Growing up in a small town and a very close community of families taught me many things about life. As a child, I remember having the same routine for many years and unknowingly felt comfortable because of the routine. No worries would have been my mantra. I could count on dinner on the table by six because Walter Cronkite’s voice on TV meant it was time to eat. I knew when my grandfather shined his shoes, he was going into town the next day and we could watch cartoons, Soul Train and Lawrence Welk because it was Saturday. On Sunday mornings when the God awful organ music on the radio started to play, my grandmother demanded silence as the obituaries were being announced on the radio. For the longest time things did not change. People around me did not change as well.
As children, my brothers and I enjoyed the pleasures of riding our bikes, creating adventures in the woods, using our imaginations to the fullest and getting into trouble occasionally because we tested adults to see what we could get away with, but usually never did. If we visited a relative or some adult family friends, the fear of God was put into us and the following rules always applied; say yes ma’am and yes sir or no ma’am or no sir, please and thank you. Do not ask for anything and by all means be seen and not heard. Good rules for adults, confining ones for children. Nevertheless, we tried our best of be perfect children when in the presence of adults. When we were not with our parents, the threat of punishment was doubled because any bad conduct did by one of us in the presence of another adult meant twice the reprimand. The adult would correct us and tell on us and in turn our parents would correct us. Usually the first warning was oral i.e., I am telling your mama! The second one was corporal. No need to explain the rest of what happens. Rest assured my brothers and I knew our place in the grown up world. While we knew adults loved us and provided for us, we also knew they were to be respected.
Adults knew their roles in the presence of children as well. I remember sitting in the kitchens of grandmothers, aunties and family friends listening to their stories about random topics like cooking, sewing or the news of the day. They usually labored and conversed at the same time. Preparing a meal or canning vegetables they often gave me a chore to do and I was always glad to do it until I got bigger and the chore as well. They made it a point to explain how things were done. They were very patient, wise and loving. When there was something I was not supposed to hear or know I was sent out of the room. “Go play outside” meant the gossip was getting good. I hated to leave.
The men folk were equally blessed with patience, wisdom and love. They offered advice and a helping hand to us often, but they were more likely to let us learn the hard way. When we did learn the hard way, we paid close attention to our mistakes because grandpas, uncles and family friends weren’t into bailing us out of trouble so much as they were allowing us to learn from our trouble. Tough love with a soft edge.
Adult logic seemed not to make sense to me when I was a child until I became an adult and life experiences warranted some wisdom and understanding I was so thankful I was armed with to help me. I may have acted like I was not listening or I did not care, but back in my head I stored the treasures of conversations, scoldings, and I told you so.
IT TAKES A VILLAGE TO RAISE A CHILD
My network of village people, my parents, my grandparents, my aunties, uncles, cousins, neighbors and family friends all performed their roles to perfection. Leaving a legacy of unconditional love, conventional wisdom and all the tools to survive in this world, they are truly a blessing to me. I hope and pray I am a blessing to my family and young adults I meet on my path.
You have a responsibility to your village children, whether they are in your own family or youngsters on your path. Do not be afraid to step up because the fear of not stepping up is even greater! The enemies of innocent youth have had their ways long enough.
1 Timothy4:12- Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity. (Please feel free to share this scripture with a young person)