free stats Carmen's Web: The Devil's Spawn, part 1
Saturday, August 12, 2006
The Devil's Spawn, part 1
My uncle and the fam drove in last night from Toronto to visit us for two weeks. It's a yearly summer thing they do; financial constraints coupled with a lack of adventure keep them from planning real vacations. If I were living in Canada, I'd be back and forth from Cuba every weekend.

Anyway, I've always had a problem with his daughter, AKA "the devil's spawn" (TDS). She wasn't a planned baby and both parents were in their early 40s when they had her ten years ago. She was a gorgeous baby. Absolutely gorgeous. A baby that took your breath away. Even now...she's an amazingly, beautiful girl. Out-of-this-world-knock-out.

But there was something always off, even at a very young age. When she was only two, I saw a manipulative side of her that people insisted was part of the normal stages of development. I protested and pointed out that there was something clearly wrong with her; SO WRONG that she might need outside help, but was shot down with the "you don't have any children, you don't know what you're talking about".

The Devil's Spawn continued to grow and her behavior became more and more outlandish. She exhibited all the normal misbehavioral problems associated with her age (acting out, defiance, etc), but had an underlying vindictive, malicious rage that made the demon-ridden Regan in "The Exorcist" look like cherub. Everyone else still kept insisting that she's going through her stages. Her parents continued to discipline her when she misbehaved (which was around every 23 seconds), but it's obvious that they have no idea what they're doing. I explained to them again that maybe a therapist may do her good, but no one listened.

They come here every summer, and every summer I have a problem with the girl. One summer my best friend suggested that I kill the spawn with kindness and I laugh in her face. "Spawns don't respond to kindness", I say. She comes over one day to try her technique. When she saw what she was dealing with, she ate her words. And suggested a psychiatric evaluation.

At 28 I quit a job that made me want to inflict pain upon myself and went to Toronto for a month to spend some time away from here. I had been promising to visit my uncle for years and figured it would be the best time to do it. TDS picks me up from the airport with her father and within ten seconds I'm ready to be back on the plane.

"S," the squeeky voice asks, "are you married?"


"How old are you?"


The look of shock and horror on the cute little girl's face was just too much.

"You're so........OLD."


"Do you ever want to get married?"


"Why not?"


"Well, don't you want to have children?"

At this point I contemplated telling her, in front of her father, that you don't need to be married to have children, but that was going to open a Pandora's Box that I didn't want to deal with. I reminded myself that I was visiting for a month and a comment like that would be the beginning of a thirty day religious intervention, in the form of lectures, Koranic readings, hadith explorations, and pre-recorded Amr Khaled programs.

"No, I don't want to have children."

"Well, I want to get married immediately."

"Why? Why do you want to get married?"

"Because when I'm married no one will be able to hit me and if I have children I can hit them."

Ouch. How can you not feel bad for a child when you hear something like that? She's a problem child, more than a handful And her parents discipline her by a). yelling, b). hitting, c). filling her with religious mores. (Don't worry, not excessive hitting. I can't blame them for the most part. I get so angry with her sometimes that I want to beat her senselessly, but I know better).

They think a combination of these behavioral modification strategies will create a decent and outstanding child and are CONVINCED that when she gets older, she'll be a much nicer person. "The religion alone, S, will change her". Yeah. Right.

TDS can recite the fatha and a handful of ayas with her eyes closed, on demand. Like a caged animal at the zoo, her parents put her on display whenever she's around Muslim adults so she can do her recitation, which is always followed by over the top adulation and, in some cases, candy and money. TDS always manages to get herself out of trouble by reciting a verse or two. Whenever I try to point out that mere repetition, without any kind of understanding about what one is saying, is useless, they ask me how many verses I know and tell me to keep quiet. When TDS gets an A+ in the Islamic class she takes every Sunday, the world celebrates. When she gets a D in Math, she's told it doesn't matter.

One of my biggest concerns is what will happen to her when she hits her teenage years. I've warned her parents; warned them that they're in for the biggest challenge of their lives, but they're convinced she'll outgrow her behavior with the help of the Koran. I ask them what will happen when she turns 16 (and I was very generous with that will probably be younger than that) and wants to start dating.


"I know, I get that your rules will prohibit her from dating, but she's going to start to want to play with the boys really soon, and with her behavior the way it is now, she's going to rebel in a way that will break both of you."

Again I was told that I have no idea what I was saying and I gave up the discussion with them.

In my next post I'll tell you what happened with TDS on that Toronto trip that made me stop speaking to her for two years.
Thoughts shared by Carmen at 12:58 PM
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Who: Carmen

xx-something egyptia-yorker who's spent over half her life stuck in two worlds not of her own making. unable and unwilling to fully embrace one identity over the other, she created (is trying to create) her own place in the world where people love each other unconditionally, irrespective of artificial boundaries, and where dancing merengue is as necessary to life as breathing air.

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