Goin’ to Beat The Ban!

“If you REALLY need to take a day off from school, just tell me and you can take it off.  Don’t fib and pretend you’re sick.”  My mom’s attitude was foreign to most mothers.  Imagine a teacher giving her children such freedom.

Guess how many days I missed because I needed “a day off from school”.

None.  Zip.  Zero.

Amazing what freedom does to one’s attitude.

Mother knew her kids.  We were creations of curiosity who couldn’t fathom missing out on what our friends were up to.  After all, instant and constant communication with each other took place at school.  Phones were still a luxury.  Communication meant gathering at Mah Lun’s restaurant for a coke after school.  With the Cafe located in the middle of our little hamlet, residents could walk past and wave at patrons.  Everyone knew each other.

Knowing my mother, it would have been social suicide to stay home from school, then show up at the Cafe with friends afterwards.   She made sure we had a grasp on consequences.  On one hand, she made me feel like a grown-up, but when I weighed the choices she presented, none of them were totally hanging on the side that favoured me.

So, staying home from school meant being H O M E.  Otherwise, we’d hear our mother’s dreaded words that injected shivers into our youthful spines, “The Ban’s On!”

“The Ban’s On!”  – ever followed by consequences worse than a death knell for the young:  isolation from friendship, favourites, fun and freedom.

The Ban meant something stopped – not now…but five minutes ago. No negotiation.

We had no defense.  She must have had too many sneaky, devious, conniving and deceitful students who honed her x-ray vision.  Before we could voice any scheme, she’d hand us an opportunity to dispose of it.  The threat of penalties rolled out of her teacher-brain faster than coins from a winning slot machine.  She tried to hide expressions hinting of a winner’s adrenaline rush.

I really disliked her consequences.  I’d drop any deceptive plan fast – I knew I wasn’t going to beat The Ban.

Did my mother help invent that phrase?

As I left the house, I’d hear, “You decide, Darling.”  She didn’t even have to pause or take her eyes off her book to send those chills up my backbone.

I remember the first time I thought I could beat The Ban.  Even though she was one of the messiest people I knew, she said to me during my early teen years,  “The Ban’s on.  If you don’t hang up your clothes, you’re telling me you don’t need them.”

“I’ll pick them up when I do my laundry!” I said.  While at high school, I worked part time so I could buy the kind of clothes I wanted.  Her threatening comment had two strikes against it in my opinion…’her house’ was a mess and I bought my own clothes.

Apparently my reasoning was override-able.   My favourite pair of Jeans and the best top EVER disappeared with the rest of the items that had been lining my closet floor for a couple of weeks.  Apparently she had another priority.

“Mom!  That’s totally unfair.  You had no right to touch my stuff!  Especially when I buy it myself!”

“As a mother, it’s my right to raise my children to be respectful.”

What’s the result?  To this day, hanging up my clothes is a priority – taught by a mother who could non-nonchalantly waive her own domesticity to one side with the flick of a new page to read.

And for the first time, thanks to my mother, I’m giving myself a day off from school TODAY.  I’ve been doing exactly what I want and like, in my time and in my way.

And Mom?  Today I actually Beat The Ban.  I skipped school AND included some ‘friend’ time.   I trust the angels and you will approve:

42 thoughts on “Goin’ to Beat The Ban!

  1. your world sounds llke my mom and me …
    great post …
    and beautiful photos …and I think the angels will approve too…
    Have a wonderful weekend!
    Take Care…You Matter…

    • Then you and I share a case of feeling loved!

      My wise ol’ Mom balanced discipline along with opportunities for me to grow and develop. She and I were friends most of my life – the teen years meant I became too smart of course! 😀 There are times I’d give anything to hear her say my name again. Lucky are the people who’ll grow old with videos of parents. She and I sent audio tapes back and forth to one another. Why on earth didn’t I keep them?!!

      Hope you have some of those treasures, LadyBlueRose!

