In my parent’s bio I mentioned how I was glad to have grown up in the country (now that the growing up was over). Though this was said as kind of a joke there is a lot of truth in it. The more I live in a large city and watch the daily news, the more I wish others had had the same opportunity.
There were 8 biological children from my family and usually a few cousins all growing up together in the same house. No, I do not know how my parents managed it all but there are some things I have come to realize over the years about their parenting skills. Hopefully, my siblings will also see this or even other lessons I have overlooked.
I will begin with some of the most obvious thoughts you may have already considered and go from there. At least, what I believe may be some of the most obvious but then others may, again, fill in the blanks from their own perspective. So, the first place, in my opinion, is that there was NO WAY my parents could keep a constant eye on 8 to 12 children all at once (and of course we knew this subconsciously at least).
With that as a starting point, the next observation is we, the children, had a LOT of land to move around on which included fields, pecan groves, pine woods, and a canal (which was not on our land but that did not mean much to kids back then). Even so, we somehow knew not to get out of range of our mother’s voice (and let me tell you that lady could be heard a LONG way when she wanted to). Whether from the older children or the constant reinforcement through whippings (not spankings, I am talking about switches here) if we happened to stray to far this was a Lesson Learned pretty darn quick by each and every one of us I believe.
The next recollection I seem to have is that at least one of our parents was always close by if we needed them. They were not there to control us completely but if we felt we needed help, were in trouble (usually somebody had told on us), or just plain afraid one of them was always there for us. They may not have been happy (especially if we were in trouble – AGAIN) but they were there and they genuinely cared about us.
The kind of trouble I speak of is not cocaine use (though in later years some of us got drunk on alcohol a time or two to many) but things like “fishing fences” when we would sneak away from our chores to go to the canal. Just so you know a “fishing fence” was simply any barrier between the fishing hole and us (including a neighbor’s fences with or without no trespassing signs since we were not sure what a trespass was anyway.). For us it was just another challenge to be climbed to get where we were going and we would always help each other over until we were able to climb it by ourselves.
Another very valuable lesson for us was we never wanted to hear our mom yelling out our full names (I can still hear her saying Richard Owens Harris in that certain tone of voice when I know I should not be doing something). Though mom had a wide range of tones we instinctively learned to discern, my dad was a much quieter person (until he got angry) and we quickly figured out that dad and mom would support each other no matter how much we tried to out smart them.
ontinuing their method of teaching us to be adults, our parents gave us room to grow through experience. We learned if we wanted to eat we had to help plant the seeds, gather the crops, feed and butcher the animals correctly, and learn to ask for help when we needed it. All of this may sound fairly basic to some people but I firmly believe it was a tremendous responsibility that my parents did mostly instinctively (some may have believed they should have done things differently but I cannot argue with their results).
Those results continue today to be seen by the lives we, their children – biological and otherwise – are living. Though we may not like what one of us has or is doing we still love each other (though most often silently through action rather than words). My experience as an adult has also been we are also each there if any of the others – or their children – need us for any reason.
So through all of these Rural Ramblings we have some very basic Lessons Learned that have been incorporated (sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly) throughout our lives. Some of those include:
- You will not always be under the watchful eyes of another – so be careful.
- Learn to stand on your own but stay close to those that love you and you can rely on – within hollering distance.
- Loving someone does not mean you have to like everything they do – just love them.
- Do not trespass, no matter what it means – and if you do have a fence to climb either let others help you or help them if they need it.
- Parents (those with authority) are smart even when we do not think so learn to listen whether you agree with them or not – they are there for a reason (and they usually talk to each other).
- Everyone has to be responsible for helping him/her self as much as they can – do not expect a free meal no matter how hungry you get but accept or decline invitations graciously.
- Those we help also help us in ways that may never be seen – those we love will always be with us in ways that are ours alone.
- Learning is a life long event and will never stop – so do your homework.
These are just a few of the Rural Ramblings I have for now. However, I believe the Lessons Learned with even these few are something very valuable. I often wonder as I watch the daily news how my parents ever achieved such a goal but am thankful they did.
I hope to hear from others of their perspectives and reflections