Childhood Traditions

This Saturday I was coaxed by a parent to visit a family friend from Mexico who is visiting the area. This would take place at my born-again uncles house in the nicer part of the valley. As much of a recluse I may be, I saw the earnest effort my dad put forth in wanting me to join.

Right away I knew my role in this gathering. I was there so other relatives could brag about my accomplishments and how time has past since we all last saw each other. Like most relatives I had no recollection of who this stranger was, nor do I have a better understanding of who they are today. If I could summarize my purpose into a few sentences it would paraphrase to, “Hi, it’s me, don’t remember our relationship so it’s like we’re meeting for the first time. You too knew me as a baby, alright. This is what I’ve been up to.” And I usually ghost out of there shortly after. Hell, I could have left them a letter and saved some time for both of us.

Once we all reacquainted, I took the tour of this new home I’ve never been to, then I was reminded. That the reason this level of success had been achieved was through faith (oh boy, here we go.) Between that and the house filled with religious related decorations, books on faith and beliefs, along with a painting of the last supper with a white Jesus in the dining room, I knew I couldn’t have an impartial conversation about the subject without being flooded by biased points of view. So I took the higher route and continued to nod my head at whatever self-fulfilling message they were trying to get across.

One of the few things I noticed was that my other relatives have this secret agenda for me. In particular, my grandma is convinced I’m going to go to medical school to become a doctor. I didn’t have the heart to tell her about my cynical and alternative point of view and newly discovered free will. It took some restraint and discipline to keep the dark and cynical thoughts from spewing out. The alcohol kept the wheels greased and prevented a drastic change in mood. It’s situations like these that I’m glad my parents never pushed me too hard to do one particular thing. Sure there were a few restrictions, but when it came to things like faith and career choice, they didn’t know what the hell they were doing so why try and teach me to do something they were uneducated about?

One of the biggest take homes I learned from this was the parenting styles of my dad’s side of the family. My uncle has four kids. All of which are under thirteen years old. They’re ages are spaced out pretty well and I commend him for that. In seeing how they handle the family environment their parents have created I was reminded of a time when I was in that same setting at a similar age.

I found it a bit disappointing that the parenting styles haven’t been altered in the slightest bit. They still show affection and status from flexing their dominance over their kin and through jokes. Having saw and experienced this first hand as a youth, I thought to myself, “Well, that’s why I’m insecure and don’t do well in groups.” And “Yup, he’s done that to me too. I wouldn’t be surprised if in 15 years they resent you for the level of embarrassment you’ve caused them.” They’ve never understood the emotional damage that can come with jokes in large groups and refuse to acknowledge and accept what their doing. I’m just glad I don’t have to deal with it anymore. It’s no longer my problem and I wish their now kids the best of luck.

It’s kind of ironic that while people gather in groups to reacquaint, socialize and interact with one another from this new side of them, I never felt like I could have an open conversation about obscure topics like I normally can with close friends. Instead it’s this ritualistic environment where radical thoughts are met with skepticism and general dislike. It’s as though my family has found a way of living that they agree with and refuse to fully consider other lifestyles that are perfectly plausible for anybody, like not staying in school to become a doctor or belonging to a church. I know it’s this side of the family because I had mentioned to my uncle how my mom and I have become closer because I no longer feel like there is a barrier of mother to son that would prevent us from talking about things like sex, depression, and other taboo subjects a mother might not want to hear their child talk about.

I did reach my social threshold Saturday night and ended up having to leave unannounced. That being said, it wasn’t a total loss. I got to travel back in time and saw what my childhood was like now as a grown adult. I have somewhat a better understanding of the environment my folks have created. That being said, unless I’m in an inebriated stupor, I’m not going to give them any new perspective on life. That door seems to have been shut a long time ago.

Makes you want to start a tribe of your own huh? I’ll take a rain check myself.

-dfj

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