By Frieda-Marie Elias – Swift Current, Sask.
When I was about seven years old, I got yappier and yappier about my need to run away from home. Helping with jobs around home like sweeping the floors and putting dishes away was becoming a bit too heavy for an otherwise good, obedient child.
Listening to dos and don’ts from my parents like ‘sit up at the meal table’ and ‘wash your hands at the basin before you come to the table’ and ‘don’t tease your brother’ cramped my freedom and my style.
After all, a seven-year-old lady should have some freedom to set her own lifestyle. That makes sense! I knew that right well. I fought tooth and nail, or almost, to get my own way.
Several weeks after installing myself as the boss, on a very hot summer day, my mother had had enough. She told me, after one of my outbursts, “Okay, let’s go and pack some things that you’ll need when you live away from home.”
I hadn’t thought of that! She continued, “Go and get a large paper bag and let’s fill it!”
I couldn’t think of one thing to put in it.
She said, “You will need some clothes, undershirts and such, and a bar of soap!”
I was frozen to the floor, but mom forced me to move in the direction of the underwear drawer. I took one thing, but by now I was crying. This didn’t feel right at all.
“But,” she said, “I want you to go!”
I carried the almost-empty bag and together, in the heat of the day, we headed up the driveway toward the road. I can still see the dry road dust through my tears and I clung to mom. But we made it to the road.
Mom dug her heels into the road surface as she pointed northward and said, “Okay, now go!”
I broke down completely and cried, begging her to let me stay. She broke down and hugged me as she said, “Come now, let’s go home and you obey me, okay?”
I never threatened again to run away.
However, some time later my dad’s mom, my grandmother, was staying with us and mom said, “Wash your feet in the little tub on the back step before bedtime,” and I said, “No.”
Grandma appeared on the back step and announced, “I’ll wash your feet!”
Grandma was very tiny and very bent. I didn’t like the idea of her help and I said so. She insisted and that was humiliating. I wonder, these many years later, were mom and grandma in cahoots to teach me a thing or two?