7.0 Bebs’ Premature Adieu

by Elizabeth Stephens

Helen’s Unexpected Death in the City of Hope

As much love as there was, it did not make up for Helen’s health which was quite fragile. I was told my mother was very sickly. In fact according to the family, they did not expect her to come back from her around the world trip. I was amazed when I heard this comment many years later.

In December of 1954, when I was two years old my mother was admitted into the City of Hope in Duarte, California to have an operation. A note from a relative read:

Dear Bebs,

 Even though I cannot visit you now-will surely do so when you get home.

Aren’t you lucky to be in such a wonderful place?

I know dear because Arthur and I used to visit out there quite frequently.

Lots of love,

Rose

Although the operation was a success,  Helen ended up dying from complications at the young age of 33 years. Back then this kind of outcome seemed to happen with frequency, possibly pneumonia.

The following note was from Helen to David, the last note she would write from the hospital.

“Darling,

It was so nice getting your dear letter. I do miss you so, and it’s nice to know you miss me too. These last few days before the operation are dragging by so slowly—I am so anxious for Friday to come. They moved me again—2 doors from where I was—in with another girl, but she went home this morning, and this afternoon a new one came in. I don’t think I’ll be in here when I come down from the operating room—I think they put people in single rooms when they bring them down from surgery.  I hope I sleep for a couple of days after it, so by the time I wake up I won’t be hurting too much.

Cyril and Joe and Ronnie came to see me Sunday just about 10 minutes after you and the kids left. They were so sorry they missed you. They said I should tell you to drive out to Ontario from here, after you visit. I told them you would like to do that.They said maybe they would come in Wednesday to see me, and if they do, I’ll ask them if they are going to be home Sunday and maybe you and the kids would like to go out there. Joe’s mother broke her leg last Thursday and is in the Kaiser hospital in Hollywood, so they might come to L.A. to see her. If not, I’m sure they would like to have you come down.

No honey, we didn’t pay the October phone bill. And you better send in your union dues, with your little union card. I used the money I had to pay our Ross-Loos dues—I gave it to A. Belle the last time she was out and she sent the check in.

I wonder if you have some money for the house payment—you can wait two more Fridays—this coming Friday & the next. (It’s due on the first of December, but it’s ok if we get it in before the 15th.) (It’s $81.15).

What you wrote about the kids praying was so sweet. Did you teach them? Such sweethearts—all 3 of you.

I’m sending the insurance check  in to Ross Loss for your calcium test and office visits. I just got a message that you called and said you would be here Friday. I don’t think you need to—I’ll probably be up in surgery for hours—the girl that left here today said she was up there 6 hours and then of course I’ll be asleep when I come down.

If you think you’ll feel better being here, then do come; but remember there won’t be anything to do for hour after hour, and I’m afraid the waiting will be nerve-wracking. However if you do think you would rather be here, that’s ok with me, dear.

I guess I’ll go to sleep and dream (I hope) that you’ve won a couple of those card games.

All my love to you and Adri & Elizabeth,

Bebs

Don’t forget the car insurance Saturday.

xxx

She was an accountant by profession and was probably always looking after the bills.

Her death left David, an immigrant dad to raise two little girls alone. David was deeply grieved and we were told he was brokenhearted. My mother’s three older great aunts stepped in and took care of us until David could get himself together while he started working as a general contractor in the construction field. Typically David would accept a job then figure out how to accomplish the work. He did great carpentry work and had many lifelong customers because of his carpentry skills.

Three Concerned Aunts Raise Two Young Nieces in Beverly Hills According to Dr. Spock

One of my great aunts was married and the other two remained single. They had been well known lawyers in Beverly Hills and were somewhat wealthy, but never had children of their own. All their parenting education came out of a Dr. Spock book. Whenever we, my sister and I, got mad or upset, the aunts would say, “get the book out.’ I still have written reports about my daily activities in nursery school. Apparently, I did not like peas. Even though my sister and I were without a mother we were well taken care of as the family came around to fill the void.

xxx (David with Adri & Elizabeth) We knew that we were loved and our daddy loved us a great deal. I am told that we frequently visited our grandparents as they lived next door.

xxx

I also had a pet duck named Inky.

xxx

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8.0 Blackout~The Fairy Tale Abruptly Ends

by Elizabeth Stephens

Enter the Stepmother

“Life is an ungentle stepmother; she drinks tears and feeds on human grief”

A Russian Saying

Again, our world had changed. When David began working for a construction company, he ended up meeting the owner’s sister, Selma who ran the business office.  She was to become my new stepmother and within a year after Helen’s death David married her. Selma was a Russian Jew and  a divorced woman, quite unusual at that time. She had also graduated Summa Cume Laude from Florida State University with a degree in Psychology. David and Selma’s blended family reminds one of a “Yours, Mine and Ours” an old movie, minus the traditional family values. She  had three children from her first marriage. Adrian and I attended the wedding in Las Vegas with some of the relatives, but I have no recollection of the event.

