Search This Blog

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Good, Very Good Old Days

In matters of discipline and values, I simply cannot imagine a better training than in the good old days. Call me old-fashioned (or just old) but I'll stick to my guns even if Dick Cheney threatens to waterboard me. Granted, many aspects of life in the 40's and 50's are considered unhealthy today and with reason. Smoking was in vogue, eating red meat tainted with banned insecticides was common for those who could afford it every day, polluting the atmosphere was not even in the vocabulary, abusive parents and priests went unpunished, the welfare safety net didn't work properly, excessive amounts of lead in the water endangered our lives, and, worst of all, we lived under constant threat of an atomic holocaust.

However, my parents taught me to be thrifty, to polish my shoes every day, to eat everything in my plate even if I didn't like it, to obey and respect my elders, to be honest - even brutally honest, to be tough in the face of adversity, to wash my hands before every meal, and especially to work hard, very hard. As survivors of the GD (Great Depression) and the rationing of the second world war, my mother and father knew very well the value of a penny saved after earning it with sweat and tears. I went to school either walking or on a bicycle, rain, shine, or snow. Both my parents occasionally slapped and/or spanked me when I deserved it and I thought at the time that it was perfectly O.K.

So when I travelled alone to America at the bottom of the Queen Elizabeth transatlantic and reached the tough shores of New York with $200 in my unpressed pants, I felt some trepidation of course but without losing the faith that I could survive in this strange land of skyscrapers (my first). I spoke some English which got me to the bus station and my next destination: Los Angeles. The year was 1959 and the Civil Rights movement had not fully developed yet. The lady who rented my first apartment made sure I was the right color before admitting that she had a vacancy. Of course, I had never seen a Black man or woman except in magazines and Hollywood movies. And wouldn't you know it, my first friends were precisely African-American, a married couple who were extremely helpful in my adaptation process.

Growing up without television was also a blessing, as I was "forced" to create my own "mental shows" through the numerous books I devoured as a child and a teen. Try telling your child that he/she can only watch 1 hour a day. "Mutiny on the Bounty" is nothing compared to wails of despair you'll have to endure. Video games? 1 hour a day, after homework, and I APPROVE THEM BEFORE YOU PLAY. Does this sound like a revolution in the making and you are the king and queen about to face the guillotine? But remember, you have the power: use it, with love and care. The rebellion will soon subside and peace will return. Their grades will improve and their future will shine more brightly. Isn't it worth it?

No comments: