How a 5 year old's revenge plot backfired: Lessons in parenting

Girl playing. Photo by Emma Roorda
Girl playing. Photo by Emma Roorda

Until I was 6 years old, I was the only child in a home of five.

My mom had me when she was very young so automatically my grandmother became my 'mom'. She also looked older than the lady that looked like a teenager, who there was no way I was going to call mom. 

My grandmother was and still is my mom, because everyone at home calls her mom.

As I grew older my biological mother and I were slowly forming a bond, we were not necessarily best friends because she liked dressing up and I was more into books and spaceships.

So there were always fights about pink ribbons and burning my scalp with harsh chemicals to make it look 'girly', or what I think now is called 'socially acceptable'.

An only child

It was fun being the only child because all the attention was on me, and my aunt (my mom’s older sibling) had no children so she spoilt me rotten. It got lonely though, especially when my grandfather was working nightshift.

My grandfather worked at a local BP garage as a petrol attendant and would bring me sweets and hand me down books from his employer. 

When he got home at 5 in the afternoon, my grandmother would make us tea, I would take off his boots and put them outside the stoep for fresh air. Then we would sit outside and he read to me and I would read back and explain every paragraph.

This for me was the best time of the day. I developed my love for reading then. 

A spoilt brat? 

All the attention and getting everything I wanted turned me into a spoilt brat. As a result of this, the summer holiday of 1999 left me scarred. Literally. 

I wanted things to go my way and my biological mom would not have any of that, so she was 'mean'.

One day, my grandmother was going shopping for the December holidays, and she had promised me earlier that week that she was going to take me with her to town.

I was looking forward to that day because I knew that I was finally going to get a new spaceship toy.

A lie

On the day, we woke up and we both got ready to go, but as I was combing my hair my grandmother said that my mom didn't think it was a good idea for me to go with them.

She said it was too hot outside and my nose was going to bleed. Nonetheless, my grandmother promised to sneak me out of the house so she can take me with her. This was a lie.

I got back from throwing out water and she was gone.

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I cried ceaselessly. My mom was in the house with me, she gave me R2 and told me that she would go with me. I stopped crying, but I was still hurt.

Trust and consequences 

I felt that the one person I trusted had broken that trust, and in my head she had to deal with the consequences (it sounds dark now, but it really wasn't).

Anyway, my grandfather had a farming plot and he had farming tools too.

Our house has concrete steps when you enter the gate, so I took several thin ropes and tied them across the gate. The plan was for my grandmother to trip and fall on my trap: this seemed like perfect payback.

So much blood

Hardly ten minutes later I was called into the house by my mom, she wanted me to go get something from the shop and my overactive brain had completely forgotten about the trap.

I ran out of the house in full speed, tripped on the ropes and hit my head on the steps. I had never seen so much blood in my life.

I cried and called for my mom: that was the last thing I remembered.

I woke up in hospital with a bandage around my head and my mom looking at me like she was ready to milk the life out of me. I was patched up, with a total of 14 stitches across my forehead.

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Traps and tantrums

To this day the scar is visible. 26 years later.

I now have my own child and approach parenting differently.

If anything, as much as I did not mean harm on my grandmother, it was an act of frustration and disappointment in response to a person I trusted who broke that trust.

But as a child you don’t know how to communicate your feelings well.

Now I try my utmost to keep my word to my young son, if plans change, I communicate in ways he can understand.

I do this for two reasons, to keep the communication lines open so he can talk to me about anything, and to also teach him that there are other ways of doing things than traps and tantrums.

Children will always retaliate how they see fit at that point, and that is okay, but knowing I am not going to trip on traps set for me makes me happy.

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