I learned this philosophy from my grandmother and had it reinforced by my parents. I grew up in a household that figured if they kept us fed, adequately clothed, got us to school on time and indulged us with a few special gifts once in a while they’d done their parental duties by us.
Whatever I lacked – though I wasn’t aware that I lacked much of anything – I more than compensated for in my freedom to roam. None of my six grandchildren have the same freedom to just take off and explore the communities in which they live. Some of that is due to the difference between where I grew up and where they are.
I grew up in an old, well-established Cleveland suburb with sidewalks and public transportation that took me anywhere I cared to go. Between my bike and the bus I had a lot of geography to explore. My grandchildren live in suburbs of other cities where sidewalks don’t really lead anywhere, bus options are limited and require a car to get to them, and bike riding means competing with cars zooming past with little awareness or regard for kids on bikes.
It was a different era. Some of it was superior to today’s world; some not. One significant difference seems to be the attitudes about what parents “owe” their children beyond birthing them and providing for their basic creature comforts.
The adults around me in my childhood didn’t seem all that interested in my self-esteem or emotional temperature. Sure there were times when I wished they’d been more in tune with my childhood angst. Now that I am older (definitely) and wiser (hopefully at least a little bit) I can affirm their wisdom in not overly focusing on each passing emotional episode of my childhood. Most of those childhood traumas have shrunk to vague recollections.
I am grateful to have grown to adulthood in a world that provided me freedom of movement. I long for a world in which all children know that kind of security and freedom from basic want.
We did a lot of making do or doing without in those days. I think it did me a world of good. I have fond memories of time spent with grandparents. They indulged me by listening to my singing, fixing favorite foods, and reading to me. My treasure chest is full of memories of time together. That’s what I hope my grandchildren will remember about me.
“. . . for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances..” (Phil. 4:11)