…and that’s how childhood trauma led to my bad ass DIY skills.

It all came rushing back again a few years ago with an absentminded finger poke.

I was sitting on the throne in my master bathroom and noticed that the hideous pink and white striped wallpaper was a little bit loose at one of the seams.

Just curious to see how easy it might be to remove someday, I cautiously inserted my fingernail under the seam and attempted to gently lift the wallpaper.

RiiiiiiiiiiIIIIIIIIIP!

A jagged strip about three inches wide and 18 inches long pulled off in my hand, exposing a layer of mangled sheetrock that looked like the surface of the moon.

Oh shit.

What have I done?

It totally reminded me of the time at my childhood neighbor Meghan’s house when we were using straight pins to untangle marionettes and I absentmindedly scratched my name into the mahogany finish of her mother’s antique writing desk.

Meghan looked over at me and gasped “What are you DOING?” As if on cue, her mother came tearing into the room and hissed “What has she done NOW?” Apparently, I had a knack for breaking things; Mrs. Caruso was always on high-alert when I was around.

Just because I could eat corn on the cob through a picket fence doesn't justify being treated so poorly by that beeyotch!

That was the last time I was ever allowed to play with Meghan. Mrs. Caruso ordered me out of her home and told me to never come back. I was only seven years old.

My dad apologized on my behalf and offered to pay for the damage. He didn’t even scold me; it was obvious that Mrs. Caruso’s fury was punishment enough.

It makes me wince just thinking about it…like witnessing a puppy (with really big paws) get kicked by the neighborhood bully.

Looking back, I think Mrs. Caruso was one very unhappy housewife…four kids under the age of 8, a husband who worked all the time, trapped in the suburbs; I get it. I do. She totally scarred my little ass for life though. We should pray for her, m’kay? (I’m praying she’s in Hell right now, and that her personal version of Hell entails supervising hundreds of ADHD children in a furniture refinishing shop. Mwah-ha-ha!!)

Sadly, ever since that fateful day, I am very sensitive about my natural proclivity for property destruction.

Yes, even 30+ years later, sitting on the can in my own home and realizing that I had just damaged our bathroom walls put me immediately into defensive mode. I meant to do that! I am going to renovate our bathroom, starting NOW.

Yeah. That’s the ticket! Why not? I hated everything about that early 90s suburban cookie cutter bathroom…

…the wallpaper, the mauve accented linoleum floor, the chipped pressboard vanity with brass and porcelain handles, the tacky textured ceiling, the fugly bargain light fixtures that looked like something from the set of Mama’s Family.

But I got myself into this mess, so I would get myself out of it. Hell, what was that saying?

If it was to be, it was up to me.

So one night, armed with a putty knife, a box of wine, and a spray bottle filled with fabric softener, I decided to remove the rest of that pink wallpaper. Maybe it would be easier with tools…and booze…and pants.

It wasn’t.

All the fabric softener did was make the small jagged chunks of wallpapered sheetrock smell outdoorsy fresh as they fell to the mauve linoleum.

Yep. I pretty much ruined those walls.

The stripped walls above the garden tub...see the exposed brown paper layer? Not good.

My husband was not pleased.

“Wait!” I told him. “I’m not done yet! I can fix it! You’ll see.”

And I would…eventually.

But first, I needed to take down that “popcorn” ceiling.

I asked around and found out from a neighbor that if you spray textured ceiling paint with water it’s easy to scrape right off. Cha-ching! Look, I did it!

And now I’m replastering all the bathroom walls I damaged.

It’s a huge process…lots of layers, lots of pitfalls, lots of time.

But I’m getting there.

And it’s only taken me three years!

I’m wrapping up the skim coat now. That’s fancy talk for the smooth top coat of plaster. Turns out I have pretty awesome plastering skills. It’s amazing what one can accomplish when fueled by decades worth of shame, fear, and resentment.

So stay tuned. A gorgeous new DIY bathroom reveal is coming soon. And in the meantime, come on back tomorrow and I’ll tell you all about how plastering walls is a lot like sex.

Okay, your turn. Please, in the name of all that is holy, tell me that I’m not the only one out there who has been scarred for life by something a mean ol’ battle-ax said to them when they were a child.

-Iris

© Copyright 2012, The Bearded Iris. All rights reserved. Don’t fuck with me; I hold a grudge.

About The Bearded Iris

Leslie Marinelli is a writer, humorist, blogger, life hacker, and invisible vessel for grandchildren and PTA donations.
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79 Responses to …and that’s how childhood trauma led to my bad ass DIY skills.

