Thursday, February 15, 2007

Childhood Vows

In a way, when I was a child, adults were the enemy.

They were often brutish dictators, barking orders and administering punishment born of mood and whim, as opposed to justice or reason.

I observed a lot of this in silence, serving "yes, ma'am's" and "no, sir's" almost religiously. Yet, I kept mental notes of the many mean or unjust (from my perspective) things that "the grown-ups" did and vowing that *I* would never, ever be one of *them*.

As far as I was concerned, adults were traitors who, allegedly, USED to be children. Yet, somehow, they seemed to have forgotten or ignored the many difficulties of being younger, smaller, weaker, and meeker. The way I saw it, IF it was true that adults really DID used to be children, then they probably suffered under similarly tyrannical rule... yet somehow they didn't choose to make things better, for the rest of us. Instead, they converted and left the rest of us to fend for ourselves.

"If this happened with their generation, it might happen to mine," I reasoned.

Maybe so, but it wouldn't happen to me.

I decided I wouldn't ignore children or tell them to shut up or deny them the right to ask "why" (within reason) or be mean or be so quick to spank or participate in so many other ways that adults abused their power.

Now, I'm beyond the "young adult" stage in which many claim to be "grown," but aren't quite sure they've earned the title. (Actually, putting it like that makes me want to back-peddle.) So, I wonder if I've kept my promise to the little boy I used to be.

I wonder if I've allowed or even provided children with the voice that had, historically, been denied them.

I haven't had any kids of my own, so, in some ways, it's too soon to tell. Judging by my interaction with other people's children (my cousins, etc.), I've honored the spirit of my childhood promise, if not the letter.
  • I try to listen to children, even when it's sometimes inconvenient.
  • I try to treat youth as people with a sense of dignity.
  • I try to acknowledge the possibility that kids know more we assume.
If I'm going to exhibit that Michael May level of honesty, though, I have to admit that I've broken some of the promises I made to that little boy.
  • I occasionally curse in front of (but not at) my mom.
  • Sometimes, I do wish that children would just zip it.
  • I believe in spanking a bit more than I ever thought I would.
I'm still resolving much of this, but I'm glad that I, at least, still acknowledge west3boy and the "discussions" we've had about leaving this world better than we found it - especially when it comes to the children of the world.

What about you?
Did you make any "childhood vows?" How have you done with trying to keep those promises?


brandy said...
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B. Good said...

My promises have yet to be tested. They deal specifically with how I'll rear my children, and not necessarily children in general. So....we'll see. But I love west3boy's vows. What made you think of them now?

West said...

I often think of my childhood and of what kind of man I am, now.

Occasionally, the two topics intersect and we end up with one of these kinds of posts. :-)

Liz said...

I vowed to never use an extension cord on them, to never call them stupid, to never demean their father in front of them. So far so good.

I vowed to teach them about God, to make sure they're comfortable around diverse people, to take pride in their blackness. Got the first two, more work to do on the last one.

Angie said...

I promised I would protect my children and never choose a man over them. I only have one child, and I think I've done pretty well in keeping my promise. In fact I think my childhood expereinces may have caused me to go too far in keeping that promise. But hey watcha gon' do, you live and learn. : )

Miz JJ said...

Interesting post. My parents never hit me as a child so that is something I will maintain in my home. You can discipline and instill fear in your child without beating them. I will definitely instill a sense of confidence in my children like my parents did with me. And I was always allowed to ask questions. My mom encouraged my curiosity so I was never told to be quiet. I think I would like to do those things as well, but I am not sure I have as much patience as my mom. Lol.

YouToldHarpoTaBeatMe said...

I said I'd never slap my child(ren) in their faces, no matter how bad I wanted to (that's very disrespectful to me)... haven't done it yet.

I swore no man would come before them... he didn't.

I swore I'd tell them why they were being punished or spanked before I actually did it... still doing it.

I swore that I'd make trips to my children's school so their teachers would know they actually HAVE a mother, and that I'm truly concerned about their grades... and that if they ever saw a signature on a pitiful progress report, it wasn't mine....still doing it.

I swore that my children would only be spanked with either my hand or a belt... still doing it, when needed.

I swore that I didn't want my children to be afraid of me, but have reverence for me.... so far, so good.