“Never pass up a good opportunity to shut up.”
— Will Rogers
Tomes of writing have been published on opinions, philosophies, old-fashioned ways of accomplishing all sorts of things, as well as “New Age” thinking on how to manipulate others to see things your way.
Not enough is said these days about following good, old simple advice that sometimes it is far better to just be still.
Recently, I was with a family in which the young children simply ran the entire show. The day was filled with “watch me!” and “wait till you hear this!” until my head was reverberating with the endless noise. It seems that has become the way of the world, and I can’t quite figure out where along the way this shift took control.
It certainly didn’t happen during my childhood. “No unnecessary noise” was the credo established by my father. We would be punished mightily if we screamed. Screaming was done for sport and not for near-death experiences.
There was no senseless chattering when we gathered around the round table for meals, but because we had been out in the barns and fields working just as hard as our father had been, we didn’t have pent-up energy to burn, so this was simply never much of an issue.
We ate what was offered, gladly. We had worked up an appetite. We didn’t whine and complain and treat our mother as if she was our short-order cook.
I shudder to consider the consequences if one of us had ever tried that little trick.
Recently, while baby-sitting some wonderfully sweet, well-behaved children, I was mortified when two of the children refused to eat the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches I had fixed for them at their request.
Why? Because I had sliced the sandwich straight down the middle. They preferred — no, make that demanded — their sandwiches to be sliced on an angle. What has happened?
Where along the way did children take over, telling us how everything is going to be? I have to think that part of this has been brought in to our lives because of the changes in television.
I was raised on very little TV time, and the little viewing that we did included pretty much the entire family. We watched the good old westerns, of course, but we enjoyed light-hearted comedy as much as anything. We laughed together at the silly skits of Red Skelton, and later in my childhood this was replaced with The Carol Burnett Show.
Even then, much of this comedy was of the silent sort. A raised eyebrow, a silent pause, could cause us great gales of laughter. I especially remember one skit in which a man walked across newly-installed white carpeting in muddy shoes which brought my quiet father to the kind of belly laugh that caused tears to roll.
Harmless, silly, clean humor brought us together with incredible joy.
Children sort of began taking over in the Hollywood arena, and when the powers that be realized this was a money-making venture, it became an empire of its own.
Just try, if you can, to watch five minutes of some of the Disney Channel’s kids’ shows, and you will see sassy, demanding, egotistical kids. These are children who are dressed up like miniature adults, fluffed up with Hollywood hair and make-up, and they chatter endlessly about themselves, their agenda, their demands.
The children across the country watching this have mirrored bits and pieces of this type of behavior and it is apparently working for them. It sounds so trite to say that we would love to bring back the good old days, but this is one segment of our society that could truly benefit from the way it used to be.
How could we possibly turn back time? Maybe it starts with turning off the television.
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