After they married we moved into a small apartment on Barrington Avenue in West Los Angeles, California. There were seven of us. Adrian and I were barely three and four at the time and Selma’s children were older. From the outset, Selma resented the fact that one of her offspring had to live elsewhere, in the home of her rich brother because the apartment was too small. She never let David or anyone else for that matter forget it.  I have no childhood pictures of my own of David and Selma together or of Adrian and I with any family members.  Although we all lived in the same location, that was all we shared. We were raised separately, as it were in a different dimension from the rest of the family.  It was established from early on that Adrian and I were not to be part of Selma’s new blended family.

Selma was a very troubled woman. To the outside world she looked normal and came off as very gracious, much like the stepmother in Cinderella. But behind closed doors, Adrian and I grew up in a very dark prison like setting. The emotional scars are still in place in much the same way as someone who had been on drugs or suffered from post traumatic stress disorder and experiences flashbacks. Time is a funny thing.  Though it has been many years, some current event can trigger a memory that is so very clear. Immediately I am transported back to that house in West Los Angeles with no way out.

Whatever Adrian and I did or did not do, Selma always found fault with and used it to dominate us. But nothing could be compared to what she did to us mentally on an ongoing and premeditated basis. Looking back on my experience I truly felt Selma wanted to kill us and not be held responsible. Remember though, we were small children at the time and had no idea what was taking place or that our treatment was out of the ordinary. We had nothing to compare our relationship to since we were systematically isolated from the family and outsiders.

We were instructed down to the smallest detail of our day. Selma planned out everything, nothing was left to chance. From our hair to the clothes we wore, to the food we ate, to the words we spoke, our thoughts, to all of our comings and goings, we were told what to do and when to do it. We were under constant scrutiny during every waking moment. Even when we slept, I’m sure Selma told us what we should dream. I later studied some psychology, but  never found any parental examples as controlling as Selma, not even when I read Mommy Dearest, a daughter’s biographical account of the terrible abuse she endured from her mother, the well-known celebrity movie star Joan Crawford, another troubled soul.

As it turned out, Selma’s brother was very wealthy, and Selma desired a life of ease demanding that she be well provided for, including all the trimmings she had become used to. David never seemed to be at home as she kept him working, sometimes as many as three jobs at once to provide for his new blended family. Selma had her own favorite phrase, it was, ‘I don’t know how we are going to live,’ and ‘there is not enough money.’ Selma  kept David on a tight leash. Independently, he would save his small weekly allowance and every once and a while he would defy Selma, drive to Las Vegas and gamble away his few dollars. Then he would come home with his tail between his legs.

9.0 Invisible Children

by Elizabeth Stephens

Family in the Shadows

When we were younger, we would go to see our Aunts, but these visits were soon phased out. Many years later we heard that Selma wanted this to stop as she wanted complete control over us. She would tell the Aunts they could pick us up at a time and then gave them the runaround, looking for excuses to cut off the relationship. The Aunts told us that once we came over and we asked them to wash our hair. When we got back home, Selma threw a fit.  She complained to David, “They don’t think I’m a fit mother,” because they had washed our hair. I don’t even know if that really happened or if Selma manufactured the whole thing. Eventually, Selma found a way to cut us off from our family members.

Selma even staged a scene in the backyard. She stood outside the louvered windows and called our names attempting to sound like the Aunts, “Adri…. Lizzy.” Then she came back inside and made us go outside and search for a glove that she planted. Naturally we found the old glove. This again was Selma’s background in psychology being played out. She wanted to make us afraid that the aunts would somehow hurt us, yet she said she would be the one to protect us.

