Odds and Sods – Late Night Early Morning Musings

Physical bullying at school, as depicted in th...

Physical bullying at school, as depicted in the film Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s 3:30 am and here I sit wide awake.  Yesterday the boys and I headed off to Kitchener to meet my SIL and her 3 grandchildren at one of the city’s museums.  There was a special area set up for Circus themes and activities which included high wire walking for the children.  We waited.  In line.  For almost 2 hours.  Each child after being strapped from stem to stern with safety wires and harnesses had the opportunity to walk the high wire and we quickly figured that the wait would be about 5 minutes per child in line.  That meant of course that 12 children equaled a 60 minute wait and the adventures therein were many but that will have to wait for another post.

The point is that by the time I got home I was exhausted, stiff, and sore.  The day was tons of fun so it was worth it, but I knew when I got home I would want to sleep so I kept moving, puttering about here and there and finally gave in to a couple of glasses of fermented grapes and a little TV.  I finally surrendered to the sandman way too early, but oh my, it did feel good to slip between those sheets and head off to the land of nod, just to wake bright and early – well the bright part is me as it is still dark outside my window- thinking great thoughts, and pondering all things ponderable.

I noticed more brave little stories on FB about bullying and an article about Charlie Sheen on yet another rant, this time about his daughter being bullied, and this got me to thinking about this way too sensitive subject.  And from that pondering came questions.

Where will the heroes of tomorrow find their brave?  So many outstanding people suffered some form on bullying or rejection (which seems to somehow have become equalized to bullying) and in doing so became braver, became stronger. They became our leaders, our artists, our models for success.

Strength, I have heard, comes from Adversity.  Are we removing or trying to remove all adversity for the younger generations?  And in doing so are we making their future more difficult?

Are we over defining bullying?  When does a taunt between children playing become bullying?  The lines have become blurred.  I can clearly see brutality, which I think is a more accurate word than bullying, which ends in child suicides and torturous lives, and should have far more severe consequences than it seems to.  But where do we draw the line?  How will anyone learn to ‘suck it up’ and carry on?

When I was a child there were lessons to be learned; Life is not fair, some people are jerks who will be hurtful and the challenge was not in negating hurt but recognizing it and becoming stronger because of it.

I fear that because of the extreme cases of brutality we are going too far in teaching our children to cry ‘poor me’ in less severe situations, instead of teaching them to stand up, be strong and understand the reality of the world.  The reality is that in spite of our great hue and cry against brutality (bullying) there still continues to be bullies and there still will continue to be bullies in the future.

George Carlin and Dean Koontz have both expressed, one on stage and one in fiction, that when we over protect our children we are doing them a disservice.  They cannot become immunized against adversity because we do not allow them to experience adversity.  Is that what we are doing in this situation?

You see, I applaud anti-bullying programs.  We have more situations when groups of people, particularly students are standing up as a group against bullying. That is a good thing.  There are all kinds of education on recognizing when bullying takes place, stopping the act of bullying, and denouncing it publically, but I have yet to see a program that teaches us the reality of the how and the why of it and coping.  It just seems that we are so busy with the ‘buzz word’ of it all, that we are failing to carry through with the successful coping of it all.

 

Daily Post Weekly Writing Challenge: Meaningful Possessions

I am a little late to the WordPress Weekly Writing Challenge Being Saturday and all.  The subject matter is ‘ tell us about your most meaningful possession and since I have spent most of my life making sure that possessions were not meaningful, I honestly thought I had nothing to contribute.

Then last night outside under the stars I asked myself that same question and the answer came crystal clear.  I do have one possession that matters.  Would I fight to the death over it?  No, but while I have it with me I will savor the meaning and remember.

Dad's leather purse

Most Meaningful Possession

My Dad is not someone I write an awful lot about which always puzzles  me because he was the center of my existence.  While my mother tried to teach me how to darn socks (darned if I could understand why – being the diva I was I could not see myself ever darning anything), and knit and keep the house cool in  the summer by pulling down the blinds on the east side in the morning and on the west side in the afternoon, my Dad taught me other things.

Have you found it surprising, if you have ever had to clean out a home after someone dies, what seemed important to that person?  Have you ever held an object and wondered why it was stored in a tin box with other seemingly meaningless objects?

When it was time to do this for my father there were a number of treasure found.  His gold ring with his initials had been left to me but I decided it should go to the oldest son of the oldest son and gave it to my brother for his son.

There was one treasure I was not even aware of until about ten  years ago (and Dad died in 1981).  The gift came from my sister.  I wondered at it at first as it was a small suede leather bag measuring three and half inches at its base, two inches at its neck and five inches in length.  And leather tie to tighten it.  Engraved into the leather appears to be a Mayan calander or something zodiac like.  I truly do not know exactly what it is.  This bag and other ‘treasures’ were kept in an old tin box in his top drawer.  It was a pretty beat up tin box and I remember seeing it as a young child and wishing I could see inside.

Anyway I thought this was a strange gift but I was touched deeply and then my sister said, “open it”.

Inside were five pennies, each with the birth year of my brothers and sisters and me, and one nickle with my birth year.

Meaningful possessions

The feeling of holding something my dad felt was important enough to be a tin box treasure and understanding the depth and the heart of my sister was overwhelming.

There has never been another gift that has meant as much and each time I pull that leather string to close the bag I feel like I am ensuring my family is tucked in safely.

Die for it if I had to?  You know what?  Just maybe!

