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E-Books (english-e-reader), My Oedipus Complex (1)

My Oedipus Complex (1)

When you are aged about five or six; you are the most important person in your world and, naturally, you expect your parents to understand this and to follow your wishes in everything.

But young Larry has a lot of trouble getting his parents to behave in the right way...

Father was in the army all through the war - the First World War, I mean - so up to the age of five, I never saw much of him, and what I saw did not worry me. Sometimes I woke and there was a big figure in uniform staring down at me. Sometimes in the early morning, I heard the front door bang and heavy footsteps marching away down the street. These were Father's entrances and exits. Like Santa Claus, he came and went mysteriously.

In fact, I rather liked his visits, although there wasn't much room between Mother and him when I got into the big bed in the early morning. He smoked a pipe, which gave him a pleasant smell, and shaved, an interesting activity I had never seen before. Each time he left a few more souvenirs behind - buttons and knives and used bullets - packed carefully away in a box. When he was away, Mother used to let me play with these things. She didn't seem to think as highly of them as he did.

The war was the most peaceful time of my life. The window of my room faced southeast. I always woke at first light, and felt I was rather like the sun, ready to light up the world and be happy. Life never seemed so simple and clear and full of possibilities as then. I put my feet out from under the blankets - I called them Mrs Left and Mrs Right - and invented situations for them. They discussed what Mother and I should do during the day, what Santa Claus should give me for Christmas, and what steps should be taken to brighten the home. There was that little matter of the baby, for example. Mother and I could never agree about that. Ours was the only house in the road without a new baby, and Mother said we couldn't afford one until Father came back from the war, because they were expensive. That showed how silly she was being. The Geneys up the road had a new baby, and everyone knew they didn't have much money. It was probably a cheap baby, and Mother wanted something really good, but I felt she was being too choosy. The Geneys' baby would have been fine for us.

Having arranged my plans for the day, I got up, went into Mother's room and climbed into the big bed. She woke and I began to tell her what I had decided. The bed was so nice and warm that I usually fell asleep beside her, and woke again only when I heard her below in the kitchen, making the breakfast.

After breakfast, we went into town, said a prayer for Father at the church, and did the shopping. Mother had all her friends praying for Father, and every night, before going to bed, I asked God to send him back safe from the war to us. It's a pity I didn't know what I was praying for!

One morning I got into the big bed, and there, sure enough, was Father. As usual, he'd arrived like Santa Claus. But later he put on his best blue suit instead of his uniform, and Mother looked very pleased. I saw nothing to be pleased about, because, out of uniform, Father was far less interesting. But she only gave a big smile and explained that our prayers had been answered. We all went off to church to thank God for bringing Father safely home.

Well, I couldn't believe what happened next. When we came back, he sat down and began to talk seriously to Mother, who looked anxious. Naturally, I disliked her looking anxious, because it destroyed her good looks, so I interrupted him.

'Just a moment, Larry!' she said gently.

But when I went on talking, she said impatiently, 'Do be quiet, Larry! Don't you hear me talking to Daddy?'

This was the first time I had heard these awful words, 'talking to Daddy', and I couldn't help feeling that if this was how God answered prayers, he wasn't listening to them very carefully.

'Why are you talking to Daddy?' I asked.

'Because Daddy and I have business to discuss. Now don't interrupt again!'

In the afternoon, at Mother's request, Father took me for a walk. I discovered that he and I had quite different ideas of what a walk in town should be. He had no interest in trains, ships, or horses, and the only thing he seemed to enjoy was talking to men as old as himself. When I wanted to stop, he simply went on, dragging me behind him by the hand; when he wanted to stop, I was forced to stop too. I tried pulling him by the coat and trousers, but he was amazingly good at paying no attention to me. Really, it was like going for a walk with a mountain!

At teatime, 'talking to Daddy' began again, made worse by the fact that he now had an evening newspaper. Every few minutes he told Mother some news out of it. I didn't feel this was fair. I was ready to do battle with him any time for Mother's attention, but using other people's ideas gave him an unfair advantage. Several times, I tried to talk about something else, but with no success.

'You must be quiet while Daddy's reading, Larry,' Mother said. It was clear that either she really liked talking to Father better than talking to me, or else he had some terrible power over her.

'Mummy,' I said that night in bed, 'do you think, if I prayed hard, God would send Daddy back to the war?'

'No, dear,' she said with a smile. 'I don't think he would.'

'Why wouldn't he, Mummy?'

'Because there isn't a war any longer, dear.'

'But, Mummy, couldn't God make another war?'

'He wouldn't like to, dear. It's not God who makes wars - it's bad people who do it.'

