Growing up as a child, I don’t remember my parents particularly taking much interest in me.
I know I certainly never felt like they were paying any attention, positive or otherwise, to me.
They never seemed to notice any of my good qualities or encourage me to excel in any areas of interest.
In fact , more often than not, they hurled criticism at me for being a “lazy book worn” rather than recognizing my early love of reading and writing as skills in which (apparently unbeknownst to them) I excelled.
I, like many others of my ilk, have more than a few not so pleasant memories of growing up and I guess that most everyone would have at least the odd one or two that develop on into adult bug bears.
Yet for me, it seems somehow as if all of my not so pleasant memories are more than mere momentary apparitions.
More than just the odd entities of past thoughts that rise up and envelope me whenever someone says ‘oh do you remember that time when we were kids?”
Instead they live and breathe inside of me.
My way of absorbing the world it seems, has etched them, into my very skin.
Turning them from the old long forgotten fiends that others so easily bury, into the constant companions that urge me to consider,….
What if things had been different?????
What if, instead of discouraging me, my parents had taught me that words have value and that poetry can be powerful ?
That writing is a skill worthy of being worked on, understood and nurtured, not ridiculed, forgotten and tossed to easily in the trash ?
For years and years I assumed that the way I’d taken in my parents general lack of awareness of me, my hopes, my joys and my concerns, had all been part and parcel of my being the middle child.
I also assumed that the way I’d memorized and catalogued my extensive list of childhood grievances’ was something that every child did.
And that other children somehow magically managed to forget about such lists when the throes of adulthood struck them.
I’ve always wondered why it is that I’ve never been able to master this trick of forgetting all but the most extreme agonies of childhood the way that others do.
For I know that other people can do this because it is what I’ve watched my sister do as she squashed down and then destroyed her dream of becoming a singer.
She had, in her teenage years, one of the most amazingly brilliant singing voices I’ve ever heard come out of another human being.
No I’m not talking about the sort of voice that occasionally earns you the title of “Rock Star” on Sing Star, but the kind of voice that makes people stop whatever it is they are doing and look up for its source.
Yes, she was that good.
Indeed some of my happiest childhood memories are of sitting outside our bedroom door (being younger I was always locked out of the room whenever she was in residence) and listening to her belt out the latest Abba or Smokey songs.
She had a gift but my parents weren’t interested in acknowledging, encouraging or even remotely helping her, to develop it.
No singing lessons, no accolades or applause for her performances within school choirs, nothing at all.
Yet despite this, when she was 16 (and all without the help of things like the YouTube of today), she was asked to audition as the lead singer for a local well-known band.
For my sister to have even been asked was high praise and serious recognition of her talent indeed.
But my parents told her that it would be a waste of time for her to even try as it would lead no-where.
Plus, they told her, they weren’t going to waste their time driving her to and from rehearsals when they were sure that she’d never find the nerve to actually stand up on stage and sing in front of other people.
Music was a dead-end street.
Doubt firmly cemented into place.
All dreams of being a singer effectively squashed.
Sad to say, but when it came to the tactic of ignoring their children’s gifts, my parents it seemed, were equal opportunity employers.
Never the less, that didn’t stop me from feeling as a child, that my sister had always gotten the lion’s share of their attention.
As an adult, I know now, that it’s not true.
None of us had gotten the lion’s share of attention.
For there was no lion and no attention to share.
My sister now shrugs her ‘could have been’ moment in the singing spot light off with a sardonic laugh.
I can’t help wondering what we could have been…..
For more than one passing second……
Our parents had given us just a modicum of acknowledgment, support, encouragement or even just the vaguest sense of hope that maybe one day, it could be possible for us to achieve our dreams.