One day out of the blue, Sharon, my mother’s sister and her three children came over. We did not remember her at all. She ventured in the front door to see us and she was promptly thrown out by Selma. Supposedly Sharon brought us dolls that we never got. Sharon never came back. Oh if the walls could talk, what would they say and why didn’t she ever try again to see us?

 

The Shadow Spinmistress and Granny Goose

Selma would slap us across the face with her hand from time to time but other times, she’d get David all riled up and he’d spank us. However, the main mental abuses occurred daily. When I think back about this time the most distressing thing was that no one intervened or came to our rescue.  Many knew what was happening but they looked the other way. It started with David and the apathy then spread to the rest of the family. According to Selma this type of treatment was for “our benefit” and she was always doing us a favor. There were others usually around but they wouldn’t pay much attention to us.

I overheard Selma’s mother speaking to David one day. She said she didn’t know why Selma treated us the way she did. David had nothing to say, as he had seemingly checked out a long time before. Adrian and I really liked Selma’s mother. She was always kind to us whenever she would visit. David liked her too and called her “Granny Goose” as a term of endearment after the potato chips that were very popular at the time.

Leonard, our step brother once showed some concern. He had a discussion with Selma about Adrian going to college and how it should be her own decision. But little came of it. Selma gradually had more and more free rein as time passed.

Even though David was kept busy working they still found time to have two other children, enter, Marilyn and Marcy. This was the 1950’s; ‘yours, mine and ours’ family before the movie came out. However, being David’s own children, Adrian and I, were the outcasts; whereas Marilyn and Marcy grew up normally and were very spoiled.

Then there were nine mouths to feed in the family. This added more to the stress to the financial situation. Selma continually told David about her brother and all his money and all the places he and his family went. Selma’s wealthy brother and had planes and houses and David didn’t. Selma tried to shame him into a different lifestyle to make her happy, but then Selma was never happy anyway. She always wanted more, more, and more.

Marilyn and Marcy were their little “darling children.”  They could do no wrong. And yet when they were scolded for not bringing their school work home,  Adrian and I were ordered not to bring home any of our schoolwork. Selma would tell us, “It’s alright for you to be an average student.”

Even when the other members of the family were around, nothing Selma did seemed out of the ordinary to the rest of the family because she had a way of explaining things away. If she’d been caught  robbing a bank, and she could have successfully put her own spin on it. She was the mistress of spin.

I would often hope against hope that my Father, David would come home unexpectedly and see her in the middle of one of her despicable acts and recognize what was going on. But somehow even when he did, she would explain it all away. I recall one particular event with great clarity.  Rarely Adrian and I would be told to go outside and sit on the grass in the back yard. Mainly we were confined to our room. When we did go outside we would have to sit with our legs out stretched on the scratchy grass, not a blanket just on the grass. Selma would then turn on the sprinklers and we would get soaked, but she said she was doing us another favor, because we might be over heated.

One Day David did come home unexpectedly and saw us in the  back yard. Selma shaking her head in disbelief said to David; “They don’t even move when the sprinklers are on, they just sit there like bumps on logs.” When I heard that I became very angry as I felt I could not do anything about this. It was unjust and yet I was only a child. How could I stand up to a veteran abuser when even my Dad would look the other way?

From time to time, when David actually talked to us, he would ask us, “Why don’t you do other things?” And if we said we liked to do other things, Selma would be right there. We didn’t say too much because we had little protection against Selma. Even when we did tell him things, he would go talk to Selma and she’d make him believe whatever she wanted him to believe and we would get the backlash. At the time I wondered if he really knew what she was doing to us or he just did not want to rock the boat. I can only say that about three times Selma said David beat her up with a frying pan, so she said.

After those occasions she was very nice to us for about two days. I did feel sorry for her, because for as long as I could remember she was supposed to be my mother and sometimes she said she loved me even though she did strange things. I asked myself, “Does she in some strange way love me? There were a few good times. There must have been. There were a few moments when I felt close to her. But I can’t recall any specific instance.

This is not the Disney version of the story of Cinderella. The following account I did not want to include in this story as it was not pretty and I felt very transparent and lay bare. When I was very young possibly 6 or 7 my step brother would rape me. I was so young I did not know what he was doing and he told me I had to obey him. It was never about sex it was about the physical act. This happened over a time period and occurred several times. I did say something to Selma about this and it stopped but this was something never spoken of again. When I was much older I told Adrian and she did not believe me.  Why did I expect her to believe her sister since things like this do not really happen in real life?

