Sunday, September 18, 2005

She's her father's daughter

OK. Here's the deal on why I haven't written in so long. I need to write my father. We had an argument about three weeks ago about his [grand]parenting methods, and we haven't talked since. I have issues with the way he deals with children. He has an "authoritative" voice from hell. He yells incescently. He has next to no patience, particularly when he is not getting what he wants. He's like that with everyone, including my mother, who has become immune to him over the past 33 years. In fact? We all have, my entire family. We've learned to ignore him and let him be "who he is," despite the fact that we all cringe just waiting for his top to blow at any moment. He's embarrassing, and usually makes an ass of himself regardless of where he is or who is around.

He's not typically a physical abuser. Most of the time it's emotional and mental. However, when he's "had enough" he does not stop his yelling, it only moves to the physical level. He "disciplines" in anger, and that is what I refuse to tolerate.

I've experienced it and observed it my entire life. He does not know how to communicate - in general - but particularly with children. He insists on having it his way. He does not stop to listen to a child. Nor does he care about what they may be feeling. He only wants them to do what he says, when he says it. Like a child is a dog. He instills fear so that the child will obey on command: Sit! Stop! NO!

As a child, I learned to deal with him on his level: I can yell too. Just as loud. Just as logically, if not more so. I can condescend. Dish insults. Hurt feelings. I can defend myself. My brother learned to deal with it by withdrawing from himself and the family. He hides: his feelings, his emotions, his thoughts. His anger is all he knows, and that gets expressed through ignorant, violent behavior, fights, unlawful unruliness, and partying. He's a womanizer and proud of it. He "can get any woman he wants." And? He ignores: everything and everyone, including his 3 year old daughter. He is afraid of being my father.

It is his daughter, my niece, about whom the latest battle between my father and I occurred. You see, my parents have taken a very active role in her life, despite my brothers lack of effort. My mother watches her on an almost daily basis while my niece's mother goes to work and school. My father is around in the evenings when she might sleep over. My niece loves her granpa. But? She's not stupid. She, before turning three, made reference to how her granpa "don't talk nice."

Honey and I had gone to my parents to celebrate both my mother and father's birthdays, which are two days apart. The four of us were going out to dinner after their day of mom playing golf and my father watching my niece and her (8 month old) baby sister. All. Day. Alone. In a house. With two young children. My stomach was queezy on the ride over and I wasn't sure why, but by the time we were on our way home, I realized that that was the source of my anxiety.

The incident occurred while trying to get my niece ready to go home with her mother so that the four of us could go have dinner. Of course, as soon as her mother arrived, lil' niece didn't want to go. Who could blame her? She hasn't seen us in a while, she wants to play. She wants to stay. And she made no bones about saying it every 5 seconds. My dad had "had enough." He took her into the other room to get her shoes on; to which she responded by kicking and repeating through screaming cries, she "did not want to go home." She kicked my dad in her tantrum, and he whipped her on the bottom. I saw it. No surprise; I understood.

She continued with her pleading cries to not go home, while we stood and waited. Her mother, trying her best to hold a conversation, while letting my father handle her daughter, had obviously tuned out the situation. Meanwhile, my father was growing tired of her cries, and jerked her up off the couch by her arm and carried her down the hallway. My ears perked, eyes followed as he instructed my mother to "MOVE!" out of his way carrying my niece into my parent's bedroom. My niece continued with her sobbing, pleading, cries, "I don't want to go!"

That's when I heard the smacks - several, three or four, on bare skin. The sound of her soft skin being slapped by a man's hand over and over made my body shake and my teeth grit. My niece only screamed louder, the same chant as before, it hurt but she still felt the same way, no matter how many times he hit her.

I put a stop to it. I marched down the hallway, closed the door to their bedroom, my mom watching over the scene of my father whipping my niece on the bed. I told him he must stop right now. I cannot take it. There are other ways of dealing with a child other than hitting her. You are only making it worse. "She's not going to treat me like that!" he shouts at me. So YOU are going to treat HER like THAT?! It makes NO SENSE! She is a child! He throws his hands up in my face and tells me that I need to get out of there. I put my hands up in his face and told him that if I left that room, I was leaving the house. He yelled, "FINE! GO!" So, I left.

And? My niece, her mother and sister left with us.

My mother remained. She always remains. And, the older she gets, the more she defends him; the more she refuses to see any other reality of my brother's or my childhood through any other eyes but her own protected by rose colored glasses. It's as if she's lost her memory. The memories where we shared intimate talks of how abusive my father's words and actions truly are. She was mad at me for stopping my father from hitting my niece. I have never been so sad.

You could see the handprint on my niece's arm where he had jerked her off the couch.
She's three, her behavior cannot be compared to that of a grown man's.

It's difficult for me to face him and express my own feelings to him. I usually crack before I even get my words out. The tears make me look like a victim, and he does not believe that I am one. I've tried corresponding with him through letters before, and that usually doesn't work either because he does not want to confront anyone's feelings but his own. And, HE is always right.

But? Not this time.

And my bitterness, resentment, and inner-child are holding me back from trying to write something to him that smoothes things over. Therefore, I've very little to say, to either of them.

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