Autoblography Part 10: Meet the Sitters

By Shamus Posted Thursday Sep 8, 2011

Filed under: Personal 137 comments

During the school year I spend my day in three environments: Home, the sitters, and school. When school is out, it’s just the sitter, all day. Since Mom works full time and her job is almost an hour away, this makes for a long stretch of time with an adult who is paid to tolerate us.

There are very, very few pictures of the Dark Year. That’s my brother Patrick on the left, me on the right. I’ve been told that Cthulhu has that same wallpaper in his dining-room.
There are very, very few pictures of the Dark Year. That’s my brother Patrick on the left, me on the right. I’ve been told that Cthulhu has that same wallpaper in his dining-room.

Our current sitter is Amelia, a demanding, prudish woman with a deep southern accent. Her husband is a preacher. She has two sons – Carl and Darren – who are just a little older than Patrick and I. (All of these names are changed, to protect the… uh. You’ll see. Well, not Patrick. His name is the same. Look, you know how this works.)

Carl and Darren perfectly follow the “preacher’s kid” stereotype I will encounter again and again over the next decade. That is, they are a couple of rotten little hellion bastards. Mean spirited, selfish, and cunning. This is not their crime. Their crime is – like many preacher’s kids – that they are masters at getting away with it and presenting an innocent front. They amuse themselves by finding various ways to land Patrick and I in trouble, and at pitting us against each other. Also, they never let us touch their “good” toys, which stings because some of their stuff is really cool.

When they tell on us (and they love to tell on us) they will hold up the incriminating evidence, and then embellish the details to make us sound more guilty. If someone gets hurt roughhousing, then they testify that the injury was done maliciously, on purpose. If a toy is broken, then Patrick or I must have smashed it deliberately. For some reason. We learn quickly that the word of Carl and Darren holds more weight than our own, a policy that grows stronger as Pat and I are convicted of more counts of assault and vandalism.

Amelia claims that I “grab myself” a lot, and is deeply offended by this. I’m on a lot of medication. My nervous system is delivering an avalanche of overwhelming sensory input, and I’m not aware of a lot of things my body is doing. I’m often scratching my nose, or ears, or pulling at my clothes, or standing on one foot, or waving my arms around, or doing other things that break social norms. Also, my resistance to change means I’m slow to give up on clothes, even after I’ve grown out of them. So the question is: Do I – an overstimulated kid, wearing pants that don’t fit – spend a lot of time “adjusting” myself? While I’m not aware of ever doing this, I will allow that it is possible and plausible. I will plead no contest.

One day I’m watching TV. I have a blanket draped over me, because it’s cold. Suddenly she strips the blanket away in anger. I look up at her and blink. This was a rarely calm and lucid moment for me, and I’m disappointed to have it interrupted like this.

“Where were your hands just now?” she demands hotly.

My hands are currently folded over my chest, and they’ve been like this for a long time. I know, because one of them was kind of tingling from being in the same position for so long, and I was holding it there because I found the sensation interesting. However, I don’t know what to make of her sudden, inexplicable anger. I stare at her, dumbfounded, like I always do when adults stop making sense.

“Just a moment ago, where were your hands?” She asks again.

“Right here,” I nod. I still haven’t moved them.

Enraged, she drags me upstairs, and explains that she knows my hands were on my crotch. Now, I might do a lot of stuff without realizing it, and I might lose track of my body from time to time. I might fall down, knock things over, fumble things I’m holding, and otherwise fail to keep my limbs under control. But in this case I know where my arms have been.

“Now,” she says. “Where were your hands?”

“On my chest,” I say quietly. I don’t know what to make of her anger. What is this about?

“Just before I pulled the blanket away, didn’t you have them below the belt?”

Why are adults so obsessed with privates all of a sudden?

“No,” I mutter. My mouths is dry and I’m shaking. I hate this. This is gross and uncomfortable. I don’t want to talk about this. I don’t see why she is so angry, and I don’t care.

“I know you did. Now, did you have your hands below your belt before I pulled back the blanket?”

I am at a loss. All I have is my word, and she’s rejected it three times. As far as I can tell, she’s going to keep accusing me until I agree with her. I’ll do anything to end this conversation, so finally I blurt out, “Yes.”

“Why did you lie to me?” she demands. Instead of placating her, my confession has enraged her even more.

I’m trying not to cry. I really thought that she was getting angry because I was arguing with her, and that just accepting her accusation would bring this to a close.

Why did you lie to me?” she asks again.

I refuse to speak. There is no point in saying anything. She has me sit in a chair and she storms off. She is gone for a long, long time, leaving me sitting in a chair in the middle of a room with no clock.

Once she’s gone, I try to piece together the conversation and see where I went wrong. I realize that admitting guilt was a mistake. I should never have done that, although I’m really at a loss as to what the right move was. Stand there and have her call me a liar and ask about my privates all day?

Don’t admit to stuff you haven’t done, no matter what pressure is put on you or what promises your accuser makes.

Good lesson to learn. Better now than later, although I might have preferred a less painful illustration.

When Amelia comes back, she tells me that once I’m home I need to confess to Mom what I did. This is an impossible demand, since it would involve me confessing to a crime I didn’t do and don’t understand, and it would require having another conversation about my privates. I’ve had enough of those to last me the rest of my life.

Every day for the next week she asks me, “Did you tell your Mom what you did?”

“No.”

“You need to tell her. Tell her tonight. I’m serious.”

I never say anything to Mom. Sometime later, Amelia explains to Mom that she will no longer be our sitter, claiming that, “Shamus just refuses to try.”

This is distressing. Sure, she was overbearing, unjust, and paranoid, and her sons were gleeful sadists, but I fear change. Moreover, this is very, very upsetting to Mom. It’s hard enough to find a sitter that is conveniently located, harder still to find one willing to take two boys our age (most sitters want adorable toddlers, not rambunctious pre-teens) and almost impossible to find one that doesn’t have pets. Add in the fact that they need to be affordable, and you have a recipe for a hopeless search. A few extended family members can burn sick days to take turns caring for us, but those sick days and goodwill are a finite resource.

All of this is to explain how we ended up with our next sitter, who, like the ones before her, is not in the running for “caregiver of the year”. She doesn’t actually let us into her house. She “babysits” us by having us sit on her porch for the nine or ten hours we are in her care. We’re in the city, next to a busy highway, so there is nothing to do and nowhere to go. She offers us no toys. There’s no yard (or indeed, any grass at all) or play area. She gets angry at us if we interrupt her soap operas to get a drink or go to the bathroom. And we have to interrupt her, because she locks the door when she puts us out, obliging us to knock.

This is our summer vacation. Patrick and I sit on the shabby wooden porch in the roaring heat, watching the endless traffic roll by. We play a game called, “That’s mine”, where you point at an attractive or interesting car to “claim it”. It is a game with no point, no score, and no end. It’s just a form of structured boredom. The summer grinds on.

One day a bird craps on my head. I was inside recently, and so I have expended my drink / restroom allowance. I have to clean up as best I can using my shirt. I spend the rest of the day slow-baking in the sun with bird shit in my hair. As bad as this is, it’s less horrible than spending the day with Amelia and her sons.

