Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Gift That Kept On Giving

Sometime around the third grade I received a GI Joe for Christmas. This wasn't the kind of small action figure that we have today, these were about a foot tall and came complete with the kung fu grip. I had no idea whatsoever what that meant but still it was a great selling point to a young person such as myself. I begged my mother endlessly for this particular GI Joe and for once it worked. My joy was endless, at least for a little while. After Christmas break was over we children returned to school and it was there that my teacher informed our class that we were to bring in our favorite gift that we had received for show and tell.

Of course there was no other toy for me to consider, the GI Joe was head and shoulders above anything else I had been given, so I informed my mother of my intention to take it to school and display it in all the glory that it was worthy of. Much to my dismay my mother had a completely different opinion than mine and told me quite clearly that the GI Joe had cost far too much money for me to risk taking it to school. It was forbidden. What if it were to get broken?

Even though I listened intently to what my mother had said the truth was that before she had even finished talking I had already resolved that I would take my GI Joe to show and tell no matter what. After all, hadn't my teacher instructed us to bring our favorite present? I couldn't ignore a directive like that from a teacher and then bring some lowly, lesser toy with me. It just couldn't be done that way. I went to my room and started plotting a course of action that would allow me to deviously sneak my prized gift out of the apartment.

As it turns out none of my careful planning was needed due to the fact that my mother left for work before I left for school. I merely had to take it with me. The moment had arrived and all of my class presented our offerings for inspection. There was a very good reaction to mine. So good in fact that a girl whose name escapes me (I've probably blocked it out) took it over to another part of the room and when she brought it back my mother's admonitions had born their hideous fruit. It was broken beyond repair as was my heart. Not only did I no longer have my favorite possession that I had long begged for but now I also had to look forward to the severe punishment that would no doubt be coming my way for disobeying my mother.

Once I was home I feverishly started looking for a hiding place, some secret spot where my mother would never find the broken GI Joe and thereby protect my posterior from having harm inflicted upon it. Keep in mind that I was young and so I chose the most unlikely spot that I would have been able to find something, under the gloves and scarves on the shelf in the hall closet. The very shelf that was almost eye level for my mother. The one that as it turned out was extremely easy for her to find what I had tried so hard to hide.

As you can imagine it didn't take her but a few moments to find it and summon me to stand before her in front of the closet. How is it that mothers have this ability to immediately discern that something is wrong in the house and sniff out exactly what it is? As she stood there shaking the broken GI Joe doll, ranting and raving at me for what I had done, what she had forbidden me to do, she lost all control and sharply smacked me on the top of the head with the doll. The impact shocked and probably scared me more than anything else. I stood there in shame and fear as the tears started to roll down my cheeks. My mothers reaction was not one of sorrow or remorse though. She immediately fell back on her tried and true go to saying, "Be quiet before I really give you something to cry about!"

Never in the history of the earth has that admonition worked on a child and it certainly didn't this time either. As if the physical pain that she had just inflicted upon me had not been enough to make me cry! It makes no sense at all but still parents use it to this day. Sadly I myself have used it a few times wincing inside after I've delivered it and realize what I have said. The rest of the evening was spent alone in my room alternately crying and plotting how I could make her pay for what she had done to me, which I of course was never able to do. Truthfully it was forgotten about after a few days and the natural order of things was restored.

Oddly enough this story would somewhat repeat itself years later (although accidentally) when she belted my nephew in the head with one of his action figures. That of course is another story saved for another time.

Published by Don Leach

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