  2. Sometimes the lessons we learn from our parents seem unfair until we realise later what we gained from them. Respect is a good one. My mother also taught me the ‘If it’s not hanging, you don’t really want it rule’ and I know it’s one I applied myself and to more than just clothes. Even books have headed to the bin under my rule, though I made sure they were placed in such a way they could be retrieved easily, books are special friends. Your relationship with your mother sounds very special in it’s honesty.
    Like you I have deep regrets about things not saved but it’s lucky I’ve always loved photographs and have many of those. There are family tree questions I wish I’d asked both her and her mother which didn’t seem important at the time.
    I love the photographs you’ve displayed today, so natural. Thank you Souldipper. xxx Huge Hugs xxx

    • Aha, David. You may be solving a mystery. My maternal grandparents were both from England. Is this an English trait?! (I was going to say “torture tactic”. 🙂 )

      To add to my delinquency in not saving audio tapes, our home burned to the ground when I was 12. I have one photo of me as a baby, thanks to an aunt who happened to keep photos people had sent to her. Without old family photos, the questions were even less forthcoming. Mother tried to interest us in a family tree of her side of the family, but since they were all strangers to us, we didn’t “bite”. Oh dear, how must she have felt?

      I’m beginning to think all parents need to do a video citing the important information that their children hadn’t shown any interest in questioning. Nearly every video could be titled, “Things you never thought you’d care about.” 😀

      Thank you for the hugs. How did you know I needed them right now?!

  3. I like that phrase things you never thought you’d care about… I’ll use it… I wrote a family history, and gave a copy each to my children. The wretches never read it – one lot gave it to the grandchildren to draw on the back, the other one has no memory of me even giving it to her! I’ll try again using your phrase in years to come.
    I used to keep my children home from school if I felt they were tired or jaded, and therefore wouldn’t learn anything. And I simply wrote and told their teachers, and they never queried it…

    • Can’t we kids be a source of heartbreak?! While we’re in the throes of youth, we just don’t realize it! One of my oldest nieces has Mother’s family tree that she drew on the back of a roll of wallpaper. The niece is delighted to have it, but who knows where it will go from here.

      Good for you, Valerie. I find that such unstated support! As a manager, I also used mother’s psychology. I told staff to take “mental health days” if they really needed it. I had very low absenteeism.

  4. Sadly, I was ripped off of any interesting parenting solutions–the alcoholic father pretty much wasn’t present, and if he threatened it was pretty much guaranteed the follow through wouldn’t happen. However, as a result, I was a very creative parent myself–I made it up as I went! LOL The girl still laughs as she tells the ‘mean mom with dumb rules’ stories. The most dreaded consequence was ‘grounded’. In our house that ‘grounded’ meant you were getting one on one time cuz you obviously needed it–you’d apparently ‘forgotten’ a few things. She says she was “grounded to ‘the mom'”……I prefer to look at that differently. LOL Dunno why she’d say that ‘social embarrassment’ happened..I merely took her everywhere I went….grocery store, post office, the water department, a friends house–meetings even! I mighta made a point to have LOTS of places to go on those occasions, but I wouldn’t want her bored now would I?! She lived–and she’s a pretty responsible, successful adult despite the ‘trauma’ inflicted by the ‘mean mom with dumb rules’. *laughing and rolling my eyes here!*
    What an awesome adventure you had! ( I adore the babies–and the poor pony…..ohhhhh..)
    Taking that break and ‘indulging’ is a pretty important thing to do for yourself. Thanks for taking me along!

    • Isn’t it a hoot, Mel! Social embarrassment is understood by every teen on our continent. When the time comes for parents to be invisible, they have a nasty habit of showing up at the wrong time and saying all the stupidest things imaginable. The reason I was so keen on working part time was to stop having to shop with Mom who’d tell every store clerk how ridiculous prices were and how broke we were.

      (Guess who gave the insurance co a blast yesterday because their rates rise just because some owner dude needs a new cadillac. I hate being hamstrung…I have to have insurance, but have NO SAY as they keep raising their blinking prices.)

