Meet our writers

 







Nostalgia August 2015

The Old Gal

Modern Little Monster

By Anne Ashley

If ever we felt our teen angst or adolescent traumas warranted a sulk, or we foolishly forgot to “keep in mind that we didn’t even buy our own underwear,” we were invited to choose which one of the household bills we’d like to start paying so as to be truly educated on the meaning of the word stress!

Warning: This article may cause offense (and giggles).

I was born between the eras of children should be seen and not heard and always respect your elders, causing me to grow up with a healthy mix of silence when I had nothing constructive to offer and reverence when in the presence of adults.

While, it was common in those days for my generation to call parents sir or ma’am, in our family we were allowed to use the less formal mom and dad – but make no mistake, formality aside, there was no such thing as expressing ourselves or venting or any other form of present-day disrespect children get away with.

If I disagreed with whatever I was told to do (or not to do), tough! If I felt the need to rail against authority, to make my suffering and torment known, I was wise to first make sure to have a large pillow nearby in which to sink my face, lest either parent overheard my protestations and gave me something more substantial to rail against!

Furthermore, my father regularly reminded us that if we complained to authorities about his strictness, the authorities would take us away to live with strangers while he stayed behind and sold our toys!

Another one of dad’s deterrents was to point out workers in grocery stores, telling us that they were once children who got caught running away from their parents while in the store and had to work there for the rest of their lives as punishment!

These methods of gently strong-arming us into obedience worked too. We never once ran away from our parents or kicked up a fuss when we couldn’t have the candy, cereal, toy – whatever we wanted – because we never doubted for a minute that our parents would carry out their threats.

As we grew into teens the tough love continued. If ever we felt our teen angst or adolescent traumas warranted a sulk, or we foolishly forgot to “keep in mind that we didn’t even buy our own underwear,” we were invited to choose which one of the household bills we’d like to start paying so as to be truly educated on the meaning of the word stress! The fear of being held responsible for hot water for the entire family ended any misapprehensions I might have had about unfair curfews or missed social outings, I can tell you.

Later, when raising my children I recycled many of my parent’s techniques with gusto to guide my offspring through their tough decisions. Although, to be fair, I never threatened to sell their toys. However I did throw away anything left on the floor of their bedrooms for more than a day!

Anyway, today these tactics, this tough love, this cunning is viewed as abusive and damaging to a youngster’s self-image. Today’s youth are literally handicapped by a permissible and lenient society that tolerates disrespect and gross disobedience – interpreting the bad behavior as an expression of “inner feelings.” Had I ever dared to yell at my parents in private, let alone in public, I would have had my “inner feelings” slapped so hard I would have had to wear my Halloween mask for a week to hide the hand print! As dear ole’ dad was fond of saying, “you’ll hear my first warning and feel my second one – you chose the audience!

I recently witnessed a scene in a local Walmart between a mother and a toddler that left me speechless. Evidently the child was being denied a coveted toy and screamed and shouted his/her complaint loud enough for me to hear three aisles over. As I continued my shopping, the child continued the noisy protest without abating. By the time I was next to the scene, the child was hitting the mother. I winced at the thought of what that action would have afforded me in my youth. However, this modern-day mother took it all in her stride and tried reasoning with her disruptive issue instead of restraining him/her. But while mommy cooed words of wisdom and serenity, the child continued to loudly demand and kick at her. The mother’s lecture about the consequences of the child’s actions was clearly falling on deaf ears.

Now, I know what you’re thinking … that there might be an underlying problem. Junior might have a diagnosable behavioral disorder. Or perhaps there’s a physical impediment that justifies letting a child obstinately kick and scream.  Possibly. However, that kind of rebellion is learned behavior and in my youth, regardless of any malady, syndrome or ailment I might have been afflicted with, real or modern-day hoopla, had I dared to strike either of my parents, I would have achieved my goal but the toy would have been lodged in a place that rendered it unusable! 

And I'm all the better for it!

 

Be sure to follow me on twitter@anneashley57.

Meet Anne