Tag: childhood

Every Child is an Artist


💫  “Every child is an artist until they are told they are not.” I read that quote by John Lennon and wasn’t sure that I agreed with it. I yanked back into existence memories of my childhood that had long ago faded away, and I distinctly remember wanting to be an artist, to draw the cartoon characters in my comic books. And I remember the moment of reckoning when I realized I did not possess that special talent: I was on the floor in my bedroom with my drawings of Bugs Bunny, Elmer Fudd, and Yosemite Sam spread everywhere. I never showed my drawings to my brother, parents, or friends. It was easily discernable that they weren’t good 

As a young boy, I had a grand collection of comic books, almost as tall as I was, and I took excellent care of them. My attempts to recreate the characters within and put my own words into their mouths failed dismally. No one had to tell me I was a terrible artist. I knew it, so I abandoned my desire to become one. When I was a kid, adults did not heap praise on a failed effort. If you weren’t good at what you were attempting to do, you would be told, and it wouldn’t be done politely.

Sigmund Freud (the id, ego, & superego) gave us a lot to think about, but it led us down the path to thinking we had to always encourage our children by telling them they were great at whatever they were attempting to do. My mother and father never succumbed to that tenet, and I didn’t with my two children. If my brother or I came home with poor grades, it usually ended up with a whipping. Those same rules applied to my children.

My son and his wife (JoAnn) have three daughters. I remember him telling me when they were three/four years old that they were going to raise them without spankings. I applauded their efforts but secretly believed they would fail. I was wrong. Three wonderful adult granddaughters are what I have now. I am unaware of how they feel about it: was the replacement punishment worse? My dad only spanked me (whipped) twice as a kid, but in its place, he would get mad at us and stay mad for weeks. Mom would whip my brother and me, and that was the punishment. After a good night’s sleep, she was back in love with us again. I was grateful for that. But my father withholding his love from his children for 3-4 weeks, to me, was unconscionable. I promised never to do that to my children.

Neither of my two children have expressed to me their opinion on how their mother (deceased) and I raised them. I don’t know why I would expect them to. I never told my father how much I disliked his punishment for my brother and me. Florence Nightingale said it well, “How very little can be done under the spirit of fear.” Flo may be on to something.

💫 I read recently that you form your first permanent memories around age four, and I agree with that. But I believe I can go back earlier. I can recall my mother nursing my brother, who was fifteen months younger than me. That is quite a bit younger than four. Science has yet to figure out how we store memories. The human brain is the least understood part of our body. When things start to go wrong with it, the psychiatrist chosen to correct the problem seems to guess. I have a close family member that needed their help, and it consisted mostly of being doped up all the time and walking around in a haze. The medicine had side effects, and they were required to take other medicines to counteract the side effects.

I believe we need a psychiatrist/psychologist, but we must monitor what they do closely. They will never say you are well, and the bills will just keep on coming. I know I cannot control the involuntary part of my brain, but I’m guilty of believing I can control the conscious part of it. I know I can control what I choose to think about, and if any unwanted thoughts creep in, I can toss them aside. What I can’t control is what I dream about, but I have tried to have only good thoughts before I drop off to sleep. Sometimes that works, and other times it doesn’t. Often, I get up in the middle of the night to follow the obligatory bathroom adventure, go back to bed, and resume the dream I had before waking up. I’m still trying to figure that one out.

Here’s my plan; My mother used to sing to my brother and me as youngsters before we dropped off to sleep, and I never had a bad dream when that happened. I am going to attempt to persuade my wife to do the same as an experiment and see if it holds true with her. I’m not sure she will do it because I take much longer to go to sleep now 😊.  John Rockwell said, “There are times in life when nothing happens but in quietness the soul expands.”  That seems like something I should try.          

