Sunday, February 6, 2011

The Glass Castle

One of my recent middle of the night readings was The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls. It is thought by some to be the American 'Tis. It is a true story of a resilient young girl raised by psychotic parents in abject poverty. The family is always on the run from collection agencies, the police, social service name it. Some of their time is spent camped out in the desert. The kids forage for food in dumpsters. They eventually settle down in a small coal town in West Virginia full of poverty. They have no heat or running water. Any money that is earned is quickly consumed by gambling or alcohol. Even though the parents are clueless on how to be parents, the author holds them no grudges. The parents mean well and are quite bright as are the children. The children take care of each other. Even though the author was raised in harrowing conditions, she is now successful and happy.

Why do kids turn out the way they do? Many of my friends have had childhoods that could be made into Oprah books yet by most measures, they have been transformed (mainly through self-determination) into successful adults. And it goes the other way..a childhood full of privilege leading to a very unhappy adult who is constantly blaming the parents for not being better parents somehow while still being dependent on them even after the parents' deaths.

My childhood was definitely not a happy one but it did make me self sufficient.Even though there was no alcohol abuse and  poverty, our family  would be considered dysfunctional. I won't whine here about details. Fortunately there were some bright spots growing up  and I could see the light at the end of the tunnel: I knew I wouldn't be at home forever. But I did make a vow that my children would not have to deal with the issues that I had to.

Yuck! More snow. We ended up with almost as much snow as the so called blizzard produced with very little warning. I will give the city some time to plow, if they ever get around to it, before going out. Meanwhile I will meet Josh for lunch.

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