Memories 05

[A continuation of the series where I write down fragments of my life that exist in my memory as standalone instances, still vivid due to their novel or unusual nature]

School busses of my Lubbock childhood didn’t actually go into neighborhoods. Instead, they traveled between the city’s schools. So in order for me to catch the bus to my Junior High, I had to first go to the High School 2 miles away. It was an odd logistical system, especially since my sisters, due to age spacing, attended other schools, and in order to catch those busses, had to in turn go to other schools in the morning. Because the routing didn’t simply send all busses to just one nearby school. Oh no – too easy. Lubbock’s population density was pretty sprawling, too, so it wasn’t as if mom could have just driven us all to our destination schools. Instead, she drove us all to our point of pickup schools. This of course meant that every morning I was trapped in the Chevy Nova with two sisters and a mom. And since mornings always bring out the best in people, the routine wasn’t exactly enjoyable.

Now, I’m fairly certain that my mother hates all human males. As do my sisters. The verdict’s still out on how much, exactly, but they have a lengthy rap sheet of ex-husbands and ex-boyfriends, sooooo…

It’s easier to overlook youthful arguments with my sisters though, since, you know, sibling children always argue. But with mother I always felt that she was taking out her own childhood issues on me, while also trying to groom me into a…something less masculine. It’s not as if she were trying to make me a woman in the strictest sense of the word, but more like I should behave less man-like. As in, stereotypical masculine-like personality traits were tampered: confidence, competitive drive, too big an ego, etc. Traits my father exhibited regularly.

One of the ways she did this was through extreme belittlement if I ever said something unusual/incorrect or used a word wrong – then constantly bring up whatever I said so no one would ever forget and the experience could constantly be invoked to belittle me further (anyone who had a boomer mom talk extra loud to her own mother one the phone so she could be sure you could hear her would know what I’m referring to).

For example, one day I read an article on indoor farming, wherein was explained an experiment to extend the number of consecutive hours of lighting the plants were exposed to, essentially artificially changing the day/night cycle. For whatever reason, that sounded cool to me at the time, and I wanted to share what I read with mom. But I made the mistake of explaining it as: they give the plants 36 hours of light a day, to which my mother interrupted to explain there were only 24 hours in a day so that didn’t make sense. Further attempts to explain were brushed off with commentary on my intelligence, while my sisters joined in with the jeering. Every morning for months mom recounted that story during the morning drive to school.

But that memory isn’t the focus of this post, because I have a weirder one – also a morning drive belittlement attempt.

One morning my inquisitive mind asked what flour was. As in, the culinary ingredient. I was curious because it went into a lot of meals, and all I knew about it was that it made messes in the kitchen and I’d be assigned vacuuming duty. Cue the lesson on using a dictionary instead of asking mom. A normal explanation would have been something like: “It’s ground grain.” Not a completely accurate definition but close enough for a kid. I had already correctly assumed it was made from wheat (which is the most common type of American flour), but mother simply exclaimed “It’s flour!”

The remainder of the conversation went something like this:

“But what’s it made from?”


“Okay, but it is made from wheat or something?”

“It’s made from flour!”

“So not ground wheat?”


“So flour is a plant? Flour comes from the flour plant?”

“It’s flour!”

At this point, as per usual, my sisters starting chiming in with the belittling, chanting “It’s flour! It’s flour!” Thus ended my line of inquiry.

What a bizarre experience to have in the 7th grade. I had deduced the correct answer, but rather than simply affirming it, and by doing so validate me, mother turned the conversation into one of her belittling opportunities by denying me the confirmation. And for years after, I was under the assumption the flour was itself an agricultural crop. And my sisters, who probably didn’t either know or care, probably shared belief in that “knowledge” too.

Why would a parent dissuade their own child from the pursuit of information? Or mock the child for trying to independently learn and discuss knowledge? Or, lead the kid into accepting false information? I still think it was as simple as her hating men, and trying to discourage my own development of becoming an independently-thinking man (Down with the Patriarchy!) Whatever the rationale, the conversation still confuses me to this day.


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