Our biggest battles as kids were about going outside to play. Mother didn’t want us outside when she wasn’t home and Father (while he was around) didn’t want us outside (ever) I don’t think. He seemed to relish in dashing our hopes and dreams of F-U-N. During the last year of their togetherness we were rarely left in Father’s sole care. Mother had come to believe that Father was not quite dedicated to our safety.
There were incidents that caused Mother to question Father’s judgment, loudly.
Mother, the softest touch of the two held her ground on this going out to play business.
We’d ask, “Can we go outside?” and she’d reply, “May we”.
Again we’d ask, “May we go outside?” and she’d reply, “go clean your room.”
After we (re)clean the room we’d ask again. And she’d give us another chore. After completing that chore, we’d ask again and get a chore. Again and again, rinse and repeat. After forever and a million chores, she would acquiesce.
Father wouldn’t make us do anything, he’d just say, “No!”
One sunny day during my sixth (or seventh) year, my brothers and I were left in Father’s care. An odd occurrence, as ours had not been a particularly happy home and Father was rarely in it. To find him not only home but our care-giver for the afternoon, quite odd indeed.
The brothers and I quickly collaborated and decided that a sole Father (sacked out on the sofa) was a good thing. Best behavior and careful wording of our plaintive plea would certainly net us the grand reward, outside time.
We decided to approach him one-on-one, thinking “the baby” had the best shot. J was shot down, “no.”
The middle child went in. I plastered on my best smile, blanketed in my sweetest “daddy’s little girl” disposition and again, “no.”
The eldest was our last hope. Like trainers preparing a prize fighter for another round, little brother and I rubbed his shoulders and whispered encouragement. In he went. Time went by, so slowly.
Finally he returned with a smile splitting his face in two. “He said yes!! He said yes!!”
I grabbed my jump rope. They grabbed whatever it is little boys grab and out the door we flew. Scrambling down the two flights of stairs and bounding onto the concrete, my brothers disappeared around the corner and I skipped a few buildings down the street to the home of my best friend Pam. She, Diane and Lei-lani were on the porch, and that’s where I planted my rear.
Not too many giggles later I hear the familiar clomp, clomp, clomp of Father’s combat boot slippers. He does not look amused. His voice backed up his look, “where are your brothers?”
Shoulder shrug. I never knew where they went, the just, poofed.
I was assigned to find them and the three of us were to report back to our second floor apartment.
After forever I find them, huffing at elder brother the entire way back, “you said, he said yes!”
For years after eldest swore Father said yes.
We got our asses whipped that sunny afternoon. Father had a specially cured razor strop for this express purpose. We had to lie according to age, across their bed, bare butt. He’d hit one, then the next and the next and so on, and so on.
On this sunny afternoon, the windows open, our friends down below heard our screams. Eldest was busy (once Mother let us back outside) for days after, kicking the ass of everybody who teased us, well, him really.
Father wasn’t with us for too many more weeks after that sunny afternoon. The events of that sunny afternoon were likely the beginnings of the end of any further collaboration between me and my brothers.