One of the things that happens when you are barely 20 and start having kiddos, is that it is serious business. I remember working hard everyday, to set a good example. Making sure everything was just right. We worried all the time. I read aloud so much some days, my voice became hoarse. We took our children out daily in the fresh air. We made sure they were taught respect and manners all along the way. We took them to museums when they were young for 20 minutes at a time. We built up the time as the years slipped by. We taught and taught and explained until I was a puddle of goo. I remember asking Mr. Right, if he thought we would ever, EVER have a meal where we did not correct someone’s manners, or mannerisms or behavior. He said he didn’t think so. (come to find out later in life, when the boys both were sitting at our table with their spouses, we all had a meal and not once did I correct a person) Raising children was serious, hard work. Or so I thought. I took it very seriously. We were aiming to raise well-balanced, respectable, considerate, highly intelligent, good common sense, curious adults. It was our focus. We meant business.
When your babe (age 32) comes home to visit, you observe the most interesting things. They really did listen. Shocking. They really are polished gentlemen when they need to be. They really do open every door for their mother as well as strangers, they speak to waitresses and sales people with friendly manners and look them in the eyes. While they can most certainly hold their own in business and in a light conversation, they wait with respect for their father to speak his mind first. They politely wait their turn. They are well read and suggest books “the old people” may enjoy. Your heart melts, when your babe points out each house in their new neighborhood and explains who each person is and what they do for a job….. “oh, the Johnson’s live there, they are retired and such a nice couple…………oh that is so and so, he (the policeman) and wife have a couple of kids, friendly folks, etc.
Somewhere along the line, all your effort and strictness paid off. You end up with adult grown children who are well-educated, with finely tuned funny bones, concerned and involved parents who miss their wife and kids. You watch as your “kid” leaves the restaurant to talk on the cell phone to say Goodnight to each girl just prior to bedtime.
I look back and secretly wish, I would have made it more fun for us, the parents. More carefree. Nothing about us was carefree. I can’t tell you how many people told us (oh and I am sure talked behind our backs) how we were too strict in our parenting roles. Oh yeah, lots of people were willy nilly about giving us their opinion about what we were and were not doing right. Maybe we should think about relaxing a little.
I am here to tell you, we did the right thing. We were not their friends. They had bushel of friends. They did not need one more friend. They needed strong parents who took their roles very seriously. We said NO a million times. We knew everything about their teenage business. We guided their clothing choices and choices of friends. We exposed them to a Higher Being. We introduced them to interesting and well-educated human beings. We opened their minds to artists and patriotism. We taught them about loyalty. We taught them the Pledge of Allegiance. We taught them to love animals. We made them go to museums and family trips. We made them play board games. We made them make choices. Do you want cable television for the summer or swimming passes? Guess what they decided and chose? We made them accountable. They came to the dinner table every single night, with a clean shirt on. They stood before I sat down. They removed their baseball hats at the table. They came to the table with a discussion topic. They thanked me for each and every meal (even if it wasn’t their favorite.) They asked to be excused. We corrected them and helped them to be well-rounded people.
Guess what I did yesterday? I had lunch with our oldest boy. He treated me to lunch. We laughed and talked non stop.
Yep, he was someone I would choose to go to lunch with.