Mamma knew I was a problem child

by Andrew Lovesey

I didn’t know I was a problem child until I was 7 years old.

Correction, I was probably closer to 4 or 5.

Whatever age I was, my mother refused to bring me shopping with her anymore.


Anyway, I nearly clawed my eyes out scrambling for her reasoning behind such a rash – and criminal – act. Certainly she must have substantial evidence to justify stripping a young boy of his womanhood. I mean, without my weekly trips to the stores how would I cope with my juvenile oniomania?

I lay awake in my bunk for nights on end. Searching the depths of all reason. Yet still, I could not uncover the answer. That first week being homebound was comparable to being left in a windowless room without Facebook, food or cable. It took me 2 days of self-imposed solitary confinement to prove to my mum I wouldn’t quit ’til she told me. So she did. To my dismay, I did not particularly enjoy her answer.

“I can’t take you shopping anymore. I just can’t. It’s nothing wrong with you my darling, not you as a person.” She sat back in her chair.  “Just you as a shopper.” My eyes swelled with tears. I bit my tongue, trying not to open the floodgate of emotions burning somewhere in the pit of my stomach. I knew where she was going with this. “I meant it in the most loving of ways sweetheart. You simply can’t have everything you fix your eyes on.” She was trying to make me feel better. No, I wouldn’t have it. My toes curled – stomach wrenched. Then it came. Through my digestive system, up my pipes and out my mouth. Emotional diarrhea – then known as a tantrum.

Throwing myself down on the ground I wailed and whined as though my life depended on it. Oh the theatrics, one of my finest childhood attributes.  Although I must say it proved the most rewarding of them all. She never really did give into them. As a matter of fact, much of my tantrums were spent crying alone underneath my bed or trailing behind her in the department store. Still, I always threw one when I wanted to get my way.

I needed to lift this ban. She needed to lift it — immediately. I was going through a tantalizing withdrawal from the rush. The rush is what I call the associated thrill of the buy. What I live every day for. The first time I experienced the rush – I was in utero of course – I thought to myself, I will never find anything better.

Mum lifted the ban and I went back to asking for everything I saw whenever we went shopping. I don’t think she enjoyed it much, but she loved me all the same.

Everyone says people change, but I think they stay the same. Their bones may grow, their skin may wrinkle and their libido may die. They could move across the world and back again. Live in a shack or in a castle in the south of France. Yet however much they try to change themselves they’ll always be, to someone at least, still that little boy throwing a tantrum.