10.0 No Curls and No Hop Skotch Child! Big Brother is Watching You

by Elizabeth Stephens

Surveillance State, No Hop Skotch, and No Smiles!

As I said we were not allowed to go out and play at home, nor be seen to have fun even when we went to school. Selma was always around, it was the control issue. She would tell us not to participate in any of the games during recess. She wanted us to become outcasts on the playground as well. Selma intentionally passed by the school and caught me playing hop scotch one day. She came onto the school grounds and yelled at me. It was like having Big Brother in the 1950’s, she was always watching.

Selma would constantly tell us how ridiculous we looked and how everyone was laughing at us. Not only were Adrian and I told not to participate during any kind of games we were not even allowed to talk to anyone. On several occasions Selma told us that she drove past the school and saw us smiling.  How does a child answer a comment like that? The teachers and the other children would ask us why we did not join in and we would make up some excuse, but how could we have told them we were oppressed and we were not allowed to participate? We probably did not even know how to express our situation. Really we did not even know how or where to begin. This is what we were up against, how could a parent be that controlling? I would try hard to make her love me, but it just was not meant to be. When I would even look up at her she would often say to me ‘if looks could kill, she would be dead.’ What was I going to do?

Did anyone love us or was anyone concerned about us? According to Selma, she was the only one that defended us and everyone else just made fun of us. Selma would tell us that all of our teachers would call her up and tell her how stupid and funny looking we were.

She would also say that everyone talked about how strange we both were and that she was our only advocate. We were being set up and indoctrinated from an early age for failure.

The Aunts did have some contact through a teacher that would pass on information about our well-being or lack of it. That was our only contact with them, but even then we were under Selma’s oppressive thumb. Independent thinking was a challenge. We were always afraid we would get in trouble, but in reality, we were always in trouble.

The Aunts once got special permission and came on campus to visit us once. They took the following picture of Adrian and me at Emerson Junior High School in West Los Angeles, California. It looks like two little girls in the depression era.

File0896

My older sister Adrianna and I at Emerson Junior High, an upper middle class school in West Los Angeles. One of our only dresses.

Ugly Shoes and Pink Butch Wax on the Westside

I once showed an older lady this picture and she said how cute. I was shocked. How could she say that?

The following picture was taken at my graduation and one can see the comparison more clearly.

First Row on Left. Photo of me graduating from Westwood Elementary School when I was 12 years old.

The first time I saw this photo was many, many years later. This also came from my Aunt’s possessions. They cared enough to get a copy of my graduating picture; which was amazing to me.

I thought I looked very out of place at this upper class school in Westwood  which is located near UCLA in a very affluent neighborhood. It’s interesting that I was standing in full view, whereas if I was in the crowd you could not tell if I was a boy or a girl. How embarrassing it was that I had on saddle shoes as they were called back then, when all the other girls had knee high dresses and patent white shoes~no doubt patterned after the famous actress Audrey Hepburn who had just won an academy award for her leading role in My Fair Lady. As I remembered the dress Selma had chosen for me to wear, I must say it was the second ugliest dress I had ever seen.

File0895

Class photo. You can’t miss me in the front row at the far left.

Back in the 1950’s it was the time of Elvis and his slicked back hair. Like Elvis our hair was always done up with pink, greasy, butch wax~compliments of Selma. The butch wax was an unacceptable practice for girls, and Selma would even leave some uncombed in patches. She said it would make our hair soft. Our hair was routinely chopped off and it looked short and ugly, compliments of Selma.

Selma, in addition would always brush our hair very hard, almost like beating us. The brush would be dipped in water, so much so that our clothes were all wet. She made sure our clothing was dripping wet before we left for school. She would also accuse me of staying up all night and curling my hair. She did not want me to have any curls. How does a child understand this? I still do not know.

The first time I read Jane Eyre I identified with her situation perfectly. She too was raised in an orphanage and when the headmaster saw a girl that had curls and he commanded that those locks be cut off immediately. Often I would cry for I could feel Selma was doing these things intentionally, today I know she was, but then, after all, Selma kept saying she loved me.

Selma would make us wear the same dress for a week, and that was totally embarrassing in grammar school or in any school. This made us further outcasts as she planned. To make matters even worse they were the ugliest clothes you can image and they were oversized. Selma would go to the store and pick out about ten dresses and come home and make us try them on. We got to keep the worst of the worst. Then she would take the rest back. That is how we got all our clothing.