  1. badger reader says:

    Against my will, neighbor kids put me in a wagon tied to the back of their bikes and pulled me down a hill. Needless to say the wagon tipped and I was scraped from head to toe. Neighbor mom took one look at me, called me a fool, wouldn’t let me inside her house because I was too bloody and sent me home without even cleaning me up, because “she didn’t have enough band-aids”. I was 5. I cried anytime my mom suggested I play with them again.

  2. Crystal says:

    At about the same age, I had a friend’s mom go cuh-razy on me for getting a very small blob of mud on her white carpet. I refuse to have carpet in my house…my kids and theirs friends can track in all the mud they want.

    • That was years before the invention of Oxy-Clean, bless her fucked-up heart! Sounds like it helped shape you into being a super cool and realistic mom today though. Bravo!

      • Crystal says:

        True…but still – she didn’t really have to go quite so nutso! It probably did help me on my way to letting kids be kids! As long as there aren’t too many (major) injuries, it’ll be alright!
        Can’t wait to see your new bathroom! I’m sure it’s awesome! We’re rebuilding our house after a fire last year…I’m thinking one of us will end up in prison for murder. Glad y’all survived remodeling the bathroom! haha!!!

  3. Martha says:

    I was a tender 16 year old my senior year of high school, having skipped a grade in traveling to New Zealand with my family for a few years and then back again. The senior english teacher in the tiny town in Arkansas we ended up in told me in no uncertain terms that my travels had ruined my education and that I would never be able to pass college freshman english. (Perhaps she had overheard my complaints about diagramming sentences the entire first semester. ) Be-yotch. I aced freshman english and *whaddaya know!!* went straight on through for a Bachelors degree in Radio Television Production and Performance and a Masters in Science in Speech-Language Pathology, of all things.
    This teacher is revered as one of the most wonderful teachers to grace the halls of that little high school. When I posted on the town memory’s facebook site about this, one person wanted the moderator to remove it because I was “speaking ill of the dead”. WTF?? The living spoke ill of me, out of turn, and when I tell what happened I”M the one speaking ill of the dead????? Geez Louise, Sista.
    BTW, I would never have had the bravery to take on a bathroom like you have. I’ll crochet the cutest hats to send to Children’s Hospital, but a bathroom?? No friggin way. I bow to thee, o Bathroom Remodel Queen! Love ya, Iris!

    • Incredible. As IF traveling abroad could ever do anything but make someone MORE fabulous and well rounded. I love that you didn’t let her negative prediction define you, and in fact it became an “IN YO’ FACE” moment! Holla! You know how I feel about SLPs! God bless you!

  4. Emily says:

    Aw hells yeah, honey, you’re not alone. I didn’t have a penchant for property damage – that was my sister’s department – but I did have a tendency to get frustrated and sad and angry and cry. Often. I didn’t try to make a big deal out of it, because I knew that crying was not for big girls, but…someone would always notice, and then began the mortifying game of Twenty Questions With The Sobbing Now-Embarrassed Child. One day a classmate noticed me crying quietly in line, raised her hand, and told the teacher. The teacher simply fixed me with an icy-blue stare of indifference, looked back at the girl who’d ratted me out, and simply said, “I understand Emily cries very easily.” In a nice, frosty, stabby-bitch kind of way. Then she just turned around and walked us all outside. I believe I was 8, or maybe 7 was a bad age for all of us. I don’t even remember what my initial issue had been, and she had a point, but being an ice-queen-raging-b to a child in obvious emotional distress kind of…yeah, I have a hard time getting that one. I remember the shame and the anger, and I resolved never to let anyone see me hurting ever again.

    Oh yeah, that had *NO* psychological repercussions. I got to the point where I couldn’t cry no matter what even when it was appropriate. And of course later there were any number of intimacy issues. Which weren’t awkward AT ALL. My emotional constipation was oh so much fun, because when the emotions aren’t allowed out, they turn in and turn really effing ugly.

    I owe my babies a big smacking lovey kiss because something about the hormone shift of pregnancy and delivery hit a happy combination of buttons and opened that mess up. I cry for stupid shit now, like Hallmark commercials, which is why the Olympics are banned in my house. But you know what? Like you, all that time spent being guilty and ashamed honed a skill. Now I am ridiculously honestly loving and tender with people. I don’t bitch up and tell them they have a fat ass – I’m honest, not an asshole. But I pay attention to what I see friends struggling not to show, and every now and again I send ‘em a note to let them know that I see, and I understand, and they’re awesome. And every time I remind another person that they’re beautiful, maybe ever so slightly I’m also giving a righteous one-finger salute to the bitchy teacher who got me here.

    Oh, and would you believe – I home school. The only bitchy teacher my kids are getting is ME.

    • I definitely believe you home school – and after being so traumatized by one of your own teachers, who could blame you. I’m so glad to hear that you have harnessed that pain into some awesome qualities and have not let it damage you for good. Thank you for telling your story!

