The first thing I can recall of my childhood is my ability to count. Odd, isn’t it? It is true though. My astounding ability to count to ten was something I learned of very quickly in my youth. Having such a gift however, is a curse, and something I would not wish upon anyone that learns of the numerical system in the same manner that I did. Rather, in school or by a few friends around a game of hide-n-seek is the more pleasing way to go about your 1-2-3’s.
Wondering how it came to be that I despise the numbers one through ten? Let me go in depth a bit more to fancy your minds and maybe even draw a tear or four. My parents were of the generation that believed “spare the rod, spare the child.” Heaven forbid that they spare us, my brother and I, in our childhood or else there is a chance that we would grow up to be corrupt little men spending time in the pen. So with that mindset, they made it a point to beat the snot out of us over the smallest of mistakes. The painful part being a youth was that it’s full of errors and blemishes, and that made for sleepless nights due to a sweltering bottom.
The reasons to my getting tarred were at times trivial at best. It seemed she wanted to beat me, as if she enjoyed it in a sick way that no normal parent could imagine. Not to be outdone by her reasons, how she went about the beatings was even more of a shock. The only times she was giving the punishment personally was when I would be ducking and dodging flying objects or when I was hiding all rulers or fly swatters that were in the house. She kinda knew not to get too close to me or she might find that I would be ever so tempted to smack her like the bitch she was to me. So that is why she would do the harassment at a distance, or so I thought in my own humble world
Let’s jump right into the worst memory, school, and the principle’s office. Nine times out of ten, it was for not following the dress code. White collared shirt, navy blue or black slacks, how hard is this to follow? To my mother, it was a task as large as the Rocky Mountains. She would lie out my clothes for me every morning and I would wear them no questions asked. Day after day, the teachers would tell me I’m out of uniform and that I would be suspended if I failed to follow dress code from there on out. Of course, they would call home to see why I’m out of uniform and she would go on and on about how I must change out of my clothes on the bus or at a friend’s house into the clothes I arrived at school in. So, not wanting to cause a fuss, I would admit that I did change on the bus and that my mother would give me proper clothes to wear.
So who did get the privilege of hitting us? Why, her husband, of course. The sad part is that it came across like a sick movie when it was time for us to be put in check. She would call for my father to come over and to knock us around. Mother would be in a chair cheering and encouraging him to hit us harder so that we would not make the same mistake again. Father would try and tell her he’s tired and that whatever it was that we did, it wasn’t worth the punishment she wanted to be handed out. I can remember my father walking into the bedroom and lying down and being relieved cause my brother and I escaped a beat down. But before we could enjoy that thought, we would see mother run after him and drag him back out.
After the beating we would receive, the tears would pour. My little brother would be balling, I, myself in tears, and my father weeping as well. It was painful to see Kyung-june cry, but the real pain came from my father’s tears. I felt he was a slave to my mother. He did not want the responsibilities of his position but nonetheless had to carry out orders because it was his role. It wasn’t the fact that the bruises and scars were embarrassing, but the way in which we were marked. My brother and I would say a prayer every night for my father, and I think it has finally been answered. We had seen him smile on Father’s Day.