When I was twelve I went to my parents. There were some things that need be said. You see, I was not that obedient child. No that was my sister. Nor was I the straight “A” child, that position was held my other sister and of course I wasn’t the son, that was my brother and alas I wasn’t the baby, for he had just been born.
No, I was what you call the spinner child, the one in the middle. Not the smart one, not the good one, not the boy and not the baby, just me. So I decided to just be me, excepting my birth order as an invitation to define myself. I decided that when I grew up I’d be somebody, other than just the one in the middle.
My mother had told my I could, you see, and I believed her. And that expectation of a future was the thing that kept me from going completely off... oh but I came close. With all the other bases covered by my siblings I was rather wild and pretty crazy. And always on punishment. Which as you might imagine didn’t fit into my parent’s plan of a sane and sound household. So after a great deal of thought (about 2 minutes), I devised a plan of my own. I had decided it was time for a talk. so I went to them and I said, “Mother, Father we need to talk… I’ve been thinking, and I’ve decided that since it’s clear that I’m not going to do what you say, you should just leave me alone and focus on Marilyn, Gwen, Carl and of course now there’s the new baby.”
Well, it made all the sense in the world to me, but they just stared at me, I stood my ground and tried to stare back without using the reckless eyeball, which was sure to land my back-end at the front-end of a switch. I now know they trying not to laugh!
After a while (about a nine month pregnant pause) my father asked me "Had I’d planed to move out?" “Well no” I said, “I figured I could hang around here until…” Well that little bit answer was all I could manage and before I could lay out my carefully thought out plan about how I would live in their house, eat their food, and sleep in their comforts, he said “As long as your in my house, your going to do as I say!”
Darn!, I thought but didn’t dare speak, cause it was clear to me that our little talk had ended. And of the many options that we were given as children, talking back, at least out loud, just wasn’t among them. So I walked away thinking that evidently something was lost in the translation. I thought at that time that I might approach the subject latter after some more planning, or maybe when I grew up.
As a child of the 60’s and 70’s you didn’t have the kind of options that many children seem to have or shall I say suffer from these days. We were never consulted about the running of the household or its finances. We were not allowed in adult conversations or even allowed in the room when grown folks were talking, unless of course they were talking to us.
It seemed to me that had all the fun, which is why of course I couldn’t wait to be one. I spent a lot of time thinking about the time when I’d grow up. It never occurred to me however, that I’d grow up and long for those days of youth. Those days of rules and guidance, shelter, protection and of course the weekly allowance. Those simple things that make a child feel safe, feel loved. Those days that were reserved for being a child. Those days are gone for me now as well, as for many children.
My parents seemed to know that too much information only served to confuse unformed minds. Too much information at an early stage often serves to frighten children, giving them the illusion that they are supposed to know how to handle it, which of course is impossible.
My parents held us in our places as children until the time we did grow up. My parents gave us the love that all children seek so we didn’t have to look for it in the streets. But these days we expose, talk to and at our children about things that should be classified information at least until they grow up. And then we turn around and want or expect them to be children. I am saddened, but not surprised that we are losing them, for many of them have lost the ability to be a child.
This is truly a submission of suspicion, for as you know I did grow up and I have no children. But I didn’t have to birth them to know that they are in trouble. And the saddest thing of all is that these days many children never even think about the day when they’ll grow up.