Imperfect Memories

If you knew you only had a few days or a few months to live, what would you do with that time?  This thought has been on my mind lately and I can’t figure out if it is something to seriously consider or if it is an excuse to not do other things that wait for my attention.  But by devoting time for this one can only hope that one thing will lead to another and I do like to multitask so…

I am a few months short of my sixty-fifth birthday and realize that just having outlived my parents I am not sure of my own longevity.  It’s hard to beat your genes.  Who would I like to read this story?  Certainly my children and the rest of my family but there is a danger in sharing with my brothers and sisters as I have discovered each of us has a different memory of a past event which just goes to prove the old idea of the truth being completely subjective and perhaps nonexistent in its purest form.  I know I have posted on this blog memories of events and my brother and sister have pointed out a different or corrected version (very kindly of course).  This is probably a good thing as they are younger than I so perhaps their minds are a little fresher.

Distant memory in particular is colored by what we think happened and our ensuing experiences and emotions.  And of course we choose to believe or remember a specific thing or occurrence according to our own mind.  One of my brothers believes my grandparents did not own their home because he remembers seeing a box with rent receipts after they died.  He may have forgotten that at least one offspring and family lived in that house with them continually for many years and yes they all paid rent.  That included my parents, two aunts and several others for shorter periods of time.  So he, my brother, would swear on a stack of bibles that they never owned that house even though the family sold it after Grandpa’s death.  Fortunately my one living paternal aunt can verify this and explains that she was fourteen when she had to quit school to stay home and look after her younger brother and sister so my grandmother could get a job to make money to buy the house which they purchased when my dad was overseas.

This is one of the reasons I tend to avoid reading famous people’s autobiographies – just too subjective.  So if you are reading this little story and share memories of the past with me, please understand this is my recollection and while I will strive to be accurate it just can’t be more than my own mind and heart will let it be.

My dad joined the army when he was seventeen, and yes he was underage, but it was 1941 and the Second World War was raging so a lot of youngsters were allowed to enlist as age wasn’t questioned much.  We have a couple of letters  that he sent home when he was posted overseas and one letter from his younger brother who I think was only fourteen at the time.  I will dig them out and scan them for the record and will tell you more about that at a later time.

I think now and then about the sort of things I want my children to know about such as old wood stoves that baked pies and cakes and wonderful homemade stews and soups, old dial black telephones and numbers that began with words or initials.  Our phone number was Sherwood 2—2 and the Sherwood was dialed as SH so the number in fact was 742—-2.  (Naturally I have the exact number in the family version but it would not be a good idea to publish it in the event someone else now has that number).  Everyone in those days was on a party line, so if you wanted to make a call you first picked up the receiver to be sure the line was clear.  Mind you at any time a neighbor could pick up their phone and listen in and if they were skilled at making the click very quiet you would never know.  I suppose if you were of the paraniod persuasion clicks were heard when no one was there.  People did not use the phone unless it was necessary.  There was no idle chatter.  There was also no such thing as cordless, caller ID, or speaker.  Oh, and no such thing as colors.  It was black and very heavy as I remember.

The one below is exactly like ours and everyone else’s for that matter.

 

There were no phone jacks that lines plugged into so if the cord was snapped from the wall you had to call the phone company to come in and repair it.  Now I must qualify the not using the phone unless it was necessary part.  I do recall vaguely the odd Saturday when our parents were out making prank calls that generally went, “Hello, is your refrigerator running? Well you better run after it!”  We just dialed numbers randomly and have no idea who we contacted and they sure could not trace us.

It is my intention not to reveal any family skeletons as such; at least I think I will not, as many of those old bones are not mine to share.  Neither will I necessarily whitewash things but the memories are pretty happy nostalgic ones.  I guess we will just have to wait and see as layers of the dusty past are removed.  I have also decided that I will not try to stay on a chronological path as memories seem to pop up in a rather irregular fashion and that is how they will be recorded.  I’ve tried the chronological thing in the last couple of years and it drives me bonkers.

My folks were married in Scotland and she being a war bride followed him here to Kitchener Ontario a few months after his return.  I have spoken with my aunt who is my mom’s younger sister and the last of that family of siblings and my aunt who is the last remaining member of my dad’s siblings and have asked as many questions as I could about their youth and what they remember.  As both are well into their eighties the memories are very subjective but amazingly detailed.  Besides what are memories if they have to be objective?  The full flavor of life is in the personal bias of it all.  That’s where the fun comes in!

Well now that I have that all straightened out I shall ponder a little more and then get down to some real work.  I won’t share every record of history with you but when the little oddities such as telephones pop up I will keep you in mind.

 

A Proclamation of Love, A Declaration of Intent

My ever entertaining 3 year old G2 is telling all who will listen he is going to marry Mommy.  To prepare for said nuptuals he is brushing his teeth at least three times a day, more if he could get away with it.  Today he asked for his shaving kit, a child’s Christmas toy he received complete with cream, razor, mirror and brush and proceeded to spruce himself up.  The same goes for hair combing.

He adores his Mom, her blue eyes, long blonde hair..she is perfect.  Previous to this his affections were reserved for Ariel the Mermaid and then Rapunsel all of whom have long hair.

He first mentioned his intent yesterday and I replied that it was a wonderful idea.  This morning he mentioned it again, watching me closely for my reaction.  Again I told him that was wonderful.  Then he said, “I told my Daddy and Daddy said ‘no’ that Mommy is his.  But I am going to marry her.”  He is pleased that Daddy seems on board with the idea now.

In addition it has become a training tool in matters so far unsuccessful.  He has developed an attachment to his soother lately.  Today Daddy told him to put it away and when he firmly replied, “No”, Daddy said he didn’t think Mommy would want to marry anyone with a soother.

“Fine,” he said and promptly deposited it in the kitchen.  Now if we can just use this to ensure number 2 is properly looked after.

I remember both my sons at the same age deciding they were going to marry Mommy.  Then at about 8 they felt it necessary to assure me that,”Mommy, I will live with you forever.”  And that is exactly where G1 is at that exact age.

Ah the purity and sincerity of youth.  I love it!

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