  5. Ann says:

    I fell off the back of a neighbor’s pickup truck. My brother and his friends were riding on their skateboards and holding on so I thought it would be a good idea to hop on the bumper! Great idea until I was too scared to jump off and waited too long, he was going fast. Mean old Mr. Wagner didn’t even stop to see how I was doing! Road rash from head to toe! (We lived in FL so I didn’t even have shoes on!)

    Our bathrooms are similar too but I have carpet instead of lino. WTH puts carpet in a bathroom? The way I shed we could make wigs for half the bald men in America!

    • Holy CRAP – “Mean old Mr. Wagner” is right! What a d-bag. He’s lucky you didn’t get seriously hurt. How any of us lived through our childhoods, I will never know!

      You have CARPET?? That would be such a biohazard in my hairy/cloggy house. Septic tank issues… don’t get me started.

      • Ann says:

        And those Wagners were a strange bunch. They each had a cup and had to drink out of it the whole day so if you were over there you had to drink out of somebody else’s cup! Oh no I di’int! No way I was drinking out of snotty-nosed Rossy Wagner’s kool-aid stained cup! I took my trashy self outside and drank straight from the spigot sticking out of the side of the house. I sure showed them!

      • Amy Hernandez says:

        The house I grew up in had carpet in the bathroom also. I remember not quite making it the toilet when I threw up a few times, over-splashing the bathtub, and I DID have a brother and several neighbor boys who ran in and out of our bathroom, so I shudder to think what was going on in that carpet!! The very idea now grosses me out to the point where even those little toilet rugs make me want to puke.

  6. Three years?! That’s fast – way to go you.

    My parents took a trip to Japan when I was in fourth grade so grandma came out to watch us. I had biked to my friend’s house (only three blocks away) earlier in the day and assured her step-dad that I could bike home once it started to get dark outside. Had my parents been home this would not have been an issue – however, grandma called the house and insisted I get a ride home. I can remember vividly when my friend’s step-dad told me he didn’t like being lied to as he was driving me back (a whole three blocks). I never visited my friend again – he made me feel like I was the worst person on earth.

    • Oh snap, Snappy! That is horrible! You poor thing. Adults can be such assholes. :( You weren’t even lying! Grandma just didn’t know the drill. Maybe these stories will all remind us to be very careful about what we say to kids.

  7. Deidra says:

    I can’t remember right now anything in particular that scarred me for life, but I can tell you what happened to ME while I was on the Throne this morning! Screaming! Then my daughter standing in front of me with a bloody nose! Her brother threw something at her (found out after it was my iPad!) and it hit her on the nose! So while I’m sittin on the pot, I’m holding toilet paper to her nose trying to stop the bleeding! And good mornin to ya!! :) loved this story by the way!!

    • OMG, I am the most horrified in this story that a child would throw your iPad. I hope you gave those children a good what-for (after you wiped and washed your hands of course). And good mornin’ to ya, too!

  8. Naps Happen says:

    When I lived in Germany, I attended an international school and ended up skipping 2nd grade. When my parents had their first conference with my new 3rd grade teacher Mrs. Smith (A Canadian whom my parents said hated Americans) she told them that I was “full of myself” for skipping 2nd grade and “needed to be knocked down a peg.” She proceeded to be nasty to me throughout 3rd grade. I’m sure it only made it worse when I corrected her pronunciation of Maryland (she said “MARY LAND” and huffed “I THINK I know how to pronounce MARY LAND, Alicia!”) Then, in 4th grade in Nebraska, I missed a bubble on a standardized test and scored way below grade level on the English section, affecting my class placement. When my parents challenged the results of the test, my 4th grade teacher Mrs. O’Brien said, “Alicia’s smart – but not THAT smart.”

    Now that I am an adult and, incidentally, a TEACHER, I look back and know these nasty women had to have been bitterly disappointed by life to be so awful to child under the age of 9!

    • Amy Hernandez says:

      How horrible! People who have become so disenchanted with young children should at the very least move up to high school where the kids have built up a little insulation to such bubble-bursters.

  9. My first owner TOOK MY HORNS OFF. Burned them right off at the nub.
    I miss my horns. All of the other goats have horns and I don’t. It’s not fair. I can’t scratch like they can and I can’t butt like they can.

    Harumph!

  10. Erica M says:

    Carving your name into my furniture. Hmmmm. I would not have yelled. Unless you were a teenager. (I did yell at a visiting teen who spilled nail polish remover on my kitchen table then proceeded to wipe away the varnish with a dish towel, then try to cover the damage with a stack of CDs because, yes, who does not eat at the table with a permanent stack of CDs next to them)

    However. Yeah. That name carving visit would have been your last visit to my house. You would have been welcome to play outside with the other vandals.

