Monday, October 27, 2008

Growing Up Terrorist

One’s family’s wackiness is relative. No pun intended. Growing up in the Derka-Derka house never left me wanting for entertainment or amusement despite the fact that we had pretty strict rules and guidelines that all 4 of us had to follow. For example, my older sister and I weren’t allowed to so much as mention the word “boy” without severe consequence while our 14 year old baby brother was reminded by our father to always “wrap it up.”

Totally fair. Seriously though – I had to SNEAK OUT of the house at the age of 18 to go on a date. EIGHTEEN! And let’s not forget the time I “ruined the family’s honor” when I accepted a ride with Jeff W. – a friend and brother figure to me. Anyway……

There were clear cut chores and cleaning responsibilities. Saturdays were dedicated to cleaning the house – top to bottom. No exceptions. If you wanted to do something on a Saturday it had to come after you cleaned and vacuumed the living room and scrubbed the bathroom…or after you paid/bartered one of your siblings to do the chores for you. And we were NOT cheap labor.

Your work was inspected, and if you failed you got to do it over. And if you failed consistently you got to go get “the owie stick” from the drawer – bring it to mom or dad and be spanked with it.

That makes my parents sound like bad people, but each and every one of us deserved it every time we got spanked. MHIBTY Trivia: I got beat the most out of all 4 of us kids. I’m not entirely sure about this, but I believe that one point, it was just named “Natasha’s Owie Stick.”

But that was just the preface; I just wanted to paint a picture of the general order and organization of my childhood home.

There was one thing that consistently failed to be dealt with. It got to the point where NOT dealing with it became normal and routine. When visitors came over and asked about it, we’d look at them funny and then vaguely remember that, no, this was not normal. We couldn’t even blame being foreign. This should have been obvious to HUMANITY, not just AMERICANS that this had to be dealt with. Yet, time and time again – this would just be ignored, pushed to the proverbial back burner or utterly disregarded.

No one ever, ever, bothered to replace batteries in the smoke detectors.

Think about it.

The beeping! Yeah… we’d live with it for MONTHS! before someone did anything about it. Yes, it was loud and yes, no one did or said anything about it. I think (or maybe just want to believe) that on some level we all knew that someone should have gotten batteries and replaced them… but no one ever did. Or at least no one ever did right away.

I’ve tried to psychoanalyze the why or how-come, but I think I am too close to the situation to be objective. I can distinctly remember knowing, at the time, that my family had a serious quirk and that it wasn’t normal to ignore a smoke detector beeping for days, weeks, months on end. Never mind the safety implications of non-functioning smoke detectors in a house of 6, lets talk about the sheer amount of focus and determination it took for all of us to over-look loud beeps in 5-10 second intervals.

Probably loud enough for the neighbors to hear. But that was the least of the neighbors concerns. We, every spring, jumped over huge fires in our back yard while chanting songs in Farsi. Looking back, I am not sure whether to be amazed or flabbergasted why no one ever messed with us.

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