One summer we had a family reunion at my aunt’s home. The adults thought it would be a good idea to turn all the kids out into the backyard until it was time to eat. That would have been a good idea if there had been anything at all to do back there. All I really remember about that day is my aunt’s neurotic dog that ran in one big circle around the perimeter of the yard barking unremittingly at nothing. The animal didn’t even bark at us. He just loped around in a trench he had made by running along the fence line where he warned off some invisible invader.
My little sister could not get over the injustice of being relegated to the backyard. Perhaps I remember her complaining so well because there was nothing else to do but talk about how wrong it all was. (As a sideline, I also recall that this was the day that my cousin told everyone that Santa Claus was a myth that our parents leaned on to make us behave. Useful information for me, but it sure aggravated my mother later.)
We sat around the patio table talking about all the wrongs that adults do to children. My sister said that she would never treat her kids so rudely. She said that when she became a parent, she would not discuss things that a child could not talk about with everyone else. (We all thought that this was the main reason that we were all excluded from the activities inside the house.)
I thought what she said made a lot of sense…that is, until I had kids. There are some things that adults like to discuss without the kids tearing through the room or interjecting inappropriate comments. Kids need play time. Adults need social time.
In general, things that seemed unjust in my youth became procedures that I quite easily adopted either for convenience or convention.
For instance, I had decided then that, for sure, I would never make my kids write thank you notes. Sometimes I actually thought of refusing to accept gifts when I considered the alternative of having to write some insincere blabber about how much I liked what I had received. Now, however, I have to admit that sometimes it is the only good part of my day when I read some words of appreciation for something it took me hours to find to surprise my grandkids.
Unless you’ve been to a podiatrist and received a prescription for orthotics, you don’t hear much about “corrective shoes” anymore. But at one time, it was once quite popular for mothers to worry about shoes and children’s feet. I remember a big controversy about whether baby’s ankles needed support when learning to walk, hence the high top “walkers.” As for me, I would have outlawed corrective shoes. My mother believed that if it were cute, it would ruin your feet. She was obsessed with arch supports and having enough room for my toes. One of the girls in my class had the prettiest, pointed patent leather shoes. After listening to me complain every morning, my mother finally relented and bought me a similar pair that I was only allowed to wear on Sunday. I recall twirling into the living room when we came home from shopping to let my dad see them. His remark when he saw them will be forever etched in my memory. ”Looks like you’re wearing a couple of gunboats.” Only now, at 58, can I appreciate what Mom saw in my future if I had been permitted to run wild in the shoe store, purchasing potential bunion makers.