Honestly, I'm amazed I survived my upbringing. If my parents brought me up today the way they did back then, they might be imprisoned for child neglect.
Case in point:
During high school, in order to be in orchestra where I played flute third chair (I wasn't particularly talented), I had to participate in the marching band, a form of indentured servitude. I switched to oboe to get out, but the band teacher was smarter than me. Imagine, pitting a 16-year-old mind against a 49-year-old who taught 16-year-olds for over twenty years. So, flute it was.
That meant after school and on weekends I had to march for hours in mud and dust with three guys who, like me, had left feet. Without a doubt, we were the geek squad. We practiced over and over in preparation for half time to support our football team, the Community Chickens. I think they were called Cougars, but after an eight year losing streak...
The football team was anything, but stellar. Actually, the marching band and the football team had that in common.
My parents didn't believe in sticking around on weekends when it got hot in May and June. They stopped sacrificing for their children after we talked back, a passive-aggressive way of punishing us. Because of marching band, I couldn't join them in their weekend jaunts, mostly to their summer cabin three hours away. Every Friday evening, they packed the car with my brother and sister and two dogs and drove away.
They treated this as punishment. Trust me, it wasn't.
To assuage their guilt, they left me with Rusty.
Rusty was my guardian in my parents' absence. Actually, he had the best demeanor of anyone in the family, the mildest dog on earth. Mom called him, "A polluted Airedale" because he had papers stating he was an airedale, but he looked more like a lab. Even so, a dog like that may lick a sex fiend to death or, even better, point to where I hid.
Those weekends when my parents took off I usually had guys come over to have sex with me in my parent's bed. While the guy mounted me, Rusty mounted the bed and curled up right next to me, killing the guy's libido.
"I can't have sex with him staring at me."
"Trust me," I said reassuringly. "He doesn't take notes."
Rusty bore witness to a lot of stuff that went on those weekends while my parents were gone. I had my friends over and we smoked pot, got laid and pretty much hung out. After they left, I cleaned the house inside and out so my parents would never know what went on.
Oh, they knew. But they loved returning to a clean house, laundered clothes and newly made beds. I believe they thought it a good trade off.
# # #