Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Childhood Memories

I was talking to my boss today about something I've wondered about often as I raise my children. I also read an article about being frugal recently that reminded me of why I am the way I am. I was raised in a very frugal household. Truth be told, frugal is a nice way of saying my parents were CHEAP! I don't think I had a glimmer of understanding as a child or teenager growing up there. Sorry mama and daddy! I can now see the wisdom of your ways. Better late than never, eh?

So today my boss and I discussed 'then vs. now'. He killed a wild hog and made us all sausage biscuits for breakfast. That's the kind of boss I have! I mentioned that my dad killed hogs too, for food, and that I was paid a quarter per coffee can full of acorns, which we fed the hogs. I should have gotten rich but I bet I only made a few dollars worth. Then I told him that I worry about kids today, especially my kids, because they can't even understand the kinds of things I had to do growing up. Do all parents feel this way? Or is my case extreme? I don't know!

We didn't have air conditioning growing up. We did have an attic fan to pull in the cooler air at night but that was it. I moved away to college before I ever had central a/c. We gathered firewood all winter long to keep warm. We closed off our house and lived in the back half that had a fireplace and wood heater. One unlucky kid was picked every night to run up a half hour before bedtime to turn on every one's electric blanket so we wouldn't freeze solid overnight. You could see your breath up there! Our house was 100 years old and didn't have insulation.

The only way you could earn enough money to go to the skating rink on Saturday afternoons was to help get enough firewood for the week onto the side porch. I'd arrive bone tired and listen as my friends talked about the OTHER fun stuff they'd done that day.

The other extreme was to be set out in a hayfield and told to pick up rocks and put them to the side so the hay baler wouldn't pick them up. That has to be the hottest job on earth!

In the summer we tended our garden. We'd get up before daylight and head out with buckets and bags to pick so we could be back on the back porch steps when the sun got high and hot. I still remember my fingers getting raw snapping green beans. Once my sister had a little friend come visit as we shucked corn. She was a 'city kid'. I remember her eyes got really big and she exclaimed, "I didn't know you had to PEEL corn!" I admit, I was part envious that you could make it that far in life without knowing that. You couldn't escape garden patrol even if you went next door to your cousin's house. They had just as many bags of beans that needed snapping as your house did. At least Uncle Frankie made up silly songs though!

But you know, I really appreciate my upbringing now. I realize I wasn't being intentionally tortured. In fact, my parents did ten times more work than I did, working right along side me. My poor mother had to take all those snapped beans and combine them with the tomatoes, corn, okra, etc and can it all. We sure did eat a lot of homemade vegetable soup in the winter. Still a favorite of mine! And the soup had meat in it. Meat from our cows. When I say homemade, I mean all the way.

And don't even get me started about homemade clothes! Whew, some of the stuff we wore would itch a warthog to distraction! My dad worked in textiles and he brought home fabric remnants. Mostly knit, unfortunately. Then he'd size us up and start cutting. Then my mom would take over and, VIOLA, I'd have a new outfit. And both my sisters, too. And we'd all match and itch in our air condition-less house.

Which brings me to our family. My kids are clueless, and I regret that. But I am at a loss as to how I could do anything differently. We have a garden, on that fits into our subdivision yard. My kids didn't get to grow up on a 60 acre farm. Gardening is a hobby to them, not a way to eat through winter. And firewood? What's that? Just push the up arrow on the thermostat and the house warms up. Magically!

We are going to Myrtle Beach soon for a long weekend. Taking the kids out of school for a day. It is sort of our last hurrah for the summer season. Time to make our peace with the end of summer. Get a grip on ourselves and decide that fall really is upon us. It is hardly on the kid's radar screen that we are going, although we've mentioned it frequently.

Back in the day, first of all, you'd have had to have been on deaths doorstep to get out of school. I don't know of anybody who got out of school for FUN. That was blasphemy! And this weekend trip, that means hardly nothing to my kids was longer than our entire summer vacation when I was growing up. We went to the beach for three days. Yep, we all but passed ourselves on the road headed back! And the excitement was over the top. We had those paper chains counting down the days til we left for our HUGE SUMMER VACATION. My goodness. I remember seeing the ocean for the first time, between the shops along Ocean Blvd. It looked like a mountain, like it should just swallow us up as we got closer. And then the rides at the Pavillion would come into view and I wonder how they kept us from jumping out of the car! Probably the only reason was because it was daytime and no one was riding them yet. I remember eating all our own food, because just because you went on vacation didn't mean you had to eat out. I remember getting a few tickets for the rides and making what seemed like life and death decisions over what we'd ride that night. I remember water boggin' til I could barely make it back up the steps with that heavy mat. I remember renting a float, red on one side, blue on the other. I remember my dad's really white legs! (Gardens and hay fields required overalls, not shorts.)

