One of my father’s many talents included woodworking. In our basement, my father had a large workshop with machines and tools one might find in a high school industrial arts class. Shortly after I was born, my dad designed and built an oak cradle for me. He was proud of all his work, but he was particularly proud of this cradle.
One day, for some unknown reason, my dad had enough of my sister Debbie’s obsession with her doll. Debbie, at the time, was eight years old and well beyond the doll-playing age, according to my father. When Debbie happened to be separated from her doll he threw it in the garbage, never to be seen again. When receiving this troubling news, Debbie, in a fit of rage, grabbed an ax from the garage with the intent of chopping up my father’s pride and joy (the cradle). There was just one problem with this diabolical plan; I was in the cradle at the time.
Here is where the story gets fuzzy depending on who is telling it. In one version of the story, Debbie was stopped by my mother on the way from the garage to my room, and I was never in any immediate danger. In another more dramatic version of the tale, Debbie, blinded by vengeance, awkwardly lifted the ax over her head while standing over the cradle with me in it, determined to do whatever it took to destroy the cradle. But like the angel who intervened at the last moment to save Isaac from his own father, my father (non-supernaturally) intervened at the last moment to save the thing he loved most—and saved me in the process.
I am not sure what actually transpired that day, but I do know one thing: the version of the story where I was chopped up into little pieces, my parts individually wrapped in garbage bags, brought out to the middle of the Atlantic ocean, and then dumped into the abyss—this version of the tale is almost certainly false. Or is it?
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What is a “normal childhood?” Does it include almost being murdered by your sister with an ax? Speeding around town in the back of a station wagon because your mom is chasing an “alien spaceship”? Being busted by the police for intent to light a pond on fire? Tackling your mom to the ground and wrestling a knife out of her hand because she was trying to kill your dad? While my stories may be unique, readers will be able to relate to the broader themes are part of a normal childhood such as sibling rivalry, eccentric parents, doing stupid things, and frequently preventing one’s parents from literally murdering each other.
Although some of the subject matter is not something one would generally laugh at, you have my permission to laugh. Social rules don’t apply here; my rules do. It works for me, and who knows, after reading the stories from my past, you might be inspired to see your own screwed up past in a more humorous light.
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