When I Was Growing Up: Everyday Magic, Day 717

IMG_5765When I was growing up, my father wouldn’t let my friend Craig take me to the prom because he was black, and instead, I had to go with a white guy my step-sister paid to take me. Before trying (unsuccessfully) to rape me in the golf course, he pulled me away from dancing with Craig and called Craig the n-word.

When I was growing up, a  high school teacher would stretch forth one arm, drop his wrist dramatically, swish, and imitate Charles Nelson Reilly, cracking all of us up because he was pretending to be “a fag.” We didn’t know from lesbians (and would easily have confused them with the Lebanese).

When I was growing up, everyone was a Mick, Kraut, Kike or Wop. We told dumb Pollack jokes, and although my grandparents were from Poland, I laughed too, maybe even more.

When I was growing up, people with disabilities weren’t called people but gimps,  cripples, retards, or even more illogically, mental retards. Anyone who was different, whether by a propensity toward poetry or vegetarianism was called a mental retard too.

When I was growing up, I was told boys didn’t want to date me because I wasn’t 527088_4306393894281_1763591991_ngood at making them feel like they could take care of me, or that I talked too much, ate too much dessert, or, at 118 pounds and 5’4″, was too fat. There was no such term as “date rape,” only “put up or shut up,” “if you dress that way, you’re leading him on,” and “why marry the cow when you can get the milk for free?”

When I was growing up, only the weak boys cried, and men never wept or held babies or cooked any meal that didn’t include a grill and some charcoal. Our dads took off their belts and snapped them hard before beating us, and just about every woman we knew got slapped or pushed or kicked by some man at some time, but only because it was her own fault.

So much has changed in ways I couldn’t imagine when I was growing up. So much needs to change so that my young adult children, in 30 years, can say, “When I was growing up, we actually needed shelters for battered women. When I was growing up, lesbians couldn’t get legally married in Kansas. When I was growing up, young men of color were profiled, harassed, attacked, even murdered.” I pray that we all grow up enough.


6 thoughts on “When I Was Growing Up: Everyday Magic, Day 717

  1. Joan Vibert says:

    Thanks for these reminders – it makes me realize that is has improved and I see it in my children and grandchildren – they are more sensitive to these type of comments – but I’m afraid there is a large group for whom it has not become apparent how ignorant they sound (and are) with their biases.

  2. theimperfectpoet says:

    Beautifully said. I am thankful for all the changes in our world and saddened by how much growing we have yet to do. I hope, as you do, that someday our children will say “when I was growing up” and their children will be just as shocked as children are today when we talk about 30 years ago. Thank you for this post.

  3. Tracy Million Simmons says:

    What a relief to read something so real about “the good old days.” I get so tired of hearing how things used to be better when my memory is that they were not. If only we could grow up a little faster, but these are good reminders that things are changing..

  4. haehan says:

    I agree that the “good old days” weren’t so great in many ways, but . . .My father was a pediatrician, and most general with babies. My mother would have washed my mouth out with soap if I’d used the “N” word.

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