My kids will float in the lazy river. Eat out every meal. Get a wrist band and ride every ride. Twice. And they'll grumble on the way down because it will take SO LONG to get there, as they play with their DSi XL's and feel sorry for themselves because they'll lose Wi-Fi when we pull out of the driveway.

How sad is that?

Friday, August 13, 2010

Mom Guilt

Don't you just hate mom guilt? It is never logical and it surely wasn't today. I got up early to get a jump start. Had some breakfast, okay it was a piece of Aunt Peggy's pound cake, but it was breakfast. Then I painted Natalie's bathroom pink. It has always been a fine shade of tan but she wanted pink and, by cracky, it's PINK now. So, I did something for her today. Keep that in mind. Then, I went right to work on a Halloween quilt/wall hanging. Andy loves Halloween so that was something I was doing for him. Okay, that is a stretch, but still, he has asked for it to be left to him. So, two of my children had difficult projects done on their behalf, all before lunch today. However...today isn't any ole day. Today is the last. day. of. summer. vacation. So my husband calls to see what I have decided to do on this most special of days. Even though he heard about both of the above projects he was unimpressed and didn't see any real benefit for the children. That was annoying enough, but then he goes on to suggest I take them to the local state park to swim in. the. LAKE. Eh.

Lakes. Hmmm. Let's see....I am NOT a lake person. Not at all, not in the least. Do NOT see the appeal of getting wet in a lake. So sue me, I just don't get lakes. I don't want to wade into a slimy bottomed lake! I get the whole scenery thing, to a degree. And, if I had to pick between two home sites I'd pick the one with a lake view. I'm not opposed to looking out and seeing one, I just choose not to wade out and swim in it. And I know not all lakes are slimy bottomed. I am sure the one you are thinking of right now isn't. But it is my perception and I am sticking to it.

So I stewed about whether to ruin my children's lives by having them miss out on this opportunity. Knowing Robbie was going to be hurt on their behalf because they didn't get to go wade in a lake. And then the Halloween pattern I was working on got to be exponentially harder than I had anticipated. And then I decided to poll the children to see if they were even interested in doing such a thing. Two were for it, one against.

The two who were for it immediately ran for their swimsuits. I knew I was sunk. I grabbed a sandwich and put my suit on too - as I prayed I wouldn't have to get it wet. Then I got really cranky. This was such an impromptu, illogical, unnecessary intrusion on my day. Yes, I love my children. Yes, I always want them to have fun. No, lounging around the house for ONCE does not sound like Chinese water torture. Uggh.

Let's recap the summer, folks. Key and Andy get DSi XL's for Key's birthday and we added WiFi to our house so they could get on line. Natalie has a princess party one week before we leave for FL. We stay in FL, on vacation, for a MONTH. See post below to even begin to describe the things we did there. We've been swimming with friends multiple times upon our return. Just yesterday I took them to Gatti Town for lunch where they rode bumper cars and the Merry Go Round. Last week was spent with their relatives in Hartsville and Camden. That alone would have made it a good summer. They've seen Toy Story 3, Despicable Me and The Last Airbender. They've BTDT all summer long. Anyway, you get it.

So, what did we all do today but go to the state park. Key refuses to get in, wouldn't even put on his swim suit. Nat and Andy go for it, but Andy bails pretty early. Key begs to ride the paddle boats. We suit up in stinky life vests and climb onto an impossibly hot boat. I was, of course, the only one who had legs that would reach the pedals. So for 30 minutes I paddled the three of them around the lake. We saw two turtles who, upon seeing us, bailed from their downed tree trunks. Other than that excitement, they were completely unimpressed with my tour.

Back to the beach (I use the term lightly) for more lake fun. Natalie made friends with two other little girls so they had fun together for a while. And their bathing suits all matched. Wait, no, they didn't. They just all looked like they matched because they were all lake stained by then.

The point of the story is this: Mom guilt will make you do some really dumb things. The end.