💫 There are stories I tell myself about myself. You’re probably wondering why I need to do that since I already know the story, but that’s not entirely true. I have to tell myself the story to focus my mind and force it to recall whatever it is I want to remember. True, sometimes things from the past will just pop into my mind, but that’s always at the mercy of something triggering the thought/thoughts. Recall that in the previous paragraph, I told you about my mother singing to my brother and me before we dropped off to sleep. That memory came alive because I forced myself to recall it. As I was telling the story to myself and you, the memories came rolling in. I often tell stories from my past at our dinner table, and I’m quite confident that my wife and our two constant dinner companions (Nancy & Richard), tire of hearing them. My tales from my youth are meant to entertain them, but I must admit, they also entertain me. I try not to repeat my favorite ones, but I’m sure I do. My mind is not as agile as it was, and so family and friends are forced to endure my musings. I doubt my wife and dinner buddies have noticed, but I have an alter ego, and I have given him a name. I will tell you, but you have to promise not to tell anyone else. My alter ego is aptly named “Fat Boy.” This fellow is nested as far down inside me as I can stuff him, but he’s always fighting to get out. He puts up his most fierce battles when I’m looking at the dinner menu or gazing out over the dessert table. Buffets bring out the beast in my alter ego, and he enjoys dancing on my shoulder as he encourages me to put some of everything on my plate. Before I go to bed, he sometimes tries to force me to get a handful of the peanut butter-filled pretzels my wife has stored in the drawer beside my coffee container. I’m always aware that “Fat Boy” is fighting for survival, but I also know that his survival is not good for my survival. Like everyone else addicted to calories, I’m looking for the “silver bullet” that will put an untimely end to his existence. Every time I approach our scale to weigh myself, I can hear it screaming, “go away Fat Boy.” Oops, even the scale knows the name of my alter ego! I have to get rid of it and buy one that doesn’t know my alter ego’s name. Stephan Sagmeister said, “Everybody who is honest is interesting.” I sure hope that’s true. If not, I’m a really boring guy 😊.    

Lets Go Get An Egg…by Larry

This story is from the Spring of 1961 at Hiwassee Junior College in Madisonville, Tennessee.

“Some memories just won’t let go at all. Every time I hear or see a chicken, I think not necessarily of eggs, even though I am pretty fond of them: fried, boiled, poached, scrambled, deviled, pickled, dyed – it doesn’t make any difference.” Grundy Coach Frank Spraker said this as well, so I’m in good company.

Also, I have several dozen egg and chicken jokes that I’ve gathered from the barnyard of my life if you’ll eggscuse the eggsaggeration.

Of course, everyone has an answer for why the chicken crossed the road – to get to the other side or to prove to the possum that it can be done (probably the most popular).

But why did the chicken cross the playground…? To get to the other slide…! You knew this, I bet!

Or why did the chicken only go halfway across the road? She wanted to lay it on the line.
He-he-he. Cluck! Cluck!

If you’re not eggsasperated yet, let me cut to the chase and tell you about an incident during the Spring Quarter at Hiwassee in 1961. One of the guys (John was his first name, and I think his last name was Townsend…no way of checking since I’m sure that John dropped out of school to get a job).
John lived in the room right next to Willard Owens and myself, and he was BIG on breakfast. Nearly every morning, he would knock on our door shortly after daylight and say:
“Let’s go get an egg boys! Let’s go get an egg!”

For at least a month or two, both Willard and myself were awakened at the crack of dawn by Rooster John with about three lusty crows of, “Let’s go get an egg! Let’s go get an egg! Let’s go get an egg!”

And really, it was starting to get a little tiresome. Especially those nights when we’d played Rook or Hearts ’til after midnight, or even those rare occasions we studied ’til midnight or later.

So, it wasn’t much of a surprise when Willard told me what he’d done one night after John had left our room about midnight to go to his room next door. Willard told me he had conspired with John’s roommate to change his alarm clock setting from seven o’clock to one o’clock. John’s roommate told Willard that John always just pushed the “set” button before getting in bed since he “always” got up at the same time…. seven o’clock…

“And he’s always wanting breakfast at the ‘Crack of dawn’!” Denny, his roommate, said.