Still, this is going to be a long summer.

 


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137 thoughts on “Autoblography Part 10: Meet the Sitters

  1. Tetris says:

    A good comeback to that “Why did you lie to me?” would have been “Because you wouldn’t shut up until I did.”

    Not that I’m expecting a flustered ten-year-old to come up with something like that at the spur of the moment. It’s the kind of things most adults wouldn’t think about until the next day. Also, I realize that a child doesn’t have the leverage needed to snap back at an authority figure like that.

    But I bet the look on her face would have been priceless… and this woman sounds like she really deserved a rude comeback!

    1. Raygereio says:

      But I bet the look on her face would have been priceless… and this woman sounds like she really deserved a rude comeback!

      And that would have just resulted in more punishment and would have likely only made thing worse in the future.
      Unless you can stand on equal ground with these kind of people, often the best way to deal with them is to just cater to them untill you can get the hell away from them.

      1. Dwip says:

        Depends on what you think you can get away with, really. Or the price you’re willing to pay. In Shamus’ place, I was a stubborn enough kid I would’ve burnt that particular bridge (and I’ve burnt some similar ones) just for the moral victory. And once you realize who your enemy is, you can get pretty adept at making them look like fools (some of what I did to my 6th grade teacher, for example, was legendary and deeply, deeply satisfying when I realized that I’d taken an adult and won). But you have to have the presence of mind, and Shamus doesn’t seem to have had the chance to have that. Intellectually, I’ve always known the whole kids on drugs thing was kinda scary, but rarely do I get it illustrated to me like this.

        Too, you act like me, you pay a price. May not be the one you expected, but there will be a price.

    2. MadTinkerer says:

      That woman really needed to mind her own damn business. Who does she think she is? Nurse Ratchet?

    3. TheAngryMongoose says:

      A good comeback would have been to set her on fire. Nothing else would have stopped an indignant enraged conservative with psychosis. Ofcourse, the preacher would probably be pissed off by this too, but once you’ve started burning…

      1. Knight of Fools says:

        “Touching yourself” was long thought to be part of a mental illness, probably because people with severe mental illnesses tended to touch themselves with less subtlety than others, and more often. It doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with conservatism – Hardcore conservative zealots might preach the damnation and insanity that forms from touching yourself as much as a trained, knowledgeable psychologist will, as Shamus’s story seems to indicate.

        The fact that modern psychologists are taught that self-touching is normal and some preachers talk about it as a form of self-discovery shows how widely viewpoints can vary and change over time.

        As for me, I’d never talk to a kid about something he or she would be overly uncomfortable with, and accusations of the sort Shamus was handed are never justified. If it’s really a problem, let the kid’s parents handle it. If someone did that to MY kids, fire would definitely be my response of choice. :)

    4. Winter says:

      “Because you wouldn't shut up until I did.”

      I don’t think this would be a good response for a kid. For an adult? Who is relatively independent? Yeah, go right ahead. But people don’t pull that shit on adults (not to the same degree) because they won’t get away with it.

      I refuse to speak.

      This was my solution. I learned the same lesson, though not in the same way. You want to shout at me? Fine. You want to force me to sit in a corner for eight hours a day, seven days a week until i’m ready to talk? Fine. I’ll sit there as long as you like. You want to take things away from me until i say something? You go right ahead. This was one domain i was absolutely unbeatable in: i never lost a contest of wills. Ever.

      Some of these behaviors i learned are not terribly helpful to me now, incidentally.

      1. fair_n_hite_451 says:

        I remember having one of those with my parents over some kind of noddle dinner I didn’t care to finish.

        Parent: “You’ll sit there until you finish your plate!”
        Me (in my head): “I wonder what will happen when I’ve sat here long enough to go beyond bed time and still haven’t eaten it – let’s see”

        That was the last one of those in my house…

        1. toasty says:

          My cousin did this. She refused to eat, so my aunt refused to serve her different food until she ate that. She would send her to bed and serve it for breakfast, then lunch, then dinner again, and repeat.

          She gave up when her daughter stopped eating for several days.

      2. Mthecheddar knight says:

        I am twelve years old and insulting her would have been my choice. But then things were different back then, as Shamus previously described they could legally paddle you.

  2. Zaxares says:

    I am suddenly SO glad that the person who looked after me and my brother while my parents were at work was a decent, kind-hearted and conscientious woman. Although like all things, it didn’t last. She eventually stopped watching over us when she found a better paying job, and the 2 replacements we had since then were utterly abyssmal. Fortunately, by that time I was old enough to look out for myself and my brother, and I became the de facto carer for both of us while my parents were out.

    1. TheAngryMongoose says:

      I had 3 sitters when I was small. Don’t remember one of them, but the other two were alright. One of them had cable and an N64, which was cool. The other, who wasn alright herself, had a violent asshole of a son. Who was younger than me, so there wasn’t much I could do.

      1. Destrustor says:

        I had an awesome sitter; she always brought lots of board games and cards and stuff, and devoted all her attention to us. When we got a new one I flat-out refused to see her as anything else than an enemy, an usurper who was boring and mean. I became a awful brat on sight just because she wasn’t my favorite.
        ” What? no toys, no games? ALL SITTERS MUST BRING US FUN!! you realize, lady, that this means war?”

        1. Eärlindor says:

          After reading Shamus’ post and other comments about some of the sitters, I count myself blest that all my sitters were great people.

  3. uberfail says:

    It seems each of these post explains more and more about why you homeschool your kids.

    1. MadTinkerer says:

      Unfortunately, not all parents who are capable of homeschooling their kids have the opportunity to do so, and vice versa. Otherwise my high school years would have been a lot easier.

      (I don’t regret meeting the guy who was my best friend in high school. Too bad everything else had to happen.)

    2. Blake says:

      Yeah I’d thought this also.

  4. Lanthanide says:

    What happened to Stolen Pixels and Experienced Points?

    1. Shamus says:

      On hold until I can finish some of these other projects.

      1. Chuck Henebry says:

        I don’t suppose you’re in a position to comment on recent events over at the Escapist.

        Actually, maybe it’s good you’ve stayed silent. I’ve always admired your policy of staying out of political arguments, and the tone of the argument over the departure of Extra Credits has turned pretty sour””almost as sour as the political mood of our nation.

        But I miss your contributions over on the Escapist.

        1. wait, Extra Credits is actually gone? I’d assumed they were just on hiatus. Guess I missed that

          1. X2-Eliah says:

            They’re already on penny-arcade tv.

            1. ENC says:

              Those communists!

              I mean… sellouts *cough*. I only don’t like Penny Arcade because of PAX. Everyone flaunts it around, and unless I pay $1k to fly to the US and go then there’s no point me seeing any advertising about it.

              Ben Croshaw seems to have become a bit incoherent lately too as well, his reviews have been a bit crap the past few months, although maybe the stress of opening up a bar in Melbourne is getting to him and all the travel he’d be doing (SA->Brisbane->Melbourne, lots of flying, lots of weather changes).