'Oh!' I said, disappointed. I began to think that God wasn't quite as wonderful as people said he was.

Next morning I woke at my usual hour, feeling ready to burst with ideas and plans for the day. I put out my feet and invented a long conversation. Mrs Right talked of the trouble she had with her own father until she put him in the Home. I didn't quite know what the Home was, but it sounded the right place for Father. Then I got up, went into the next room and in the half-darkness climbed into the big bed. Father was taking up more than his fair share of the bed, so I gave him several kicks. Mother woke and put out a hand to me. I lay comfortably in the warmth of the bed with my thumb in my mouth.

'Mummy!' I said loudly and happily.

'Sssh, dear!' she whispered. 'Don't wake Daddy!'

This was a new development, which threatened to be even more serious than 'talking to Daddy'. Life without my early-morning discussions was unthinkable.

'Why?' I asked crossly.

'Because poor Daddy is tired.'

This seemed to me a very poor reason. 'Oh!' I said lightly. 'Do you know where I want to go with you today, Mummy?'

'No, dear,' she sighed.

'I want to go to the river to catch some fish, and then-'

'Don't-wake-Daddy!' she whispered angrily, holding her hand across my mouth.

But it was too late. He was awake. He reached for his matches, lit one and stared in horror at his watch.

'Like a cup of tea, dear?' asked Mother nervously.

'Tea?' he cried angrily. 'Do you know what the time is?'

'And after that I want to go up the Rathcooney Road,' I said loudly, afraid I'd forget something in all these interruptions.

'Go to sleep at once, Larry!' she said sharply.

I began to cry. Father said nothing, but lit his pipe and smoked it, looking out into the shadows away from Mother and me. It was so unfair. Every time I had explained to her, the waste of making two beds when we could both sleep in one, she had told me it was healthier like that. And now here was this man, this stranger, sleeping with her without the least care for her health!

He got up early and made tea, but although he brought Mother a cup, he brought none for me.

'Mummy,' I shouted, 'I want a cup of tea, too.'

'You can drink from my saucer, dear,' she said patiently.

That was the end. Either Father or I would have to leave the house. I didn't want to drink from Mother's saucer; I wanted to be considered an equal in my own home. So I drank it all and left none for her. She took that quietly too.

But that night when she was putting me to bed, she said gently, 'Larry, I want you to promise me that you won't come in and disturb poor Daddy in the morning. Promise?'

That awful 'poor Daddy' again! 'Why?' I asked.

'Because poor Daddy is worried, and doesn't sleep well.'

'Why doesn't he, Mummy?'

'Well, you know that, while he was at the war, Mummy got our money from the post office? Now, you see, there's no more money for us at the post office, so Daddy must go out and find us some. You know what would happen if he couldn't?'

'No,' I said, 'tell me.'

'Well, I think we might have to go out and beg, like the old woman outside the church. We wouldn't like that, would we?'

'No,' I agreed. 'We wouldn't.'

'So you'll promise not to come in and wake him?'

'Promise.'

I really meant it. I knew money was a serious matter and I didn't want to have to beg, like the old woman. So when I woke the next morning, I stayed in my room, playing with my toys for what seemed like hours. I was bored, and so very, very cold.

I kept thinking of the big, deep, warm bed in Mother's room.

At last, I could bear it no longer. I went into the next room and got into the bed. Mother woke at once with a start.

'Larry,' she whispered, 'what did you promise?'

'But I was quiet for ever so long!' I said miserably.

'Oh dear, and you're so cold!' she said sadly. 'Now if I let you stay, will you promise not to talk?'

'But I want to talk, Mummy,' I cried.

'That has nothing to do with it,' she said, with a firmness that was new to me. 'Daddy wants to sleep. Do you understand?'

I understood only too well. I wanted to talk, he wanted to sleep - whose house was it, anyway?

'Mummy,' I said with equal firmness, 'I think it would be healthier for Daddy to sleep in his own bed.'

That seemed to surprise her, because she was silent for a while. Finally she said, 'Now, you must be perfectly quiet or go back to your own bed. Which is it to be?'

The unfairness of it made me angry. I gave Father a kick, which she didn't notice, but which made him open his eyes.

'Go to sleep again, Mick,' she told him calmly. 'Now, Larry,' she said to me, getting out of bed, 'you must go back.'

This time, in spite of her quiet air, I knew she meant it, and I knew I had to fight back, or lose my position in the home. As she picked me up, I gave a scream loud enough to wake the dead.

'That damn child!' said Father. 'Doesn't he ever sleep?' He turned to the wall, and then looked back over his shoulder at me, with nothing showing except two small, mean, dark eyes.



