest of the book. He can stay out of this chapter. My sister was more of a second mom to me as she really was the one who took care of me most of the time. I’m sure she was resentful for having to do more than her fair share. At any rate I was a kid who typically got away with a lot and had the ability to talk my way out of anything. As the baby of the family by the time I came along my parents were exhausted. It didn’t help that I was a high energy child who constantly needed to be entertained. If Momma bought me 5 projects to do, I was done with them with in 20 minutes and was bored wanting something else to do. Today, we call that ADHD which I was diagnosed with as an adult but to my family at that time I was a handful. Aside from having lots of energy I was demanding. If I wanted something I had to have it immediately. I wasn’t Verucka Salt from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory where her character yells, “But,I want it now Daddy!” But, I was very impatient.
So, when my sister told me to wait an hour it felt like an eternity to me. I had to come up with a way I wouldn’t have to wait so long. And that’s when I had a brilliant idea or so I thought at 8 years old.
As soon as my sister rolled over in her bed and went back to sleep, I began thinking how long it would take to change all of the clocks in the house to be an hour ahead. I started calculating how many clocks I’d have to change. There was my sisters, mine and the two downstair’s clocks. Momma and Daddy’s clocks were never a thought because I knew I’d definitely get into trouble if I had chanced theirs.
I figured it would take me a good 15 minutes to get all of them changed. Since I was already in my sisters room and I knew she was back asleep, I went ahead and changed her clock to 7:15. Then I went to my room and when I was done, I went downstairs to change those clocks. It had been about 5 minutes since I was upstairs so, I knew I needed to change the clocks downstairs to 7:20. I felt the closer in time all of the clocks were the more believable I could make it.
The clock over the fireplace was easy for me to reach. It was a battery run one with accessible hands. I just stood on the brick fireplace stoop and moved the hands to the “correct” time. I didn’t even have to take it off of the wall to do it. The one that was going to be a challenge was the one in the kitchen. It was a plug in one that hung pretty high. It was centered on the back wall of the kitchen with the refrigerator to it’s left and the kitchen counter to it’s right but nothing underneath it. I took one of the tall stools we had at our eat in kitchen table and as quietly as an 8 year old could, I dragged it over to the clock. I felt the friction of the chair on the floor but the sound it made wasn’t too bad. I climbed up onto the stool and tried to reach for the clock. It was just a hair too high. If I could only get a little higher. That was when I thought to get up on my tippy toes. Well, that was not a great idea. Just as I did, the stool started to swivel left and right forcing me off balance. I had to think fast. In my 8 year old wisdom I decided to do a fancy maneuver to grab hold of the top of the refrigerator. I could not fall because it would have woken everyone up. And I certainly couldn’t wake my parents! Then, I would have been in trouble.
Well? My idea to grab the refrigerator didn’t turn out quite as I had planned. I did get hold of the refrigerator but I ended up grabbing the part of the door where it had that soft suction part that keeps the door closed. The way I was holding it caused the door to loose it’s suction and swing open. So, there I was hanging from the refrigerator door on my 8th birthday. Being so short there was no way I could reach the floor so there was no way I was going to let go. I had an idea though. I put my foot on the refrigerator’s door handle to help give me a boost. I then reached for and climbed to the top of the refrigerator. I figured if I could get on the top of it, I would be able to step down off of it from the side where there was the kitchen counter. But, once I was on the top of the refrigerator I realized the kitchen counter was a little bit farther away than I had expected. From the floor looking up it didn’t look so high but when on the top, it definitely was. Time was a ticking, so I knew I needed to hurry. This was turning out way more complicated than I thought it would be. But, wholly crap, how was I going to get down? Determined I was not going to have anyone in my family find me on top of the refrigerator, another idea came to me. The refrigerator door was open. I could just climb down from the front using the shelves on the inside as my steps. OK, so it wasn’t so easy but I had to get down. I accidentally squished a few items in the door but I did make it safely back to the floor. Having given it a gallant effort, I knew there was no way I could change the time on the kitchen clock. So, I dragged the stool back across the floor as quietly as I could and figured I’d just tell my sister that clock was broken if she asked.
By the time I made it back to my sister’s room her clock read ten till eight. Even though it took longer than I originally planned, it was still about 30 minutes before the original hour would have been up. I shook my sister and told her it was time to get up. I had to keep a straight face when she said she felt as if she had only been sleeping for half an hour. I remember thinking to myself we had basically split the difference. She woke up 30 minutes earlier and I waited (well sort of) 30 minutes.
My sister looked at the clock and saw it was past the time she was to wake up. I told her I gave her some extra time. Wasn’t I such a sweet sister? As promised she got right out of bed. She told me to go downstairs to wait while she went to the bathroom. I was sitting on the couch when she came downstairs and I was very ready to open my presents.
And so I started. The only thing I remember wanting that year was an ice skating outfit. I had been taking ice skating lessons and really, really wanted one of those outfits. However, my vision of what I wanted was a pretty pink leotard with a cute, pretty pink skirt attached. And of course none other than pretty pink tights. I envisioned for months skating in that pretty pink outfit. Well, that morning when I opened the box, I was shocked by what I saw. Momma had bought me an ice skating outfit alright but instead of it being the pretty pink I wanted It was the most intense orange I had ever seen. And not only was the leotard orange but so was the skirt and tights. I remember looking at my sister and saying, “Orange? Momma bought me an orange one of these? With my red hair all I need is a green hat and I will look like a carrot out on the ice.” My sister laughed and laughed at my comment and then told me it wasn’t so bad that I would look cute in it. I have to say she didn’t build much confidence in me to wear it because of how much she laughed. Who would have known when I hit my 20’s I would have an array of dresses that were bright orange and yellow. I suppose Momma was a tad bit too early introducing me to the color orange.
After I was done opening presents my sister turned on the TV to watch her favorite Saturday morning show. My heart stopped. I didn’t think about her watching tv! Uh oh, I was SO about to get busted. When she turned to the channel of her show, she was shocked to see it was another show. She was very confused and took a look at the clock in the living room. Then, she looked at the clock in the kitchen. She was baffled why the one in the kitchen was slower than the one in the living room. I told her there was something wrong with the one in the kitchen. My sister said, “Yeah, right. You mean to tell me the one with the battery is faster than the one with the plug? That just doesn’t sound right. It should be the other way around.” After about 10 minutes of her flipping through the TV guide, changing the channels and checking out both clocks, she figured it out. Only when she asked did I admit to changing the clocks. She was so mad! I suppose I could get an A at the scheming part. You have to admit it was clever. However, my execution and thinking my plan all the way through had a lot to be desired. By the way I never told anyone about my attempt to change the time on the kitchen clock. I was embarrassed but even more so I was very afraid I would have gotten into a lot of trouble. But, I didn’t need to be punished to know to never do that stunt again. Now as a parent of an 8 year old I just can’t imagine being a fly on that kitchen wall that morning. That alone makes me smile from ear to ear.