As you age, the lists of memories grow exponentially. So I am taking time to draw from my 74- year old memory diaries, some faded with time, so forgive me, but yet still in the recesses of my mind. Some may be in question form, some may be in admittance of deed, or both.
|Paint paddles for|
spanking were about
this size but somewhat
thicker; hence sturdy.
1. Do you remember your parental first punishment, spanking in my case, and was it deserved? Yes, to both in my case. It took me a long time to see the lesson, in my very young mind, that was probably not ready for lessons in expectancy and courtesy, but I finally got it many years later as an adult.
My parents believed gifts were graciously accepted, but not expected. Furthermore, I-the spoiled first child of a couple, childless for the first 10 years of their marriage-was the center of attention and pride by them and their friends on all business, social and church occasions.
Mother used paint stirring paddles, quite naturally free since Dad worked for a small lumber and hardware company chain; she claimed she wore out two paddles on us three siblings.
Medieval Hand Crusher
Spankings weren't quite
this level of torture but
perception is everything!
When Mother considered our disobedience a major violation of both parents' rules, she promised us discipline when Dad came home from work: the excruciating wait, usually standing in a corner, with our fear magnifying exponentially until his arrival. Both parents were unified in their decisions.
My parents said I was "talking baby talk" when they picked me out from 7 available babies for adoption, and I never stopped talking. Indeed, I sometimes did not know when to shut up, seal my lips, bite my tongue, and nobody was going to get the best of me. This included when discipline was applied. I must have decided in my young mind I had the right to defend myself--with my mouth--bad news for me.
If I lucked out and only had to stand in a corner, I could not shut off the faucet of talk. I muttered and threatened, as if a 4-7 year old could be much of a threat. My favorite threat was to leave home.
Finally Mother tired of that threat, and told me to go ahead, but not take anything for which I had not personally bought and paid. My mental picture of leaving the house buck naked finally shut me up. Also I had visions of hunger pains; as you see my food addiction started very early!
Once I received a more severe punishment I did not deserve. The spanking was mild compared to the fact I did not get a bicycle for Christmas.
In a disputed event between my siblings I was accused of intentionally causing a bike accident in which my sister's arm was broken. She was on the back of my brother's bike when they rode through a make-believe garden I was hoeing. They rode in behind me me at an angle. There was no way I could have planned to cause a wreck.
Two against one, is a majority; I was punished immediately plus guilt imposed for months while my sister's arm healed; the final act being no bike for Christmas.
Parental punishment is an interesting and controversial subject. Having never been a parent, I rely on opinions of others, most specifically my Mother who admitted sometimes it was difficult to distinguish the culprit in any given situation. We may all have been involved, so we all got punishment. Sometimes she misjudged entirely and punished the wrong person.
Because of my austere, conservative upbringing it took me a long time to realize how difficult parenting is, and forgave what I perceived as unrealistic and harsh upbringing. Responsible parents have no printed manual. They either write the manual as they go, or rely on their own past family experiences.
Dad, I perceived from his stories and knowing his dad, was quite strict as the were peanut farmers. Everyone had chores, brothers and sisters. Mother, raised by two old maid aunts probably had a less strict upbringing, but income was quite limited. One aunt worked in a dry goods store. The other took in washing and ironing.
Dr. Spock did not know everything! We are composites of all phases of our lives from infancy to old age.
It took me nearly 55 years to determine my core spiritual beliefs did not have to be legalistic to the core. Once the chain linkages were broken or unlocked, I learned to love, forgive and care for both myself and others. More importantly, the adage to judge not, was etched invisibly on my forehead, especially after the story below.
2. Which brings me to another question: Have you ever made a misjudgement of anyone, but specifically your best friend from the second grade?
We attended different universities; she eventually met, as she claimed, the most popular guy on campus, became engaged, and married an American missionary ( in Africa) couple's son. The marriage produced one child. Suddenly, she was filing for divorce.
Of course, there was her story plus all the ancillary stories evolving other people's personal interpretations, i.e., rumors. Knowing her as a somewhat fickle person, she immediately developed a relationship with another man and I, set myself up as judge and jury, decided she got tired of her husband and was ready for a new relationship. Further I verbalized my thoughts to others. Not one but two terrible mistakes on my part.