From time to time I would snap and would stand up to her. Before I entered High School, I could not take this kind of treatment any more. I told her that I wanted to wear my own clothes and pick them out by myself. It was a major victory for me and I got to do it. More often though,  she would achieve her objectives after wearing me down.

11.0 Toilet Talk and Bath Time Torchure

Once Selma had an informational talk with me about when I went to the bathroom. I was to use one or two pieces of toilet paper. Though I remember I was quite young, I knew in my bones she was telling me something she would not do. Every once and a while I had some level thoughts such as, she can’t really believe that herself, or can she. Maybe she was just delusional, but no, she was a normal mother to her own children. I was trying to make some sense out of this conflicting treatment.

Bath time was a particular stressful activity, usually when no one was around Selma would force us to take freezing, cold baths. Selma would even make us go as low as we could to get down under the freezing cold water. She would wash our hair by holding our heads under water until we would be gasping for air. Then she would accuse us of being overly sensitive, and then ridiculed us both for being so dramatic like there was something wrong with us that we could not breathe. We were made to lay there in the freezing cold water for hours. Adrian and I took baths together until we were too big to fit in the tub together. We were never allowed to have towels or to use hot water.

Of course Selma’s children took the traditional regular warm relaxing bath. Once I sneaked into their bathroom as the water was draining from one of my half-sister’s bath. It was really warm and I remember thinking, “How lucky they are to be able to take a warm bath.”

When we exited the bathtub we were made to wear wet t-shirts.  Selma would put our shirts in the sink and run cold water over them or even add ice cubs under the pretense that we were so hot blooded. It did not matter if it was summer, fall, winter, or spring. Imagine being told by Selma that she was doing you a favor, because it was so hot and she was cooling us off. In reality, we were always cold and shaking. Quite frankly, I’m surprised we didn’t catch pneumonia. In our room we had to sit under opened louvered windows even in the dead of winter. We never had blankets on our beds. When it rained we never had a jacket, we were told to run in between the drops and that we would not melt. After all Selma was once again doing us a favor by looking out for us.

12.0 Junior’s Deli It Was Not, Nasty Food It Was

by Elizabeth Stephens

Not Fit For Human Consumption

When mealtime arrived it was always a nasty experience. We never ate with the rest of the family, but always by ourselves in our room in front of the T.V where all our meals were delivered by Selma.  We ate rotten food not fit for humans, many times it was just fat and oil, and how we would gag. While we were gagging we were told there was something the matter with us. If the meal had any meat in it, it was either a hamburger or baloney. I can’t remember ever having any vegetables.

We were instructed to eat the ice cubes in our drinks. I know some people like doing this, but I took no pleasure in it at all. Even our drinks were mixed with a combination of beer and chocolate, also very nasty. Selma wanted to ruin our teeth. Speaking about our dental hygiene it was non-existent. We did not ever own a tooth brush and never brushed our teeth. Many years later David was sitting at my table and yelling at someone because they did not take care of their teeth. Again, the irony is so close.

Coke was one of our main drinks. Looking back on our diet, we never had anything that was healthy. For breakfast, we would have a burnt toasted cheese on white bread or two to three donuts and we would have to “wash it down” with the chocolate and beer combination.  For lunch, Selma would give us a bologna sandwich, cookies, and a coke with ice cubes. We would have to eat the food and the ice cubes as fast as we could. She would say “They’ll cool you off.”  I always hated to eat them because I’d get cold and would always be shivering.

When we were in grammar school we had to come home for lunch. We’d be told to run home. This wasn’t because we didn’t have enough time to walk home and to have lunch. This was simply because Selma wanted us to run so we would be uncomfortable. Selma would even make Adrian and I compete against each other by seeing who could run home the fastest.

We’d sit in front of the T.V. and eat as fast as we could, and then about five minutes before the late bell would ring we’d have to run ten blocks back to school. She planned for us to be late and was always putting us in difficult and trying situations, again all for “our benefit.”  So getting back to school we were always being marked late.

Selma, Junior’s Deli Pastry Chef Par Excellence

Juniorspic

You may think that Selma was a rotten cook but that was not the case, she was a great cook. She would make cookies, pastries, and cakes from scratch, but rarely would we get any. They were amazing. Her family always raved about her cooking. She also did catering for a famous deli called Junior’s on Westwood Blvd.

