Have you ever spoken up when you saw something going on that was wrong? Were you scared? What ended up happening?
I remember very vividly trying to think of something for this question years ago and coming up with absolutely nothing! It was horrible! Hours sitting there thinking about all the times we had done this and trying to narrow it down one! I am a very vocal person when I feel like something is wrong and it has gotten me in serious trouble several times, however, I think this one might be one of my defining moments for me and those involved.
So if you checked out the post I did on Why I Still Love Anime, you would know that I did not grow up with my parents. My father died before I born, murdered and my mother was unfit to take care of me after being arrested from stealing at a grocery store. Fortunately, my grandparents took me when I six and basically raised from that point moving forward.
Now, I wasn’t an unruly person. Really now? Fine, I was a little hellion back then but that never really explained at that time why my grandmother was so strict with me. I wasn’t able to do anything that my peers were doing. Sleepovers? Nope. Hanging out until the streetlights come on? Nope. I had to be in after a few hours. House parties? Nope. Nothing. I was constantly on punishment for misunderstandings at school If you were even at school or because of my grades. But even then, how strict they were on me always put me at odds with them during my high school days.
I didn’t smoke like most of those around me. I didn’t drink. Never tried drugs I didn’t participate in gang activities like 90% of the student body. I was in love with anime and playing video games. Two things that required me to be stationary in someone’s house… where it was very easy to locate me.
Nevertheless, this caused extreme tension at home. One of my grandmother’s favorite lines was “If you don’t like the rules of the house, you are welcome to leave.” Remember this, it is very important later. We went at it constantly. I wasn’t disrespectful per se, but I always spoke my mind when I felt like something was unfair and with her, EVERYTHING was her way or the high way.
Get good grades? Still couldn’t do anything. Stay out of trouble. Nope, can’t go out with you guys. It reached a point where I started skipping school because my grades didn’t mean anything to me because the school work was easy and I wanted to do fun stuff with people I knew. And not your typical fun stuff. I loved exploring. I would go downtown and hang out at the college campus, hang with them in class and in the recreational area. We did it so much that they honestly thought we were students. Movies, parks, playing games, and all that of the sort. Nothing ever really bad so I never really got in serious trouble. Except for the skipping school thing. Perhaps that will be a story!
After graduating, finding a job, and acquiring a car; I thought I was doing pretty well for a 19-year-old. However, even with these accomplishments, the rules were still strict on me. I still had to be in the house at 11 even with the adjusted ruling that stated
“If you know you aren’t going to be home before curfew, call and let me know where you will be at for the night. Be home in the morning.“
By this point, however, I had learned it was always best just to go home rather than deal with the arguments. Even if I had valid points, they fell on deaf ears. However, one fateful night…
“Hey Grandma, I am just calling you to let you know that I am going to stay Kri’s house tonight. We ended up working until about 12:30. and we are all going to crash here and just watch some anime. See you in the morning?” My pitch changed slightly as I already knew what the response was even though I asked in what I felt like was a civil manner. I could hear the heavy sigh. I knew it was coming.
“No, you bring your arse home. I am not going to have this out of you. You always trying this bullshit. Why can’t you just come home?” The crew could hear her and they weren’t even in the car.
“I’m not trying anything. I said I would be home before you left to go to work and I have never stayed out. You said that if I knew I wasn’t going to come home to call and this is me following what you said!” I knew I shouldn’t have raised my voice but it seemed like we had been at each other’s throats for the last few weeks. She counted with illogical reasoning… something that is IMPOSSIBLE to defeat after I asked why this was such a big deal. “Because I said come home. End of discussion. I expect your arse here within the next ten minutes…” Click.
Now, let the crew tell you, there was anger written all over my face. I started the car and pulled off without a moments notice and raced to the house as fast as my ’95 green Ford Taurus would go.
I pulled up and darted into the house. My grandfather was sitting on the steps with his hands’ clasp. My grandmother was directly in front of me in the kitchen which was a little ways from the front door. I made eye contact with my granddad, hoping that he would have my back but the confrontation was unavoidable at this point and I could use the support. His face said it all. I wouldn’t have a party member in this boss fight. We going to do it solo as always.
I took a deep breath and counted down. Funny how you remember the things you learned in counseling when your seven when you needed it the most. I stepped into the kitchen, heart racing and beating so hard that I thought she heard because she turned from washing the dishes, throwing the dishrag into the sink with some force.
“I don’t want to hear it. I don’t want to talk about it.” She opened, thinking that I would just back off and leave it be. I have never done that. She knew better.
