She loved the smell of freshly-cut timber. That sharp tang of pitch, the faintly acrid scent of friction-burnt wood…the fragrance of newly cut pine.
She stood on the seat of the truck as Daddy piloted the big blue beast through the winding roads towards home. The logs had been delivered to the sawmill but the scent of pine pitch clung to the trailers that were snubbed on behind the big tractor. The roar of the diesel, the thrilling rattle of the exhaust brakes…she loved everything she knew about logging, but mostly she loved being with Daddy.
Above her head, dangling temptingly, was the golden chain that, when pulled down, activated the air horn. It hung in a swag, a crescent of brass beads swaying to and fro with the motion of the truck, inviting her plump little hand to grasp and pull. She looked at Daddy, brushing the wisps of fine blonde hair from her face. “Now, Daddy?” she asked eagerly, directing her eyes to the swaying chain. “Now?”
“Not yet, honey,” he laughed his eyes crinkling at the corners. “Not until we get to Gramma’s road.”
She nodded, concealing her disappointment, and leaned back against the brown ribbed fabric of the seat. Gramma’s road was gravel…no tar…so she would watch for gravel roads. Scanning the roadways and the fields ahead, spotted a rabbit dodging into the tall grass, a calf trotting rapidly after its mother, a horse kicking up its heels in the smart sun and crisp air. It was chilly outside the cab of the tractor, she knew, for she was dressed in corduroy pants and a soft, fuzzy flannel shirt, and she had been a little cold at the sawmill, even though when Daddy asked, she denied it. She was too interested in watching the operations, too enthralled by the overwhelming perfume of the freshly cut and peeled pine logs, to be sent into the office to stand by the little pot-bellied wood stove. She’d rather be outside, even if it was a little cold.
But now they were on the way home, the logs delivered, money in Daddy’s shirt pocket, the log trailers stacked up behind the cab and following after them like a shadow. She spied a gravel road up ahead. “Now, Daddy?” she asked eagerly. “Now?” her hand crept up towards that tempting chain.
“No, honey,” he laughed again. “That’s not Gramma’s road. I’ll let you know when it is time.”
She nodded, hoping her disappointment didn’t show too much. She would not want Daddy to think she was too much trouble to take along on the next trip to the sawmill. She was having the best time! She resumed watching the scenery unfurl as they roared up hills and sailed around curves. “What’s wrong with that cow?” she asked, as they passed an animal in the roadside drainage ditch, its feet in the air, its body grotesquely bloated. “Why is it so fat? Why don’t Gramma’s cows sleep on their backs? It’s brown…is that a choclit milk cow?” Her questions came out in a rapid patter, her voice small and childish, but her words well-formed. She was an exceedingly curious child, and was just coming to realize that while some people thought her questioning nature was charming and precious, others did not…and who was who. Daddy liked her questions, and was now telling her about the cow being dead and how it was bloated up with smelly gas that could eventually explode the cow. She wrinkled her nose. “That’s nasty, Daddy!” she exclaimed, still keeping an eye out for the next gravelled road. “Exploding cows…icky!”
The truck began to slow on an incline and Daddy reached down and changed the gears several times. Around a bend, another gravel road came into view. This one looked rather familiar. She looked at her father questioningly. He smiled and shook his head. She sighed and went back to watching the road.
Out from behind a thicket of trees she could see another gravel road. “Now, Daddy?” she asked again, already knowing the answer. “Is this Gramma’s road?”
Daddy smiled. “Yup…but wait until after we make the turn, OK?”
“Okey doke!” she said in an imitation of one of her uncles, and began to bounce up and down on the seat with excitement. The great blue truck curved itself to the right and the tires bit down into the gravel as it rolled over the pavement edge, pieces of rock sailing in all directions, dust flying up in a cloud behind them.
“Now?” she cried over the noise of the flying rock. “Now, Daddy?”
Daddy nodded with a smile and she reached both chubby baby hands up to clutch the chain tightly, then lifted her feet off the seat with a chortle of undisguised glee.
BLAAAAAAT! The air horn bellowed into the quiet countryside. BLAAAAAT!
She had released the chain for a moment, then repeated her delighted performance, hanging by her hands from the beaded chain.
“Ok, kiddo, that’s enough,” Daddy said. “Leave a little air for the brakes, OK?”
She released the chain as Daddy throttled the truck back and made ready to turn into their dirt yard in front of the shack where they lived next to Gramma’s house. Mommy was standing outside in the chicken yard, clutching Baby in her arms. She could see he was squalling, his little body squirming and flailing inside the blanket. Mommy looked mad.
“Did you have to go blowing that Goddamned horn coming up the road?” she hollered at Daddy as he opened the truck’s door. “You woke the baby up and who knows how long it will take for him to get back to sleep!”
Daddy turned his back on Mommy’s yelling to reach up into the cab and help her get down. As he wrapped his arms around her thin little body, she could see Mommy’s angry face and raging mouth from over Daddy’s shoulder. Mommy was yelling something about ignoring her and she sounded very, very mad.
She cupped her hand to Daddy’s ear before her could put her down.
“Daddy,” she whispered.
“What?” he said softly, backing away from the truck to shut the stout blue steel door.
“Daddy,” she said, her voice still a whisper, “Can we go back to the sawmill?”
It is difficult to deal with a narcissist when you are a grown, independent, fully functioning adult. The children of narcissists have an especially difficult burden, for they lack the knowledge, power, and resources to deal with their narcissistic parents without becoming their victims. Whether cast into the role of Scapegoat or Golden Child, the Narcissist's Child never truly receives that to which all children are entitled: a parent's unconditional love. Start by reading the 46 memories--it all began there.