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