Grow Up Mikey

boy amateur boxer by Lisa Runnels

The walls have remained the same—off-white walls with the imprint of dirty fingers near the doors. It is five long years since I was in my parent’s home. I mull over my last conversation with you. Sitting across from me at the restaurant, the table shook when you banged it, rattling our glasses, your rage exposing your fragile heart. I did not speak then, but I will speak now. Mikey, this is my story and it could be yours too.

My parents are not responsible for all the problems in my life. Ha! It is true that in a moment of anger, my mum flung her high-heeled peep-toes at me. But for crying out loud, I ducked with the agility of a teenage athlete, and enjoyed the small victory of seeing for a second, the remorse on her face when her shoe hit the wall and rebounded with the broken heel coming in second place. She has paid enough, and the statute of limitations has run its course.

And what if my dad never said, “I love you,” and never attended any prize-giving ceremony where I stood on the podium looking and hoping, from primary school through secondary school and up till my graduation from university? So, he didn’t know how good I was at Scrabble and how deftly I could steal two-hundred-pound notes while playing Monopoly?

For goodness sake, he put a roof over our heads, we ate until our little stomachs protruded like a ball, and our summer dresses, which caught the wind and ballooned when we twirled, had pink flower petals and yellow butterfly patterns. He spelled L.O.V.E. in a different way, and I refuse to let my juvenile fantasies of challenging his authority in a boxing ring follow me into my twenties, thirties, forties, and fifties.

So your parents expressed their frustration at your (“un”)reasonableness by acting as though you would not amount to much, swearing with their nostrils flared and their breath coming in gasps. Did they not spend time correcting you so you would amount to much, and when they realised that a life sentence in jail for killing you was not worth the trouble, hired the services of a private tutor? Let it go. Grow up and stop holding a grudge.

Do not tell a shrink the stories that you should reserve for your grandchildren and write the shrink a fat cheque afterwards as if you had twenty-five hours in your day and as if you do not have bills to pay.

Dad and mum, you are officially off the hook. My mistakes are my own, born of foolish choices. The things you forgot to warn me about, I could have found out. All those times when we sat (you on the red armchair and I on the cream sofa), and I wondered who taught you to lecture, pretending to listen, so you could congratulate yourself for passing on great wisdom, I should have paid attention to the pain in your voice brought on by the memory of bitter experience. I could have asked and you would have told me more, so much more.

My mistakes are my own. Despite all you did to set me up for a good life, I chose the life that brought me pain, that brought you pain, that brought us pain. I do not blame you and you should not blame you. We have life, we have hope, we have faith, and we have love. You could not buy the sun even if the central bank printed more notes.

Enough already! Everybody stop crying; say, “Cheese,” and face the camera!

© Timi Yeseibo 2013

Photo credit: ©Lisa Runnels/ (used with permission)

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13 thoughts on “Grow Up Mikey

  1. Ha! It’s true that in a moment of anger, my mom threw her high heeled peep toes at me and for crying out loud, one sharp heel hit me on the shoulder, almost shattering my glenohumeral joint.. This post looks like what I would have written -except there’s no way I can pull off something as professional as this.
    No, I won’t stop holding the grudges, I won’t let it go -at least not all of it, not yet. Maybe when I clock 30, I’ll share your views. I love my mom but she’s not off the hook, I just won’t take responsibility for her baseless naggings.

    By the way, I said cheese but there was no camera. I love this!


    1. Oh my, are you okay now? Call Human Rights Watch! 🙂
      I’m over thirty and my mom still nags. I’ve learnt to be patient. When she starts on the phone, I go through my emails on my Ipad or something and say, “Yes, yes, I’ve heard,” at the end. 😀
      Thank you for being here. Let’s say cheese together 😉


    1. @tough… it is, isn’t it. Age is a number. In my view, you’re grown up/growing up when you learn to take responsibility. And we can’t move forward if we keep looking back…


  2. The right and best thing to do for oneself is to grow up by forgiving and forgetting… But some had it much more harder than others. Some never had the LOVE in word or in deed. Some fathers were totally mean and useless, yes. Useless! except for the fact that they were responsible for a part of the component that brought about the child.😜 What we need to do for this class of people is to pray for healing and comfort that no man but God can give. I was fortunate I had a father who although with his many bad sides had a good relationship with his children, his heart was so tender that when he decrees punishment for maybe 2 hours, he releases us before the end of one hour. Just thot it was necessary to highlight this group and those who lost theirs at early age or never had one due to one mishap or d other.

    Are u walking on a lonely road and you think nobody cares? Good news ! Jesus cares, call on him, He always hears! Sent from my iPhone


    1. Julienne, thank you for reminding us of those who had a tough time with their parents or those who didn’t have any parents at all. It is true that they need emotional healing and comfort.

      You and I and many others had regular parents. For that I am thankful 🙂


  3. So what?..Dad was not as rich as Moshood Abiola but he was rich in love…He was not there when i graduated from The University of Benin but he made sure my school fees where paid and i never lacked for food and money for hand outs….so He never verbalized his love but i remember him driving over 300km from Awka in Anambra state to Uniben to Pick me up and take me to the hospital when i was almost dying of typhoid fever and through my haze i could hear him praying as he drove 300km back to Onitsha to Niger Medical clinic….so anyone blaming parents for where they are is simply needs to grow up


    1. Well said Peter-Damian. Love is an action word and your father demonstrated his love… the best way he knew how. I like your question, “So what?” I think we should look at the situations in our lives, and say, “So what?” and then get to work… 🙂


  4. Tonbareg, you hit the nail on the head. Maturity involves stopping the blame game. At some point, we’ve got to say, “The buck stops here!” And yes, it is wonderful to have second chances 🙂


  5. So true this blaming game takes nobody anywhere if my parents had done this, then this or that wouldn’t have happened and so on. It even goes beyond parents, some people blame their present ordeal on other things too like a lack of education, ethnicity, color of their skins etc but the truth is that we are responsible for where we are in life. The fastest way to get out of any ordeal is to take responsibility for your life. Its true that some of the problems from our past affect us in the present but holding on to the past would keep you stuck in the past. God has given us a new slate (little blackboard with chalk) to write our future let’s use it and occassionally when we make mistakes we can erase somrthings and move on!


    1. I totally agree with this post, and also with Tonbareg! I’ve met people whose lives were seriously affected by their past and its results were still resonating in the present. However I never failed to mention that to accept being a victim of your circumstance would be to accept defeat. The first step in conquering your situation is to accept and forgive your past, THEN look for ways to change the tides. Stand up and fight! Sadly not everyone is like this, and they would hate us because “we don’t understand”. I think as exasperating as it is, all this person needs is continuous support and encouragement….


      1. Yes bluephoenixrebel, today is a good day to forget the past, harness the present, and create the future we desire.

        And although you didn’t mention it directly, parents also need to stop being haunted by their parenting mistakes… families need to embrace one another, say cheese and face the camera (where possible) 🙂


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