A Round Peg: A Lament
KJ Hannah Greenberg
You told me the object I drew was not a circle, but a square and that I must make a square. I continued to draw circles, though; you taught me nothing of squares, only of rage. When I was younger, I played with your grass shears. You took them away, but gave me no crayons in their place. I cut my hands reaching for them.
Later, you told me “no cake.” Knowing nothing else, I broke the code, crumbs trailing from my mouth onto my sheets. I wish you had mentioned carrots. I had no knowledge of them.
Perhaps, I had mistakenly showed up during the wrong session in your life. Friends told me that parents give options, set boundaries, shower kids with love. Yet, you validated none of my personal, familial, or professional choices. What’s more, all along, you scorned my accomplishments.
Accordingly, as I flip this scrapbook’s pages, it feels eerie to view my childhood’s literal snapshots. Grown and long gone from your domain, I can, now, juxtapose “innocence” against my actual experience. It’s not so much that I became jaded as it is that I was finally able to come in contact with certain truths.
We owned a limited selection of titles. So, from the time I was permitted to cross the street, I frequented our city’s libraries. Books, though, yielded more than I could integrate. Reading about alternatives meant inviting in pain. The scars remain.
Parenting devoid of care is evil. Every child’s happenstances, no matter how equivocal, deserve attention. Primary care providers are thus obliged.
I can’t forget. When I kiss my own offspring, I wonder, anew, what a functional childhood might have been like. I then share any gleaned insights in my writings, hoping to enhance the piecemeal trail of relief built by and for girls like me. Sadly, this type of living is neither new nor ended.
In addition, I live guarded. Guilt, plus a sense of worthlessness continue to visit me regularly. My identity remains tattered. My big and important degrees and awards, notwithstanding, I yield to anxiety’s dictates long before accepting social approval.
On the other hand, individuals, such as my students, my children, and my employees, folks who are differently self-empowered than am I, seek me as a model of steadfast normative behavior. Life’s ironic, I guess.
Nevertheless, even while I continue to lament the unnecessary death of my innocence, struggle to right myself from psychologically listing, and strive to join together external perceptions of my well-being with internal doubts of the same, I work to excuse you. Healthy people don’t hurt children.