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My Oedipus Complex (1)

When you are aged about five or six; you are the most important person in your world and, naturally, you expect your parents to understand this and to follow your wishes in everything.

But young Larry has a lot of trouble getting his parents to behave in the right way...

Father was in the army all through the war - the First World War, I mean - so up to the age of five, I never saw much of him, and what I saw did not worry me. Sometimes I woke and there was a big figure in uniform staring down at me. Sometimes in the early morning, I heard the front door bang and heavy footsteps marching away down the street. These were Father's entrances and exits. Like Santa Claus, he came and went mysteriously.

In fact, I rather liked his visits, although there wasn't much room between Mother and him when I got into the big bed in the early morning. He smoked a pipe, which gave him a pleasant smell, and shaved, an interesting activity I had never seen before. Each time he left a few more souvenirs behind - buttons and knives and used bullets - packed carefully away in a box. When he was away, Mother used to let me play with these things. She didn't seem to think as highly of them as he did.

The war was the most peaceful time of my life. The window of my room faced southeast. I always woke at first light, and felt I was rather like the sun, ready to light up the world and be happy. Life never seemed so simple and clear and full of possibilities as then. I put my feet out from under the blankets - I called them Mrs Left and Mrs Right - and invented situations for them. They discussed what Mother and I should do during the day, what Santa Claus should give me for Christmas, and what steps should be taken to brighten the home. There was that little matter of the baby, for example. Mother and I could never agree about that. Ours was the only house in the road without a new baby, and Mother said we couldn't afford one until Father came back from the war, because they were expensive. That showed how silly she was being. The Geneys up the road had a new baby, and everyone knew they didn't have much money. It was probably a cheap baby, and Mother wanted something really good, but I felt she was being too choosy. The Geneys' baby would have been fine for us.

Having arranged my plans for the day, I got up, went into Mother's room and climbed into the big bed. She woke and I began to tell her what I had decided. The bed was so nice and warm that I usually fell asleep beside her, and woke again only when I heard her below in the kitchen, making the breakfast.

After breakfast, we went into town, said a prayer for Father at the church, and did the shopping. Mother had all her friends praying for Father, and every night, before going to bed, I asked God to send him back safe from the war to us. It's a pity I didn't know what I was praying for!

One morning I got into the big bed, and there, sure enough, was Father. As usual, he'd arrived like Santa Claus. But later he put on his best blue suit instead of his uniform, and Mother looked very pleased. I saw nothing to be pleased about, because, out of uniform, Father was far less interesting. But she only gave a big smile and explained that our prayers had been answered. We all went off to church to thank God for bringing Father safely home.

Well, I couldn't believe what happened next. When we came back, he sat down and began to talk seriously to Mother, who looked anxious. Naturally, I disliked her looking anxious, because it destroyed her good looks, so I interrupted him.

'Just a moment, Larry!' she said gently.

But when I went on talking, she said impatiently, 'Do be quiet, Larry! Don't you hear me talking to Daddy?'

This was the first time I had heard these awful words, 'talking to Daddy', and I couldn't help feeling that if this was how God answered prayers, he wasn't listening to them very carefully.

'Why are you talking to Daddy?' I asked.

'Because Daddy and I have business to discuss. Now don't interrupt again!'

In the afternoon, at Mother's request, Father took me for a walk. I discovered that he and I had quite different ideas of what a walk in town should be. He had no interest in trains, ships, or horses, and the only thing he seemed to enjoy was talking to men as old as himself. When I wanted to stop, he simply went on, dragging me behind him by the hand; when he wanted to stop, I was forced to stop too. I tried pulling him by the coat and trousers, but he was amazingly good at paying no attention to me. Really, it was like going for a walk with a mountain!

At teatime, 'talking to Daddy' began again, made worse by the fact that he now had an evening newspaper. Every few minutes he told Mother some news out of it. I didn't feel this was fair. I was ready to do battle with him any time for Mother's attention, but using other people's ideas gave him an unfair advantage. Several times, I tried to talk about something else, but with no success.

'You must be quiet while Daddy's reading, Larry,' Mother said. It was clear that either she really liked talking to Father better than talking to me, or else he had some terrible power over her.

'Mummy,' I said that night in bed, 'do you think, if I prayed hard, God would send Daddy back to the war?'

'No, dear,' she said with a smile. 'I don't think he would.'

'Why wouldn't he, Mummy?'

'Because there isn't a war any longer, dear.'

'But, Mummy, couldn't God make another war?'

'He wouldn't like to, dear. It's not God who makes wars - it's bad people who do it.'