              But I do miss Experienced Points deeply (it’s how I stumbled upon this site) and the programming sections (even if I can’t program), but it’s good you still post here.

              1. BenD says:

                So if I’m slathered with advertising for DragonCon at other websites, when it’ll cost me almost $1k to fly to Georgia, am I supposed to be ticked off? Your logic baffles me. Most advertising by design reaches an audience far larger than the pool of likely respondents. Unless ‘everybody flaunts it around’ means that your personal friends are going and like to taunt you for your inability to go, there is no good in being angry about it.

              2. Alex the Elder says:

                “Everyone flaunts it around, and unless I pay $1k to fly to the US and go then there's no point me seeing any advertising about it.”

                Step back and analyze the logic of this statement, and consider whether it’s really a reason to hate PAX, let alone Penny Arcade, especially let alone other shows hosted on their site. I would posit that to conclude any of the above questions in the affirmative would require a truly scary degree of solipsism.

              3. ccesarano says:

                I think what you have to remember is that they’re just two guys. Sure, they have a team now, but they oversee everything. Plus, they’ve mentioned a third PAX, likely to be overseas.

                Of course they advertise their convention. But considering this sort of event has remained exclusive to the Southern California area in the states (San Diego Comic-Con, E3 in LA, Game Dev. Conference in…San Francisco?), that they have something in Seattle AND Boston in the States is actually a huge step forward. I finally have a gaming event on the East Coast!

                I think the people to be mad at are all the ones that aren’t learning. Besides, GamesCom is in Germany, all up in Europe and such. Why not give that a try?

                1. Eärlindor says:

                  Hopefully at some point, they’ll realize that there are people who actually exist smack in the middle who can’t make it to either coast.

                  1. ccesarano says:

                    I’m kind of hoping that as well, just because it would make it easier for me to hit two out of three shows a year. One just wasn’t enough.

            2. lupus_amens says:

              god dammit that site has to FUCKING DIE, i HATE HD commercials that take 30 seconds, Why? BECAUSE I HAVE A FUCKING 120Kb/s CONNECTION!

              /rage at asshole sites

              1. X2-Eliah says:

                adblock. Also, manners. Tut tut.

                1. uberfail says:

                  I think Manners would be a pretty good plug-in.

            3. Nick says:

              Awesome, thanks!

        2. Tever says:

          Wait, what’s happening at Escapist? I haven’t been back since Shamus stopped updating Stolen Pixels. Well, except once or twice to get caught up on Unskippable.

  5. All I can say is bless your heart.

  6. CalDazar says:

    “Don't admit to stuff you haven't done, no matter what pressure is put on you or what promises your accuser makes.”

    That used to get me so much, it took untill I was 14 (give or take) to realise that no matter how many times somebody asks a question or makes a demand I know what I did

    1. Meredith says:

      This is pretty much the reason torture doesn’t work. People will admit to anything eventually just to make it stop. I’d say that applies here.

      Somewhat related: Why do so many adults just assume kids lie all the time? It’s so frustrating to be young and powerless and to KNOW you’re telling the truth but no one will listen.

      1. Ander the Halfling Rogue says:

        I don’t know if you’re actually a kid (I am), but in any case, here’s my advice:

        Rule of thumb: NEVER lie. Exceptions to this exist, but the Ten Commandments provide a nice baseline.
        As for adults assuming kids are lying: Teenagers have to overcome a lot of stigma about intentions and the ability to be responsible; with kids, that stigma takes the form of assumptions they’re lying about doing wrong. The problem (and the answer to your question)? They do lie. The other problem? Adults often don’t know how to tell when they are.
        When an adult seems to be certain that a child is lying to them, it usually means one of three things.
        1. The adult KNOWS you did it. If you DID do it, it’s best to assume this is the applicable situation and just fess up.
        2. The adult THINKS you did it. For some, their way of determining who is telling the truth is to grill and grill and grill and grill until they are convinced the suspect isn’t lying. To deal with this, remember to not lie. You didn’t do it. That should keep you going.
        2.a. If you’re not in trouble (i.e. nothing except a stern talking-to), plea nolo contendere. In this case, it means to avoid directly answering the question of whether you did it. If you’re not in trouble, the adult will often just say their piece and move on. Listen, and make sure they know you’re listening. But don’t lie.
        3. The adult “KNOWS” you did it. This is the most frustrating of the three. The adult is sure you’re guilty, and they won’t accept otherwise from you. The reasons for this are varied. Maybe it’s an honest mistake, and from their perspective everything but your word is against you. Maybe they just don’t like you and they want you to be wrong or want to get you in trouble. Maybe they’re stubborn and refuse to lose a battle of wills (as they, and possibly you, see it) with a child. Maybe they want to teach you a lesson, and they think they found a good opportunity. I think, again, the best choice is to not lie. If they try to punish you, say that you didn’t do it. If it gets to the point where taking the punishment is less of a pain than arguing, make clear that you are only taking it to keep from fighting more/at all, and you still deny guilt. Don’t be mean; just be frank. Unless you’re a sociopath (psychopath?), you usually can’t be this firm without a sign of guilt. In many cases, the adult will learn to trust the child at length; that removes the problem (but don’t mess it up). If they don’t, rinse and repeat the previous steps. Eventually, hopefully, you will get to someone who does believe you.
        A bad resolution to this situation usually comes because the kid breaks down and lies. It makes the child bitter, and they lose credibility in the adult’s eyes. That’s why this kind of thing is so bad. But it doesn’t, in my experience, come up as much as the stress and other problems it causes would indicate.

        1. Will says:

          Alternately, do what i did and just become so damn good at lying that it’s not only impossible to tell without hard evidence but it’s most definitely not worth the effort to try, often with hard evidence.

          1. Ander the Halfling Rogue says:

            Yeah, but I was assuming you don’t want to lie. If you want to start breaking the rules, all bets are off.

    2. Abnaxis says:

      I think I’m unique in never having this problem. I think it’s because, to this day, I am a terrible liar (I just can’t seem to hold my face still, or I spend too long thinking about it, or I pop off something that is complete nonsense…).

      Any caregiver only needed to see me try to lie once. From then on out if my face looked honest, it meant I was being honest because I sure as hell couldn’t keep a straight face if my life depended on it.

      1. somebodys_kid says:

        Yeah, I’m a HORRIBLE liar. I can’t even bluff at poker. It’s best for me not to even try dishonesty.

        1. Rosseloh says:

          Same here — fortunately, being constantly truthful makes it really, really easy to slip things by people when you have a chance to think about the situation. I got away with a lot of crap in high school because I spent the first 2 years as the perfectly behaved nerd.

      2. CalDazar says:

        I can’t lie either, little control/awareness of my facial expression.

  7. MichaelG says:

    So far, we haven’t seen anything that would encourage a kid to study or stick with anything. Did you find a mentor later, or just luck into computers through sheer obsessiveness and fascination with the subject?

  8. noahpocalypse says:

    It might comfort you to know that not all preacher’s kids are horrible awful people. The two I know at my church are really nice. My sister even dated one for a little while.

    Also, in keeping with the discussions above-

    Project Frontier?