    Good job on the bathroom. I wish I had remodeling skills.

    • I never even played outside with her kids after that… I was SO afraid of her from then on. I can still see her face when she pointed her bony finger at me and yelled at me to leave and never come back. Her skin peeled back and her eyes bulged out and it was exactly like looking at an Ed Hardy tattoo with flames flickering around the borders of her skull.

      Thanks for being honest though. I probably wouldn’t invite a kid like me back into my house either. Even now, you probably shouldn’t ever invite me over.

  11. Cath says:

    Picture Day. Grade 4. My teacher says with GREAT surprise: “Oh, your hair looks really nice!” I hear: “Yikes kid, why do you have to look so crappy all of the time?” Bitch. Hmmm, maybe I should have a quick shower before heading out on errands…

    POPCORN CEILING! WALLPAPER? Icky-poo. Good for you!! Those are huge DIY jobs. I have done no such thing since having kids. I’m sure your bathroom will look fantastic in the end. You have beautiful taste! Are you certain you have no Canadian ancestry?

    • LOL! Those crafty Canucks! No, I’m EuroPEEan through and through.

      Okay, what if that teacher really was just being nice and trying to make you feel good so you’d smile purty for picture day? I think you should choose to assume the best in this case and let that one go. But yes, by all means, do shower today, and every day. :)

  12. My high school English teacher, Mrs. Washenfelder, would make comments to me like ” You sure are different from your brothers, oh well 2 out of 3, right?” dramatic sigh.

    • No way?! Meaning they were “good” and you weren’t? WTF? Why why why? It give me chills that anyone would say such a thing to a kid, even a high school kid.

      You know you’re fabulous, right? Mrs. Washenfelder clearly had issues.

      • I will never know why that woman hated me (She would be like 100 if she is still alive) and I’m not even going to waste a minute trying to figure it out. I was a little disorganized as a kid and would lose things and stuff, but I tried really hard not to be. That wasn’t even the meanest thing she ever did or said to me. Oh well, living well is the best revenger right? I am living well, so there, revenge.

        • AMEN, sister. We can never know what goes on in someone else’s mind. Chances are though, that hatred had nothing to do with you. Walk tall, you are a High School survivor.

  13. Dawn Fields says:

    When I was just 6 or 7 I was at McDonald’s with my dad. I had never really seen a dredlocked, tie dye wearing, rings on her fingers and bells on her toes kind woman. I mean not up close and personal and within touching distance…as I reached out my hand to try and touch one of those dreds she whirled around and shouted ‘What are YOU staring at?’ And to top it all off my dad took her side and said ‘Yeah, what ARE you looking at?’….HELLO! wasn’t anyone else freaked out by that hair??? Dreds still freak me out to this day…and I have yet to actually touch one!

    • That lady was a biznitch. Everyone knows that kids are just curious. And dads are so clueless when it comes to that kind of thing.

      I propose that you go make friends with a dredlocked person and tell them this story and ASK if you may please touch their hair. I’d let you touch the dredlocks on my big toes, but I don’t think we’re neighbors.

  14. Rootietoot says:

    There was the time I was told “It’s a good thing you’re smart because you’ll never be pretty” when I was about 10. My husband (of 25 years) is still working on undoing that damage.
    I LOVE HOME IMPROVEMENTS, and they always start with wallpaper removal. I hate wallpaper with a white hot ferocity. Unfortunately, once the wallpaper is gone in a room, so is the attention span and then we live with naked drywall until ALL the wallpaper is gone in the rest of the house. It’s like picking a scab when you’re 5…so satisfying pulling it off, except in the kitchen where they coated the wall with wet plaster and stuck the wallpaper on to that. *THAT* was a chore.

    • Holy shit – the things people say. Was that from an adult or another child? Who said it? I was told once by a guy that I was “the kind of girl you date, not marry.” Same effect.

      Yes – I’m with you on the wallpaper. Hate isn’t even a strong enough word.

      • Rootietoot says:

        It was an adult, one who definitely should have known better. Other than an absolute phobia of mirrors and frustrating a therapist 19 years ago, I’ve gotten over it.
        I was also told (by a friend) that I was the kind of girl you want to be the mother of your kids, but not have real fun with. Waahoo.

  15. Get ready to hug me.
    Ready?
    I was 7.5yo and just moved to town.
    I had no friends.
    A woman who lived not to far away from us heard about a new family, invited me over to play with her daughter, a year younger than me, after school.
    I got off the bus, we played, her mom came in and asked some questions.
    Then she discovered I wasn’t Catholic (this is why she was interrogating a 2nd Grader over cookies & milk).
    Within minutes, my mom came to pick me up.
    She was told that I was no longer invited to come play, because I don’t really believe in God since I was not Catholic.
    Her daughter was even told not to talk to me in school.
    Beeyotch.

