“If you’d behaved a little better, your father and I wouldn’t have been so hard on you,” said the woman to her daughter, sitting across from her at the table.
Blondi hears Ginny’s mother blame Ginny for the abuse she suffered at her parents’ hands while growing up. Blondi only saw it the once — the verbal abuse, that is — the day about a week after the girl (the “lost girl,” as Blondi remembers her) had shown up in the café. She’d gotten off the bus en route to her parents’ home in Winnipeg, only a few dollars in her pocket, planning to hitchhike the rest of the way.
Dawn had been there a week later when Ginny’s parents drove the six hours to pick her up. Dawn doesn’t put up with the mistreatment of dogs or children or anyone else, not even for two seconds. Having seen her sister kick Ginny’s parents out of the café when they started calling their cowering 16-year-old names (pregnant, with no place to go but the last place on earth any kid deserved; so Dawn gave her a bedroom and Blondi gave her a job), Blondi reminds herself that it was years ago and Ginny is now a grown woman, a mother, who can stand up for herself against these manipulative people. She isn’t going to buy this shit anymore, this popular notion that “It takes two” and that she, a child herself at the time, was in any way responsible for the cruel and unthinking actions (and unthinkable words) of her parents. We teach others how to treat us, “they” like to say, but Blondi knows that it’s not true for adults and it sure as hell isn’t true for children. Just like “Haters gonna hate,” abusers gonna abuse, and it doesn’t matter how perfect or imperfect their targets are.
But Blondi listens. The woman knows how to push Ginny’s buttons, even after all this time. And after the woman is gone, which Blondi is sure she will be as soon as she doesn’t get what she wants (Ginny and the little one should be in Winnipeg “with family” for Christmas, she is insisting), the two of them — Blondi and Ginny — will have a little talk. Blondi will remind Ginny of how strong she is, and what a good mother she is, and how more than good enough she is, and how no child is to blame for the actions of anyone else, ever, and that now that she is an adult, she is still not responsible for the things others say and do, and that she has the right to decide for herself what is true and fair and honorable.
“Don’t feel guilty,” Blondi will tell Ginny, because most women like to please others, and most children, even adult ones, would rather please their parents than not. These particular parents are playing the “We want to be close to our granddaughter” card now, and Ginny is saying no. She will not risk allowing her child to be treated the way she was, not even once, and she’s not going to put up with it herself anymore either. The grandparents can visit, but Ginny and her little girl will never set foot in their home, never be at their mercy. But oh, she is mean! her mother is telling her. They love that angel child so, she says. This is killing them! They don’t deserve this!
There are tears, but Ginny is immovable. She cannot trust her own mother and father, especially not with her greatest treasure, who happens to be a defenceless child like she used to be, when there was no one around to tell her that it was possible for her parents to be very, very wrong.