On Vantage Points

“You should write about happy times.” *Andrew suggested.

“You should stick to fiction.” *Jane texted.

“You need to remove my name from your blogs and I’m very serious.” *Isabella said.

“I think you should really gather your emotions because they come out wrong on paper.” *Rachel texted.

Ah, sibling rivalry. 20 years later the ten of us still go at it.

I recently wrote a personal essay titled, My Mother’s Men and portrayed my mother, according to my younger sister, Isabella, as a “prostitute.”

Vantage point is defined as a place or position affording a good view of something. As the third oldest of ten siblings, my vantage point affords me a good view of life.

The lens I process my thoughts and understand childhood through is writing. I compose daily and as my older brother Andrew suggested, I penned a “happy time” from childhood.

In 1987 when I was nine, I trailed behind mom and 6 of my younger siblings on our way to Havemeyer playground in the Bronx, NY.

Mom spent over an hour in the bathroom teasing her bangs, spraying Aquanet hairspray, and painting on makeup before we finally headed out.

As we walked up Westchester Ave, construction workers repairing the number 6 subway line above on the El were whistling at mom. I turned and gave the track layers my middle finger.

“Look at that little man protecting his mother,” They said as they chuckled.

We continued on to the playground. I had the happiest time swinging on the swings, pumping my little legs, going higher and higher. Squeezing my hands around the chains, I leaned back enjoying the breeze, trying to swing to the clouds.

Were there other happy times?
You bet.

We’d sometimes go to McDonalds and eat pancakes till our bellies almost burst. I’d have the happiest time getting sticky from all the syrup.

We’d sometimes go to White Castle and wreak havoc in the car eating as many burgers as we could stomach. I had the happiest time with my siblings, tossing the empty boxes at each other and on the floor.

We’d sometimes go to Golden beach in Throggs Neck. I’d have the happiest time playing in the sand.

Those were all the happy times I can remember. From my vantage point at least. I may come up with more and when I do I will revise.

Mom did the best she could taking responsibility for the eight of us after my father abandoned us. From her vantage point she kept us from going the way of the dodo bird.

I began to think I was some kind of monster for portraying my mother in a derogatory way. I found myself trying to defend my writing. On My Mother’s Men, I thought I characterized mom as a parent with bizarre antics.

I tried my best to understand the concern of my siblings. My vantage point is severely flawed in contrast to theirs. They tell me what I should write. I suggest the lot of them pen their own stories of childhood and publish.

“I can’t with you.” Isabella said after trying to persuade me to take My Mother’s Men off my blog. “It’s wrong, It’s too personal. It’s not about you.”

She pursued an audience of “several friends” and all of their replies were just as she speculated, I characterized mom “as some kind of HOE!”

“While she may have been, she is still our mother,” Isabella said.

I wondered from what vantage point Isabella stood that she could confess such a derogatory view of our mother.

*Names have been changed to protect the privacy of individuals.
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