daughtersofnormabates











{September 12, 2012}   Cartoons

When I was five, I watched cartoons every afternoon. I liked Quick Draw McGraw. I lined up my dolls on the back of the green couch so they could watch TV with me. My little brother liked Snuffles, the dog who hugged himself when he got a treat. Sometimes, we got tired of being around each other. Then we fought with each other over which cartoon we’d watch next. If we made a lot of noise when we fought, Mother would come into the den and threaten to whip us if we didn’t quiet down. My brother couldn’t get any words to come out when he got scared. He stuttered pretty bad. Mother said if he didn’t grow out of it, he would have to go to a speech teacher. My brother also had one eye that looked off to the side. Mother took him to the doctor and the doctor said he had to put my brother in the hospital soon to fix it.

In one cartoon, Baba Louie pulled up Quick Draw’s eyelids when he was asleep to wake him up. Baba Louie could see Quick Draw’s dreams in his eyeballs like they were crystal balls. I wondered if that was true. If you pull up the eyelids of a person who’s sleeping, can you see what they’re dreaming? I wanted to know. The next day, Daddy was taking a nap on the couch. Mother told me to go wake him up for dinner. I got up close to Daddy and whispered, “Daddy?” He didn’t say anything. He was sound asleep. This was my chance to see what he’s dreaming! I pulled up one of his eyelids. All I saw was his blue and white eyeball. Daddy sat up suddenly. “Why did you do that?” he demanded. Daddy shook his head awake. “I thought I could see your dreams in your eyeball.” I said. “You scared me to death!” Daddy roared. I guess eyeballs don’t turn into crystal balls full of dreams while somebody sleeps like they do in cartoons.

I watched cartoons with my brother the next day. I had all my dolls lined up on the couch to watch with me. I told my brother not to touch any of my dolls. He had his own G.I. Joe doll. Looney Tunes Hour came on, then Mother called us to dinner. While we were eating, we started to smell something strange. It smelled like something burning. Mother said it smelled like melting plastic. We kept eating. The smell got stronger. I left the table to check on my dolls and my brother followed behind me. In the hallway on the hot furnace grate was my favorite doll. Her face was melted on the furnace. I screamed in horror. My brother tried to pick up the melted doll. He let go fast. The melted plastic burned his hands. He screamed and howled. Mother carried him to the bathroom and ran water over his hands. He was burned pretty bad. We had to get in the car and take my brother to the hospital. The doctor wrapped his hands in white bandages. He gave Mother some creme to put on them. In the car home, my brother admitted that he was the one who dropped my doll on the furnace. He didn’t know she would melt when the furnace came on. I was sad about losing my favorite doll, but I felt sorry for my brother’s burned hands. He tried to save her. I told him it’s okay. Just don’t touch my dolls again.

One afternoon after my brother got burned, it was raining. We couldn’t go outside. I played jacks in the den while my brother watched me. He was too little to play jacks. He tried a couple of times but his hands weren’t big enough to hold the ball and jacks. Plus, his hands were still a little bit burned. He was mad that he couldn’t play so he took the rubber ball so I couldn’t play either. That started a fight. Mother came in the den and said she’s had it with us. She always has to tell us to quiet down. She’s getting the belt. We both started crying. Mother came back with a belt and started whipping my brother first. He screamed and turned in circles while she held his arm and whipped his legs with the belt. I knew it would be my turn next so I was screaming too.  Mother stopped whipping my brother and grabbed my arm to whip me. She flung the belt back to hit me, and when she did, the belt hit my brother across the face. My brother screamed and held his cheek while I was getting whipped with the belt. Mother screamed at us that we’d better learn to be quiet. She slammed the door and went back to the kitchen to cook dinner.

I looked at my brother. He had a whip mark across his cheek next to the eye that looked off. He looked awful. His eye was red like the lash on his cheek. He was crying so hard, I tried to put my arm around him. He pulled away from me and curled up in the corner of the couch. We stayed quiet. I was afraid to even turn on the TV. I curled up on the other side of the couch and watched the room get darker. Then I heard Daddy come in the front door. He was home!  He always came to the den to see us before dinner. He’d give us the change in his pockets and tell us to put it in our banks. I felt better when Daddy was home. He’d pick me up and tickle me and make me laugh. Then, he’d pat my brother’s head and mess up his hair. Daddy opened the den door. We were curled up on the couch in the dark. He turned on the light and looked at my brother first. He saw the stripe across his face. Daddy asked what happened. I told him that Mother hit his face when she gave us a whipping. Daddy turned off the light and shut the door.

In the kitchen, Daddy yelled at Mother. He asked her why she hit my brother in the face with the belt. She said it was an accident. Daddy said he didn’t care if it was an accident. He said that if he ever came home again and saw marks on our faces from a whipping, he would do that to her face, too. He yelled that she’d better not ever hit our faces again. It was the only time I ever heard Daddy yell at Mother about whipping us. This time Mother didn’t yell back.

My brother’s face got better. He had an eye operation to fix his eye. After that, he wore an eye patch. Mother took off the patch and put drops in his eye at night. Daddy had to hold him down while he got drops in his eye. He kicked and screamed. I couldn’t watch when he got drops in his eye. I could feel my own eye burn. I went to my room and covered up my ears. I knew it was for his own good. Mother sometimes said she whipped us for our own good. But I didn’t believe that. I knew Mother whipped us because she got mad. But Mother never hit me or my brother in the face again.

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