    • OMG. I am hugging you right now, but gently, so I don’t squeeze more of your post-surgery-guts out. That is NOT the kind of Catholicism I signed up for!!! Nobody, I repeat, NOBODY in my circle of Catholic friends would EVER exclude someone or their child for not being Catholic. Funny, because as a Catholic in the South, I’m the minority here. There are plenty of people who don’t want my kids to play with theirs (and no, not just because they say things like “I’m going to fart on your penis, you POOP HEAD!”) because they think Catholics aren’t right. Can’t we all just get along? I mean really, WWJD?

  16. Liza Martz says:

    Gosh, I thought I was the only one who was scarred for life by a mean neighbor. I was helping Mrs. Rogers plant hens & chickens when I was 5. She stopped to talk to a neighbor and I moved the hens and chickens around playing barnyard. When she saw what I’d done her face got red and scrunchy and she started yelling things like, “Look what you’ve done,” and then she sent me packing. I cried my way home in shame and my father sat me on his knee and comforted me, which made me feel only a tiny bit better. Then he yelled at Mrs. Rogers but I didn’t know until much later in life but it made me feel a lot better.

    My mom and I once removed the wallpaper and part of the plaster in my house. This led me to tell her about a friend’s ex-husband who found it stimulating to wear a dress while drywalling. My mom’s mouth formed a perfect “O” then she said, “He drywalls????” Oh, and we fixed the plaster with some kind of roll on gritty stuff with bumps in it, probably what you took off your ceiling.

    • Oh Liza, unreal! Over hens and chicks, no less. Doesn’t she know, those things are near indestructible? My Aunt brought me some a few years ago from my Great Grandmothers garden in Ohio. I couldn’t kill ‘em if I tried! I’m glad your Dad ripped Mrs. Rogers a new one…hopefully with one of those blooming Hens or Chicks…right up the wazooo!

      Oh Lawdy, I’m laughing so hard over Mr. Dresswearing Plasterman and your mama’s response, I need to walk away before I make a mess on my chair. CLASSIC!!! You frickin’ kill me, girl.

  17. Ninja Mom says:

    If I belittle you will you come do my bathroom? No, don’t answer that, I won’t stoop to that level. But I will get you good and drunk and talk you into a little remodel. Fair?

    So, my third grade teacher was a screamer, but I came away unscathed, may you rest on hemmies you evil bitch, Mrs. Gondolfo.

    However, I had this ho-bag friend that used me as an alibi without letting me know, while she went off to screw some guy. Meanwhile, I’d already called my mother and told her I was at some guy’s house and, although I lied about some details, I made a full accounting of my whereabouts.

    Anyhow, the ho-bag later got pinched for her offense, and spun some lie about me making her sneak out. That mom called my mom to say, “Your daughter is out with boys doing God knows what, but I don’t think it’s patty-cake (FYI, I was a prude ass virgin, at the time).

    My mom came to pick me up, as scheduled, and when the door to the car closed, she said, “That girl’s a whore and she’s asking me if I know where you are!?”

    Last time I was allowed to hang out with that friend. Thanks, Mom. No, I mean it.

    • I would TOTALLY help you do your bathroom for free hooch, are you kidding?

      OMG, I was YOU in High School. And my friends used me all the time to cover for them because my mom was super cool and their moms all sucked. And in the end, it never worked out. Their Moms got wise and my friends blamed ME, and I was the one who was blacklisted as the “bad girl” even though I was the only virgin in the group. WTF?

  18. Kathryn Frost says:

    Sadly enough, my mother is Mrs. Caruso, so since I could do nothing right in my own house, I was ridiculously well-behaved at the homes of our friends, and never touched a fucking thing.

    No, she has not mellowed at all. She gives the same shit to my kids too.

    • Meghan? Is that you? ;)

      I never thought about it from that perspective. How awful. What do you do to manage it now that you’re an adult? Avoidance? Confrontation? I’m curious. Does she know she’s a “Mrs. Caruso” and the effect it had on you and has on your kids?

      I’m so torn sometimes…on the one hand I’d like to have some nice things that my kids DON’T ruin, but on the other hand, I don’t want to mess up my kids the way people like Mrs. Caruso messed with me. I know I’ve overreacted about some things getting ruined though… I’m really sensitive to it and don’t want my kids to be like me in that regard!

