Recently, I read a post from another blogger (www.parentingandstuff.wordpress.com – thankyou!) about adolescent cutting – a trend I’d heard about, but never really stopped to think about. Perhaps because the thought never crossed my mind when I was that age. Or maybe it’s because my own children are not quite there yet. But then it dawned on me. My oldest is on the cusps of pre-teen years. And I sat back with my coffee, and told myself it’s time. It’s time to start “getting out there” and refamiliarizing myself with all the lovely (NOT) things that kids are getting into these days. Suddenly I saw myself in my imagination…a young heroine, alone with her backpack filled with all things wholesome and good, raging against the dark corners of earth where evil lurks and vice tempts, and in order to move, I have to stand or fall.
I shook my head, relieved that it was not gonna be me after all, but then this terrible anxiety swept over me, because I knew in a way it was. Except this time, I was going to be the mother. And it was my own child, who was going have that backpack filled with whatever, walking with me, ahead of me, way behind me, or somewhere completely far away where I could not find him/her. Yikes!
So, before I do some homework and pick and share the not-so-smart-and-lovely-things kids do these days, I took the time this morning to envision my own mother when I and my siblings were growing up. And I had to laugh, because the images that flashed before my sci-fi/fantastical mind were spot on.
There she was, this incredible, fearless woman with an unmistakable aura. In my mind, I saw the waves of her brown locks of hair flowing past her shoulders. Her doe eyes were intense, always watching, always looking….at all of us! Her Wonder Woman figure was noticeable even after four kids, and surprisingly, the four of us together could never truly outwit her energy, her savvy, her keen sense, or her blunt words. She was a master at seeing through things, cutting to the chase, and literally “zapping” us if the situation called for it.
My own hero of a mother was not one to shy away from a conflict, or give us too much space where the wide open voids could be filled with choices that could change lives for the worst. She had full range of our house, including our rooms, and she was very honest and open about that. I cannot tell you all the times she snooped and approached us with letters, drawings, stacks of “absolutely not” objects, phone calls, etc. etc, even if things were hidden well (or so we thought:). Oh! And this heroine had no problems with using other powers outside of her own intuition. She would be the first to employ a crowbar to open up an unreasonably locked door. She would snatch a pot with a wooden spoon if a final wake-up call to get a job was needed. And occasionally, a trash can was filled with our neglected junk and kicked to the curb, so that we could finally “deal with it” when we got home.
No. This heroine was not mean. She was EFFECTIVE. She drew those lines and boundaries very clearly. And nothing my mother did was easy, because I know she loved us through every moment we tested her, disrespected her, and sad to say it, kicked her heart to the curb.
But kids will be kids, and kids know everything. Kids run on impulse, not on analysis (well, most anyway). Who needs that when the word fun or relief or self expression is just around the bend? Still, no matter what we did, there was always something drilled into our heads: This is MY house before it is yours. And if you don’t like the way I run it, there’s THE DOOR. And no matter how that door attracted us, we would take what we could get. But our mother was almost always one step ahead of us, or behind us after the fact, yackity-yacking all the way (LOVE that oldie by the Coasters)!
So. What’s this all about? The things kids did back then. What they are doing now. What they will do tomorrow…THEY NEED EFFECTIVE PARENTS. And looking back, we were fairly good kids, but we crossed the lines. Alot. And our parents? My mother, the one who was home and behind us most of the time? She was one of them, slowly helping us. Painstakingly directing and demanding from us. Tiredlessly and relentlessly up our butts.
Some things I can remember about Effective Parenting:
- Living in a House of God.
- Dinner Time was kept sacred at least three to four times a week.
- Non extravagant lives. The Joneses? Who were they?
- You think you are special? Well guess what? You have to show me that.
- WORK. It was required one way or another.
- Communication, no holds barred. Everyone here HAS to talk.
- You want tolerance? As long as they are within OUR means and boundaries.
- This is my house before it is yours. Don’t like it? There’s THE DOOR!
- Ummm, that friend of yours? Not allowed back here, and Almighty help you if I catch you with him/her.
- I’ll take a curse word over a cigarette.
- I’ll listen to you, but you have to listen to me too.
- Oh yeah? Well guess what? You are cut off.
- Being a teenager IS hard, but guess what? So is LIFE. We got news for you. Doesn’t get better from here, so make good choices.
- You want to do that? Find a way to do it yourself.
- When all else fails, I can still get you with my own two hands.
- Here, there are NO SECRETS. Period.
- Stupid IS as stupid DOES. Don’t be a jackass!
- Why? Z!
- Making friends is making the person. Again. Don’t be a jackass!
Ah! The list goes on and on. And the more I think of our life list? The more I absolutely appreciate and adore my parents. They didn’t make things easy. They made things possible. For all of us.