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Day 26: This is why I need therapy.

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It wasn’t supposed to snow where we lived.  You’d think the military would’ve picked somewhere cold for us to move at least one time in my life, but no. We were always sent to the hottest and/or most humid of states. But the weatherman had said that we’d get snow overnight. And we did. Kind of.

When I woke up, something had changed in the hue of the morning’s greys and blues to my 8-year-old eyes. It certainly wasn’t a whiteout, (it was MAYBE two inches of accumulation) but all I could see out the window was the winter wonderland our front yard had become.  My first snow!

I got dressed as quickly as I could and beelined it to the front door. My Mom hollered on my way past that she’d be out with us in a bit. The Bozo Big Brother was already up and outside – no surprise there, Mr. IDoEverythingFirstAndBetterThanYou.

I was delighted at my first footfall onto the white stuff and how it gave softly underneath my sneakers and made a little squeak. Bozo Big Brother and I tossed teeny snowballs at each other. I tried to make a snow angel but the snow wasn’t deep enough and it became a stupid grass angel instead.  It was at that point that I got worried. I HAD TO MAKE A SNOWMAN BEFORE IT WAS GONE.

But looking around at the more-grass-than-snow yard, I knew my first snowman wasn’t going to win any prizes in the size category. I’d just have to settle for making two mini-snowmen. Determined, I set to work gathering all the remaining bits of snow from the yard and packed it into six consecutively smaller round orbs. That way, I’d have a larger snowman next to a smaller snowman.

After I was satisfied with their major body parts, I realized that they needed appendages! What in the world could I use for eyes, noses, mouth, and arms? And then… genius struck. I ran to my dad’s shed and dug through the box where I knew I’d find just the thing. Bottle rockets!  I could use the red sticks under the firecracker for everything!

I became so engrossed with the task of removing the live-ammo part and breaking the sticks into appropriate sizes for expressions and limbs that my mom’s presence barely registered. I stepped back and surveyed my Momma and Poppa SnowPeople carefully.  Hmmm yes, I liked how I used horizontal bits for their eyes and smiles, while sticking pieces into them for the nose and arms. I even did vertically-positioned buttons.

Finally pleased with the finished product, I turned to Mom and sought praise and admiration as only a child can. I give her credit. She did gush appropriately at my artistic genius and even snapped a picture with a disposable Kodak that she’d brought outside.

I was smiling sunshine, so happy and proud of my first SnowPeople that I wasn’t really paying attention to the fact that Mom had picked up the discarded firecracker pieces. The parts that you light.

The next thing I knew, my mom stood on the front porch, lit the fuse on the little cylinder of death and tossed it into the yard.


My eyes widened in horror as I saw it happen…


It was the perfect hit – the bottle rocket butt exploded just before hitting wet snow and just at the right spot between the two structures. My SnowPeople were mortally wounded.  The top orbs were completely blown off, leaving only mangled torsos of my masterpieces. Stick-arms and stick-eyeballs were scattered around in the remaining patches of white. Tears slowly welled in my eyes as I took in the damage. And then I heard the laughter.

I swiveled my head to fix my gaze upon my Mom, who was bent over, howling with the big, cackling, belly kind of laughter. When I saw that my brother laughed right along with her, my sad turned to mad.

I screamed at her, “MOOOOMMMMMMM!!!!!! WHAT DID YOU DO?!?!!?”

She stood up, saw my filling eyes and quickly processed the gravity of the situation. Even though she did her best to keep a straight face, it wasn’t quite working. Her horribly failed attempt at faked remorse made her 8 year old daughter even more pissed off.


She sputtered, “I… I…. sweetie, I’m not really sure… I…I’m so sorry….mmmphhh”. And then she dissolved into helpless giggles again.

The mad turned back to sad. My face crumpled with absolute betrayal and heartbreak and I raged at her “I CAN’T BELIEVE YOU DID THAT! I HATE YOU!”, before I ran into the house, sobbing inconsolably.

I didn’t speak to her for about a week, which is a loooong time for someone that young.

For many years afterward, I still harbored some underlying resentment towards her for wrecking a precious childhood memory with one lit fuse. She’d try to joke with me in front of the family about it, the same way we razzed her about the time she slaved over the perfect glaze for the holiday ham…only to cut into it and find that she failed to remove all the plastic beforehand…. but I was still salty.

But something changed this year. As we were all gathered around the breakfast table sifting through assorted baby pictures the damn SnowPeople story came up again.  This time, I decided to laugh with them. You see, I’ve come to understand that our family operates on humor. We laugh. It’s what gets us through the hard stuff.

And looking back on a memory like that? Well… it IS pretty damn funny. It just happened to take me twenty-six years to recover from the post-traumatic stress. And lots of therapy.


This piece is being submitted to this week’s Yeah Write Open Grid.  What is Yeah Write?  Pshhh.  Only the bestest writing/blogging community on teh internets. Git you some.

31 responses »

  1. My family operates on humor too, so I completely understand this story. Glad you finally got to a place where you could laugh with with your family about the snow people!

  2. There’s humor, then there’s mean humor. I can’t believe she did that! I would have expected it from the big bro, or from a Dad (my husband would totally do that), but Moms are supposed to be the cheerleaders and praise-heapers of the family. I would have carried a grudge too. RIP sweet snow people.

    • Kenja, to this day, Mom insists that something overcame her… she has no idea why she did it! Thanks for the sympathy. xox 😀

      • Okay, THAT I can identify with. I once pushed a sweet little girl into a stream for no reason at all except that I couldn’t resist. I didn’t even know her. And in my defense, I was a little girl at the time too. I also got suspended for painting the girls’ locker room in glow in the dark paint in 7th grade.

