Many years ago when I was in Cub Scouts there was an impromptu ceremony held for some of our Pack who were moving up into the big boys’ club of Scouts** As there was only 3 of them, the powers-that-were decided that, instead of the normal “swearing in” procedure, they would use our meeting hut, a length of rope, and a lot of imagination.
We all stood on one side of the room and the rope was strung across the length of the hut, about a foot off the floor. Two senior Scout leaders then got the lads to jump over the rope one at a time, signifying their passage from one world to another, i.e our “world” of Cubs to the new world of Scouts.
This has always stuck in my mind as a very clever, yet simple way of making a point and making it clear to children what the meaning signified.
Recently I’ve been having hypnotherapy and one of the things I’ve realised from this is that I purposely held back from jumping the rope for most of my life as I got older.
My family were uber dysfunctional, presided over by a self obsessed, spiteful matriarch and a father who was loyal to his wife no matter how badly she treated both him, his children and his own parents. This was a choice to prevent her leaving home, but like Veruca Salt, the more you give people, the more they think they are entitled to and the less they think they’re actually getting.
Seeing just how miserable life was for “grown ups” when I was a child and a teenager I made a sub conscious decision to avoid joining their world as long as possible, if not for ever.
Problems arise when you see just how much worry parents pour over issues such as money, mortgages, holidays or even who’s cooking dinner. The stress and anxiety that this life brought to my parents, and in particular my mother, put me off ever wanting to be a part of it. My old dear’s philosophy was that you should buy a house as soon as possible and then save every penny you had so that, by the age of 50 you would then be secure. This seemed farcical even at the time and despite the fact that both she and my father had good, well paying jobs, money was an issue she constantly whined about. One of her other beliefs was that you should save and save and save…so that every 5 years you could buy a new car.
Whoopee fucking do!
While money had indeed been tight when my parents married in 1967, her mindset of “never having enough” and “buying the next but cheapest item” continued well after it needed to and she continued to perpetuate the myth of being impoverished, when we blatantly weren’t.
Another thing that put me off was that the social life of a married couple seemed to be hardly ever going out and occasionally inviting friends over for dinner, or being invited to dinner.
Why, I thought, would I want to put myself in such boring misery? To be trapped in a house I would spend 25 years paying for where even a trip to a restaurant would seem like a lavish excess.
A fly in the ointment was the type of friends my parents had. One particular revolting creature named Gloria used to come round our house wearing tight black leather trousers (she had about a 42 inch waist)***. She talked down to me, my brother and even my mother and was an ignorant, opinionated dog.
Two other friends were, years later, described by my father as “those two boring buggers”. Turned out that my parents didn’t actually like them, but didn’t have the courage or were too embarrassed to simply cut the rope. They would lament how boring these two were**** and how the woman was a lousy cook. This seemed to me to be a living nightmare. Having to spend most nights at home due to not having enough money, and some of the precious free time you actually had, would be spent in the presence of people you didn’t even like but couldn’t tell them so for fear of causing offence.
A skint, boring, stressful, anxious, restricted and limited life was what I believed awaited me as an adult doing adult things in an adult world.
The abuse my mother put my way as I grew up also made me realise that getting a job that I wanted (her job meant more to her than anything else, including her family. She actually said this on more than one occasion) would result in stress, viciousness, bullying, tantrum throwing and taking my bad moods out on my children. I didn’t want to bring kids into a world where they would be treated like that. I also didn’t want to be trapped in a job that was my only sense of self worth or to be so stressed out doing it that I became a tyrant as a direct result of doing it.
All in all, the world of adults seemed scary, unpleasant and unfulfilling. Remaining childlike (albeit not necessarily childish) was a way of avoiding the horrendous misery and despair that I had linked to the world that awaited me once my full time education was over.
Jumping over the rope was not something I was willing to do.
Now...just need to get my left knee repaired (recent Krav Maga grading) and I might take a running jump at it.
** Now more of a unisex world where girls can join in too. Part of me still thinks this sucks.
*** I've actually had counselling about seeing her in these. No I'm not joking
**** Also not nice people. The husband once proudly told me that he was on jury service and they found the accused guilty as they were bored and wanted to go home after the trial went on for 2 weeks.