Name:
Location: Oklahoma

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Raising Two Sons

I have two sons who have returned from a session with the Psychologist, which my wife arranged. My wife initially set up a slew of appointments with this psychologist for the entire family. My wife and I did not attend yesterday, because we had to work. My sons do not have jobs. One is 20 years old and the other is 25 years old. They are both living in my house. It appears to me that they returned from the session somewhat upset with me. I guess they discovered that they had anger issues as a result of my getting on their case at various times. My son was of the opinion that I did not think he was not “good enough” for me – even though I never used those words toward him. I said he felt this way because of the way I nag him about getting a job.

I guess I should also explain a little about myself. I am a Mexican-American, who grew up in Phoenix, Arizona. My mom was in Phoenix, Arizona, and my father was born in Las Cruces, New Mexico. It was my grandparents who were born in Mexico and made their way to America to escape the trials of the Mexican revolution. I have since read some accounts* about the hardship Mexicans went through to escape the revolution and it sounds gruesome.

When I was small boy I remember growing up in a three room house. By three rooms I mean it had a kitchen, a bathroom, and a living room/bedroom. My home was propped up on cement blocks, and you could see underneath the house to the other side. It was my understanding that this happened when the city of Phoenix decided to build a freeway in front of our home. Our home was initially located close to the street, but because of the freeway the city paid my parents to have our home moved further back from the street – for some type of safety reason. (What I could never understand is why other property owners did not have to do the same thing along my street.) As a result our water and gas was disconnected from our home, which I assume should have been paid for by the money the city gave my parents. My parents must have had other financial obligations, because I remember not having running water or gas in our home for years. We took our baths (once a week) in a tub under a tree in the front yard. My mom cooked on a kerosene stove (very dangerous when you think about it).

We also had an out house in the front yard. It was a “two-seater”. There was this big pit under the out house and we could shit and wipe and forget about it. If you know anything about outhouses you know that you don’t flush them. The bugs and larva that craw around down in the pit eat up the shit and kill the smell. If you through stuff down the hole and kill the bugs, the smell builds up, and it starts to stink. Of course you do try and keep the place as clean as possible otherwise. The problem in Phoenix is that – it is hot and as a result there are a lot of bugs. We especially had these cockroaches that were humongous! When you are a little kid they look like something that could just about it you. When you get older you learn to step on them, but it is never something you do with much enjoyment. They make a loud squishing sound, and they leave a mess with their guts hanging out of their shell.

I am the second son of four brothers. I grew up without a sister. My older brother is 4 and ½ years older than me. For the sake of anonymity I will refer to him as “Old Bear”. My younger brother is 1 ½ year younger than me, and I will from hereon refer to him as “Lone Wolf”. My youngest brother is seven years younger than myself. Let’s call him “Rude Dog.” I refer to myself as “captcoyote”

My father was a laborer at an old aluminum factory in Phoenix. My mother was essentially a housewife, but she would find ways of making a little money here and there. Generally she would hire herself out to clean houses.

Eventually my father did connect water and electricity to the house after a few years. He also built, with his own hands, an extra room to the house. He later also built a large room in the backyard, in which I think he planned to keep his tools, but my older brother eventually turned it into his private room. Every room in the house had one electrical plug that came from the center light bulb in the middle of the room. From this plug my father would run an extension cord from which he would plug in a small black and white TV and the swamp cooler. I can’t remember all the things we had plugged into that extension cord but I do remember that it did have multiple sockets that were generally full. Considering that my father also smoked like a train, it is really amazing that the house never burnt down.

You would think that with the extra rooms my father built that things became more comfortable for us, but you would be wrong. Not long after my father built the extra room he was visited by his sister, who was married and had four children of her own. She had arrived from California and asked my father if they could share the home until her husband could find a job. She was married to some white guy who I guessed must have thought himself to be a hillbilly or something. He never went to look for work. They stayed in our home for about two years, until our families finally had a big argument and they left in a huff. My dad’s sister said that she was “dead to the family.”

My dad’s sister resurrected when my mother died. My mother died of liver cancer. (I would guess that she might have survived had she had a colonoscopy at the age of 50 like I did.) Still, for whatever reason, every time I see those cousins they give me a dirty look. I am not sure what I did to them during the time that they stayed at our house, but I guess it must have been bad. (It is a funny thing how we don’t remember the bad things we do.)

I went on to college in Massachusetts. I thought I was going to be a great politician, and maybe be president of the United States. (When Kennedy – a Catholic! – became president, it raised the hopes of all Catholics.) Unfortunately, I never knew that I was poor (because everybody seemed to be the same way I was where I was growing up), until I went to college. I went to one of those fancy “Ivy League” institutions, with lots of rich white kids. It was a real culture shock. I ended up “becoming a Christian”, which I think helped me to survive – but it screwed up my priorities and I changed my major to religion. Even though I graduated from college with a Cum Laude, I did not do as well as I had done in high school and grade school. I determined that part of the problem was: I had gone to schools which had not prepared me for college. So I determined that if I ever had children, I would not allow them to go to inner-city schools that assumed that my children were not going to college. That was my mistake.

I now understand that because I made the effort to live in “good white” neighborhoods, my children were exposed to wealthy white people who had children that could afford new cars every year. Their college is completely paid for by their parents. So needless to say, my children now hold it against me that I cannot afford to buy them nice cars, and pay for their time in college. If I had bought homes in poorer neighborhoods, I might have been able to afford a few vacations with my wife. I might have even been able to afford to pay into my sons colleges, had they actually made it that far after having been tempted by inner-city gangs, drugs, and punks. At least they might have appreciated the need to find and keep a job. Most kids going to inner-city schools (that I knew) wanted to work because that was the only way they could afford things.

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May 11, 2006 at 4:39 PM  

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