Most kids are not good.
I had not thought about it in quite this way before.
Kids are generally inconsiderate and selfish: being kind and altruistic takes an ability to see someone else’s point of view. To do that, you need experience and cognitive functions that usually aren’t very developed until early adolescence, when they suddenly take off.
They are impulsive: hitting, biting, lying, stealing, having tantrums to get attention, throwing things, and otherwise acting out. They cannot regulate their emotions yet, or make decisions well. They have a feeling, they act on it. It gets better as they get older (sometimes, until they become teenagers, when they seem to lose it all over again), but sometimes it’s a hard road to get there.
Kids are not nice people. At least some of the time.
But we love them because we know they are developing. We know they are not always going to be that way, and we can see the negative traits improving as they mature and the positive traits becoming more pronounced.
Imagine, though, someone who does not feel that way about their child, who unrealistically expects more self-control, more ability to be independent physically and emotionally, and more ability to be considerate of others than a child can manage. Imagine someone who does not see her responsibility to help the child develop these skills, but is merely indignant that those abilities have not magically developed all on their own. Imagine someone who does not see her child as a child, but expects adult behaviour and maturity with a layer of cuteness on top.
That’s my mother. That’s her mother too.
Add trauma responses, dysregulated emotions, and marriage to a psychopath, and you’ve got my mother.
A lot of it is lack of empathy. A lot of it is someone who does not feel for the child’s pain, who cannot understand what it is like to be a child, or that a child is not a cute and endearing adult. A lot of it is maybe someone who wasn’t helped to develop and who maybe didn’t develop, who could never understand her own mind and therefore could never understand my mind or help me with it.
It makes me understand how I once came to her, full of a child’s needs, and I was shamed for it. It makes me understand how maybe I didn’t come to her with my needs. I tried to meet them in some other way, other than through connection. It makes me understand how relationships would constantly re-activate pain and humiliation.
It’s demeaning, in a way, to think I just didn’t grow up. So I won’t say that. Anyway, it’s more complicated than that. I grew up in some ways, but not other ways, I was given the additional burden of trauma memories to cope with and no family support, few relationship skills to gain support in a family of my choosing. It’s much more complicated than just being childish.
I get out of this, though, that a part of why I was so abused is that no one saw me as someone developing, as largely potential rather than a finished product. No one saw me as someone who deserved help to develop my full human potential. I was given little or no help and judged as a defective product.
But I was a child. Developing. Full of potential, but not much of anyone yet.