January 27, 2009


Posted in Darth Vaguer, Guilt, The Just a Little Sad, The WTF at 8:38 am by Dagny Taggart

I don’t remember exactly how old I was.  Old enough to have seen Dr. Taggart very, very angry – I know that much.  I think I was still in nursery school, though.  Sibling was probably in third or fourth grade.

We weren’t ever really supposed to be in my parents’ room unless we were sick, or had been sent on a particular errand.  That year, as Christmas approached, my parents readied themselves for their monthly bridge group and as they left, my sister in charge for the four or so hours they’d be gone, Dr. Taggart specifically told Sibling not to look for her presents.

I’m not sure if Sibling rationalized that if she already pretty much knew where they were, she wasn’t actually looking for them.  I remember trying to tell her I didn’t think it was a good idea, when she went into their room, into the walk-in closet, and climbed the ladder to look on the top shelf.  I don’t know what she left out of place, what telltale sign gave it away.

I think it was “discussed” in the days that followed.  I think Sibling was punished, somehow – no desserts, perhaps?  I can’t remember what the punishment was supposed to be, at the time.

What I do remember was Christmas morning, coming downstairs to a tree that was empty under one quadrant.  Completely barren.  A two-dimensional stocking slouching limply amongst its lumpy, burgeoning brethren.  And tears.  Hysterical, red-eyed, hiccuping tears.  And Dr. Taggart calmly announcing that if my sister couldn’t follow Santa’s rules, she didn’t get presents.

What seemed an eternity later, as I was sternly told to open my presents whether I wanted to or not, Sibling was instructed to go outside, into the snow, and look in the trash cans normally reserved for branches and leaves and such.  Her red-rimmed eyes were still dim as she brought in a black trash bag filled with brightly wrapped packages.

We were always very careful around Christmastime, after that.



  1. Beach Bum said,

    Wow, that’s so sad!!! 😦

  2. I-66 said,

    Necessity being the mother of invention, things like this are why I know now how to pick small locks.

  3. wow. just. wow. please don’t tell me your dad was a pyschologist.

  4. Alias Faux said,

    I’m not going to lie, I think I like Dr. Taggarts style.

    Sibling didn’t f around with her christmas stuff after that, did she?

  5. Beach Bum: On the plus side, I think it helped Sibling and I develop a different appreciation for the holiday and how we wanted it to be for ourselves, which is good.

    I-66: Of course you do. If only she’d remembered to put everything back exactly as it was…

    HIN: No, he’s an engineer. I was never really sure how supportive he was of the idea, honestly.

    Alias Faux: You’re correct in that we never looked for our presents again, so it was certainly effective. My objection is that it ruined Christmas for the whole family. It was kind of terrifying, actually – the satisfaction Dr. Taggart took in making her point in the most painful way possible. I’m all for children learning lessons, but I’m also all for parents not opting to be the cruelest of teachers.

  6. freckledk said,

    Oh wow. And I thought my mom was brutal!

  7. Lisa said,

    That’s a very chilling story. What a cruel way to teach a lesson.

  8. freckledk: The thing is, this is just one little snippet. She wasn’t like this more than a tenth of the time, I’d say, but when it did happen, it was a scary thing.

    Lisa: Cruel, but effective. I think a lot of it goes back to her own childhood, you know? Makes me want to be nicer to her, sometimes.

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