My parents had a unique sense of justice.
Pain, humiliation, defeat, failure – these were all gifts from God that were bestowed on you because of something that you did in violation of parental wishes. Fall off your bike and get bloody knees? – God getting you back for being a smartass to your mother. Lose at cribbage against an adult? – proof that you shouldn’t act like a know-it-all. Stood-up for your senior prom? – God is telling you that I was right that he’s a loser. (This one happened to my sister.)
No one should wonder why my “personal relationship with God” devolved into “there isn’t one.” Faeries are easier to believe in than a God who spends time smiting kids to help parents with child-rearing.
On the other hand, success, accomplishment, winning – were all flukes according to my parents. Accidents that would be righted in your next attempt at whatever. Got an A on the test? – you’ll just flunk the next one. Etc., etc., etc. My father had a more delicate touch when deflating a puffed-up kid. He specialized in subtle attacks on the value of the award, hints that the skills were so minimal it barely measured anything. Now I think he was jealous. Each success of his children shined a light on what he failed to attain, the accomplishments he lacked. He was probably a bitter man but it was hard tell because he was always so stewed.
My mother was cruder in her attempts to “rightsize” your pride. She went for the quick, pull-the-rug-out comment so you went down fast. I guess I preferred her style over my Dad’s. With Big Alice her comment smacked you and that was that. You get knocked down, you get back up and thumb your nose. My Dad’s comments infected, made you feel sick and lingered in the back of your mind.
Tricky stuff parenting.
I used to feel sad that my parents are both dead, and wonder if we would not have reached some better relationship as we all aged. But now, as I figure out how their warped ideas have influenced my choices ever since, I’m not so sad. At least with them dead there is a finite end to their nutty behavior.
How I choose to let the past push me now, that’s all my doing. That’s my justice.