Although still dreaded, the physical punishments to some extent became the ‘norm.’ Although they frequently came out of the blue, none of us were ever too surprised to receive them.
We all suffered face slaps and a whack on the head or a smack on the legs with a broom or a stick. This was less so for the youngest two, Sylvie and Larry’s favourites, and I was to endure them far more than any of the others, especially from Larry.
However, it is not so much the physical assaults that affected me so badly but more the tongue lashings and insults, the put downs and at times, the vitriolic rages that could erupt from nowhere.
In some ways the physical abuse was something that bonded me and my siblings, gave us something that we all had to endure, a common ground and one where we all understood the dysfunctional family dynamics.
I don’t know why Larry treated me the way he did. Was it my American association (he knew that Sylvie had been in love with an American Officer), was it because I was an easy target, or could I really have been so badly behaved? Did the fact that Sylvie, as well as dishing out her fair share, turned a blind eye to Larry’s punishments and insults towards me, allowed it to happen and so made it OK in his eyes?
By the time I was two and half years old, I had already had three different fathers; Grant, Stan and Larry. Larry was the only person I had known as one and I had always called him Dad. Whatever had gone on I still viewed him as my father with an unquestioning acceptance that he would act like one and live up to the expectations and duties that come with the label of ‘Dad.’
Inevitably, my ‘unquestioning acceptance’ would eventually wear thin!