I've been thinking a lot about parenting. This is led me to think about the way I was parented and the good and bad things my parents did or did not do to turn me into the person I am today. I really should say help to turn me into the person I am today because at least part of me was me to start with and my parents help guide the way. I say good and bad things because as a parent I know that we never do things perfectly. Sometimes they hit a homerun. Sometimes I have looked back and thought that they hit a homerun even though I didn't think so at the time. But overall I would have to say that my parents did a great job and that I am very happy that I had both of them through my childhood and teenage years. It is true that they got divorced later but by then I had primarily grown up and was out of the house. Heck, I was on the way to having my own child, so at that point they're being together was neither a good nor bad thing for my development.
I have been thinking of some very specific memories. One was when I was four and I stole a flower from a neighbors house. I knew I had done wrong and I stuffed it into the trashcan. Of course my mother found it and made me go back and apologize to the lady. She had seen me in any case and the dog had barked. However, the act of making me I'm not for what I had done wrong and take responsibility shaped me from even an early age. I ended up becoming friends with the lady, named Mrs. Willis, and her dog Esky, who was a dachshund.
I remember when I was about 12, my father took me to see My Fair Lady at the starlight theater in Kansas City. I remember that it starred David Bernie and the redheaded actress that used to be on Quincy as Qunicy's wife--Anita something I don't recall her name. That was the beginning of my love affair with musicals and truly loving music and singing. He probably took me to supper before though I don't remember. And I know that he shaped how I behaved during the theater and before. He coached me on what to wear properly probably with my mother's help, and make sure that I did not embarrass him.
My parents were strict. I got spanked if not regularly, it was at least appropriately. I was put into timeout. I was grounded from television. I have my allowance withheld. And, gasp, I had to do chores for which I did not always get paid.
All of these things came to be very meaningful this past weekend when I had to young charges who would not mind. They did not seem to know how to behave in someone else's home. They did things that I would have been whipped for had I ever done them. And when I tried to correct one of them I had teenager size I rolling and mocking by seven-year-old. I thought at one point that I should slap the child but of course I didn't since he's not mine. I did actually tell him that and he proceeded to tattle to his father, who is a friend of mine. This lack of parenting on his part is causing a rift in our friendship and I daresay possibly the end of it. I have lost respect for him as a parent because the children are so well mannered. They fight with each other way more than most siblings do. They can't seem to pour their own water or get their own lunch a bowl. They can't pour milk because they claim it's too heavy and every time their father gets comfortable they suddenly need something. This is not all their fault as their dad has not prepared them to take care of any of their own needs. I have tried to convince him that he should turn them loose a little more but he is not inclined to.
While I don't know for sure, I think perhaps I was a little too independent for my mom. I think she might have liked to have done more things for me but I was a difficult child you had to do things for myself. In fact, when she reads this she will probably be amused at my attempts to parent these two children. My own daughter Maggie, is a very well behaved child. She was an old soul from the moment I met her and has never really been a true little girl. She asked intelligent questions. She never watch cartoons. In fact, the day that she walked for the first time was also the first day she ever crawled. As an aside, I joke with her that she is developmentally stunted because she never crawled. I read it in an article somewhere.
In any case, all this rambling is really just to tell my parents how much I appreciate them. I want them to know that I think they did a great job. In spite of two divorces and living in what they would not appreciate as a fine home, I am very happy with most of my life choices. I have a tiny house in the country with horses surrounding me. I have two dogs and four cats and probably a bunch of snakes that I don't want to know about. I even have satellite television as of two weeks ago because I got tired of never having any TV to watch. Yes, I am paying $50 a month for something I used three hours a week but it sure is nice to have it when I'm in the mood. My mother taught me how to crochet and how to sew. She taught me how to Crosstitch as well though I don't do it much anymore. My father taught me about finances and how to balance a checkbook and have a good work ethic. He taught me that if you owe somebody $8.02 you should pay them back $8.02 even if it seems silly to come up with those extra pennies.
I wish there were some way to parent children so that they appreciated being parented. I know that kids who are not used to restrict lifestyle don't appreciate it when someone comes in and says the word no. However, I know that I can only be who I am as a person and as a parent. It makes me sad to see what is missing from these two and their lives. However, I know that I do not alone have the power to change it.
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