The Proof is in the Pudding

Willie Bays

Besides the enjoyment of having ‘honorary grandchildren’ visit every summer, their being here is a chance for me to stay in touch (at least a little bit) with the current world of parenting.  I’ve been out of the elementary classroom for sixteen years now and so my knowledge of kids and parents is more-or-less from afar.  Having the Bays family here is a rare opportunity, albeit of limited duration, to see how things have changed – both since I was teaching and the far greater ‘since’ when Marta and Charlie were still under my roof.

Owen Bays

I think that I raised my own children in much the same manner as I was brought up.  I look back on my ‘parenting’ (a word I don’t remember as part of the lexicon) as a rather passive position.  Kids simply grew up.  The adults of the household were responsible for feeding, clothing, and looking out for matters of health and safety.  The ‘terrible twos’ and ‘those teenaged years’ were times to pay close attention and there was a lot of

Marta LaRue

sympathetic sighing on the part of other parents.  Otherwise… not many worries.

We didn’t really worry about their education; that was the teacher’s job.  If we didn’t think the teacher was quite up to snuff, we might try to supplement a bit at home or (rarely) arrange for a parent/teacher/kid conference.  Otherwise, there was a separation between home and school – even though both the adults in our home were teachers.

Nor did we concern ourselves much about socialization.  That just “happened.”  In our case, we purposely moved into a neighborhood that had a diverse population and then we let the natural course of playing with “the kids next door” take care of itself.  Neither Marta nor Charlie were particularly interested in joining things.  Charlie tried cub scouts and found it too boring for words.  Marta joined a dancing class but found that she would rather be with her school or neighborhood friends.

Charlie Howell

And, our answer to “media concerns” was that we didn’t get a television until about the time that teachers began requiring kids to watch certain shows for homework.  I think that was when Charlie was in fourth or fifth grade and, by then, both he and Marta had plenty of other interests besides being glued to the tube.  I’m pretty sure that wasn’t a life-stunting decision on our part.  After all, Charlie’s career was as a writer for Saturday Morning television cartoons – an award-winning career at that.  And Marta was a musician and performer – a doer rather than a watcher.

Every visit with the Bays brothers and their folks is an eye-opener.  I really wish that I had been as involved and as aware as a parent.  On the other hand… Marta and Charlie turned out just great.  And, as they say, the proof is in the pudding!

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