It’s generally known that Preacher’s Kids (PK’s) have the worst reputation on the playground. There were homes I wasn’t allowed into because I was a PK, as I was assumed to be a bad influence on the children who belonged in those homes. That was a few years back now, and actually I’m still waiting to try out some of the things I was supposedly reputable for, but I admit that I wasn’t the perfect child either.
Crisis occurred in our house, when I was eight. It’s one of those moments that stands in my memory as a pivotal moment in life. It was huge. Well I thought so anyway.
I was eight, and at that time (in the early 1970’s) that meant I got eight cents a week in pocket-money. My brother who was nine, got nine cents. I’m guessing by now you can work out the rational.
I was never really a big chewing gum/bubble gum kid, actually I don’t know that my parents approved of such things, but I loved lollies (candy). Onto the market came a new chewing gum, Wrigley’s Doublemint. And I wanted some. My friends got enough pocket-money from their parents to be able to afford the ten cents for a packet. My eight cent pocket-money was not enough for me to be able to buy a packet each week with my friends, and I thought I was completely hard done by.
At the time my father was working part-time as a Preacher, and unless you are the Archbishop of Canterbury (I mean England, not here in Christchurch, NZ) the pay rate was never good. He was working part-time so that he could complete his theology studies. Mum wasn’t working at the time, because my parents believed that it was more important that she be home for us three kids. Money wasn’t flowing freely in our house. I never went without food but I did think life was tough and this is part of why Mum insisted in sewing my clothes (instead of buying them). Again, I was hard done by.
In spite of financial strain, my parents actually agreed to put my pocket-money rate up to ten cents, so that I could afford the chewing gum and be like my friends. To this day, my brother thinks this was unfair. His pocket-money went up to ten cents too, but he maintains that he was the one hard done by. He’s getting over it (even without the aid of the therapy I’ve had to have). I got what I wanted, but actually I’m not sure that in the long run, it did me any good.
One would think that the issue was solved, and crisis was averted. It wasn’t though because at that point I admit that I decided that now that I had more, I needed more (again) and began regularly stealing money from my parents. It was never huge amounts, but only because they didn’t have huge amounts that I could access. You could say I had a taste of Doublemint and wanted more. My friends could afford to buy an ice-cream after school and I couldn’t, so stealing from my parents meant I could have what I wanted… when I wanted it.
My stealing continued for several years. Not only taking money from my parents, but Mum regularly had money in the house for various church mission projects, and I siphoned off (never large amounts)the top of those funds too. I can remember being questioned once by my parents about the missing money, but actually I don’t have any memory of being told off, or disciplined for my stealing. To this day, I have no idea why they didn’t. They must have known it was me, and it was certainly against the rules. But then that’s probably a whole other post.
Eventually my stealing came to a natural end. I can’t explain how, I just know that I didn’t want to take their money anymore. Actually the shame I carried was huge, and is the reason why I have never raised the issue with them as an adult. I could admit that lots of kids steal the odd money from their parents, but that wasn’t what my shame was about. I was ashamed because I was stealing from them when they had practically nothing, and of course stealing from the church. My parents were breaking their backs to provide for me and my brothers, but I was simply making matters worse by taking more.
A lot of people with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) have difficulty with impulsive thoughts. But I don’t think what I was doing was necessarily impulsive, nor have I had a great issue with impulsivity in my life since. Rather I think what I needed was instant gratification. I wanted the chewing gum ‘now’. I didn’t want to have to wait until the next week when I could afford it.
Last year, in my city we all became very good at internet shopping because most of our shops were closed for months because of earthquake damage. Actually I like internet shopping anyway because I don’t get seemingly brainless shop assistants asking me if I’ve ‘had a nice day’. But there’s one thing I hate. When I click the ‘purchase’ button I want the product I’ve brought right there and then. I don’t want to have to wait for the next day, or the next week for it to arrive. I want instant gratification.
I can be very careful in making decisions about what I want and what is right for me, but once I’ve made that decision, I want it now. I am completely impatient and even impractical. Recently I made a decision about something that I want, but I can’t have it yet. I have to wait. I hate that waiting. No doubt it is good for me, somehow…
So how do I accept the wait and the delayed gratification? I asked my brother, the one who was upset about our increase in pocket-money, and has been suffering ever since. He tells me what I need is maturity. Only he could tell me that… but I want it now.
“When I was ten, I read fairy tales in secret and would have been ashamed if I had been found doing so. Now that I am fifty, I read them openly. When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire
to be very grown up.”
― C.S. Lewis
- Preacher’s Kid (no preaching included!) (infinitesadnessorhope.wordpress.com)