As I grew older, I found myself getting into trouble more frequently and would get caught in the act doing something or other. I was known as the black sheep and was always one, according to Selma, because I was always ‘pushing the limits’ It wasn’t that I was a bad seed; I was just stifled in my growth and wanted to be challenged or even to have a kind word.

I will not go into much detail as I am not proud of some of what I did.

Because I had to stuff my food down my throat as fast as possible under Selma’s always disapproving eye, sometimes I would regurgitate it and eat it as my leisure. I know that probably sounds so awful and yet it was worth it to me to enjoy my food, especially the donuts.

Other things included, stealing money from Selma’s purse, which was the worst, reading books when she was out, trying to improve my mind and stealing food from the kitchen. When I was 16, I “stole” an orange. Prior to that, I never remember ever tasting one.

orange

Since we were never allowed into the kitchen, I remember several times sneaking into the kitchen and raiding the icebox. I used to steal cans and eat the fruit or vegetables, whatever I could find. Once she discovered me with a can of pumpkin and she made me eat it raw. Most of the time she would just yell at me and I would attempt to block it out by thinking about other things, like playing a movie in my head. Each time she would make me more and more miserable whenever I gave her more ammunition to point out my long list of things wrong in my life.

I had tried to make her love me by saving coupons to buy her things as gifts. I would look at magazines and would envision the gifts I would lavish on my whole family so maybe they would accept me, but that never worked.

Every night before we went to bed, Selma would give us a big handful of candy or a thick slice of chocolate cake and ice cream. Adrian and I had become overweight with bad skin and teeth through her malicious design. Selma wanted us to be fat, ugly and gross for she did not want us to have any friends at all.

On a handful of occasions we were invited over to Selma’s successful, brother’s house. He had a split-level house with a fish pond that flowed through the interior and exterior in a very expensive part of Brentwood, California. Selma dearly loved to rub David’s nose in all her brother’s wealth every chance she had.

Prior to these visits, Adrian and I were fed dinner at home and instructed to eat very little. We were told to leave a lot of food on our plates so we would not embarrass ourselves, according to Selma. Our time there was always stressful as Selma watched us like a hawk. Rarely would I have any fun. Afterwards Selma would tell us all kinds of unkind comments were made about us and how she defended us.

When David and Selma would go away for the weekend Selma would leave us paper bags of food in the closet for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Of course there were others at home that made their own breakfasts, lunches, and dinners, but this was our treatment.The food mostly consisted of donuts, Hi-C punch, and; baloney sandwiches, after all this could last without refrigeration. The bags were marked, e.g., “Thurs. Lunch.”  Imagine though, when the whole family went on vacation to Europe and left us with two weeks worth of bagged meals. Nasty food it was.

13.0 Outcastes at the Ice Show

by Elizabeth Stephens

 

Brave Souls, Birthdays and Ice Capades

Even though our appearance at school set us apart as outcastes there were those brave souls that wanted to be our friends. Some even dared to come up against Selma, but as the experienced spin-mistress she would not go down easily. When people attempted to invite Adrian and me to their birthday party, we were never allowed to attend. In one of my classes a boy had a crush on me, yes even with all my trauma. He was so intent on me being at his party he even made his mother call and talk to Selma. After that, the little boy was afraid to ever talk to me again. I always wondered what Selma told them, like we had the plague or something.

The older I became the more I recognized I wasn’t going to be a passive person. It was a mental change and I started thinking differently. I knew I didn’t have to be under Selma’s control even if my body was still in front of the TV; my mind was in a totally different dimension. Selma also realized she couldn’t control me in some areas and I think she was afraid of losing control.

On a couple of birthdays, we’d get to go to the Sports Arena to see the ice show or circus and Selma would act like a real mom, but it was only the three of us. It was as if she had to take us, but it was against her will and what she did with her own kids, we never knew why no one else came.

Only one time did I ever remember Adrian and I going to an outing in the park. Selma probably had to meet somebody or do something. I was extremely happy that day to be outside. I was on a public swing having a great time. She came over to me and told me to look down when I was on the swing and that I looked like a goon. She always put a damper on my good times. Who speaks to children like that? Not a loving mother, that is for sure.