A friend asked me today how my parents washed apples for me when I was younger. I just told her how I clean my apples as an adult, and how my grandparents clean their produce. She kept asking about how my parents did it, and I was so frustrated because my “parents” didn’t do anything like that. I didn’t know that we were supposed to clean our produce before eating it until I moved in with my mother before going to college. My “parents,” who “raised” me – my father and his wife – they didn’t wash my apples for me when I was a child. It’s just another one of those tiny differences between how I grew up and normal healthy families. My friend just couldn’t understand how this most basic of childcare was denied me, and of course I was confused and amazed that parents actually do those sorts of things for their children.
I mean, I always made my own breakfast too (and for my younger brother if he wanted). It’s another one of those things that I learn makes me so different from many people. People just don’t understand how we kids were never loved, were never really parented, in that house. I took care of my brothers when they were ill. I cooked breakfast, sometimes even dinner. We lived in a middle-class subdivision, and went to good suburban public schools. We were latchkey kids. We were neglected and we were abused, and nobody would ever have believed it. I didn’t know that things could be different, and I keep learning all these stupid ridiculous small little things that families do – things that are supposed to be normal and universal in my cohort – things that we never had. Or things that we did, that we had to do, that are so foreign to others.
I don’t know how I could ever be normal when I don’t even know all the ways that I’m not normal. I started watching Modern Family and it always makes me cry, because they are a family. It hurts so much that I just couldn’t have a real family – all those things that families are. Seeing how much they love their kids, how proud of their achievements and caring when things don’t go so well. I feel like I’ll never have a family because I just don’t know how; I barely know how to have friends.