"Someday, when you grow up, I hope you have a daughter JUST LIKE YOU!"
That's the wish that was blasted at me from my mother on a weekly basis growing up. Fast-forward a few decades, and I am preparing to give birth to my own daughter and hoping that her wish does not, in fact, become my curse. "But, Stacy," you might implore, "weren't you the jewel of your parents' eyes? The sweet, apple cheeked, lovely person you are now?"
Sorry, I'm back now. It was so difficult typing that last bit that I needed a minute once I got through it, both to laugh and to check for the threat lightning strikes. Now that the laughter is out and the lightning threat is registered at a solid, guarded blue, I can explain exactly why having a daughter just like me is utterly terrifying.
• I cut my own hair.
I should clarify: I cut my own hair more than a few times. One day, when I was maybe 5 or 6, I was trying to get my mother's attention while she was on the telephone. She kept waving me off, so finally, I marched off to the drawer where the office supplies were, grabbed the giant pair of adult scissors and returned to stand directly in front of her. I grabbed a fistful of hair from the crown of my head and chopped it as close to the scalp as I could possibly get. It got such a fantastic reaction that it became my go-to anytime I decided my mother needed to stop what she was doing and pay attention to me. I cut my own hair easily a handful of times during my early childhood. Needless to say, getting the right angle for pictures so that I didn't look like a hacked-up mess was pretty tough.
• I peeled the wallpaper off of my bedroom wall.
I don't think I've ever come quite as close to death as when I did this. Only a few years earlier, my parents had spent quite a lot of money on the beautiful wallpaper in my bedroom. There was a wood border that ran the center, dividing the two sort of floral/paisley patterns that managed to complement each other just perfectly. Apparently, one night, as I was lying in bed, I noticed a tiny lift in the seam of the paper, and began obsessively picking at it (I have no idea to this day why). Of course as I picked, the lift became a tear and the tear gradually became a giant, peeling hole that I could no longer hide. I tried to prop pillows to cover it, but eventually it was discovered and I saw a vein pop in my mother's forehead that I had, over time, come to realize prefaced an epic freak out/yelling at/punishment.
• I was constantly in trouble at school.
I don't know how I managed it, but I was in trouble almost all the time, all through school. When I was in the first grade, my teacher made me take home a goofy little cartoon-themed report that told my parents if I had managed to shut up, stay in my seat and actually do my work every day. They had to sign it and send it back with me every day, because I would apparently pretend it didn't exist or that I didn't get it when it reflected that I was terrible. When I was in the third grade, my principle told my mother that I was the first little girl in his entire career that he'd had to administer swats to (I don't remember what I did to earn swats), and that's just two small examples. In my defense, I was a pretty smart kid and school bored the pants off me (literally, apparently -- my mother was once called because I was running around the playground with no pants on). Unless they gave me a good book to read or an assignment that was more challenging, what was I to do but distract the other kids and run around like a crazy person? Thank goodness A.D.D. wasn't a thing back then, because someone would surely have tried to diagnose my boredom as a disorder and would have medicated the fun right outta' me -- though my mom would probably have super appreciated that.
Really, there's so much that I did, right on up through high school. From arguing with my teachers, to refusing to do my homework (again, boring) to skipping class, I was a hot mess that my mother had no idea what to do with. It's no wonder that she would often feel so helpless that she could only utter the Great Mother's Curse at me with that vein popping out of her head.
I can only keep in mind the general reasons for doing what I did -- a strong personality with the need for positive attention and challenges in my education -- and try to preemptively understand and give those things to my daughter so that she doesn't turn into a little me.
Well, all the terrible versions of little me. I actually grew up to be pretty awesome. As will she.