Read "A Child Called It," and Other Questionable Recommendations My Parent’s Gave Me As A Child
Mental health is something I've always considered myself a major advocate for; Not by example, of course. Dad always said feelings are for fags. And not fags like the gay f**s, but for pussies. Not saying that having a pussy - or what some circles consider a "female" - means that you're less capable of accomplishing great things. Just don't be a bitch. Not saying there's anything wrong with being a female dog. I bought a female dog, and I love her #GirlDad. He was simply trying to make the point that it's important to keep your emotions in check. Not that there's anything wrong with being a man who's in touch with his feelings. Just don't be such a fag, ya know?
Anyhow…For the past year or so, I've noticed more and more friends, journalists, celebrities, and podcasters pulling back the curtain to speak about their past and/or childhoods. It's an introspective journey of sorts, attempting to break down how the early years of their lives ultimately created what they are today. It's both a wonderful exercise and exact science; Who's to argue what you've experienced?
In hopes of discovering more about myself, I decided to take a deep dive into my own psyche. I started to think back to the compliments, advice, and suggestions my parents provided during my younger days. Despite what the title of this article implies, it would be unfair to say there wasn't good advice. For example, when I got my first girlfriend, my father implicitly stated, "Don't get her pregnant. It'll fuck up your whole life."
Looking back, I wish I did have a kid at 16. At least then, I would have an excuse for my failures. It's a lot more noble being a loser sacrificing for a child. Besides, at least they have walking, living proof of sex.
As I continued to comb through my past, and the nearly double-digit compliments I amassed as a child, I found instances of advice gone wrong. I realized I had hit a goldmine and an inventory of memories that could paint me as a victim for months to come. Here, I share some of those with you:
1…Reading A Child Called It in elementary
Elementary is a beautiful time in a young person's life. It holds an aura of innocence, discovery, adventure, and overall fun. I recently walked my dog past my old elementary school in hopes of catching a glimpse of the children playing (which is a completely legal action according to the agreement in my court case. Sitting on the other side of the fence is in no shape or form, predatory. But I digress).
Unfortunately, there would be no students out playing due to COVID-19. I took advantage of this opportunity by strolling through my old stomping grounds. Immediately, memories began flooding in.
I could still recall the first day of school after moving from Florida. I could remember the black and white Nike running shoes I wore that I thought were so cool. I could picture my first three friends: Chris, Steven, and Ming Quan (real names). The three of us would play dinosaurs, trade lunches, and absolutely never make fun of Ming Quan's squinty eyes.
Ok...maybe we did, but listen, we were just kids, it was 2003, and our teacher's go-to motivational tactic was threatening us with "The Chinese are going to take your jobs," as she glared over in Ming Quan's direction. Associating with a first-generation Chinese kid back then was considered progressive, but again, I digress.
My reminiscent thoughts eventually made it's rounds to the almighty Scholastic book fairs. We all remember the glorious book fair. To encourage reading, teachers would allocate time for their students to read a book that was either purchased from the fair or one we brought from home. I was left with a huge decision; What was I to read? Lemony Snicket? Captain Underpants? Harry Potter? Diary of a Wimpy Kid? Stinky Socks?
"Why not A Child Called It?" my mother recommended.
I didn't see why not. The title had enough ambiguity to pique my interest. The cover was a little weird for a children's book, but the teacher's always taught us never to judge a book by its cover. With that in mind, I tossed it into my backpack and prepared for the morning to come.
The next day, endorphins filled my veins from excitement. Well, that or the two Ritalin's I took before breakfast. It was the first day of silent reading time, and I couldn't wait to show off my book. After finishing my Eggo, I attempted my daily goodbye kiss to my mother - one that she always denied - and rushed off to school.
At 10 AM, when the teacher told us we could take out our books, a 5th grade me eagerly dug through my backpack to pull out my new piece of literature. A sense of worry quickly spread across my teacher's face as she saw the cover. She asked if I was certain I wanted to read that book. I assured her, saying, "Yeah, my mom told me I should read it. She said it would show me how good I have it."
It didn't take more than ten pages for me to recognize this wasn't going to be the adventure book I had hoped for. While other children's imaginations filled with beautiful imagery of magic, wizardry, and Hogwarts, mine became a running snuff film.
I couldn't help but think, was this some sort of threat from my mother? She seemed awfully excited to see what I learned upon my arrival home from school. When she asked, I responded, "Life's nothing more than a bleak, everyday attempt at survival."
I never was quite the same after reading that book. I started sleeping in the basement more. I developed a dire fear of holding my mother's hand around hot objects…took me just over three years to approach a stovetop. I guess I didn't complain much after that…so…there's that.
"Through tragedy comes incredible stories. Unfortunately for Dave, it appears as though he doesn't have a single creative bone in his body, or at least not one that his mother hasn't broken. Personally, I see the whole book as being kind of naggy. "My mom stabbed me. My mom held my hand on the stove. My mom forced me to puke after meals." Jesus Christ...Where are the metaphors, the similes, the character development? Honestly, it's all just BLAH"
"Picking up this book, I thought I was going to read an upbeat story about child abuse, but all I got was a poorly written account of a damaged, talentless man. What's the point of this book? If you want to listen to someone bitch for a few hours, then I guess this is for you. All I'm saying is that Dave could have highlighted the benefits of child abuse a little more instead of focusing on the negatives."
"I have no empathy for people with bad grammar. Guy should've realized he's a no talent bitch. God doesn't make mistakes, but if he did, it's that Dave's mother never finished him off. One star."
