“Wipe that look off your face!”
Every time Dad said this to my child self, it struck my heart with fear, because I really and truly had no idea what he was talking about. I was scared shtless at those times. Today, I know he didn’t like me looking at him like he was some kind of monster; he didn’t like the fear in my eyes. Back then, though, I was completely bewildered
And, of course, he blamed me for looking at him that way, when he could have easily put an end to it by ending his tirade, taking me in his arms, and apologizing. I loved him and would have forgiven him. Instead, I was left to search my mind for other faces to wear, finding none that fit. It was like running for cover in a hailstorm but finding none.
That is the beginning of this recent post by my friend, Barb, whose blog is Half Past Kissin’ Time. In it she shares a childhood memory of her sometimes verbally abusive father that made me want to cry. After reading it, I will forever cringe if I hear the words, “Wipe that look off your face!”
The Barb I have gotten to know over the several years we have been blogging friends is a self-confident, successful wife, mother and teacher of problem children. If it wasn’t for the occasional posts she has written about her sometimes unhappy childhood, I would never guess that this pretty blonde has had anything but a charmed life. (And she does sometimes share sweet and funny childhood memories too.)
But this particular post really touched me. It made me picture a small fearful child being ordered to do the impossible and stop showing their fear on their face, by a parent who they want very badly to please.
After reading her post maybe you, like me, will wonder about how we may have said things in anger to our own children. Maybe not as obvious as this, but still words that would hurt in ways we could never predict. It would be easy to do, especially if you had never heard it described, as Barb touchingly does, about how it feels to be the child on the receiving end.
May God bless those of you currently raising children with patience, fairness and love to temper the discipline necessary when dealing with your precious but sometimes exasperating little gifts from God.
And may God bless Barb in every facet of her life, but especially in her work with teenagers with emotional and social problems. It seems obvious to me that the tough experiences in her own childhood have made her an especially capable and empathetic teacher of those teens.