21 January 2020


I blogged this true story a very long time ago, some friends might remember it. I used it as a talking piece when I was in the Women's Institute and, would you believe it, they all laughed. So did I, of course, it is easy to laugh when many years have passed. Anyway, here  it is again. Go on, have a giggle but only if you didn;t have a mother like mine!


For amusement I have decided to relate four incidents from the first eight years of my childhood. Though distressing ordeals at the time I now regard them as useful subjects for short discourses.

My first memory was of being abandoned, left entirely alone for what seemed like hours, a small toddler sitting on a baby's pot. It was not funny. My incompetent mother had gone out, probably for a matter of minutes but long enough for the enamel chamber pot to make an impression on me. I learned at a tender age not trust Mom’s parenting skills.

Did you have occasions when you wanted to disown your mother? Judging by the nodding heads in the front row I see you did. Well, let me relate an episode which still makes me cringe.

The scene was a crowded double-decker bus. We were sitting in the seat behind the driver, whose interior window was open. My tactless mother had suspected that the morning ritual of scrubbing teeth had been overlooked. Her voice was shrill when she demanded to know had they been cleaned.

The driver laughed.

I answered in the affirmative, speaking in a deep whisper, praying other passengers had not overheard.

'Let me have a look,' Mother said.

More sniggers issued from the driver's cab.

A man called from behind, 'Go on, kid, open wide.'

Believe me, I could have curled up and died.

In strident tones Mother persevered with her persecuting performance, jabbing my arm and instructing me to do as the man said.

A hearty guffaw sailed through the driver's window.

(Your chuckles remind me of those which reeled from seat to seat, upstairs as well as down.)

There was nothing for it, I was compelled to put my teeth on public display.

'I knew it!' Mother cried as she inspected each tooth.

Sinking them in her neck would have been unkind considering they were thick with plaque and decorated with remnants of the barley sugar I crunched at the bus stop. But Mother was quite decent about the indiscretion. She didn't hit me until we alighted from the bus.

A third circumstance concerns the fruit which Mother confined to a cut-glass bowl on the dining room table in a room overlooking the road. It was for display purposes only. The room was out of bounds but when Mother was out I would sneak in and pinch an apple or a pear, convinced that she would never know. One mad, mouthwatering moment I dared to steal a juicy red apple at a time too close to Mother's home-coming, lifting the fruit just as she passed the window. I was caught red-handed. What could I do? Where could I run to? Too late to contemplate suicide, I prepared for a beating. And my appetite for apples was destroyed.

I wonder if all children are as apprehensive of their mothers as I was. Mine scared me. She would wallop me for no reason. I daresay there were motives; if there were it didn't occur to her to disclose them.

I recall the time I came home from school bursting to spend a penny and dashing straight to the outside loo. During the process of unburdening, my ankles graced by navy-­blue knickers, my fingers pursuing the elusive toilet roll, the door shot inwards. Without a word Mother reached out and slapped my face, then closed the door and returned to the kitchen. She had been so angry that she couldn’t wait to dole out my punishment. I didn't challenge it. I knew when to keep my mouth shut. And until the end of my residence in that house I made sure to slide the bolt on the outside privy door.

Thank goodness parental attitudes have changed.

Thank you for listening.


  1. Replies
    1. Gosh, you mean there was more than one cruel discipline lover! Someone once said to me 'your mother needs a dose of her own medicine.

  2. I suspect your mom had been raised with a similar kind of rage, it is often passed down to each generation, I assume it stopped with you.

    My mom did not suffer rage, but she could be a bit ditsy sometimes, usually in a fun way, sometimes not. I am told that when I was only a few months old she left me to sleep outside under a tree. The sun moves of course and the Oklahoma summer sun is harsh. I was burned badly at three months, but obviously recovered. The doctor did tell her in the Oklahoma no nonsense way, "If he was a blonde you'd have killed him."

    1. Yes it did stop with me... my son was much stronger!! I'm glad you survived being left outside but the mere thought of it makes me shiver.

  3. I had two loving parents Valerie, I got told off a few times because of kids being kids, but never with this kind of force. This never happened to me but I have two friends who tell similar tales. I always shake my head as I cannot comprehend why a child should be treated so cruelly, and yet I know it happens.

    1. There seems to be a thing in every family to teach in such a way. I am happy to hear you didn't have to go through the parental cruelty streaks.

  4. Valerie, I can see why the crowd at the Women's Institute laughed while telling this story; especially the one in the bus. reminded me of something you'd see on a television situation comedy. HILARIOUS!

    It's funny how back in the days when I was a kid, it was nothing for parents to discipline their children in public or even spank them for doing something wrong. Nowadays, that would be considered child abuse. And in some cases I think it was/is, because some parents took their own frustrations and anger out of their children and no one gave it a second thought because they thought it was simply discipline.

    Thanks for sharing this story, my friend. I hadn't read this one before.

    Hope you're having a great week!

  5. You are right, Ron. Chastising a child in public was nothing compared to behind doors treatment. I shudder when I think of youngsters having to suffer such cruel rebukes.

  6. Valerie, your mother was far from being delightful - but the amusing way you wrote about it is extremely delightful. I'm still laughing at the incident in the bus when you wanted to sink your teeth into her neck.

    Thanks for using your wit to turn these unpleasant situations into enjoyable tales to read!

  7. I can laugh about it now, Jon. In fact as I wrote this I was doubled up with laughter. I didn't do much chuckling when I was young though.

  8. Sounds like my mother too, I was scared of her even after I got married and had kids of my own. Everyone was scared of her. Sorry you had an abusive mother too.

    1. Good to know I wasn't the other one suffering. But, hey, our mothers should have been punished for child abuse.

  9. Simply dreadful to read about your mother’s discipline, Valerie, and good that you could turn childhood traumas into almost laughable stories years after.

    1. I needed to grow up before I could appreciate the humour! I am glad you enjoyed it.

  10. Makes my heart hurt to know that you were treated that way as a child, Valerie.
    I'm glad that you can write about it; you are such a tremendous writer.
    Sending you hugs from across the pond....


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