    1. Meredith says:

      Seconded. My preacher’s kids were actually my babysitters for most of my childhood. They were awesome. (Of course, for us, babysitting was an occasional thing when the parents went out. We were lucky enough to have our mom home during the day.)

    2. Scott (Duneyrr) says:

      I know several preacher’s kids and most of them were very nice and well behaved publicly and privately. Though, the stereotype exists for a reason!

    3. Abnaxis says:

      I think it depends on how conservative the preacher you’re talking about is. In my experience, the more conservative preacher-parents are more heavy-handed with punishment (there is actually a proverb in the King James bible that says, essentially, “spare the rod, spoil the child”).

      Kids who grow up households where parents are quick to invoke severe punishments learn how to weasel their way out of trouble and how to throw their peers under the bus to save their own asses (literally). And from what Shamus has said, Amelia et al. are quite conservative.

      1. Retsam says:

        I don’t know if I’d really be that quick to make a connection between stern punishment and lousy behavior. Unless I’m mistaken, corporal punishment was pretty much a social norm, regardless of religious belief, until only recently. I don’t have any reason to believe that preachers kids would necessarily be exposed to much more severe punishment than other kids would.

        If I had to hazard a guess, I’d say the issue lies in the fact that preachers kids grow up under a combination of high expectations and intense public scrutiny. They’re well known and often have concerned church members checking in on them, and they’re just expected to behave well.
        I could very easily see those high expectations being the root of their lousy behavior. That would explain why they try so hard to not get caught doing anything, and even pin the blame on others.

    4. X2-Eliah says:

      On this note.. the biggest jerk / bully in 3rd to 5th grade of my class was a preacher’s kid. An utter tosser, at that, and both of the parents were always ‘Oh no, our dear baby would never do anything like that’ – even when other kid’s parents spoke to them about their kid being a butt.

      Sooo… idk ’bout you, but in my experience that stereotype had manifested in reality.

      1. Tuck says:

        Yes, but in fairness this probably had nothing to do with being a preacher’s kid and was probably due to the parents just being completely blind when it came to their kid.

        1. X2-Eliah says:

          Let’s just say the parents were way too busy with all the religious rituals & stuff to even get any perspective.

    5. toasty says:

      Yeah, the pastor’s son from my church is a pretty nice dude.

      Then again, the OTHER pastor’s son I know is an unrepentant drug-addicted idiot. When you made my 14 year old brother cry, I’m gonna find it pretty hard to forgive you. >_>

  9. lurkey says:

    Yikes. If other adults (including so called “professionals”, like that hack of a shrink in a previous post) act like this to other kids and it goes in generations, it explains why the Usians seem so funny about sex.

    1. Peter H. Coffin says:

      Nope, the other way around: the “funniness” about sex explains the subject of these people’s obsessions. (Not that it explains why they’re obsessive, just the selection of subject area. Those prone to obsessive or controlling behavior tend to find something to obsess over no matter what.) The funniness comes from having a culture founded on every puritan or other religious whack-job kicked out of every decent country in Europe for the past 400 years. Didn’t matter who was being objectionable: Puritans, Catholics, Lutherans, Jews, whatever; a large chunk of them ended up on American shores when Europe had had enough of their crazy antics and recriminations. And the more lazy and conservative they were, the more likely they were to seek out someplace that had weather kind of like what they were used to in Europe, hence most of them ending up between latitudes 30 to 50° north. And the one thing that pretty much everyone that is profoundly affected by religion has in common is some pretty funny and controlling ideas about sex.

      1. Will says:

        Sex is one of the most basic functions of life and also one of the most basic desires of humans. It didn’t take much for the religious institutions (and anyone else in power) to realise that if you control sex, you control people.

        1. Chris says:

          If you don’t already control the people how can you control the sex?

      2. DaveMc says:

        Whoa there, pardner, you seem to be going a bit far there, no? I’m Canadian, where bashing Americans is something of a national sport, but if you get a Canadian to step back from our habitual mocking and talk seriously about it, we’ll admit that America has a lot of admirable qualities. And I’d say a lot of them are *because* they’ve taken in people from around the world. Can we agree that they’ve not all been lazy conservative whack-jobs?

        1. Rosseloh says:

          It’s hard to hear you from here, deep inside my barrel of *ahem*.

          Er, sorry Shamus. I’d better cut down on the politics. Yes I have my views, and yes I am a US citizen, but hell, I suppose I can enjoy that we don’t have state income tax in South Dakota.

      3. Nasikabatrachus says:

        I agree that the US’s puritan heritage explains many Usonians’ attitudes towards sexuality; however, it is too simplistic a picture to say that the colonies were populated by hyper-religious exiles. Many of the US’s original thirteen colonies were purely economic ventures, and it was only later that the idea of the pilgrims founding Americuh took hold of popular consciousness. And of course, much of Latin America’s deep Catholicism is a direct result of the emphasis placed on it by the deeply Catholic spanish monarchy and people. If Americuh’s sexual mores were the result of a bunch of hyper-religious exiles from Europe I think we would have a hard time explaining why access to abortion is (still mostly) legal in the US but still faces significant barriers in much of Latin America.

  10. Aelyn says:

    You candor in this series is remarkable. Well done.

  11. Ross says:

    Writing this series takes an inner strength most people simply do not have. I’m not sure I could do it – write it, yes, but publishing it…another matter entirely.

    The comment sections also show just how much support you have from your mother and brother.

  12. ccesarano says:

    I understand an adult being uncomfortable with the though of their/a kid experimenting with sexuality, but God damn if no one uses proper strategy. A kid doesn’t know that playing with his junk is “morally” bad (according to certain belief systems). Even if he does, he has no idea why. He’s just told not to do it. Hell, the ineffective drug education of American schools is more effective than sex.

    Yet her reaction is the most common you find. The way a lot of religious folk talk you’d think sex is one of the worst things in the world and NO ONE would have kids as a result. Even worse, kids are only going to become MORE CURIOUS about it, especially if they know it “feels good”. If it “feels good” then how could it be bad? Of course, no one explains that.

    Man, this series is just reminding me how much I dislike other adults. Still, enjoying it.

    1. DanMan says:

      Agreed. I grew up in a private Christian high school. I was a Christian and continue to be several years out of high school, but they really made my college life difficult morally.

      So many religious institutions teach you the RULES. You follow the RULES because they are the RULES. I followed their rules as much as I needed to in order to get by with as little hassle as possible.

      It is rare that they teach WHY the RULES are important. I spent a majority of college trying to determine if what I believed was “right” and “wrong”. Was drinking before I was of age morally wrong, or was that just another RULE I had drilled into my head. It enrages me to see kids treated that way. Kids are not too stupid to understand why rules are in place if you take the time to actually explain them and answer questions.

      1. ccesarano says:

        The greatest irony is that Jesus Christ chewed the Pharisees and Saducees out quite a bit because they stuck so closely to the rules without following the principles.

        It drives me nuts today, because even amongst my Christian friends I feel “progressive”, whereas around my Liberal friends I come off as being conservative. Makes it harder to find a spot you belong.

