My Parents Were Tough

I have not always worked for the dead. Much of this lawman’s life has been spent as a mercenary in the war between the men and the women. The technical term for the conflict is called “family law”. Often the fight is over the kids. The battle lines are drawn over who spends more time with them.

I think a lot about how parents are today and compare them with how I grew up. These days I am getting evidence supplied by the witnesses that one parent or the other is lousy because they don’t show up for all of Johnny’s sports practices or music lessons. Not just the games, or the recital, but the practice.

Contrast with growing up in the 1960’s- my parents handed me my skis with cable bindings and lace ski boots along with a wad of cash and put me on the ski bus in my hometown that was bound for Stevens Pass. I was age 9. Have a nice day. By the grace of God I found my ski school, learned to ski, and found my way back to the bus. Others were not so fortunate.

I recall one scene vividly. One of my classmates was unable to handle the same sort of situation and was left behind on the slope by the rest of the class, his skis crossed and crying uncontrollably. “You don’t want to end up like Rudy over there, do you?” my instructor asked me. Nope, time to rise to the occasion with all my 9 years of experience to fall back on.

At the end of the day my parents were waiting at the bus station to retrieve me. Almost everyone else on the bus was in the same situation. Contrast with today where the parents are expected apparently, to leave work to attend every extracurricular even in a sluggish economy or be branded an uncaring parent in court or elsewhere.

Or how about turning out for football? This was their idea on how to toughen up sensitive me. Deposited in the Projects with a helmet and shoulder pads ( in the 60’s the parents actually had to pay for this, it wasnt a village that raised a child ) I was issued a jersey and football pants by the Boys Club there; there to learn the ways of playing with kids from the other side of the tracks.

I was beat up every day. After a while I was accepted and the beatings ceased, probably because started hitting back. I have often said it was that experience that made a trial attorney of me. My father is a lawyer so I learned a lot from him as well. My mother is not a lawyer, but lets give credit where credit is due: she taught me how to cross-examine.

These are not the parenting choices of today. The ethic is to hover, as in a helicopter, the child always hearing the comforting sound of the “thump thump” of either the rotor blades or perhaps the sound is their parents breathless hearts in constant care of them. I am not sure which is right, the millennium parent or the parents of the baby boomers. I do know that conflict is a constant and knowing how to deal with it independently, particularly in this job, is a necessary skill.

My parents were tough. And I am a better man for it.

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