“Disparage” – (verb) regard or represent as being of little worth
My dad likes to play a victim. “Mother!” he shouts to MY mom. “Rece is disparaging me.” He usually says this after I laugh at him for stumbling on the rug or misusing a word. I laugh because it’s funny. My father, the colonel, the guy who used to yell at me for not holding the lamp straight when he was bottle-feeding a lamb in the barn, the guy who corrected every grammatical error I made from age two until age 22 made a mistake. This is always a delightful experience. There’s something karmic about my dad’s fall from perfection that helps me enjoy my life just a little bit more. But when complains about me “disparaging” him, I want to laugh and write tales of his imperfections in my journal. The thing my dad doesn’t and has never really thought about is the fact that for years he allowed my older brother Benji to disparage me without any consequences. Ben would torture me, poke me, call me names, tease me mercilessly, and ignore me so often that I hated him. He was the worst of my four siblings. What was worse than him actually making me feel like crap was the manipulation. Ben didn’t actually like me, but every once in a while, when he needed to borrow $4 or wanted a bite of my chocolate bar, he suddenly became my best friend. He noticed my talents and wanted to let me know how great I was. While I was floating on my bubble for being awesome, Ben would get my money or chocolate and leave. Not until I showed him his tab (he still owes me $16 by the way) did I realize that he never really appreciated my talents, but only wanted me for the money and chocolate. Both of my parents knew about Ben and I not getting along. My mom’s response was to let it roll off my back. Not once did she tell Ben to quit picking on me. I suppose she believed that bullying is a natural part of one’s adolescence and that perhaps if I went through it at home, high school wouldn’t be so rough. (This doesn’t work, by the way. High school is meant to suck.) So these days, when my dad complains about me “disparaging” him, I have to laugh. I love my dad. I compliment his cooking (when it’s good – I don’t lie about it when it’s bad. And he still complains about the night I fixed toast for dinner so the truth-telling is mutual.). And I give him hugs when he has a bad day. If I ever say a joke that I can tell hit him the wrong way, I apologize and give him a hug. I never let him believe that I don’t value him, because I do value him.
I think I know what the problem is. My dad doesn’t really get what the word disparage means. I should have gotten him a dictionary for his birthday. It would have been more helpful than the canned cabbage, candies, and note that said that I gave him consumables and recyclables so as to avoid hoarding any useless junk. That way, he could know that I don’t disparage him, but merely help him reevaluate the way he does things, like walking and talking.
Tata for now.