'Oh!' I said, disappointed. I began to think that God wasn't quite as wonderful as people said he was.

Next morning I woke at my usual hour, feeling ready to burst with ideas and plans for the day. I put out my feet and invented a long conversation. Mrs Right talked of the trouble she had with her own father until she put him in the Home. I didn't quite know what the Home was, but it sounded the right place for Father. Then I got up, went into the next room and in the half-darkness climbed into the big bed. Father was taking up more than his fair share of the bed, so I gave him several kicks. Mother woke and put out a hand to me. I lay comfortably in the warmth of the bed with my thumb in my mouth.

'Mummy!' I said loudly and happily.

'Sssh, dear!' she whispered. 'Don't wake Daddy!'

This was a new development, which threatened to be even more serious than 'talking to Daddy'. Life without my early-morning discussions was unthinkable.

'Why?' I asked crossly.

'Because poor Daddy is tired.'

This seemed to me a very poor reason. 'Oh!' I said lightly. 'Do you know where I want to go with you today, Mummy?'

'No, dear,' she sighed.

'I want to go to the river to catch some fish, and then-'

'Don't-wake-Daddy!' she whispered angrily, holding her hand across my mouth.

But it was too late. He was awake. He reached for his matches, lit one and stared in horror at his watch.

'Like a cup of tea, dear?' asked Mother nervously.

'Tea?' he cried angrily. 'Do you know what the time is?'

'And after that I want to go up the Rathcooney Road,' I said loudly, afraid I'd forget something in all these interruptions.

'Go to sleep at once, Larry!' she said sharply.

I began to cry. Father said nothing, but lit his pipe and smoked it, looking out into the shadows away from Mother and me. It was so unfair. Every time I had explained to her, the waste of making two beds when we could both sleep in one, she had told me it was healthier like that. And now here was this man, this stranger, sleeping with her without the least care for her health!

He got up early and made tea, but although he brought Mother a cup, he brought none for me.

'Mummy,' I shouted, 'I want a cup of tea, too.'

'You can drink from my saucer, dear,' she said patiently.

That was the end. Either Father or I would have to leave the house. I didn't want to drink from Mother's saucer; I wanted to be considered an equal in my own home. So I drank it all and left none for her. She took that quietly too.

But that night when she was putting me to bed, she said gently, 'Larry, I want you to promise me that you won't come in and disturb poor Daddy in the morning. Promise?'

That awful 'poor Daddy' again! 'Why?' I asked.

'Because poor Daddy is worried, and doesn't sleep well.'

'Why doesn't he, Mummy?'

'Well, you know that, while he was at the war, Mummy got our money from the post office? Now, you see, there's no more money for us at the post office, so Daddy must go out and find us some. You know what would happen if he couldn't?'

'No,' I said, 'tell me.'

'Well, I think we might have to go out and beg, like the old woman outside the church. We wouldn't like that, would we?'

'No,' I agreed. 'We wouldn't.'

'So you'll promise not to come in and wake him?'

'Promise.'

I really meant it. I knew money was a serious matter and I didn't want to have to beg, like the old woman. So when I woke the next morning, I stayed in my room, playing with my toys for what seemed like hours. I was bored, and so very, very cold.

I kept thinking of the big, deep, warm bed in Mother's room.

At last, I could bear it no longer. I went into the next room and got into the bed. Mother woke at once with a start.

'Larry,' she whispered, 'what did you promise?'

'But I was quiet for ever so long!' I said miserably.

'Oh dear, and you're so cold!' she said sadly. 'Now if I let you stay, will you promise not to talk?'

'But I want to talk, Mummy,' I cried.

'That has nothing to do with it,' she said, with a firmness that was new to me. 'Daddy wants to sleep. Do you understand?'

I understood only too well. I wanted to talk, he wanted to sleep - whose house was it, anyway?

'Mummy,' I said with equal firmness, 'I think it would be healthier for Daddy to sleep in his own bed.'

That seemed to surprise her, because she was silent for a while. Finally she said, 'Now, you must be perfectly quiet or go back to your own bed. Which is it to be?'

The unfairness of it made me angry. I gave Father a kick, which she didn't notice, but which made him open his eyes.

'Go to sleep again, Mick,' she told him calmly. 'Now, Larry,' she said to me, getting out of bed, 'you must go back.'

This time, in spite of her quiet air, I knew she meant it, and I knew I had to fight back, or lose my position in the home. As she picked me up, I gave a scream loud enough to wake the dead.

'That damn child!' said Father. 'Doesn't he ever sleep?' He turned to the wall, and then looked back over his shoulder at me, with nothing showing except two small, mean, dark eyes.

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