Part 2: Just act normal

Written by Bert Plomp

It was absolutely unthinkable to receive sexual education at home. My parents were ashamed of anything related to sex, mainly due to their overly Calvinistic nature. It was not something I was looking forward to, but I never saw my parents in the nude. Let alone witness them engaging in sexual contact.
I was 8 years old when my sister was born. I had no clue where that girl suddenly appeared from. I certainly did not understand what that little child was doing in our overcrowded flat.
After all, it wasn’t such a fantastic accommodation. Her sudden appearance was kept very mysterious. As if it were something supernatural. It reminded me of Saint Nicholas Eve. Out of nowhere, there was suddenly a large bag of presents at the door. As I mentioned before, you had to figure everything out on your own. This phenomenon included.

If you were bullied, you could not expect comfort or support. On the contrary, the opposite was your fate. When I was teased at school for speaking rather slowly, my parents at home added to it by imitating my slow voice. Furthermore, it was standard that if you had been scolded, whether deserved or not, elsewhere, you would get another scolding at home. If you were in pain or sick, there was no warm care to help you through it. I only experienced help once. When I was about four years old and had severe stomach cramps, my mother rubbed my belly to alleviate the pain.

The positive side of such a childhood is that you quickly learn to stand your ground. You do not shy away from taking on the rest on your own. Like when I took on a group that bullied me in elementary school. I would ‘simply’ punch the one who incited the others in the face. When I did something wrong in my early years, I would get a slap on the ears from my father or a hit with my mother’s walking stick. My mother did not want to hurt her own hands.
Children usually prefer to approach their father for one reason and their mother for another. Such considerations had no use in my home. You always got zero response, and if something was wrong, it always resulted in extra punishment. Then you knew what to expect.
This clarity, my parents must have thought, creates certainty. In their own youth, things were a few degrees tougher.

Despite all the corrective taps, I can look back on an incredibly enjoyable childhood. Once I left home, I had a very pleasant relationship with my mother. Unfortunately, my father passed away when he was only 59 years old. I was 27 at the time. I didn’t really have the opportunity to get to know him better. My father was naturally a gentle man. He only dished out a slap when my mother had persistently urged him to do so. In terms of appearance, I resemble my father more, apart from his curly hair. My hair is straight and is often described as ‘milkman’s dog hair.’ In terms of character, I have inherited something from both parents. The ‘no-nonsense’ attitude and stubbornness undoubtedly come from my mother’s side. The sporty and somewhat gentle nature comes from my father’s side. What I have truly taken from both is: Just act normal, that’s crazy enough. A motto typical of my mother’s family. Actually, both then and now, it applies to all of the Netherlands.

Through their actions, my parents strongly contributed to making me independent from a very young age, enabling me to find my own way in society. This is why, at a later age, I could easily hold my own in any company and was not easily impressed. Thank you very much, dear parents.


For all episodes, click on: The corrective tap

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