On April 3, 2002 I tossed and turned in my bed, too excited to sleep, anticipating all the new experiences and changes that the morrow would bring. I went to bed a preteen, skipped my teen and young adult years, and woke up a grown woman! I knew what a bug a boo was (thanks to destiny’s child), I knew to say no to a scrub that ‘holla’d from the passenger’s side, and I could perform all the dance moves to ’are you that somebody.’ You couldn’t tell me nothing, I had seen it all and heard it all in my 13 years of life. Shoot! I knew more then my parents! I went to bed a sweet, loving, respectful child (or at least that’s the image I remember) and woke up a demon child that knew how to roll her eyes, smack her lips, raise her eyebrows, and snap her neck with the perfection that only a 13 year old ‘grown woman’ has mastered. Something within me snapped, and I took on a bit of crazy. My mother used to tell me ‘to fix my face’ and ‘watch my tone.’ But, I shrugged that off. What did she know? She was only my mother. My tone was just fine, if she would stop talking to me I wouldn’t have this attitude, because of course it wasn’t MY fault that I behaved this way. O no! it was the people around me who kept bothering me, that would cause my behavior to change, at least I didn’t give them a REAL piece of my mind, and tell them everything I thought. I remember one time I told my mother ‘if you heard what was going through my mind, you wouldn’t THINK I was talking back!’ I’m just surprised I’m here to tell the tale, the crazy thing was I thought that this was an ok response, that she would understand that I hold back things and; therefore, there shouldn‘t be an issue.
My mother always told me that ‘nobody owes me anything.’ I think my generation feels a sense of entitlement that things are supposed to be given to us because, heck I AM Breanna Nicole Wright and that’s how things work. I often hear parents speak about how a child hits about 13 and loses all sense, they get hit with a touch of crazy and become this child that makes you want to pull out your hair to keep from screaming. I always thought that there must be something biological within us that makes this happen.
I never realized that this is actually a cultural thing, until I came to Ethiopia. See children here do not ’lose their mind’ at a certain age. No matter how many times their older siblings, parents, parent’s friends holler their names, they do not cut their eyes or stomp their feet. Yea, I’m sure they get irritated a little on the inside, especially because they will call them for the simple thing (think back in the days-before my time thank God- when your parents would call you in the room to change the TV channel). They might be a tad bit slower to respond after the 7th time they have been called in the last 15 minutes but, they come on over and they do whatever is asked. Me? When I was 13? I used to HATE when my parents would bellow/holler my name from downstairs and make me come down to figure out what they needed. Calling my name 7 times in 15 minutes? I KNOW I would’ve had an attitude. Matter of fact I doubt I would’ve made it to the 7th time because I’m pretty sure I would’ve be in trouble for my tone or face by that point. Not something I’m proud about but, I had major ‘tude problems back then. But that’s the thing, on our televisions and at other friends houses that is the behavior that I would see. So I always assumed it was normal.
Everyone says that payback comes in the form of grandchildren. Well, I’m going to start taking lessons now from my Ethiopian friends so, hopefully, I don’t have to go through this when I have kids. Sorry parents! No payback for you guys 🙂
Saying you are in some mood or tired, staying home, or craving chocolate because you’re on your period does not fly here. Women have responsibilities and things that need to get done, and their periods can not stop that. On top of that it’s a man’s world here, women are still a bit oppressed. Don’t get me wrong I do believe that in the States we sometimes abuse the ‘period excuse’ and may tell a tale once or twice to get us out of something. But, there are times when it is valid. Being able to say you can’t do something or you are moody is connected with women’s equality, valuing the woman’s voice, mood, thoughts as much as a man’s. The women are expected to do their duties, and their feelings/emotions/thoughts do not necessarily count.