“But we have to talk about it. This can’t keep happening like this.” I have words leaping out of my sea of thoughts and trying to navigate and pick the right words were hard. I hadn’t calmed down but I had reached a new conclusion and angle in my argument. One that I never considered before but made so much sense to me. “You can’t keep treating me like I am going to turn out like my mother,” I said in a controlled soft tone. “I have done absolutely nothing to warrant you doing this every time I go out even if I am following the rules you set.”
Her eyes narrowed as took a heavy breath. “I said I want you home. You don’t have no reason to stay over there when you have a home.”
“But there is also no reason for me to be here when all of my friends are meeting up and hanging out in one place. Especially when all the things around the house are done.” Did you catch it? If you didn’t, we slipped up right here. Now it sounds like this whole thing was planned because of the poor choice of words.
“See I knew you plan this shit! Get out my face. You’re home and that is all that matters.” She said triumphantly. But that wasn’t the reason for this conversation.
“Why couldn’t I stay out? You still haven’t given me the reason. I told you why I wanted to stay out. You said if I wasn’t coming home to call you and let you know. I did. You are the one that isn’t following the rules you set. I am just trying to understand why?” (Some might find this disrespectful and I completely understand why but I’m going to hit you with my perspective. I believe it is easier to teach someone and enforce rules on a child if they understanding the logic behind it. We are taught to ask questions and to question the things around us but when children ask out of curiosity to understand, they run into fallacies when parents give crap answers. I feel if they understood the why then they wouldn’t question it because they know the reasoning… even if they don’t necessarily understand it. Because I said so doesn’t hold up but the actual thought behind why will take root and flourish.)
At this point, she is slamming stuff around. My advances to crack this unseen piece of armor is working but I can feel a knot form in my stomach. I start to question whether or not pushing the issue is actually worth it. My grandfather has added nothing to debate. I thought he would have at least been on my side when it comes to following what she said. He looking at me like I should give it a rest but that only adds more fuel to the flame burning. If you know what I am saying is right, why aren’t you challenging her with me?
And it clicks. Like a light switch being flipped.
“You know what… if you can’t give me a straight answer as to why I wasn’t able to stay out tonight then I think it is about time for me to leave.” Oddly enough, saying this made me relax.
Her hand snapped back with surprise, shock, and a hint of anger in her expression. “Where are you going to go? Huh? Ain’t no place going to be like it is here.”
This wasn’t the first time she said that to me but it was the first time she said it with mixed emotions. I feel my stomach drop. None of this was planned. I would have to make it up as I go but I couldn’t continue to deal with this inconsistencies. ” I will figure it out,” I started. “But I can’t stay here if you aren’t going to stand by your own word.”
She just stared at me now, eye wide.
“You said if I ever didn’t want to stay here I could leave. Well, I think I going to do that. I will grab my things from downstairs and be on my way.”
Before she could even say anything and before I changed my mind, I reached into my pocket to grab my keys and moved towards the door. I took the keys I had to the house off my keychain and dropped it in my granddad’s hand. He shook his head and told me that this might have been too far but I already stepped on the path. To turn around now was out of the question.
“Where do you think you going!? She bellowed, hands slamming into the countertop.
“I will be back in the morning to pick up my things.” I mouthed an apology to my grandfather before stepping out into the night.
The rest is history.
I was so scared driving back to Kri’s house because I did not know whether they would be down for moving. Scared that I would be living outside of my car for standing my ground and for what I thought was right.
She eventually told me that she did not want me to turn out like my mother and that fear drove some of her decisions to shelter me like she did. I was the boy she always wanted after losing two children during birth and the other turning out the way she did. She did not want me to be like that. That crushed me because as I look back, I wish I could have been more understanding but at the same time, it was wrong to punish me for something that someone else did. She knew I never show any signs of that type of behavior. Drinking, Drugs, Partying, Smoking and other things like that were never on my radar as fun. I still don’t do it now.
She fell back into the same convictions with my sister but even worse because she never punished her for the wrongs that she committed. Stealing, lying, and nearly getting removed from a school district and it starting to get very ugly now with her hitting the cusp of adulthood. But that is also another story for another time.
My grandmother and I did not talk for months but we eventually settled those differences and now we are closer than we have EVER been. I can’t imagine my world without her. We are usually hanging out with her on the weekends.
But that is for this writing prompt. Grandma, if you read this, I LOVE YOU!!! And don’t ask us why we use these pictures. You already know!
Thanks for reading! I know this was lengthy. Longer indeed! Stop that. When have you stood up for something that was wrong? I would love to hear your tales. Let’s talk about it in the comments below.
Until the next post… Love you Grandma!