Carry on Tuesday: Vive la difference

English: A photograph of a 2 month old human i...

English: A photograph of a 2 month old human infant, his mother, his maternal grandmother, and his maternal great-grandmother. Each person in this photograph gave birth to the next younger person thus showing four generations in one family photograph. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I am 83 now and in my day, when I was growing up in Europe as a child, are parents and grandparents taught us to have impeccable manners. Yes, we were “old school” as my grandchildren tell me. It didn’t matter that we were poor, and couldn’t buy things, it mattered how we acted. We acted like the sons and daughters of kings and queens. We had no money and were poor but our family was very strict and we were taught to be courteous to everyone. As girls, we had no freedom at all, we did what our parents and grandparents said, there was nothing to think about, we did what they told us to do, never could we question their choices. We did not KNOW that questioning was an option because back in those days it did not exist.

I married a man, who was of course, the son of a European father and mother. He was not wealthy either but our styles were the same. Manners were natural to us, culturally we were very alike which I think is very important. When after several years we moved to the United States of America we were shocked when we found out that not everyone was raised the same way. It took years for my husband and I to learn to adjust to people who didn’t know to say  “Thank you” or “Please.” If an elderly person had no seat on the tram we automatically got up and offered our seat to them. I thought this was what everybody did. I learned the hard way, that most people did not do these courteous things. But, then again, I had lived in a much different world. I made sure however, that my children and grandchildren learned these manners and I am proud of them.

Today young people can do so much more, they are free to make decisions, they have so many options, oh, how I envy them and delight in their world. They can have careers, go to college, be parents and work, it is so exciting! We were never allowed to work, our only job was to be mothers we had no choices back then. Imagine now, if young women had no choices, there would be an uproar, good for YOU! You have come such a long way and I am glowing with pride, look at what you accomplished that my generation could not, vive la différence! Celebrate young women, you have achieved so much in a life time, a different world, where you are equal, where you can do whatever it is YOU want and not be told what to do. Congratulations!

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Could it be Magic? (Carry on Tuesday)

Happiness

Happiness (Photo credit: baejaar)

An Easier Life

Nobody ever said life was going to be easy. In our young innocence we just assume it is because we know no different; our families have protected us from life’s troubles. That, my dear, can only last a short time, you do know that right?

It’s been a rough couple of months, actually it’s been rough for a long time now. As we grow older we look back on our lives, I do not envy the youth of today. No, I really don’t. Growing older does not have many perks. We all handle it differently. There are cheery and optimistic people with me in the nursing home and some say clichés like “You’re as young as you feel.” Frankly I think that’s a crock…”

There are people like me who are over sensitive to other people’s suffering and pain. I feel other people’s pain, it becomes a part of me, I’ve been that way since I’ve been a child, I can’t undo who I am or try not to care. It doesn’t work. I sincerely wish it would. It would cause me so much less pain. I don’t blame anyone but myself but I always thought caring about others was a good thing, no? Well, not for me, you see.

I’ve accepted, after many years, that people are very different, though growing up I thought everyone felt the way I did so when caring wasn’t reciprocated, I was often hurt. As a child how would you know that all people act differently?  Who else could I learn from if not from myself? Life changed that, many years later in my life, not quickly enough but eventually I learned and adjusted, but it never felt natural to me.You deal with whatever happens to you and sometimes you still deflate like a withering balloon starting from a room’s happy ceiling and twirling slower and slower until all the life that has been kept it in the balloon deflates and now it’s just a tiny lump of pink  lying embarrassingly at your feet, defeated and dead.

Many things have happened in the world lately, things that I thought I would never see in my older years. Things I didn’t want to see: the horror of September 11th, the killing of children and adults in Newtowne, Connecticut and this week, the joyful runners of the Boston Marathon and onlookers killed senselessly. I spent almost half of my life in Boston, the good years, the young, innocent years when Hank and I got married. There was a joy known only to newlyweds, many more days clothed in bright yellow happiness than the darkness of fear. There was nothing to worry about back then; could it have been just magic? Maybe, it was the utter happiness, cloud of love and youth, having no responsibilities and living in a simpler, easier time.

There were no bomb threats or terrorist attacks back then, now our children and grandchildren live in constant fear and uncertainty. I’m glad Hank isn’t alive to see all of this.  The Boston Marathon this past week put people back, straight back to 9/11, this terror spares no one, no place, no time. How hard, how scary it to live actively in today’s world. I fear for my children and my grandchildren. I have lived a long, life, and for that alone, I am happy to be old. If I died tonight there would be no regrets.  Sitting in my room, rocking in my chair, smiling at the pretty white flowers, visits from my children and grandchildren, sleeping and a good meal is all I ask for and all that I want. I don’t envy the youth of today, in fact, I feel quite sad for them.

Technology's Impact on Families: Depends Who You Ask!

iPhone 4 Bumper + Universal Dock w/ DIY Adapter

According to my mother (my teenagers’ grandmother) you would think that society and civilization are quickly burning up with raging orange and red flames of fire because of two second text messages. That said, it is a new generation and technology obviously has changed interaction within families and in the general public.

In my generation we spent all our free time on the phone. I remember walking back and forth from the kitchen to the living room with the long, dirty, coiled, yellow stretchy phone cord to talk to my friends from school who I had just seen hours before. This was way before call-waiting too.

Then there was e-mail and even us parents could pretty much keep up with that as well as the older generation. But now? My children text obsessively on their multi-faceted phones and we have to force them to turn them off while we are eating (which sometimes they do and sometimes they pretend to do.) On a weekend away with the entire family our mother could not believe that the first thing her four grandchildren did was check their phones and Facebook. She was disgusted and distraught and my sister and I (and husbands) were used to it. Our mother took it as a personal affront.

Things change, people change, as parents we get used to things; we have no choice but it is helpful to set limits. The older generation think we have all lost our collective parental minds. In defense of my children they can keep up a great conversation at any time, they do well in school and we have adjusted. That’s what parenting is all about, you need to change with your children and with the times and set some boundaries. Is it easy? Not always. Will it make your children unable to have a reasonable conversation over a family dinner? No. Honestly, if I could figure out how to use one of those fancy phones I would own one myself. I have a simple, made for dummies phone and if I am lucky, I can actually call someone or pick up and scream “hello?” and hear a response. I consider that, for me, a success.

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