Willard and I were dozing off with our clothes on when we heard the faint sound of John’s alarm clock coming through the concrete walls. A short while later, we were ready (but made a show of primping) when John and his roommate came by, and John cackled…
“Let’s go get an egg! Let’s go get an egg boys!”
And across the Hiwassee campus we went.

Rooster John is in search of an egg & all the fixins. Meanwhile, the three others were intent on pulling off a prank.

Out the back door . . . across the parking lot . . . past the Library . . . past the old gym . . . and right up to the front door of the dining hall . . . and not a soul in sight!

But that didn’t stop Rooster John from placing his face against the glass when we arrived at the silent and closed Dining Hall shortly after 1:00 in the coolish March air.

John was searching up and down the dining hall for any kind of movement.
“Hey, John! What does that clock on the wall say?” Willard asked with a muffled chuckle.

“Dang boys!” John said, “Somebody’s clock is lyin’…
And there ain’t no sausage fryin’. Let’s go back to bed!”

So, back across the still silent campus we went – kind of afraid to mention to John that it was all a joke. (Perhaps on us more than John.)
All of us slept in that morning, and several weeks passed before Rooster John knocked on our door with:
“Let’s Go Get An Egg Boys!”

John dropped out of school after that semester, and rumor had it that he returned home to Townsend, Tennessee, to take a full-time job serving breakfast all day long at a Waffle House. Shucks! He may have even been the originator of that chain of my eateries… Waffle & Egg.

O, what I wouldn’t give to go back and make that walk and hear those six words just one more time:
“Let’s Go Get An Egg Boys!”
And hear Willard say one more time:
“Good night Roomy!”

But Hiwassee has closed its doors. Hard to believe with all of the new buildings and modernization. Just thinking that we only had one phone in Bruner Hall at the time & it was a Rotary on the wall on the 2nd Floor. It was rarely used, for we were too busy playing games and pranks.

And the roads are paved now also, but no school at the road’s end.
Back then, it was two miles from town along a dusty dirt road & when we got to school, we took a winding path up through a cemetery.

I know several Harman boys that really enjoyed our time there. We thought those days would never end.

Grandparents – Relic From The Past

             Grandparents – Relics From The Past  

⚽ I read recently that grandchildren see grandparents as a relic from the past.  I certainly hope that is not true.  Being a grandparent with great-grandchildren, I was surely taken aback by that statement.  I have what I consider a healthy relationship with my grandchildren, and they have never given me the impression that I am a “relic from the past”.  Just the opposite, they have always conveyed to me the feeling that I am a relevant part of their lives and they love me very much.  As all grandparents know, watching grandchildren mature into adulthood brings a lot of satisfaction and deep affection.  I never recall conveying to my grandparent that they were not a vital part of my life, just the opposite, I tried always to let them know they played a vital role in the adult I had become and that I always looked to them for guidance in how I reacted to the ups and downs life placed in my path.  The most important thing they taught me was that religion should be firmly entrenched in my core values and should be a guiding light on how I treated the people I encountered during my travels on this wonderful planet.  I closely watched how my grandfather Hale handled life’s many obstacles and was always impressed by his calm demeanor and trust in God to help him thru difficult situations.  I never recall thinking of him as “old”, but wise.  He and grandma had six children, two of which are still alive (ages 96 & 91), and 17 grandchildren.  Each of us went to him when we had a problem that needed solving. When he passed away in the early 1970s, each of us knew we had lost a major player in our life.   Nope, I don’t believe grandparents are relics.  I am more inclined to believe English Poet, Charles Lamb, “Here cometh April again and as far as I can see the world hath more fools in it than ever”😊.