      2. Gary says:

        As a thought, rules are a bad idea, too. Following the Law (or any law) will only give you a sense of self-righteousness.
        Take a look at Romans 7, where Paul explains that we are not under the rule of the Law any longer, and that trying to follow the law only ended up making it worse. It’s only when he looks at the completed work of Christ that he realizes that everything that needed to happen already has happened. He should just live out his identity in Christ (see Romans 8).

  13. Zeta Kai says:

    I have vile, vulgar things to say about Amelia & her spawn, as I have met their ilk (& there are no other words to describe them… just SPAWN & ILK) several times before. Self-righteous, devoid of joy or empathy, & hypocritical are the most polite & clinical ways to denounce such hateful beings. They represent what happens when animals hear the words of religion, & mimic the sounds well, but fail to grasp the message behind it. There is no peace on display in this behavior. No love, no kindness to one’s fellow man, no forgiveness or understanding. The words of Christ, of Buddha, of Mohammed, they fall on ears deafened by the noise of their own arrogant bleating. Their pettiness, spite, & condescension are disgusting, & a blight on the species.

    You are lucky to have survived them, & to have escaped them so soon.

  14. SolkaTruesilver says:

    I sooo mistrust religious people for the very reason you surmised in your post. I know it wasn’t a rant at this kind of people overall, nor that all of these people act is such dickish way, but I nevertheless do.

    – An arbitrary sense of what is right and wrong set by not only what has been written down thousands of years ago, but also how it’s interpreted by someone who more often than not have a political agenda.
    – The mentality that what you are doing is THE MOST IMPORTANT THING to do, because you are enforcing your (arbitrary) morality on people, while letting other injustice passes.
    – More often than not, the idea that the “evils” you are fighting are prevalent everywhere, so you have the tendency to see it everywhere and you won’t budge on this issue, because believing that “evil is everywhere” has been engrained into you. In that case –> Young boys touch themselves whenever they have the chance.

    Sorry for the rant.

  15. SolkaTruesilver says:

    Oh, Shamus, what happened to you when it rained during that summer? Were you allowed inside?

    1. Destrustor says:

      Porches offer at least a bit of protection from the rain, so I bet he wasn’t.

    2. Shamus says:

      The porch had a roof. Which, I guess might not be clear from how much I talked about the “sun beating down”. But yeah, we had shelter.

    3. Meredith says:

      For me, the image of these two young boys stuck on a porch by the highway all summer is the saddest thing yet in this whole story. It’s just so bleak. I hope you at least had some books. I can survive almost anything if there’s reading material.

      1. noahpocalypse says:

        That would be a good movie intro. Two young children sitting on a porch while cars fly by and the sun goes up and down and fast motion. The kids occasionally adjust, but they do it leisurely and slowly; almost sad.

        Man, I want to go draw a picture of that now.

  16. Kdansky says:

    I want to smack the religious american nuts for obsessing over masturbation so much. It’s completely insane. The only way sexuality can go wrong is if someone else forces it upon you.

    I’ve had a family watch Underword II together with their 5/7/9-year old daughters. They sent them out during the “sex-scene” (where you can see a bit of naked shoulder and kissing, but not even an ass or breast), yet didn’t have any problems with the part where a helicopter cuts off half of someone’s head in slow motion.

    1. SolkaTruesilver says:

      I am sure 99.999% of the trauma that occured because of the Nipplegate happened solely because parents made a big deal out of it. If people in authority insist that you must have been scared, that must be a scarring event.

      I remember the first time there was boobs on TV, I turned toward my dad, scared that he’d be upset. He just said: “It’s no big deal” with a shrug. I think he was a lot more concerned of me seeing ultraviolent stuff like Robocop 2 when I was 6.

      1. Kdansky says:

        Wandering into dangerous territory here, but I’ll just offer this as a point to think about: Some felonies are considered much worse than others. Often, that makes sense. If someone steals a purse, that is much less problematic than if he murders someone else.

        Yet a few are strange ones, such as rape, torture or incest. Rape is often considered worse than murder, but you don’t see rape victims committing suicide to escape, because as soon as their instincts take over from what society told them, death seems far worse. It might be that society insisting in how bad they have it actually scars them a lot more.

        There are others, like killing animals for food is fine as long as the animal does not suffer “too much”. To put it in arbitrary numbers: Lets put murder at 90/100 on a scale of evil. Perfectly painless or convenient death (shooting with a gun, for example) is like +/-1. It really pales in comparison to the actual killing itself. Why do people make such a fuss about that? They should make a fuss about the killing itself instead! (Note that I eat meat, and accept that I am evil for it. I’ll just have to live with my conscience.)

        I find that peculiar. I just throw it out for people to think about, not for actual discussion, especially the rape topic. That would certainly go sour immediately. ;)

        I am sure there are more of these strange examples.

        1. Will says:

          It’s a case of pain and suffering; it’s one thing to kill someone (quite a big thing in fact), but it’s quite another entirely to not only kill someone but to also enjoy killing them and to enjoy their suffering as you do so.

          Everyone can imagine a situation wherin they might be pushed to murder in the heat of the moment. But to kill someone in cold blood requires a very dangerous individual, and to kill someone in cold blood and enjoy it requires a truely depraved individual.

          The reason why rape is considered worse than murder is because the victim does live. The logic goes that even if death is terrible and final, at the very least once it occurs it is over. But to put someone through a shattering trauma and then let them live with that for the rest of their life is arguably worse than just killing them outright; a few moments of suffering followed by oblivion is definitely better than decades of suffering followed by that same oblivion.

          Everyone dies in the end, it’s what happens leading up to that which is important.

          Also, as far as i am aware, many rape victims do commit suicide, especially if they lack social support from friends and family.

        2. decius says:

          Using the ethics definition of murder (unjustified killing of a person; “unjustified” “killing” and “person” are not strictly defined in this sense), there are a lot of things worse than murder. Murder-for-hire is worse than murder in general, torture-and-murder is worse, rape-and-murder is worse, and some acts which constitute torture or rape but not murder are worse than some acts which do constitute murder.

          If losing one’s home to foreclosure is worse than bankruptcy, should someone who has already lost their home declare bankruptcy?

          I eat meat, and accept that that means there is a different standard for some animals than for others. I’ve also taken part in the entire chain-of-production for meat, although not with all types of animal that I eat.

      2. Alex the Elder says:

        As a parent, I have seen first-hand the differential impacts of sexual and violent content upon an impressionable child. On the one hand, I realize that the standard dogma is that TV violence does not influence child behavior, but in my son’s case, I HAVE SEEN IT FIRST-HAND. I have seen my child imitate horrible shows like Tom & Jerry in disturbing detail (even when I was a kid myself, I never understood how Tom & Jerry was supposed to be funny), down to saying “Ha-ha, you have stars on your head now!” (He watches it at his grandparents’ house, not here.) He has done things like charge his mother with (safety) scissors and hit other kids to shut them up.

        On the other hand, in places like locker rooms, I’ve had a hell of a time giving him an explanation for the nudity taboo that didn’t sound hollow coming out of my mouth – the best I’ve been able to do is, “because people might get mad at us”, which is pretty much the truth, really.

