I remember when I was seven years old – the day I turned seven. We, my sister and I, were staying at the Hans Brinker Inn in the Netherlands as our parents enjoyed two weeks in Paris.
I was furious with my parents for having abandoned us for those two weeks. At Hans Brinker every meal consisted of toast – toast with sugar and cinnamon for breakfast, toast with cheese or tomato for lunch, for dinner – I do not recall.
But that day, the day of my seventh birthday, we were eating our lunch of toast, and our parents came to pick us up. My sister, who was only four at the time, ran up to our parents. I, on the other hand, held them responsible. I was incensed.
The owner had pushed me down the stairs. They separated me and my sister into different rooms. She didn’t understand. Her roommates didn’t speak English. I was punished for going to her when she cried. I begged for them to put us in the same room.
So, I ignored my parents. Seething, I kept my back to them. They thought I didn’t want to leave.
Saturday I wrote this memory exercise (prompt = “I remember”) at Judy Reeves‘ Speak Memory workshop at the Southern California Writers’ Conference LA14 (Irvine). Thank you, Judy and all the other great workshop leaders, speakers, and conference organizers.
It didn’t sound very wonderful, so sorry you and your little sister had that experience… Hugs.
Thanks. My parents had heard wonderful things about the place. They didn’t know that we hated it.
Wow, that sounds awful, two little girls on their own and not treated very well. Why! So sorry you and your sister had to go through that. Hugs for you, and for your sister as well.
Wow! Thank you so much. I’m truly honored. I have the utmost respect for you, Sheri.
Kitt – You are becoming one of the most powerful individuals I know. I’m not a mental health professional but after being in the mental health arena for 27 years and working on myself for 25, I sense the work you’ve done in the past and are currently doing is deep. Some go to therapy a lifetime and never reach the level of awareness you’ve expressed in your blog.
I’m terribly sorry you had that awful day….
I was so glad you got to visit Ireland – with a last name like O’Malley, you had to go! 😉 That’s one of the places I’d LOVE to visit most in the world! It makes me happy to know you had such a fabulous time there. 🍀If I ever go, I’m grabbing you along as my traveling companion!
Great you have healed and dealt with it and vice versa.
Thanks. Actually when I remembered it this time, it was not painful. Much of the pain of the memory has vanished over time and through writing it.
It was the only time they did it. All their friends highly recommended the place. I suppose it would be like camp. But we hated it.
Some childhood memories can be very tough. Thanks for sharing.
Well I am from Europe and it’s not the way any of my family would do it. If we spent time apart from them, it was with close relatives. Raising children is hard, I know and everyone is different. Just saying … Cheers Jamie
As I mentioned to Van, we went to Ireland after that. Ireland I loved.
We went to Ireland that day, though. Ireland was everything I had imagined – the greenest, most magical place in the world. I loved it.
Commonly done in Europe – at least at the time, 1970. Parents vacationed separately from their children. We were in the process of moving back to the US from Saudi Arabia.
Abandonment can be tough to overcome, but as you pointed out, we learn real skills and compassion for and commitment to our own children and to other fellow parents.
When I wrote this in the workshop, I was surprised that it came up. Not only that, but that as I read it aloud, it was in retrospect, humorous. What my sister and I found traumatic, I now find somewhat funny.
I am so sorry this is the memory of your 7th birthday. Some of our memories are not good ones, but this one is terrible for you. Sending love and hugs!
That memory would be a sad one even if it were not your birthday, Kitt.
Not very nice … my parents would not have done this. Everyone is different I guess? Cheers Jamie
Reading your blog, I remembered feeling abandoned by my father when I was 6 and then again at 9. Somehow, I decided that I had to be self-sufficient and independent and not overburden my mother who, as a factory worker on the south side of Chicago, had to raise 4 children. Yet, out of our deepest wounds come our greatest gifts. I decided to be there for my own children and to become involved in men’s work, where men could act as brothers and help one another heal.