Unequivocally Ambiguous

Humorous Stories on Parenting, Culture and Life

I Was Grounded Most of My Childhood, A Month at a Time 

by | Mar 8, 2024 | Life | 0 comments

Flunking at being a robot in Catholic School (33/40)

It all would’ve been fine if the school would’ve not called my mom to snitch on me.

And if I could classify getting expelled from school and not having where to go for seventh grade as fine.

In Colombia, the academic year runs along the calendar year. So, the end of the academic year is December and not June, as it is here in the States.

The school called my mom towards the end of November and told her I had failed two quarters of “discipline.” The closest concept to “discipline” is “citizenship,” but because I went to an extremely strict catholic school, it was citizenship on steroids. This concept can only be summarized as “Kids shall not exist.”

Discipline had so much weight that almost nothing else mattered; you could be Einstein, but if you were pulling your tongue, like he seemed to enjoy doing, in the middle of an explanation of the Bernoulli principle, then you were out of there.

This call surprised my mom, and somehow, I was also responsible for that. But she had not paid for one month of the entire year of my private school tuition, which meant that the school did not send my grade card home with me, and my mom never cared to check, primarily because I was lying to her and telling her everything was fine.

And everything was fine!

Everything except discipline.

Luckily, I only failed two quarters, placing me on conditional acceptance for the next grade. If it would’ve been three, I would’ve been automatically expelled.

However, because of my mom’s lack of responsiveness (which stemmed from me not telling her), I was in danger of getting expelled, and she needed to meet with my teacher. Now, I was not a jerk or difficult.

I was just being an itty bitty disruptive.

Instead of paying attention, I liked passing drawings and joking around with my two other friends in the back row, Jhair and Wadi.

Like me, they were also kids of divorce, and in Colombia in the 90s, after the National religion of the Country was Catholicism until 1991, divorce was frowned upon. So, parents did not like their kids hanging with us.

My mom did not like my friends and often asked me to stop hanging out with them.

“Stop hanging with those kids.”
“But why, mom?”
“Their parents are divorced.”
“Really, mom? Because YOU ARE DIVORCED!!!”

My mom went to school to meet with my teacher, and when she came back home, she cried hysterically and told me, “Debí haber sido una muy mama terrible.” Which was my mom’s go-to for inducing terrible guilt at lightning speed, “I must have been a terrible mom.”

She had stopped using the chancleta a few years back.

She spanked me until the day I egged her on about being arthritic and how her spanking didn’t hurt me. It wasn’t brilliant or original, but it got her to stop spanking me. My sister didn’t do such a stunt and got spank into her… Well, she might still be getting spank even though she is in her mid-30s now. I don’t know.

This was the usual treatment my sister and I received every time we did not do things in the way that my mom wanted us to do it:

“You got one C and the rest As. Am I a bad mother?”
“You stay out two minutes past your curfew. Am I a bad mother?”
“You burped. Am I a bad mother?”

Towards the end of talking to me, my mom wasn’t just sad, she was also pissed. She grounded me for two months, the duration of our end-of-year break and double the usual length of my typical punishment. My sister and I spent most of our childhood grounded one month at a time.

But she wasn’t satisfied because a couple of days later, she came into my room and told me the next level of my punishment.

My uncle ran an appliance store in Barranquilla. He sold fridges, microwaves, and stoves to people who were of “bajos recursos” (Or people of low-resources). Low resources, of course, an euphemism for bordering extreme poverty.

The store was in the middle of downtown Barranquilla. Downtown Barranquilla is not like downtown in big cities in the United States, where you have fancy bars with hipster libations like “Old-Fashioned but Not in a Chauvinistic Way” or a “Manhattan But We Can Make it a Different City if You Don’t Like the Pretentiousness of New Yorkers.”

Instead, downtown was run down, full of mud, weird smells, and people trying to sell you anything under the sun from papaya, pitaya, or banana to knock off Nintendo sets.

Typically, you try to avoid downtown unless you are hunting for bargains and are willing to put in with the unsavory characters and risk limb and life.

I don’t know if my uncle offered me the job or my mom offered me, but without me being in the room, it was decided that at 13, I would work as a grunt at my uncle’s appliance store.

Now, faced with the option of looking at the wall for two months and working as a laborer with fridges and stoves, I decided to enlist in the workforce at my tender age and act like it would all be fine.


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