        I would be much more upset if my kid saw a FPS on my computer screen (I watch Spoiler Warning while he’s at school or after bedtime ^^; ) than if he saw a nude picture. Hell, I’m uncomfortable playing anything more realistic than Mario around him.

        1. Kdansky says:

          This is what I still feel like. To me, 90% of humanity has a sick relationship to sexuality and their own body. I’m not even sportive or exceptionally healthy, and I got bad eyes and a shitty back, but my body is such an awesome ‘piece of engineering’, I cannot help but wonder at all parts of it.

        2. Tuck says:

          On the other hand, a friend of mine growing up was completely surrounded by simulated violence from games to toys to movies. He was a really gentle kid and would never actually be violent.

          The most important thing is not that kids aren’t shown violence and sex, but that they understand what it is and the context it is being shown in. (except for those kids who have nightmares and such from gory violence etc, they shouldn’t be shown it)

    2. Zeta Kai says:

      You can thank our Puritanical ancestors for that Sex=Bad/Violence=Good attitude. Those guys wouldn’t know forgiveness, love, & joy if you stuffed it into their hat-buckles.

      Also, I was at a Superbowl party during the Nipplegate Incident. The attendees were about 30 adults, ranging in age from 19-27. Absolutely NOBODY noticed the boob-exposing sin-pocalypse, & about half the room was facing the massive screen at the time of Timberlake & Jackson’s performance. It wasn’t until the next day that I heard about the “wardrobe malfunction” on the radio, & from then on it intensified everyday. By the next Monday, it was like somebody tried to shoot the president.

      Considering the hype, it seems pretty obvious in retrospect that the whole “controversy” was staged. The “moral guardians” were looking for an excuse to be frothing mad, & they found one. They were poised & ready to strike at broadcast standards & censorship regulations for some time prior, by their own admission, & they only needed a tiny spark (in this case, a single pastied breast on about 12 frames of video) to get a blaze going.

    3. Ander the Halfling Rogue says:

      Why did I get moderation-queued and this didn’t?
      (I disagree with y’all, but it’s an honest question. Was it ’cause I tried using a spoiler tag? Because I posted it too shortly after my other comment? If this get’s moderated, I guess I’ll have my answer. Edit: Not moderated. Huh. Religion! Christianity! POLITICS!!!! Edit #2: Yep, that did it. 3. And sorry if this is considred poor form. I just wanted to get a feel for how the moderation-inator worked.)

      1. Kdansky says:

        After experimenting, I found out that the “R-word”* drops your comment into moderation queue. It’s Shamus’ blog, and he can damn well decide what he wants to display and what not. And I expect that after having a traumatizing experience with a nutcase, he’ll accept talking about the nutcases. And there is always a difference in style how you approach a problematic topic, for example preaching at the top of your lungs is generally bad form, but subtly pointing out the oppositions mistakes is usually acceptable.

        *I try not to bring it up, but harmful stupid people annoy me so deeply, I often cannot help it. Any time I see someone preaching their utterly insane and harmful belief (be that “smoking is healthy” or “Xenu will safe us”), I cannot help but feel near physical pain for their lack of common sense.

        1. Shamus says:

          A lot of words get added to the filter in response to a specific troublemaker. The filter looks at your email, your name, and your text. So if a jackass named “Riendly” makes a mess, I’ll add his name to the filter so he can’t run wild while I’m away from the blog. And it won’t be until much later that I realize why the word Friendly keeps getting flagged.

          I should probably clean out the word filter. I don’t think I’ve ever removed anything from it in the last 5 years.

          1. SolkaTruesilver says:

            That must be why “Dwarf Fortress” gets flagged…

            :-P

          2. decius says:

            Bad idea sharing that bit of security-by-obscurity.

            With that information, a troublemaker knows that he may have been flagged by string, and can use mispeled substitutes to get around it. Escalating with additional blacklists just makes it worse.

            In the extreme case, you end up with comments sections where people spell like idjiots to avoid the s pam philter.

            1. Shamus says:

              It’s true. WordPress doesn’t have a lot of tools for dealing with this, but it’s never been a huge problem. It’s always more work to write a comment than to delete one, to change your IP address than for me to block one, and so on. Every WordPress blog is vulnerable to the attacks of a seriously dedicated and resourceful jerk.

    4. uberfail says:

      Interesting how it’s reversed in many places. The logical Sex=ok, violence=bad is prevalent in Europe.

      Also, seriously if a kid has never seen a nipple I’m concerned. I was littlerly sucking on them when i was a baby.

      1. Irridium says:

        In fact, this is most apparent in Germany, which just recently finally let DOOM be sold over there.

        The first DOOM.

        Yeah.

        http://www.industrygamers.com/news/dooms-german-ban-lifted-after-17-years/

        1. Kdansky says:

          While I do not agree with the Germans banning games, I think the damage they cause with it is negligible, especially compared to scarring everyone’s relationship to sex and masturbation, which are two extremely fundamental parts of everyone’s live. We are all but programmed by our genes to have sex and procreate.

    5. Kacky Snorgle says:

      Growing up in what might fairly be described as a religiously conservative bit of America, I wasn’t allowed to watch movies with sexual *or* violent content–basically, if it wasn’t rated G, it was out (and even some of the G-rated stuff was borderline sometimes). In retrospect, I have to say that I think this was a pretty good policy, and I’d probably set roughly the same bounds for my kids, had I any.

      But, yes, I have since encountered some other religiously conservative bits of America that operate just as Kdansky describes. Frankly, these scare me…. One mother mentioned to me a particular movie her kids enjoyed, and upon seeing my look of shock, quickly added, “Don’t worry–we’ve got a filter that takes out all the cussing and nudity.” I asked her if it took out the violence too, and she gave me a funny look and said, “I guess it could, but then there wouldn’t be much of a movie left! Besides, we like the violence.” … I could think of no reply that didn’t involve shouting, so I gave up.

  17. Mailbox says:

    Haha. I would just like to know, why are you up at 5:30am!?

    1. Shamus says:

      I get up super-early. It varies, but I like having a few hours of quiet before I have to socialize.

      1. Destrustor says:

        Yes. I also enjoy that feeling where you can almost imagine being the only human being in the world. It’s relaxing. Also I just cannot sleep in the morning, so when I wake up at say, 4 am, I usually decide to just get up instead of being bored in my bed for the two hours I need to fall asleep again.

  18. Jarenth says:

    I really don’t want to keep claiming this, but your quote about “…I'm not aware of a lot of things my body is doing…” really resonated with me. I am occasionally very fidgety, especially when bored, and I often move around, grab and play with things, and generally… well, fidget, without much conscious attention. I did so as a kid as well.

    It lead to a few interesting moments, especially in elementary school, where a kid who hugs the corner, sits face down in (essentially) a prayer position, or throws oranges at the wall is considered somewhat outside of the norm.

    1. Scott (Duneyrr) says:

      Having a chronic tic disorder, I can certainly relate with some of these feelings.
      While I don’t ascribe any medical issues to Shamus, it might be worthwhile to mention that many any kids have transient tics starting in young childhood, usually fading away around puberty… and that’s without medication!

