There were times when waiting was necessary but such waiting did not result in my being psychologically damaged. Air conditioning was a fan in the window and, amazingly, we somehow managed with only one television. My father largely dictated what we watched but Saturday morning was my time and I took full advantage of it. Growing up all I ever wanted was to live in a similar home. Now, my dreams have expanded but I sometimes wish that I could bring myself to want nothing greater than what I grew up with. There was a beauty in the simplicity of it all.
Growing up as essentially an only child I was expected to help out around the house considerably. Both of my parents were severe taskmasters who did not tolerate excuses or prolonged explanations. They only wanted to know how and why something did not get done. My tasks were not difficult ones, helping with the dishes, taking out the garbage, and walking the dog were typical of what was expected but I was expected to do them and to do them without being reminded. Being reminded was the same as not doing them so there was no advantage in procrastination. Unfortunately, this pattern has not carried over to my adult life but I still can hear both of my parents preaching to me the values of responsibility and timeliness. I still carry the guilt.
Being only recently married and still childless, I have thought very little about the values from my own childhood that I would like to instill in my own children. I strongly believe that my parents were wonderful and that I never felt unloved or unwanted at any point in my childhood. They made me feel like I had value and that I was capable of doing whatever it was I wanted to do in life. I guess, reflecting upon it now, that I hope that I can instill the same feelings in my own children. I hope I can make them realize the value of family, hard work, and honesty. My parents never had any great dreams of accomplishing anything other than to live by the values that they had been taught by their parents and, I guess, that is all that I want for my children as well.
As comfortable as I was growing up in the home with my parents, I was never comfortable growing up in the small town atmosphere that my home town provided. From the time that I first began going to school and learning about things outside my hometown I wanted to experience life somewhere different. It did not matter where this somewhere different was. I just wanted to be there. My hometown seemed so small, so limiting and I wanted to be part of the larger picture and not stuck knowing the few square miles that represented my home town. I wanted to be able to see movies when they first came out and not months later. I wanted to eat at nice restaurants and not the local diner. I wanted to experience the hustle and bustle of the big city and not the quiet sameness of my little town. These desires inspired me to read constantly as a young child but they also caused me to dream of a life beyond the confines of my comfortable home. Neither of my parents ever understood this desire but, to their credit, they never discouraged me either. I believe that they wished that I could be comfortable in my home town but they always encouraged me to follow my heart.
School for me served as my gateway to the rest of the world. My parents lacked the resources for us to vacation anywhere beyond the confines of my grandparent's lake cottage and, therefore, what I knew of the world came from school and what I managed to read on my own. The rest of the world seemed to be so exciting and full of new experiences and I soaked up as much information from my teachers and what they had to teach me about the world outside my home town. From the first grade on I excelled in school because I viewed it as my way to the big city. Interestingly, seemingly everyone else in my class of 60 students felt the same way I did about living in our small town. From junior high on that is about all anyone talked about. The only difference in the conversation...
Some chose college, some chose the service, while the more adventurous and less directed, just said they would just pack it up and go. As a result, high school graduation was a true ending of my childhood and the beginning of my adulthood. To date, I have seen very few of the kids I grew up with since graduation day. They have seemingly spread out in every direction and returning home has not been a priority for most of them.
Despite my intense desire to leave the confines of my home town, I have to admit that I learned valuable and lasting lessons from the experience. My teachers were dedicated and sincere individuals who instilled in me not only a love for learning but also an appreciation for the process and not just what it could do for me in my career. My teachers did not teach me with an eye for what jobs it would ultimately make me eligible for but with a focus on my being educated. They taught me that the process of learning and becoming educated had value in itself and that becoming a teacher, doctor, or lawyer was just a by-product of education. My teachers taught the whole person and not just the writer, mathematician, or scientist within us. I think they believed that would all come later but, in the meantime, they were entrusted with the responsibility of making us think and make responsible decision. In this regard, at least as to me, I believe they were remarkably successful. Deciding what I wanted to do with my life took some time but I never lacked the confidence that I could do whatever I wanted and that I had the tools necessary thanks to the small group of dedicated teachers in my home town.
High school, without a doubt, was a wonderful time for me. It marked the home stretch in my goal to escape the clutches of my home town and it was my first real experience with personal freedom. For the first time I was being afforded new opportunities outside the house to socialize with my friends and I was being exposed to new subjects in school that offered me new challenges that were not available in grade school. I was beginning to feel grown up and my dreams of moving to the big city became even larger in scope. Now, I not only thought of getting away I also thought of the various things that I could do once I arrived wherever it was that I was heading. High school was the last level of preparation for what I felt I was destined to do ever since I was a little girl and I was determined not to waste a minute of it. I became involved in every activity that the school offered while remaining determined to receive the highest grades possible. I was resolved that I would not be denied the opportunity to attend college based on my grades and I knew that my parents would not be in a position to provide me with much financial support. Getting a scholarship of some form was my only chance so my every effort was directed toward that goal. Unfortunately, the dream that I had relished since I was a small child confronted a large obstacle as I neared my high school graduation. Although I had performed well in my high school being from a small town proved to again be a problem (U.S. News and World Report, 2011). Even though my high school grades were exceptional and I had participated in a variety of extracurricular activities, yet, the larger universities were not impressed. It seems that the fact that I had attended such a small school in a remote town worked to my disadvantage. I found myself staring into an unknown future with few doors being opened to me. The lifelong dream appeared to be over and my destiny appeared to be a life similar to my mother's. Needless to say, I was greatly disappointed and disillusioned and I remained so for several weeks. During this time my parents said very little about the subject and applied no pressure on me to make any decisions of any kind. They were aware of what I was experiencing but, in their wisdom, they also realized that it was something that I had to determine for…
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