      • Amy Hernandez says:

        My father would be Mr. Caruso then. To this day my daughter is STILL a little wary of him (she’s 9) because when she was 3 she was eating some cherry tomatoes and CAREFULLY separating the seeds out. When she was done she proudly took them to my father (her GRANDPA) for him to plant in his garden. He looked at them, looked at her and yelled “YOU CAN’T DO THAT!!!!!! THOSE CAN’T BE PLANTED!!!!!!” Her little face crumbled and she wouldn’t get near him for the rest of the visit. (This story was related to me by my mother, as my husband and I were out of town at the time.) Just thinking about it STILL makes me angry and a little teary. I mean SERIOUSLY! Maybe they couldn’t be planted, or maybe they wouldn’t have grown, but would it KILL you to humor the THREE YEAR OLD???!!!
        Needless to say, we’ve never left her alone with my parents again…..

      • Kathryn Frost says:

        Not Meghan, it’s Kathryn, the one from Eugene, Oregon. My mother is NOT named Mrs. Caruso, but is cut from similar cloth. She’s an interior designer, so the grass cloth papering our walls is real, and suuuuper-expensive. The antiques are valuable and plentiful. The Maguire sofa (never “couch”), chairs, and end tables are closely watched. Kathryn Maguire is a family friend too, sigh… Dad once got her an art piece obi from an artist who created a set of them to hang in NYC’s Bergdorf-Goodman store. We have an original Thomas Hart Benton pencil drawing in the kids’ hallway for gawd’s sake! The bedspreads in the guest room are somehow sacred. You are not allowed to touch them. She removes them and puts others on when guests actually SLEEP in the guest room. It goes on and on.

        We were constantly sent outside. The fight between my parents was over tv. Mom would have had us watching more tv inside so we wouldn’t actually try to PLAY. Oh, my bedspreads were Marimekko. Even in my room… Dad wanted us NOT watching tv, Mom didn’t care, as long as we were quiet inside, and not touching anything. But mostly we were sent outside, and yelled at when we came in to pee.

        Being a kid in my house was tough in that regard.

        As a parent, I allow crackers and things on the COUCH. NO dairy away from the table or the kitchen floor. But that seems reasonable. If I own it, we use it. I have benefited from the vast array of antiques, and we use them. I am careful with the finish on them, or the marble tops, using coasters, and nagging about general respect for our household items.

        I also thoroughly enjoy watching her squirm as my kids sit on the COUCH and eat grapes or pretzels. It makes me want to give them pomegranates and grape juice. But I’m not an idiot.

        She’s exactly the same way with them, so as a parent, when we visit, we eat breakfast, (at the kitchen table which also has a set of Maguire chairs which she replaces with those green plastic outdoor ones when we visit, sigh…), and we have a plan. We leave to visit friends, go to Turtle Bay Museum, go to Whiskeytown Lake, or whatever. But we don’t show up til it’s time to shower and get dressed for dinner. And since she put cork flooring in the bathrooms, there is particular attention that must be paid to ANY and ALL water drips. Fun.

        Good times.

  19. Jill says:

    OMG – I did the same thing! The wall paper thing not the desk. Our bathroom now has one wall of missing blue, mint and mauve wallpaper because while I was in there – and medicated on Benadryl – I thought, “Oh look how easy it is coming off.” Until a majorly nasty piece of moldy sheetrock crumbled all over the floor. Ay, yi, yi.

  20. Jane says:

    Ok- I was in kindergarten and I was painting away in class. i was at the easel and I knew I was creating a masterpiece. My elbow hit the paintbrush sticking out of the green paint and it spilled all over the floor. The teacher was so mad – I had to clean it up by myself and was not allowed to paint anymore. I tell you – that completely squashed whatever creative gene I had. To this day I get all clammy and nervous when I have to do something creative.
    Adults are just mean.

    • Oh Janey, that makes me so sad! I think all teachers should have to take a little tranquilizer before school each day. Maybe smoke a little pot? SOMETHING so they won’t be so stubby with such sweet and impressionable children! Bah!

  21. Jennifer says:

    I want to urinate on Mrs. Caruso’s carpet and rub her face in it. Then I want to draw all over her walls and take a dump on her pillow.

    Ah, that felt good, didn’t it?

    My mom was one of those cool moms and we always housed refugees of shitty parents. I hope to be just like her one day.

    p.s. I can’t wait to see the after pictures!

  22. Sharon says:

    OK. I had to get in on this one. I was a kid (about 7 years old)living in a little village and my mom worked. There was an attack on a child somewhere nearby (I never did get told all the details), so my mom was worried about me being home by myself. She asked our neighbor if I could go to her house after school for a couple of weeks until they caught this guy. The neighbor said “No”, but did add that if anything happened, I should scream really loud and she would call the police. WTF! I am that mom who is there and helps all of my kids friends now. If I see they have missed the school bus, I drive them to school even if it makes me late to where I’m going. If a parent needs her kiddo to come to my house after school – they come.

