They fuck you up, your mum and dad. They may not mean to, but they do. They beat you with a wooden spoon and snidely emasculate you, too.
If you read the New York Times’s coverage of Ivana Trump’s funeral last week, you will know exactly to whom that snippet of revised Philip Larkin refers to. It is hard to feel sorry for extremely awful, obscenely rich people – particularly in the middle of a cost of living crisis – but I found myself feeling weirdly sad for the Trumps this weekend, after reading about Ivana’s opulent but miserable send-off. Donald Trump’s first wife, who was found dead at the bottom of her stairs This month, had a gold-hued coffin (of course), but the speeches were the real centrepiece. Her kids and a former nanny all gave eulogies that were bizarre and tragic in equal measure.
Let’s start with the eldest: Donald Jr. The warm memory of his mother that he chose to recount at her funeral? The time she disciplined him so hard she had to stop from exhaustion. Once, when they were kids, said Donald Jr, his sister Ivanka accidentally destroyed an expensive chandelier. Ivanka – it will shock you to hear – lied and said it was her brother’s fault; Ivana then pulled out a wooden spoon to teach Donald Jr a lesson. He kept insisting that Ivanka was the responsible party, but, by the time he had finally convinced his mother of his innocence, she was “too tired to deal with Ivanka”. (To be fair, he didn’t say explicitly that she hit him with the spoon; maybe she just tickled him with it.)
Then there was the time when he acted up at a restaurant and his mother took him to the loo to show him “what eastern European discipline was really all about”. After she had finished her demonstration, she said: “And if you cry, we’re going to come back in here and do this again.”
He chose these anecdotes to share in his eulogy. Was it passive-aggressive? Did he genuinely think they were cute, funny stories? Perhaps. Despite the wooden spoon, Donald Jr kept in close contact with his mother. During the tumult of his father’s presidency, Ivana called him, he said, to see if he needed to move back in with her. “That call was simultaneously the sweetest and most emasculating thing ever … she could do that with the best of them, and usually it was on purpose.” Ouch.
Ivanka’s eulogy, meanwhile? She talked about her mother telling her to wear shorter skirts. A bit odd, but not nearly as weird as the contribution from Dorothy Curry, a former nanny to Ivanka, Donald Jr and Eric. In a very dark speech, Curry talked about Ivana’s life becoming a “sinking swamp [of] parasites.”
Ivana’s funeral wasn’t the first piece of evidence that the Trumps may not have had the most well-adjusted family life. Who could forget the former president musing: “If Ivanka weren’t my daughter, perhaps I would be dating her”? Ivana’s memoir is also full of dysfunctional titbits – such as when Donald Sr left Donald Jr on the airport tarmac because he was five minutes late.
A former university classmate of Donald Jr also once claimed in a Facebook post that he would witness Donald Sr slap his son in front of all of his friends because he wasn’t wearing a suit; the slap was reportedly so hard that Donald Jr fell to the floor. In 2000, during a dispute about his father’s will, Donald Sr cut off health insurance for his nephew’s desperately sick baby. What a loving family.
The family dysfunction is rivaled only by Ivanka’s in-laws, the Kushners. Her father-in-law, Charles Kushner, once paid a sex worker $10,000 to seduce his brother-in-law (who was cooperating with federal authorities in a legal case against Kushner) and recorded the encounter on a hidden camera, later showing it to his sister.
I am not saying all this because I want everyone to feel sorry for the Trump-Kushners, by the way. I just think it explains a lot. If these kids had had a few more hugs, the world might have been spared the worst of their shenanigans.