        I totally get Poor Impulse Control.

      • bwahahaha! You rebel!

  3. I’m glad you’re past it, but I’ll take up the anger for you — I’m furious with your mom for doing that. I’m glad she got the picture first, but holy WOW am I hot!

    I sometimes struggle with my hubby’s family because they view humor differently than I do. I suspect it is because I grew up in a situation where I never knew if my mom would think something was funny or offensive, so I just didn’t ever try. So much easier than feeling like crap over some innocent funny.

    • Courtenay, I appreciate your furiosity (did I just make that word up? I think I did.) and I send you big ole Peach hugs. But there is a BUT: my mom swears up and down that it was an out-of-body, devil-made-me-do-it moment. She never, ever repeated a stunt like that, either.

      That said, yeah… I was mad/sad for a long time. I’m just a bit more sensitive than the rest of my family and don’t deal as well with this style of humor. But life’s too short to hang onto 26 year old grudges. Letting it go = happier me.

      • I’m glad it was an out-of-body experience for her, that makes me feel better. And you are absolutely right as rain that letting go of past hurts makes for a more happy present.

        And I love furiosity! Ima gonna use that!

  4. Peach, your Mom’s behavior was simply Abominable! 😉 My family operates on humor too. Though I probably wouldn’t blow up my kids’ snowmen… Come to think of it, they’re boys and they’d probably love it. But I gotta love a mom with a wicked sense of humor like that. This is a great piece! Laughed so hard!

    • hahaha… abominable! I see what you did there. 🙂 and good point about the boys – my Bozo brother would have found it just as hilarious as mom did! But yeah… I’m fortunate my mom’s humor tilts way more towards the cheesy/goofy than the wicked/evil. This was just a rare exception and bad timing. I love her to pieces, no matter what.

  5. My heart was breaking for little Peach! Even more so b/c I have an eight year old and I understand exactly how devastating that would be to a kid of that age. I am glad you can finally laugh about it but that was big-brother mean, not at all appropriate for a Mom!

    • Stacie, what it was, was completely out of character for Mom! Like I said to Courtenay and Kenja – to this day, she promises that it was an out-of-body, devil-made-me-do-it moment. My mom was always our biggest supporter/cheerleader/praiser… except on this one day, something came over her. Ahhh…childhood. 😀

  6. I love the way you’ve shown your mom at an oh so human moment. This just goes to prove that you never outgrow entirely those impulsive moments. This is such a hard thing to teach your own children. That you are still human, you still will sometimes say thoughtless things and do thoughtless things.

    • Vanessa, you are spot on. We are all human. It’s kind of gotten me wondering if I’d ever do such a thing to my future kiddos… and the answer is, I don’t know. But if I ever do, I KNOW I’ll have an “ah-HA” moment and think of this story and go, ‘Yup. I am my mother’s daughter.’. 😀

  7. I’m pretty sure I’m on this exact same road with my six-year-old. It won’t be fireworks, but I could see something like this happening… especially since I always burst out laughing at the most inappropriate moments.

  8. I would have been devastated, and felt completely betrayed. But knowing this isn’t how your mom typically related to you does make it better 🙂

  9. I would never do this to my daughter. It wouldn’t even occur to me. But, that said, your description of the event had me laughing out loud. It is funny! At least 26 years in retrospect. Well told story.

  10. This is the kind of thing my husband would do, thinking it was hilarious, and then feel terrible about his kid’s tears.

  11. That is totally something I would do! So now I know to think of asking (or just warning?) my kids first. 🙂

  12. Oh man. I have these fits, too. Emma has this little lamb that she’s had since birth. I put it in the washer once and called her over to watch it spin. She was about one. She became HYSTERICAL. I laughed and laughed and laughed. It was awful and I couldn’t stop myself. Even later when I told Steve, I cried from laughter.

    Then, more recently, our former dog go ahold of the lamp and chew its eyes out. More hysteria, more laughing on my part.

    Something about her humanizing that lamb and its tough life strikes me as funny.

    Parent are mean. You learned this lesson a little later than Emma. xo

    • Hahaha, I can see that with the washer and the eyeless-lamb! And prob would have done the same thing. I told my Mom over the holiday that if she ever catches me doing something like that to my (future) kiddos to NEVER LET ME LIVE IT DOWN.

  13. I can’t even imagine my mother doing something like that! I would have gotten in trouble just for touching the bottle rockets. Yes, I need therapy for different reasons!

  14. This was hilarious, but also a little heart wrenching. I think we all have those moments when parents did something so unparent like and it sticks with us. God knows, I have a few of those. And sometimes? A little therapy is just the cure.

  15. Awwww! I want to cry for that little girl. I would have felt the same way, completely. No offense to your mom, but that was a mean thing to do to a little kid. Now, maybe if you’d plotted the demise of the SnowPeople TOGETHER…

  16. I’m sorry, but I have to admit I laughed out loud when your snow people were mortally wounded. I am so glad you see the humor now. 🙂

  17. Sad, yet funny. That’s something I would think about, but never actually do. I;m glad you can laugh about it now.

  18. Peach, I think you identified why I decided parenthood wasn’t for me. I might have gone for a cheap laugh without thinking about what it actually costs. (I promise I did not laugh at this point. Not once. Well, maybe one snicker, tops.)

  19. Oh my, poor little girl! I’m not surprised it took a while to get over that.


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