Must have been about three, or thereabouts, when I first remember getting a shot. The whole bunch of us were rounded up by our Daddy for what I now think were polio innoculations. Why else were we all together? And why else were they giving shots in what I think was the Auburn High School?
Anyway, those details are just to help me place the date. Mid-to-late nineteen-fifties, I guess. So the whole batch of us were herded into line and given shots. I vividly remember being greatly surprised that this was a shot. I was afraid and I cried. Then it was over. Like so many things to a little kid.
Except that afterwards we went for ice cream. I didn't get one, but all my big brothers did. I was bewildered. I still remember them licking theirs, gloating and saying, "You cried. You don't get ice cream." Apparently that was the deal. Never mind that ice cream would have gone a long way to erase a bad memory. Never mind that I was now doubly betrayed by my father. And doubly bewildered: I didn't remember any deal ever being proposed to me. But there it was: If you cry, you don't get ice cream.
It taught me that little kids are very easily betrayed. Later, I did everything I could to prevent such a betrayal to my children. When a child most needs loving assurance, I give loving assurance. It doesn't always work, but my girls feel less betrayed, I hope.
And that's the point. Frontier justice is a miserable way to deal with children. But children in a big family quickly learn to cope with injustice in all its disguises. Adult hold the big stick, kids get no say. We took it out on each other.
Tuesday, I will not blog. Tuesday I will need to go to work in the late morning, and be herded to the new headquarters, forty minutes away, where we will be inoculated with "the new way of doing things."
I must admit I balked at the long hours. How could I work a thirteen hour day with no midday rest? We have no replacements. But I need my midday rest. My boss then expressed his understanding of the situation. Later he exploded at others' complaints. He would carry the entire load himself! He would go to HQ the next day with the others. What a Drama Queen. Of course we would work the thirteen hour day. We would be paid overtime and there would be mileage compensation for the drivers. We could take it out on each other the next few days.
It hit me again. If you cry, you don't get the ice cream.
I got silly. Hey, no prob'! Can't wait to see the new facilities! Can't wait to learn the new techniques! And hey, how about the new press?! Millions of dollars worth of technology, just waiting for our little ooooohs and aaaaaahs! And a fancy new complex of buildings that will be pretty much out of our reach. Look, don't touch. It's not yours to enjoy. Back to the dirty, leaking, depressing old Star-Gazette (yeah, yeah, I know; Drama Queen) to work a full shift on top of the travel and the time spent not resting. It's soooo lovely to have had a such lovely day in this new lovely place, to learn all those lovely things! Can hardly wait!
Yeah, it's fake. And I hope it gets annoying. Because I won't cry anymore. It got me nothing when I was little, and it gets me less now that I'm older. I will give up my midday rest. I will ride to HQ and attend their class on the new methodology. Because I have to. Because it's what they say is best for me. Because I'm tough and (I hope) can take it.
Because now that I'm an adult, there never is any ice cream anyway.