During a conversation with one of my adult children, she was telling me how easy it was for me to raise kids of her generation because we could beat them.
My response to that was “When did I ever beat you?”
“Well, Mom, you never did,” she said, “but we all knew you could, and you would if we ever crossed the line.”
The test was where the line was drawn. She is sure that today all kids have the phone number of Social Services passed out to them on the first day of school.
Years ago, one day as my neighbor and I were having coffee in my kitchen, my son walked in the house. I excused myself and had a little talk with him in the hall.
I reminded him it was Thursday. I reminded him his father had given him a task to do that week and that Dad would be home on Friday. I reminded him that he had a Boy Scout activity that weekend that he would not be attending if the task was not done.
I also told him that if his father was going to be in a bad mood all weekend, I would not be taking the brunt of it all by myself, as he would be the cause of the anger. He was going to share it.
What was the remedy? He could “bloody well” (the English in me comes out at times) get the task done.
Did he understand? Did I need to repeat any of that?
Then I quietly returned to the kitchen and refilled our coffee cups.
My neighbor was in shock.
“Margaret, you were so harsh with him,” she said. I reminded her he was a teenager and at times harsh was the only thing he understood, along with the consequences.
Her concern was that he might hit me. At this point, I was sorry that I wasn’t with my wine-drinking friend, as it would have made the conversation so much easier.
“Hit me? You have to be kidding. He would never hit me,” I said.
She reminded me he was over six feet tall and a full head taller than me. I told her we had had that conversation years ago.
One day when he was six or so, he had the bright idea to push me. It didn’t knock me down, but if he had put a little more effort into it, it would have.
We had a discussion about how that was not the best way to settle our differences. You see, I might not look all that smart, but I knew he would grow. I was always going to be the mom, and he was always going to be the kid.
I told him that the day he left home and was on his own he could do whatever the law allowed.
But as long as he was in my house, I made the rules, and the first rule was that you never, ever hit your mother.
That goes for any other member of the family.
I was looking out for everyone.
That rule was never broken. I think it had a lot to do with how that daughter looked at things also.
You don’t mess with Mom.
Sometimes it doesn’t hurt to have a little fear of what could happen.
Margaret Griffin has lived in Sun City Hilton Head for 17 years.