    • See, THIS is what cracks me up about back then vs. today! You were home alone at the age of 7 and this was perfectly fine (in your village), all except for the crazed attacker on the loose. And your mom tried to arrange for a little supervision, just until they caught the guy. Awesome. I bet you are one strong, independent, and self sufficient bad-ass, aren’t you.

      I was home alone a lot when I was pretty young too, actually, not alone – supervising my little brother. But today? Aw hayle no. Kids today can barely make their own Easy-Mac or dial their Bookies without always askin’ for help. So annoying.

  23. Childhood is what we spend the rest of our lives getting over. At least you got a new bathroom out of it! Ha

  24. Amy Hernandez says:

    I have been told that as a toddler I knocked my Grandfathers ashes off my grandmothers’ mantle (I believe that was the only time I ever met that Grandmother), and once while in the bedroom of one of my parents friends I poured out an entire bottle of Chanel #5 …….. all over their antique dresser. My mother spent my childhood telling me about how we’d never quite been welcome in their house since. My question is, ‘why was I left alone in a strange bedroom long enough to climb up their dresser and pour out the perfume?’
    …… and the first time I ever rode in a car with power windows (another friend of the folks) I messed with the window so much the motor wore out and the window dropped into the door…. I hoped no one would notice. It’s a little amazing my parents had any friends at all.
    There was also an incident involving a bottle of Head and Shoulders and someones’ bathroom carpet that got me spanked, screamed at, and put in time-out by a woman babysitting me. That one still stings, and I STILL profess my innocence. I was totally framed, I swear.

    • Holy CRAP, Amy. It’s a good thing we weren’t friends as kids…we woulda been cell mates in Juvie for sure. Listen, some kids, (like you, me, my daughter) are just TOUCHERS. We touch stuff. We explore the world with our hands. It makes us VERY popular in college. The key is learning to find a vocation in which that skill is valued and prized, like pottery, or coat-hanger molding, or prostitution.

      I’m glad you survived all those childhood situations where you were clearly undersupervised. Totally not your fault!

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  26. Mel says:

    We’ve all been scarred by the meanies! Also, I have f-d up more than my fair share of stuff as a child. I distinctly remember my cousin and I playing in my room and accidentally kicking out some ceiling tiles (it was slanted/atic ceiling). I then cleverly taped them back on, nobody ever the wiser! Or, maybe not EVER…

  27. Annette says:

    Hi Iris!
    You’re an inspiration.
    Great job on the BR! Can’t wait to see the ‘after photos’. Who needs House Beautiful?!
    As for the upshot of offenses, found this little quote:
    WHEN YOU…
    can thank everyone who didn’t love You, couldn’t love You, wouldn’t love You, You’ll be thankful, because they taught You how to Love Yourself.
    You (All) were born Special. You (All) are a Blessing!!! May sound a bit cliche, but it is so very true.

    Love to You & Friends!

    • Annette says:

      …oh, and one more thing, just in case you may have wondered – my nickname was ‘Fingers’ ;)…yes, left alone with all 8 of them, plus thumbs (a mystery I still have them – praise God!) and my imagination from a young’n. I am quite sure my Guardian Angel worked overtime, as did many of yours. Trouble is, our beloved winged Friends – oftimes and more than not – left us holding the bag!

  28. Marlee says:

    my joy stealer was my father who told me at age 10 that i wasn’t smart enough to be a doctor and that i’d be lucky to work at a gas station. i immediately gave up my dream of being an orthopedic surgeon which was the only thing i’d wanted to do. that was 27 years ago and i still can’t make myself finish college or go after jobs i really want. :(

    as for a DIY job, i bought and built my mom an entertainment center, but didn’t like how it was sitting on the carpet, so decided to remove a bit of carpet so it would sit flat. fast forward to 6 hours later and no carpet left in her house. i thought it would be a nice surprise since the carpet was old, stained, and smelled funny. she was outraged when she came home from vacation and saw what i’d done. apparently the carpet helped to keep the heat in the house. she still hasn’t forgiven me and its been 6+ years.

  29. The Queen says:

    Ok so I have to add my childhood traumatic experience.
    I was in 4th grade playing with a friend up the street. We were riding our bikes in a vacant parking lot. I was riding right behind him and he stopped dead in his tracks. I flipped right over him landing on my arm. I went home crying and my parents thought I was joking that my arm hurt. They told me to take a bath and I would feel better. I didn’t. We all sat down to dinner and I laid my arm on the table unable to move it. They even made fun of me. Next day after it had swollen up they finally decided to take me to the emergency room. Yes, I had broken my arm. And they had made fun of me. I love my family.

