O is for… Outrage

*The theme for my A to Z is Childhood Stories. Some are real, some are embellished, some are downright fictional but are based on the kind of things I imagined when I was younger.*

There is a certain kind of outrage that is only felt by young children. A sense of such profound injustice and unfairness that when experienced is completely overwhelming.

One of my earliest memories is of experiencing such a kind of outrage.

We had a long haired guinea pig back then. It was black with little flappy, cabbage leaf ears, and it was called Nenette (this is the French equivalent for chick, as in a young girl). Nenette, by the way, was quite smart as far as guinea pigs went. She quickly worked out that my mother was the one who fed her, and that in the mornings (feeding time) my mother came downstairs wearing a brightly coloured dressing gown.

Every time my mother came down, Nenette went mental: squeaking like crazy, scrambling up at the edges of her cage. When my father came down however, she threw him a glance and gave a guinea-pig shrug. My father decided to test what exactly Nenette was reacting to, and put on my mother’s dressing gown one morning. Nenette went crazy. The moral of that part of the story is that if you want your guinea pig to love you, you should invest in and wear a brightly coloured dressing gown.

But I digress.

We moved into a new house — this was back when we still lived in France — with a front garden that was full of very tall grass. There was a terrace too, overlooking the tall grass, where I was allowed to sit with Nenette in my arms for cuddles. Can you guess where this is heading?

No doubt still angered at having been made a fool of by my father, Nenette leapt out of my arms and made a run for the grass. My mother was too far away to catch her, and she disappeared into the greenery. We both immediately went searching for Nenette because, as my mother explained, if Nenette escaped into the countryside it would be ‘Au Revoir Nenette’.

I searched the grass and called for Nenette (she didn’t answer). No luck.

And then, as I pushed a clump of grass aside, I came across a little snake. I found this hugely shocking, I had never seen a snake before. I yelled for my mother, saying I had found a snake. She rushed over just as it slithered out of sight. She looked into the grass where I was pointing, and found Nenette.

“There,” she said picking her up, “it wasn’t a snake that you saw, it was just Nenette running away.”

“No, I saw a snake.”

“It wasn’t a snake darling, it’s just Nenette, look.”

We went back to the terrace. I followed my mother, stiff with outrage. The anger I felt that my sighting wasn’t believed! I had seen something that to me felt very significant, and it wasn’t taken seriously! I was so outraged that I couldn’t even speak.

Now, in all fairness, the grass got mowed down soon after, and we never saw another snake. Neither did any of our neighbours. In fact, it wasn’t an area frequented by snakes, so whether I actually saw one is up for debate.

But whether I actually saw a snake or not, that feeling of outrage, of unfairness, remains one of my most vivid early memories.

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33 thoughts on “O is for… Outrage

  1. My 3-year old has just reached the stage where he can say “You can’t tell me what to do!” and loves to do so. Fortunately he’s still small enough that I can say “Yes I can” and just throw him over my shoulder and drag him wherever we need to go.

    The funny thing is he even makes outraged stands when I tell him to do things like “Eat your cookies” or “Go play outside.” He usually says “You can’t tell me to eat my cookies!” then stops and thinks about it a second before quickly gobbling them up.

    He also knows if he says “You can’t make me eat them!” I’ll just say “Okay” and eat them myself.

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  2. I remember a time like that too. So unfair that I had to stay home from going to a theme park when my big sister and her friends got to go. Now I get to have the joy of total outrage over the smallest things from my young ones. 🙂

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  3. When I read the title I knew straight away which story you were going to tell.
    It was a strong memory for me too…!!!!!!

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  4. That’s true, isn’t it? That sense of outrage is something only children can feel. I remember a few episodes myself.
    Then when you graw up… it’s a kind, I don’t know, I kind of sweetness that you feel for your so yourg and candid self.

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  5. We had guinea pigs too – they went nuts when anyone opened the refigerator door ‘cuz … LETTUCE !!! But I think the giwn story is hilarious.

    I totally get your outrage – being dismissed like that (at any age) is frustrating and kids don’t have tools to stand their ground.

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    • Haha, that’s cool that they worked out the fridge was the place for the lettuce! They’re quite clever little things, aren’t they?
      By the way how are you doing? How are the therapy sessions, are they making a difference?

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      • They are making a difference; thanks for asking!! I’m hopeful that this improvement will ‘stick’ but I have to do my part – time consuming exercises and isometrics AND less time in postures where neck and shoulders hunch forward (like computer time). I’m halfway through my therapy sessions and appreciate the days I wake up not all crippled up with pain !!

        Hang in there with your great stories; the finish line is just around the corner😉

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      • Mmm…I don’t really share specific details about my family online, but since it’s you, Celine… 😉 I have one child (my son) and he’s still fairly young. Although I know I am going to blink and then suddenly one day he’ll be off to college! They grow up so fast. 🙂

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      • Oh yes! A friend of mine has a little girl and I spend a lot of time with them – she’s now just over one, and it feels like a few weeks ago I was helping give her the bottle etc! makes you realise you really have to make the most of every moment 🙂

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  6. I agree it’s frustrating when you’re a kid and adults don’t take you seriously. I tried to remember that when my kids were little, but sometimes it was hard.
    I’m glad you found your guinea pig. That’s funny about the gown.

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  7. Ah, yes, that sense of powerless outrage. I remember it well. Not entirely dissimilar to the outrage I feel when I look at the way my government reacts to climate change or the way my and other governments react to injustice. The difference is that now I have others to share my outrage. 🙂

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