I must have been a terrible mother as was my mother before me…that is, by today’s standards. There’s the picture of my Dad holding a terrified me on top of the car , and he’s looking so proud of the fact he is terrorizing his only daughter. Well, someone better report him for child abuse, that’s all I can say. Another great example was the day my mother chased me along the path in the woods with a switch stick ( plenty of those living in the forest) because I played too long with my cousins and neglected the chores at home. I still remember the sting on the back of my bare legs. Bet they would have had to answer to a higher power had I possessed the child abuse hot line. Now mind you, I know there is a great need for authorities to step in when needed and, unfortunately there is a great deal of child abuse in this country. It is a world changing and I have been around long enough to see the change…yup, the time’s they are a changin’.
I was no better at parenting. The four kids that came into the farm house in four years were subjected to threats constantly. My little switch leaned against the kitchen wall and when the boys got bickering, I would finally say, “OK you want the switch?” “NO NO NO” they’d say and head for the great outdoors. You know, I cannot remember ever having to do more than just reach for it and they were gone.
The three oldest were put in the back seat of the car helter-skelter and the youngest I held in my lap as their father drove. When the family consisted of just the first baby, she was put in a portable bed and tossed on the back seat to ride merrily along. No restraints whatsoever and sometimes the rides were designed to make her fall asleep.
The day came when I had my own little VW bug. Three in the back and one in the passenger seat telling me how to drive. I did not know, at the time, the two younger boys were taking notes to taunt me in my golden years. So I drove a little fast down Town Line Hill and through Velvet Hollow. Now I know this is a horrid thing to even admit, but being the honest writer I try to be, I shall lay it on the line.
One day the four and I were motoring along in the little Bug. One of my fabulous four was in the “whining” phase of his life. After all these years, I remember the exact spot this happened. He was in the back seat whining in my left ear…it was constant like a mosquito at midnight in the dark of your bed. What he was whining about has long been forgotten, but the end of the rope had come. I hissed over my shoulder that he should stop or he would be walking home. ( Threat #1). It continued. I asked if he had heard me. No reply. (Threat #2) Whining continued. I pulled the car to the side of the road and said, ( I am sorry to even write this) “Get Out.” A primal scream , “Why, NOooooooooo”. I actually told the child to get out of the car and walk home. Now you know and I know I would never have allowed him to exit the car, but this was the (#3 Ultimate threat). Silence. Dead silence. I asked him if he was ready to be quiet so we could drive home and yes, he was, he said. Were it today, he would have been fumbling for his smart phone and the child abuse hot number and hey, who could have blamed him for having such a horrid mother? But , you know, that boy never whined again…at home or in the car.
As you can see by the picture, there was no controlling them when outside. They hung upside down from trees, probably ate dirt and from witnessing it, know that they threw dirt at each other. I am sure they probably drank water from a stagnant brook and had I known about it, even I would have put a stop to that.
At school, if there was any bullying, it was rare. There was one incident where a boy was making fun of one of my four and his brother knocked his two front teeth out…that was interesting. As soon as they trooped home from school and I heard the story, I immediately called the boy’s mother to apologize and to see what I could do…the teeth were permanent teeth at that point. The mother said,”Don’t worry about it . He went to the dentist and he deserved what he got.” Well what are the chances of that happening in today’s world. It might; I don’t know as I am well out of the scope of school activities now with even my grandchildren being OLD.
How the world changes. My brothers and I, along with most of the kids in that little town in Maine, more or less fended for ourselves as our parents worked in the mill. During the summer, we found what we needed to eat at noon, did our chores, built tree houses. I do have a couple scars from falling on my face racing from my brother during one of our classic brawls and one on my hand when a glass tumbler broke as I wiped it. That was life.
We drank from the same dipper from a well. We probably double dipped if there was anything to dip into. Life was so simple. But we have to recognize the world is not the same now; life goes on but it changes every second. I just know I am glad my kids survived their upbringing because by today’s standards, I must have been one awful mother.
Bravo to all the mothers today and grandparents helping out because it sure is a whole different story.