Not that it matters, but this is in the late 5os-early 60s when those of us who considered marriage a lifetime commitment, and separation/divorce, minimum, a failure. I was one of these persons; despite these "facts" I still considered she one of my dearest friends--still do. I was still unmarried, so I had little understanding of this most complicated of relationships called marriage.
Coincidentally her mother was also a good friend with me--remember we were young adult women at this time. She told me the actuality of the divorce where her daughter's husband had a girl friend while stationed in Germany in the Army; he brought her to US to go to Christian college where he planned to finish his ministry studies--the same college where he met his wife. Also he later broke up the marriage of a missionary couple in Africa who were working along with his parents.
I was smitten with grief to my innermost conscience and core for my complicity in indulging and believing rumors, assumption of an sordid affair and the participation involving repetition of my version of events.
However, I believe in apologizing for misjudgements, and went to her, asking for forgiveness for not having had more faith and trust in her, than what I heard from others.
To this very day it was one of the hardest confessions I ever had to make. We both shed tears; she forgave me. We remained good friends separated by many miles. I came away from that moment with a different sympathetic attitude about divorce, a my core belief to this day.
Today she has dementia, probably Alzheimers', but I send her cards for her son to read to her. Whether she knows me at all, I do not know, but one day in another life, when we are both again made whole, I hope to know we will be best friends.
Excruciating painfully learned lesson, today I am very careful to declare the source of any statement I make as rumor, or I personally discussed it with whomever, etc. Most especially, I am careful when discussing another person. And yes, once in awhile, I goof up, but never, never to the extent of the just regaled story. As you can see it is over 50 years old, so you know how literally burnt in my memory bank this story is today.
Again, my upbringing makes it hard for me to be the warm "hug and kiss" type of person, so many men and women find so easy to be, these days.
3. Were you taught respectful manners, such as how to address an older person, table manners, etc.? As early as I can remember, we all were taught to properly address my relatives as Aunt, Uncle, Grandmother, Mr., Mrs., Miss so and so, and the courteous use of 'please,' thank you,' 'yes sir/ma'am,' 'may I?' etc. which I use to this very day. Today I am amazed when persons use terms of respect and manners. It does not seem to be expected anymore.
4. Did you ever do some things, harmless within themselves, but just plain stupid which, may have reflected on yourself, as much or more than your family?
I certainly made mistakes and took turns in life which disappointed my parents, especially as I started life after graduation from high school without their supervision. Yet some of these turns, or decisions, if you may, are a part of being a young adult, deciding with whom I would associate, and indeed my own core beliefs.
Not this kind of
We started down Main Street and made "the loop" through the areas most young drivers made, blowing them up, tieing a knot in the end, and throwing them out the car windows like balloons. In fact, they make great balloons.
In retrospect that was a stupid idea for entertainment. We did not get in trouble, nor did I ever repeat such a stunt--seemed very funny at the time, but whatever possessed me to participate in such a ridiculous joy ride, is beyond me at this point in my more circumspect life. I supposed the police, if so inclined, could have taken my license plate #, found me and accused me of disorderly, if not lewd conduct.
However, some turns in life were NOT mistakes. I remember Mother wanted me to marry a doctor. This is after I graduated from pharmacy school and was in the workforce.
Since I was single for nearly 15 years, relative and friends tried to find matches for me. They did not realize I met the man I would marry in my freshman year at the university. At that time he was in USAF, and later was in USN. We were separated by careers, land and sea. So this was close to a 15 year romance, mostly in absentia. Most of my friends figured I was destined to be an old maid.
seem to have higher
averages of marital
[Apologies for such a long post, Part 2 will be next, and don't know how long it will be. This is a type of catharsis for me, and not meant to be depressing. I hope you see some of the sardonic humor of growing up in the 40s, 50s and maybe early 60s. I graduated from the University of Texas in 1960 at age 22. I married at age 33 so had a decade of single young adult life.]