Saturday, 7 May 2011

Macaroni Cheese And The Cupboard Under The Stairs

Auntie May has shut me in the cupboard under the stairs. Difficult for me to remember the reason why on this particular occasion, because there were so many misdemeanours it was possible to commit. Though most of the things we got up to which were considered bad enough to merit punishment, were in fact just us kids being kids.
My regular and most featured crime however, was not being able to eat macaroni cheese. I actually lived in fear and trepidation of macaroni cheese day. What day it was precisely I cannot recall. All I know is, that it came around relentlessly every week, and every week I knew I was going to be tormented by a plateful of this disgusting concoction.
Try as I might I could not get it down. Auntie May would get angrier and angrier as she watched me picking at it. She was so determined I would empty my plate, that she would resort to holding my nose as she attempted to shovel the muck down my reluctant throat. It was all to no avail. My gagging reflex would kick in and the battle would be over for the moment. Off I would go to the cupboard. Where I think I was supposed to reflect on my crime.
What Auntie May didn't realise, was that after my initial fears had subsided, I was quite happy being imprisoned in this cupboard, among the mops and brushes and other sundry cleaning materials. As far as I was concerned this was quite a nice little haven. Away from the petty squabbles and upsets of life in a children's home. Even in the pitch darkness my eyes would somehow find enough light for me to to fashion a pillow out of dusters and cleaning cloths and snuggle down, engulfed in the scent of carbolic soap, for a few hours peaceful sleep.
She was however a determined woman, and often, the next day would find me confronted with the same plateful of food for breakfast, dinner and tea.
Being able to adapt to this punishment was to serve me well a few years down the line, when I was left in the care of a monstrous foster 'mother'. A foster 'mother' with a cellar. I'll keep her for another time.
Not everyone was as adaptable as me in these circumstances. Being left alone in the dark is a very common and terrifying childhood fear. It was extremely worrying for us youngsters to have to watch one of our peers being dragged kicking and screaming to the cupboard. It sets off a sense of helplessness in a child when it is realised how powerless they are to prevent suffering. This compounds a feeling of worthlessness in children. Some of whom are already deeply troubled by unpleasant circumstances in their young lives.
It is not an excuse, but to my mind, inflicting these unthinking and traumatising punishments on children in care is the reason so many of us would go off the rails. I include myself in this. Maybe it is an excuse.
As I sit here today, thinking back over a troubled childhood, I am filled with incredulity that grown people in a supposedly caring profession could act in this abhorrent way. Quite astonishing how many people who dislike kids actually choose childcare as a career. Or am I being incredibly naive? How I wish it was possible to confront them with their crimes.Tell them what I thought of them then. What I think of them now.
By my next post I will hopefully be back to my normal happy self, and will have a tale to amuse and give you cause to smile. Can't promise anything though, because my mind gets kind of cluttered at times.
I am off out now. Been invited to dinner. Hope I mentioned that I don't like macaroni cheese!


  1. I hear you!
    My cousin was forced fed onions by his nanny. He's in his 60s and still can't bear to eat an onion (even if it is disguised).
    Jane x

  2. My children make fun of me because I get so angry at people who mistreat or neglect children. I just never could understand how anyone could purposely hurt anyone else. And nobody should even try to tell me that they did not know what they were doing. Of course they did! And they enjoyed it. I just don't understand why it gives pleasure to someone to do those things. Next let me say, and not with pity, but with sorrow, that I cannot believe you are able to tell us about the things that happened to you as a child. I hope it is cathartic for you and puts the physical and emotional pain in a place where you can deal with it. You have a marvelous sense of humor and sense of self. If I sound "preachy" I apologize. Like I said, my children think I'm silly enough.