  30. I was at my 8th grade graduation pool party and I had just entered puberty. I didn’t know much about periods, and my mother bought me a pad with the long strings attached at both ends which you are supposed to affix to an elastic belt. Of course the elastic belt was too high to hide under a bikini, so I put on the pad sans belt and dove off the diving board. Immediately the pad sucked up the water from the entire pool and the feminine napkin was so thick it had expanded down to my knees (at least that’s the way I remember it). I dashed for the back gate and hobbled all the way home, grateful that I wouldn’t be seeing any of my classmates all summer and hoping that none of them would be enrolling in my new high school.

  31. Michele says:

    I was doing something innocuous in class during work time – I don’t even recall my offense – and my 2nd grade substitute teacher gave me a LOOK and said I must be hard-headed. It’s seared into my psyche. I. Am. Hard. Headed. The End. Check my DNA, you’ll find it inscribed there. Makes me wonder what I’ve said to my kids that has scarred them for life … there was a real doozie the other week (wince) that I patched over as well as I could, like you and your pink walls.

    But I think that’s part of being a kid – *something* has to scar you. Think about it – many kids wouldn’t care if they got kicked out of Old Caruso’s house, and most kids wouldn’t care if their substitute teacher called them hard-headed. But everyone is going to have something from their childhood that cuts deep. I don’t know why. We’re just made that way – our little psyches need it for something, to kick-start some emotional development or conscience or what have you.

    (Except my husband, who was apparently abducted and raised by aliens. He has NO memories of his childhood. For real. Who has NO memories of their childhood?? Dexter maybe (ok, except for the ones involving his dad), or someone who was abducted by aliens, or maybe brainwashed by a cult. Don’t be surprised if you see him some day on America’s Most Wanted, after the hypnosis wears off and he snaps!)

  32. Amanda says:

    For the record, sounds like Mrs. Caruso’s house was a death trap! What was she thinking letting 7 year olds play with straight pins?? The first graders in my class have to use Popsicle sticks to ice their gingerbread houses! Who knows what she would
    have let you get into next… Chemistry-with-cleaning-supplies? What-happens-when-we-put-batteries-in-the-blender? Really. You’re lucky you didn’t lose your life there.

    **you’re a riot!

    • THANK YOU! As I was typing that very sentence, I was thinking the same thing. I would NEVER let a couple of 7 year olds play with straight pins. That bitch was straight up asking for it. Bet she was sitting on her ass reading her People magazine, just waiting for me to fail. It was a set up, for sure.

  33. When I was in 1st grade, my grandmother came over to babysit me one evening. This was rare and I wanted to entertain her. I, for some delusional reason, got my stack of illustrated and carefully penned stories to show her. Big stack of them, too. I was an only child, not much to do. Parents can immediately figure out who shaved the cat.

    So picture me in my 70′s footy jammies, shyly looking down and handing my stack of stories to my Mom-Mom. In essence, exposing my soul to her.

    Forward a few frames: Me sitting at the kitchen table. With a HUGE pink eraser (she must have had it in her purse so that she could kill other random people’s dreams as she encountered them). Erasing and correcting ever misspelled word and misshaped letter. Could a sister catch a break? There was no spell check in the 70′s. She kept me up past my bedtime for this torture. And I was denied my milk and cookies that night. Apparently a backwards “s” may have led to a life of crime and had to be appropriately handled.

    I blame her for my decision that I was better at science than writing. Although, on my medical school graduation day, she asked me why I wanted to be a doctor instead of a nurse. Um, yes, I never figured out the bizarre algorithm to impress this woman.

    But now, I’ve had the last laugh. I have quit medicine and become a blogger! Take that Mom-Mom!

    Whew! That felt good!
    AND I’m feeling a little better about my quirky DIY tendencies, too. We might be DIY soul sisters. My bathroom is on its second year of being “remodeled.” Started with me ripping the ugly plywood panel surround off of my tub. And it goes on and on and on…
    Friend got me a towel with this caption on it- “Queen of Unfinished Projects.” So there has to be more of us out there. Maybe I’ll post a picture of it on Facebook and see if I can rally a therapy group for myself. :)

  34. Carol says:

    Sure, you are all being glib.

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  36. MeanGirl says:

    My mom had to intervene when my Grandma tried to backhand me for accidentally spilling milk on the green shag carpet in her dining room. I was 4. The good part is, it was one of the few times my mom spoke up to her mother. She said “It’s milk MOTHER…..and YOU’RE the one who has carpet in a dining room.” My grandma kept ranting about the “horrible smell” that would “never go away.” My mom said “Yes, that’s so much worse than the dog piss already all over the carpet.”

    • Oh man…what’s up with the mean grandmas? I guess she never heard the expression “Never demean a child over spilt milk.” So glad your mom had your back. Thanks for sharing!

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