  19. burningdragoon says:

    Well, um, I can’t really relate to most of this (and thankfully, cuz it sounded pretty horrible :( ) BUT I have been crapped on by a bird (more than once) before and that’s a pretty unpleasant experience on it’s own.

    To be clear, that is a frowning face not a wide-open-mouth face

    1. BenD says:

      Being crapped on by a bird is supposedly lucky (even if also gross). Since the Dark Year ends (I expect?) maybe it did Shamus some good. I’m hoping anyway!

      1. Will says:

        Well it’s highly unlikely, so for a given value of ‘luck’…

      2. X2-Eliah says:

        It’s a bit weird how a bunch of bad/disgusting stuff is considered lucky while normal stuff is unlucky.. Like a black cat crossing a street. I’d take that any time over a bird pooping over me.

        Besides, ‘yknow, city birds – pidgeons and the like at least – are about as bad being horrible disease carriers as rats are.. Somehow nobody thinks it’s lucky when a rat bites someone, then it’s ‘omg better make sure you aren’t infected’, but when a bird does it.. ‘Luck’.

        Also, bah humbug.

        1. uberfail says:

          I imagine it’s just to make you feel better for having bird crap on you.

          1. X2-Eliah says:

            Yeah, perhaps… But frankly I’d feel better if expressing sympathy (e.g. Ah man, that’s unfortunate. Don’t beat yourself up, that’s just a dumb bird, no big deal) was the accepted norm, instead of “Oh wow, you got crapped on. Hey, you know what, you should be thankful for it! ‘cos its lucky”.

            I mean.. a bad thing is a bad thing. If you say that it’s somehow good that it happened to me – I still think it’s bad, now I just also think whether you were making fun of me, hiding an insult, trying to commiserate, or truly believe that.

  20. guiguiBob says:

    From what I heard, humans tend to prefer to end their actual suffering now even if doing so would bring worse suffering later. That’s why confessions are usually meaningless to prove who did a crime. Surprisingly humans generally would rather spend 20 years in jail rather than sit in a room with policemen asking if you did it (Not that we would consciously admit it). So what you did was perfectly normal espescially in that you had no idea what you were admitting and what would be the future consequences.

  21. Vect says:

    OK, that first babysitter sounded like a complete bitch and a half. Never had many babysitters in my childhood and none of them ever asked me about touching myself (I remember they were at least my mother’s friends and they’re actually decent people). Mostly since my mother was the kind who either sometimes dragged me along to meet with her friends or just let me stay at home doing my thing. Scary enough, she actually reminded me of the episode of Family Guy with Peter’s hardcore Irish-Catholic dad called Chris a sinner when he says he has to go to the bathroom.

    I am a believer of never admitting to something you haven’t done. Hell, being accused of something I’ve never done is one of the things that actually set me off.

    The second one just sorta reminded me a bit of Rosalie from Calvin and Hobbes, whose babysitting technique is just telling Calvin to stay in his room/lock him in the garage until his parents get back. That is until he finds a way to bust out and start hell for her, only for her to usually get back at the end.

    1. David says:

      As I recall, the first time Rosalyn babysat Calvin, she tried to be a good babysitter. However, Calvin acting like Calvin forced her to become a mean babysitter for her own survival.

      1. Vect says:

        Yeah, that’s her name. It’s been a while since I read it.

        On another note, I do remember an episode of The Simpsons where they show Kindergarten Bart having a bad time at school due to a bitchy teacher that just puts him down when he forgets the ABCs. Hearing these stories brought that to mind.

  22. Big Steve says:

    A thought:

    Was she upset about the lie that you had your hands down your pants or the “lie” that you didn’t? That is, although it seems clear that she would have found a reason to be angry even if you’d gone immediately with the latter, would she have still called you a liar?

    After all, if you change your story, you must logically have told a lie. That doesn’t necessarily indicate which version is the lie, or in this case which version is the perceived lie. I would suggest that her train of thought was that you lied initially and that was evidence that you consciously knew you were doing something wrong and were trying to cover it up as opposed to the other nolo contenderes. It’s a lot harder to punish someone who acts like they’re doing nothing wrong.

    Sorry if this spoils your aesop. That seems like a good lesson to learn even if it turns out not to have been supported by the story.

    1. MintSkittle says:

      It looks to me that the sitter was going to be angry with him no matter what he said. With her children continually being able to blame Shamus and his brother for crimes they didn’t commit, she would be ready to believe Shamus was engaging in deviant behavior while hiding under a blanket. So the “lie” is denying he had his hands down his pants, even if it wasn’t true. She wasn’t going to accept any answer that didn’t align with her preconceptions.

  23. Ander the Halfling Rogue says:

    I can’t believe how open these posts are. I could never write like this.
    You’re also excellent at evoking the mood of the time. I’m sorry it was so bad for you, and I hope writing all this stuff down is helping you out. Man, I wish I could put “religion” stuff on here. Edit: Is that word what triggered the moderation?

  24. Ruthie says:

    My childhood had so much more than just fruity pebbles to make it more ideal than yours. What amazes me is the joy that you have, and had when you were growing up. You were an awesome big brother to have around. How you didn’t turn into a cliche troubled teen is beyond me. love you

    1. Kacky Snorgle says:

      I think perhaps the lesson of this story is that the “cliche troubled teen” generally didn’t become troubled because of what other people did to him.

  25. Paul Spooner says:

    So, you spent the summer sitting in an overheated environment, listening to the roar of the freeway and watching cars go by, playing pointless games to numb yourself to the boredom? This sounds exactly like a vacation! It reminds me of the, “We drove, and drove, and drove some more, and that was my vacation.” advertisement for Disneyland. Combined with sitting outside with no television, and it’s also remarkably like camping!

    I was hoping the “dark year” would have something to do with a very local volcanic eruption, or perhaps a power outage, but your version makes sense too. All joking aside, that sounds miserable.

  26. Matt says:

    I am a pastor’s kid, and I am also a pastor with four kids of my own. I really appreciate your writing, including these stories.

    There is a certain attitude toward religion which is focused on using religion as a way of making yourself appear better than others. Jesus warns about this quite a bit- praying long prayers in public, etc. But human nature is what it is, which is why the warnings are necessary. So many pastor’s kids (not me, thankfully and hopefully, not my kids) grow up under extreme pressure to make their parents look good, because their father (as a pastor) is judged by how perfect his family is. This kind of pressure causes all sorts of distortions in behavior, which you have well catalogued above.

    But this is human nature, and not at all the result of some particular branch of Christianity. You find a similar dynamic all over. It’s a poisonous thing, pride.

    1. Ander the Halfling Rogue says:

      I’ve heard it mostly has to do with the child seeing hypocrisy in the lives if church leaders, but I don’t have first-hand experience. Hypocrisy was the biggest problem with religious leaders in Bible times, it would seem from Jesus’ teaching and rebuking.
      I’m not a pastor’s kid, so this is mostly inference. People think pastors’ kids should be better without actually expecting it much or being surprised if they do something wrong. This is due to the PK stereotype. From church members toward PKs, good goes unnoticed or doesn’t get much attention, and bad gets looked at harshly. In these situations, the kid might see little reward for the risk of messing up, and I guess a lot of kids don’t bother trying very hard.

