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Archive for the ‘children’ Category

My grandmother had two large clocks that chimed. Not like the fancy grandfather clocks today. But, they were solid wood and chimed on half hours and hours. She had to wind them — once a week, I think.

As a child, I kind of regarded them as sentinels. They were high on the walls and very dignified and sturdy.

Her maiden name was Anna Margaret West. She was what was referred to as Pennsylvania Dutch — German — I’d say. Possibly the surname had been changed from Westberg or something like that. I just told my granddaughter about her to pass along some of her family history.

My grandmother’s house was always clean. Laundry and ironing were always done. She canned the dill pickles that lined the shelves in the basement. She gardened. I never saw her do any of it, but I imagine she was up before dawn doing these things. She always wore a dress, apron, cotton hose, shoes with ties, and her hair was combed and held close to her head with a gossamer hairnet — gray, like her hair. She never swore or yelled.

She was thrifty and even saved the tissue that the toilet paper rolls were wrapped in individually. (In the 1950s, toilet paper was wrapped in white tissue that was itself covered with a stiffer wrapping paper.) She smoothed the tissue out and folded it carefully before putting it away. For dishes, she would measure out ONE teaspoon exactly of dish powder. If she received Christmas cards with pencilled signatures, she erased them and sent them out the next year! She had lived through the Depression and it had left its impact on her.

She married an Irishman, John Kelly, who was a farmer. In later years, they moved to town (population 1,500) and he presided over the bar at the Moose Lodge. Little things I learned about him indicated he was lots of fun and had a great many friends. But, he had a stroke and I don’t remember him except for him sitting by the window in a rocking chair, day after day, and twiddling his thumbs. My grandmother took care of him: dressing him, shaving him, making his meals, etc. He never spoke, or laughed or smiled.

My father was adopted and was their only child. His lead soldiers — some kneeling with rifles, some standing — formed neat battle lines in my grandmother’s china cabinet long after he had married and had children of his own.

This is a kind of tribute to her. To thank her for the memories and for the positive influence she had in my life.

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Recently a 7-year old was investigated and charged with sexual harassment. He was being choked by another child his age and he kicked the choker in the balls. Hence, the sexual harassment claim by the school. http://b.globe.com/rOmBNJ

Another child, 9-years old, was suspended from school recently because he told another student that he thought a certain teacher was cute. You got it. Sexual harassment. http://bit.ly/toH0DA

I remember an early memory when the little neighbor boy I played with and I were in a backyard tent. I offered to “show you mine, if you show me yours.” I can’t remember the outcome. I do remember that I had a feeling of doing something “bad” and going home. But, there were no cops, no arrests, no threats of litigation, because two little kids were doing what little kids sometimes do.

When we take “big people” thoughts and crimes and place them on the heads of children, we have crossed the boundaries of common sense. Children are not big people. They are innocents and blank slates. The only thing we teach children when we judge them as adults is that they should be afraid of rules and thoughts they never knew about.

We also teach them that adults cannot be counted on to use common sense.

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