2…Be More Involved With Your Extended Family
Growing up, I was what people would refer to as a "Latch-Key Kid." For those of you unaware of what that is, it means I stayed in an after-school program until my parents got off of work. Every day was a competition between Ben's and I's parents to see who would show up last. I only ever lost once. It would appear as though Ben didn't take those L's very well, tragically overdosing a few years back. But this isn't about Ben. He's gone now, and there's nothing we can do about it. This is about me...
A year went by before I decided Latch-key wasn't for me, opting to stay home by my lonesome after school. That time I spent alone is the reason why I'm now perfectly comfortable with being by myself today. It's not that I prefer it that way; I just become complacent, lazily stop reaching out to loved ones, and start a website like FaHooNews.com.
As I've gotten older, though, my mother has encouraged me to spend more time with the extended family. This past August, I reluctantly accepted her challenge after receiving a text from my 19-year-old male cousin about using the pool.
"Sure, why not," I thought, "considering I haven't used it myself in over a year." Long story short, he's a good kid, we hung out, and then promptly moved on with our lives.
It was only a few weeks later, though, when word made way to his younger, 13-year-old sister. She asked if she and a friend could come night swim. This, as you might imagine, was never in the plan. "You mean, I have to speak to my family weekly?" I was out. I did what I do best and ignored the text.
Problem solved, or so I thought. My nonchalant plan was swiftly kicked in the stomach after returning home following my puppy's nighttime walk. As I approached my house, there, in perfect light, were two parked Huffy's:
I looked at them, then down at my freshly purchased puppy, then back to the bikes, and finally around at my surrounding neighbors. With my parents moved out and living back in Florida, I now found myself in a newly empty house, with a recently purchased puppy and two 13-year-olds who arrived on Huffy's night swimming in my pool. I immediately texted the only person I knew would do this: My sister.
Despite her being out of the house for 12+ years now, she still felt as though she had executive power to make these kinds of decisions:
Unlike standing directly outside of my old elementary school, this blatantly violated the terms of my court case. I was detained by police that night after a concerned neighbor called the cops on my cousin performing questionable Tik Toks at 10 PM…Not really, I'm not a kiddy toucher. But this isn't the aesthetic I needed. I looked like a poor man's Jeffrey Epstein.
For that reason, I haven't returned a text to my extended family since. Neighbors now shield their children's eyes as they pass my house. Looking at the situation now, my neighbor's refusal to make eye contact with me makes it a lot easier to avoid people...I guess we can mark this one up as solid advice.
3…Get a Hamster Instead of a Dog
If you're a parent, it's inevitable that your kids will ask you to buy a dog. I, as a child, was no different. I used to beg my parents for a puppers every week. Seeing as though they already had a latch-key kid, they found adopting a dog as being irresponsible.
Instead, my mother insisted that I get hamsters to fill the void. As an 8-year-old, I didn't have much leverage to counter. Two rats were on the table, take it, or leave it. In desperate need of a friend, I accepted.
The next day we headed to Petco to buy the necessary equipment as well as two little hamsters. My excitement was nearly uncontrollable. The second we got home, I set up the cage, put in the wood chips, a food bowl, water dribbler, running wheel, and finally, my two new pet rodents.
A week went by, and things were going great. I was learning responsibility and raising two healthy hamsters. Sunday morning, I headed downstairs to eat breakfast before church. I always made sure to eat light on Sundays to stay quick on my feet. The priest was 72-0 in our little secret game of freeze tag, and I was determined to come away with a W.
After finishing my meal, I ran upstairs to get dressed and tend to my hamsters before mass. As I walked into the room, I saw Rufus running on the wheel, yet Cornelius (both real names) was nowhere to be seen.
I picked up the mini igloo house to see if he was sleeping there: Nothing. I knew my hamsters had a history of burrowing themselves under the wood chips to sleep, so I started digging around to see if I could find him. I checked under the wheel - Nothing. I checked in the corners - Nothing. Finally, I dug towards the middle of the cage. To my relief, I had found him.
I gave him a poke, but my finger met rigor mortis-like stiffness. I poked again - No movement. I continued to wipe away wood chips when...when…I saw it.
"RUFUS ATE CORNELIUS' FACE! HE ATE HIS FUCKING FACE!!" I screamed.
I found myself in a demented version of Blue's Clues. Cornelius was dead, brutally murdered by his own brother, leaving an 8-year-old me to discover the body. End's up, it's not all that uncommon for hamsters to kill each other if left in the same cage. Wish someone would have warned us of that...
It was too late, though. Cornelius was gone, and there was nothing we could do to change that. It was time that I learn the valuable lesson of moving on via Petco's 60-day return policy; A policy that my mother planned on taking full advantage of.
At this point, most parents would have cut their losses. Not my family. My mother grabbed a plastic Kroger bag and picked up Cornelius as if he was nothing more than a shit a dog took on a walk.
Rationally, one would assume the 17-year-old working the counter wouldn't need proof of the horrific murder, but mother was a good, honest Christian. We tied Cornelius up in his plastic coffin and brought him with us.
Of course, we didn't skip church that day. Jesus died for our sins, so Cornelius' corpse sat in the car while mother and I attended service. We said a prayer, finished mass, and headed to Petco. We walked in, murdered hamster in hand, and got that $15 back.
From then on, I could never look at Rufus the same way. He lived the rest of his days in solitary confinement, in the basement, just how he wanted it.
With those stories in mind, you may be asking yourself, what is there to take away from all of this? Well, it's hard to say for sure, but if I had to guess, it's that my childhood was slightly more traumatizing than that bitch boy, Dave Pelzer. I think we can all agree on that.