      1. Matt says:

        The disillusionment often comes later. The kids that Shamus described- good chance they totally rebelled in HS or thereabouts. Actually that’s the best-case scenario. Worst-case is that they just perpetuate the hypocrisy themselves.

        1. Ander the Halfling Rogue says:

          That’s what happened to Eli’s kids. Their father never got them under control.

  27. thark says:

    Christ on a crutch. I’m amazed you’ve turned out as well-adjusted as you have (by which I mean, at the very least, at least not a complete mess).

    The porch woman… did she actually CHARGE for her so-called services? Without having legal action taken against her?

    1. vukodlak says:

      Beggars, choosers and all that. Shamus’s mum probably didn’t have much choice and any sitter was probably better than leaving kids alone at home. Although I don’t doubt that as a kid I would have preferred the latter…

      1. Terran says:

        Childcare (as with so much else) in the 70’s and 80’s tended to be the “Wild West” as far as regulation and enforcement.

      2. Maldeus says:

        Would it really have been a huge deal to just be left inside a house as opposed to left outside on a porch? The only difference I’m seeing there is that one has air conditioning and a television.

  28. Pearly says:

    …but that’s child abuse and you can get in a lot of trouble for it.

    I am having difficulty conceiving of the amount of trouble someone would be in for doing that. 8|

    1. Ross says:

      In the late 70’s and early 80’s, that wasn’t considered abuse. The definition has changed dramatically. It wasn’t until the mid-late 80’s that teachers were told that they probably-maybe shouldn’t hit kids as punishment for bad behavior.

  29. RariowunIrskand says:

    I used to (And probably would, if they were still in my life) hate the kind of “Conversation” you depict there with your sitter. One of the most hated things for me was when I could give nothing but my word, and apparently my word was not enough. I actually ended up making up stories of my guilt because I just couldn’t be bothered to defend my innocence. Because of this, my mother got pretty worried. My school grades fell. I got a bad reputation. Then, the second I got into a stage of my life were people would actually BELIEVE my word, instead of calling me a liar until I ACTUALLY lied, I became one of the top students of my school, and got a bad reputation again for being a “Teacher’s boy”. I guess anything can backfire on you, huh? Even though this does sound like a long stretch, I think this is why I hate lack of choice in videogames: If I’m playing a character, that character is me. If I do something I wouldn’t do, I’m just playing the same old drill of lying (By doing something I didn’t do, if that makes sense) despite what I want to do.

  30. You know, all things considered, you’ve turned out to be quite the pleasant fellow. I kinda hope most of the people you encountered in your childhood died in a fire.

  31. Eleion says:

    I suppose this is slightly off-topic, but I just watched Let the Right One In for the first time last night and I found the themes explored in that movie reminded me a lot of the kind of things talked about in this blog series (both in your posts, Shamus, and in the comments). Oskar’s loneliness, trouble with kids at school, feelings of powerlessness, and such. I found the actor’s performance to be incredibly powerful (whereas quite a few people thought it was flat and emotionless, according to what I’ve read online), because it felt like an accurate depiction of a kid who didn’t really understand much of the world around him and had trouble dealing with those emotions. I don’t think I would have found the acting believable before I read these latest entries.

    More on-topic: I’ve really enjoyed your autoblography. I can’t remember most of my own childhood. My memory isn’t very good, and I moved when I was 10 and didn’t have friends to remind me of things that happened. Even if I could remember it, I don’t know if I’d be able to write quite so honestly about it. Thank you for writing it.

  32. Sozac says:

    Lol no one ever reads the bottom quotes, except maybe Shamus, I’d read all the quotes on my blog if it were manageable enough, or if I had a blog. But yeah OT: I must say I really like these autoblogrophies. I grew up like this until I was like 14. Sorta cool to hear about someone having a similar childhood. Are you gonna do 1 about your brother soon, cuz this stuff would seem unbearable alone.

  33. Halceon says:

    Huh, now this is a glimpse at an entirely alien world for me. I’ve never had a babysitter, I’ve never even been left with my grandparents. I went to kindergarten, then to school and then I was already old enough. And since my parents were and are both teachers, they didn’t need to take time off to look after me and my sisters. Then again, I stayed at home and read books anyway, so they’d need only come make me lunch, if anything.

  34. mookers says:

    Shamus, reading this makes me want to give you a big hug.

    If you ever find yourself in Melbourne, Australia, I shall buy you a drink. Or some equivalent, if you prefer something else.

  35. Mike Has Answers says:

    Is Patrick Cthulhu now?

  36. Scourge says:

    I recall back in school a teacher wanted me to clean a jacket I supposedly spit on.

    For that I’d ahve to gbe able to spit up to 3 meters, or knock the girl wearing said jacket down, hold her down and then slowly spit on her back.

    Yeah, I refused to clean the jacket even when the teacher nearly pressed it into my face because I didn’t do it.

    One of the lessons I still keep true nowadays. If I didn’t do it I won’t confess to it. Ever.

  37. Paul Spooner says:

    And now there are a bunch of babysitter adds running on the sidebar. This whole autoblography is probably driving your site advertising profile slowly mad.

  38. s* says:

    i wish time could be physically and spatially asynchronous for all of us simultaneously and collectively, because i would very much like you be able to have you and patrick come hang out at our house every day instead of having to go to school and deal with shockingly abusive sitters. you could come over and we’d talk to (with) you like an adult, regardless of how old you are/were. really, we just call it talking to you like a person, because that’s really what it’s about. “adultism run wild” describes so much of your experience that you’re sharing with us. it’s hard for me to not want violent retribution (i.e. kicks in the shins) against your teachers and babysitters.

    anyway. come over, 10-year-old shamus. we don’t have any cats or dogs. we can be autodidacts in a pet-free space.

  39. squishydish says:

    I didn’t comment back when you originally posted this, because I didn’t have anything to say about the appallingness of the sitter that hadn’t been said already. But I went through the archives and found it again because of the caption reference to wallpaper. I just ran across a photo of some truly eye-bending 1970s wallpaper, with bonus column by James Sturm about how Marvel/Disney wronged Jack Kirby and his heirs: http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/culturebox/2012/02/the_avengers_why_i_m_boycotting_marvel_s_movie.html

  40. Neil Roy says:

    The babysitter may have taught you a valuable, albeit painful lesson about lying, even when it seems like the best way to get out of a bad situation. It’s not something I will do at all and people usually don’t believe me when I tell them I do not lie about anything. I will refuse to answer etc… instead, but I will not lie, and I have a certain level of respect from some who have come to know me for not lying, which feels nice. I don’t know if you carried this into adulthood, but if so, you may have her to thank.

  41. We like our baby-sitters. We can play games with them, and watch movies and play on the computer. We wish that you had our baby-sitters, so you wouldn’t be so miserable.
    We like your “That’s Mine” game though. It sounds fun!

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