Although my parents and grandparents have been dead for many years, I tend to think of them on a daily basis and frequently wish I could ask just a few more questions even though I think I know some of the answers.
I become particularly frustrated while watching or listening to ads telling parents to send for free materials that will help them to learn how to talk to their children about almost any subject. I just wonder what Mother and Dad would think. They didn’t have all the “how to books” about rearing children or about being good parents. They had plenty of common sense and figured out ways with which to deal with us. They relied on how their own parents had reared them and weren’t above asking a few questions when unusual problems arose.
Mother used to mention having had long talks with Grandmother Moncus when we lived in the canyons and created more chaos than we should have. From what she said, she had more questions about my activities than about my brother’s because I tended to be just a tad stubborn from the beginning. Most of the time, however, she and Dad seemed to know exactly what to do and how to talk to us about any subject that came to mind.
Of course, in those days, all ages seemed to communicate with each other because we sat at the table during meals and discussed whatever came to mind. We were also together most evenings and just enjoyed each other’s company. Such a life must sound very strange to many young people today, but they really don’t realize how much they have missed by wanting to be away from their parents instead of with them.
When one of us chose to misbehave, our parents didn’t pause to read the latest pamphlet to find out what to do. They just acted and got the situation under control in a very short time. They never threatened to discipline us, they simply disciplined us and awaited the results. Because I was more than a little unruly on all too many occasions, Mother didn’t hesitate to apply discipline where it would do the most good, and I most definitely was not an abused child despite the yells and screams I would emit in order to send echoes throughout the canyons. I knew at a very young age that I had earned every swat I received but would often return to whatever got me into trouble in the first place. Mother didn’t have to read a book in order to realize that spankings weren’t doing either of us any good and chose the more deadly form of discipline by making me sit in front of her to listen to what she needed to say. I really preferred the spankings because they were over with in a hurry, and I didn’t have to think or to talk about what I had done.
When that stubborn streak was intolerable for her, she would let Dad take over because he could very quietly take care of the situation, often without saying a word. All he had to do was to look at me when I was on a tear, and I would change directions immediately. He never laid a hand on me, but those looks could do more damage to my ego than any spanking he might have done. After wilting under one off those looks, I would wait a while before approaching him and would know that all was well when he’d wink at me.
When either felt that we needed to discuss something we might be facing at school or in life, they just talked to us, letting us know they were trying to help us grow up and were trying to protect us from ourselves as well as from others.
We didn’t always agree with what was being said, but we usually learned the hard way that they were giving us the correct information, especially when events would turn out just as they said they would and we hadn’t thought we were wrong. I think many of us are glad we grew up before the books and pamphlets were printed. Our parents were strong enough to do what they felt was right and to try to help us to learn to cope with life. They took the time to talk to us and to know what we were doing most of the time. They surely tried to give us a good start and then hoped we would remember what we had been taught. After these years, one of us still remembers much of what they said and continues to appreciate and love them more each day.