“If you’re in the wrong place, the right things don’t happen.”
— Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, 1942
There are some things we are given absolutely no choice over in this life. We are born in to a certain place and time, we arrive with parents and family members already in place, and life begins for each individual with these unique characteristics already established.
As I grow older, I realize how blessed those of us have been who arrived in to this world surrounded by good, solid family, a family who welcomed us and treated us with loving kindness.
Just yesterday, I ran in to an old friend whose father had been a childhood friend of my father. They shared a long and happy history together, and when we were children we had the fun of playing together while the grown-ups played cards and shared stories.
We drank Kool-Aid and munched on popcorn, played tag and hide-and-seek, and we knew not to intrude on the adults or interrupt them unless there was a true emergency.
We talked about how innocent we all were, as our parents protected us from what they considered adult worries, never burdening us with what likely had to have been challenging them at any given time. We never saw our parents engage in bickering or anything even close to it.
“They let us be kids,” Mark said, and that pretty much says it all.
His wife, Deb, who teaches at a nearby elementary school, said her young students in today’s world have worries way beyond that which they should even have to have knowledge.
They speak of a parent incarcerated, a father moving out, a boyfriend moving in. There are tears and there are obvious manifestations of all sorts of trauma and drama in these children’s’ lives.
Why have adults lost the ability to realize their children need to be protected from a harsh world?
We were so protected that our father would find us other chores to do when the artificial inseminator came to our dairy farm. For the longest time, I had no idea why Mr. Leiter came so often. “Is he a veterinarian?” I once asked my father. “In a way, he is. Just remember that when he is here, he has work to do, and you are not to bother him.” I, of course, did as I was told, and I did not argue or inquire further.
As the years rolled on, we continued to work together as a family, and to play with the kids of our parents’ friends when we had free time. We went to church together, we worked together, and we played together. We were always busy, but I don’t remember feeling stressed as so many kids today seem to be.
My father worked hard to provide us with a place where we could all work together. He put in a nice pond when I was still very young, and we enjoyed so many good times together swimming and picnicking there as a family when the work was all done.
Never did a meal taste better than hot dogs cooked over an open fire after a long day of hard work which included anything from baling hay, milking cows, fixing fence, bucket-breaking young calves, clearing rocks from a field.
When bedtime came, I remember being bone tired and grateful for that pillow. We didn’t argue or ask if we could stay up later, because we knew in the early morning hours, our busy day would start all over again. Together.
Where along the way did we lose this stability? Why and how have we squandered our innocence, placing children in a grown-up world? We have, as a society, put far too many children in the wrong place, where the right things are not going to happen.