⚽  I’ve been thinking about going a week without making any negative comments.  Now, I know that will be a difficult thing for me to do, but I think it’s important to try.  I have never thought of myself as a negative person, but I’m beginning to have self-doubts.  What brought this on was a couple of weeks ago my wife and I were having a disagreement and she said to me, “Sometimes you make me feel stupid”.  My heart stopped for a moment, as if I’d dropped a piece of her fine china.  Was I really that type of person, one that could make the most important person in my life feel that way?  Did I make other people feel the same way?  Do I value my opinion more than someone else’s? 

I’ve given this a lot of thought since that happened, and I believe I need to try to be a better person, to listen more attentively, and be more appreciative of the needs of others.  I have concluded that I need to be a treasure trove of happy feelings, focusing on being energetic and always remember; do good, feel good.  I believe that people that reminisce have happy feelings, so I’m gonna try to do that more often.  I’m hoping that by being happier I’ll be less inclined to be critical.  As Abraham Lincoln said, “Most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be”.  I can ride that horse 😊.        

⚽  There is a theory floating around that what you enjoyed doing when you were 10 years old is something you would enjoy doing today.  I don’t think so!  As a 10-year-old I was pushing a bike rim with a stick as fast as I could, pretending I was racing someone.  I also played dodge ball, Pick-Up-Sticks, Jax Rocks, Chinese Checkers, and various other games for days on end, but I haven’t revisited those games in more than 60 years.  About the only thing I can think of that carried forward into adulthood, and is still with me today, is the enjoyment I get from human contact.  Even as a young lad I enjoyed the company of others, often preferring that to being alone.  Today, as a retired person, I spend a lot of time with just me and my lovely wife.  But I kinda suspect that’s what happens when you get old.  We do visit family and friends often, but most of the time we are here at home alone, doing chores and taking walks.  Since early March we have practiced the social distancing recommended by the CDC because of the COVID-19.  It looks as though this will continue for quite a while.  We were totally unprepared for this pandemic and that is very disturbing.  Our hope now is that scientists will develop a vaccine and a drug to treat those that already have it.  I fault our leaders for their lack of foresight and believe history will judge them harshly.  I suspect that we will come out of this situation with 90% of our normal life restored.  How could it ever get back to normal after something like this?  Even though I worry a lot about our current situation with the coronavirus, I am more worried about something, if it does occur, will be more worrisome.  That concern is about climate change and the lack of our concern about it.  You see, when we get to a certain point in the pollution of our air and water, we no longer have the option of correcting it. 

How can we, as logical human beings, convince ourselves that we can take a trillion barrels of oil, vaporize it into our atmosphere, and expect that it will do little damage to our existence?

In February 1985, I was sitting at my desk at the office, the phone rang, and it was my ex-wife, yelling that the house was filled with smoke.  She had started a fire in the fireplace and failed to open the draft, so the smoke couldn’t escape up the chimney and spilled out into our home.  I jumped in the car and sped home to correct the situation, opened the doors and windows, and turned on the overhead fan.  Within 45 minutes, the smoke was gone and life got back to normal.

The point is, when our world is filled with a carbon induced haze and a vent that will allow it to be removed cannot be found, it will be too late to do anything constructive to resolve the problem.  We should not lose our focus on this approaching disaster.  Some people in our government tend to ignore the data and believe there is no such thing as “Global Warming”.  Here is the definition of Climate Change:

Climate change occurs when changes in Earth’s climate system results in new weather patterns that remain in place for an extended period of time.  This length of time can be as short as a few decades and as long as millions of years.  Scientists have identified many episodes of climate change during Earth’s geological history and more recently, since the industrial revolution, the climate has increasingly been affected by human activities and driving global warming. The terms are commonly used interchangeably.

Ok, time to get off the soap box and wrap this up.  Right now, there are approximately 8 billion humans on earth and by 2050 there will be 10 billion of us.  At some point in human existence a decision will be made to limit the pollution of our environment and hope things get better.  Wanna bet what they will think of our spendthrift ways?

The Dalai Lama said, “If you think you’re too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito in the room” 

We can all make a difference!


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