By the age of eight or nine, the differences in the way I was considered and the way I was treated, was glaringly obvious.
Sylvie and Larry’s eldest child, Sally, took after her father, tall and dark and had striking looks. She was beautiful, with a head of long dark ringlets, deep brown eyes and long lashes. Larry doted on her, and in his eyes, she could do no wrong.
Their last daughter, Lizzie, was more similar to Sylvie, smaller in height, fair haired and paler eyes. In the same way Larry doted on Sally, Lizzie was always Sylvie’s ‘golden child,’ not only between the two children that she and Larry had together but among all of her children.
Each would stand up for their favorite and apportion blame elsewhere when the child did something wrong, resulting in disputes between them. I would often become the target of blame; it was easy to shift the wrong doing my way and deflect it from either of their favorites. I cannot truthfully say that I was always innocent of whatever misdemeanor, but I was no more often guilty than any other normal child would be.
Life was becoming harder. As well as being the target of blame much of the time, especially from Larry, the dog grooming business was increasing and I was often kept at home to help.
We were all allotted certain jobs in the house but increasingly these seemed to become my responsibility. However much I would try to object or reason that it wasn’t fair, I would be quietened, told to shut my mouth and that from now on, whatever it was, it was my job. If I objected further, I would suffer the physical repercussions.
By the time I was about eight Larry seemed to be around a lot more as there was less work available. This created more friction between him and Sylvie and loud arguments were a daily occurrence.
Sylvie’s older children were now of an age where he couldn’t really get away with too much bullying and aggression towards them. Sally, being the apple of his eye, was never a target and he wouldn’t have dared direct any anger towards Lizzie, Sylvie’s little darling.
Consequently, I bore the brunt of the blame for anything, his anger, his rages, his aggression and vitriolic words. On rare occasions Sylvie would actually stand up for me but this would cause further arguments between them and even further resentment towards me from Larry. Lily would often try to shield me, not physically but she would try to deflect situations or warn me about things in advance.
On one occasion I heard Sylvie and Lily talking when Lily questioned why Larry treated me the way he did. She explained that it was probably because Larry was aware of the love affair Sylvie had had many years before with the American airman. My American association caused resentment within Larry.
To an extent this was born out by the frequent comments he would make such as, “You adopted little American bastard, shame you can’t f**k off back there.”