|Photograph (undated, ca. 1950) of Brad McCormick,
standing in front of perimeter wall of a Catholic school for wayward boys(?), Wilkins Ave., Baltimore MD USA|
|"They put me off at the wrong stop when I was born."|
"There are no words in the human language..." (ref.: Elsa Morante, History: A Novel)
to describe a sensitive child's experience (if it can be called that much) of being "raised"
(but not up...) by persons whose
society did not teach them how to live their lives, much less,
how to nurture such a child who was as if from a different species than they,
and from a different place than their "world".
|I [that little boy grown up] did not then have concepts to name what I was undergoing,
to be aware that it was anything at all, or, a fortiori, to realize that things could
be better (that was part of my privation...). As an adult, belatedly, I did acquire them.|
|I call the above photograph --
taking poetic license with the topological relation of child to wall, my: stalag picture. I call
the so-called society in which it happened an: Abworld ("ab", in German,
connotes: defective). "Never again!"|
|Note: My parents did not badly physically abuse me. What they
did was to impress upon me that if I did not please them, they would abandon me
to my own [lack of] resources. When I was about 5 years old, my father explained to me that
my mother was leaving (she was at the door with a suitcase...) because I had not
listened to her properly. Of course I promised to behave better so that my mother
would not abandon me. I now wish I had been precocious enough then to call their bluff.
In the early 1980's, I coined a phrase: "I'm not sick; I'm sick of it. I'm not tired; I'm tired of it."
|There is an alternative.
A society and/or parents who have such a child
whom they cannot understand, can provide the child unconditional support and
encouragement, as epitomized by something a highly
gifted person, whose parents were "dirt farmers", told me. He said that, as
a child, his parents told him [and, more important: meant it]:
"Tom, do what you believe is right.
On the basis of such a safety net, the child can at least try to learn for him or herself, even if the adults
cannot directly provide the guidance and substantive modelling which would
constitute their most felicitous role.
You will make mistakes.
We stand behind you."