      Yah…that wee horse. I was beside myself when I saw these people had put a little pony in a small stupid pen a few weeks ago. I snapped that photo when it was tethered outside of its pen so it could get some grass. Yesterday, it was in its pen and wouldn’t even raise it’s head when I spoke to it. It was laying down and its eyes were shut. The eyes are very bulging, its body looks crooked, so I think it’s very old and likely unwell. I now suspect it’s deaf. These people have a little boy with Cerebral Palsy so perhaps this very old pony is living out the last of its long life there where the little boy can experience a very quiet little horse.

      Let’s hope so. Elst an animal official will be visiting them.

    • Hope you received you Happy Birthday message, June. I visited you a few times to see if you’d had a new post. Farming must have you very busy. Hope you are well, my friend.

    • That’s how I feel, Liz – say what you mean and mean what you say! Mom and I could discuss and decide – something that not a lot of contemporaries were able to do. We had a sticky point that would have cut me out of an A&W hamburger after the Teen dance because the drive-in was a little out of town. Mom didn’t like the car bit…but we had a test period and it worked out okay.

      My older sibs say I was spoiled. I think it’s really because they didn’t have the same negotiation process that mom had with me. However, I knew better than to violate our agreements and she was likely tired of raising kids! Or was more relaxed about it.

    • It wasn’t, was it, Linda?! It was unusual for Mom to go that far. Later, I understood that she was really in the pits with menopause. Being 13, that certainly never crossed my mind. I thought she was being very unhappy because our house had burned down and we had moved to a small city. She wasn’t teaching – didn’t feel like it. Understandably, she was really suffering – especially back in those days when women were often accused of it all being in our heads. (Well, the chemicals for hormones do come from glands in our brains, don’t they?)

  5. I see that as wise parenting and was fortunate to have the same kind. My parents told us if we were going to smoke or drink to do it in front of them. They we strict and sometimes we resented being the last allowed to wear lipstick or go on dates un-chaperoned. I think one of the main problems we see in society is people unable to assume responsibility for their actions…and that’s because they never had the opportunity to experience the consequence of poor decisions. Good one, Amy.

    • I’ve noticed throughout my careers that people who shared disciplining parent stories or some base of Faith were almost always the ones who conducted themselves with decency and grace. We aren’t in careers anymore, Victoria, but I sure see you! XO

  6. Loved this, I miss my Mom so much. She was our disciplinarian, but it was calm, quiet, logical, would say think about all the options and leave the decision to us. You knew how much she loved you, for me I never wanted to disappoint her. I used the same thing with my kids, and overheard my son using the same thing at the lake with my grand daughter, Found it interesting.

  7. Loved your “friend” time photos and wish I could throw out the clothes and toys my kids leave on the floor, but I’m not strong enough. I’d feel horrible after and they’d sense it immediately. Would not be a win for anyone! Your mom sounds like character – I love hearing about strong moms who don’t second guess their choices! Great post!

    • My mom must have learned some of her strategies when she studied to become a teacher. She had to apply the skills quickly! Classroom control was a huge challenge for a city-raised young girl who was sent to a one-room country school, grades 1 to 9, where the farm boys were already huge, strong and determinedly independent! She had to think fast and stay a step ahead of their shenanigans. If she didn’t, in fact, she’d have lost their respect.

      In today’s term, she had to firmly plant her ALPHA role – especially for the first one or two months. After that, she told me, she could let up and be human.

      For a short, but FABULOUS time, I was the Communication Director for The Virtues Project. The parenting techniques taught in that program are fabulous…they maintain the loving adult role for parents, but shows very creative ways to work with children. The approaches suggested for discipline have transformed homes from a jumble of conflict to each family member feeling empowered. The program has been adopted by countries, schools, youth groups and homes. They are simple and effective. If you want to peek at the website: http://www.virtuesproject.com/family.html

    • Well, yah, Chris, the children simply learn to ignore threats re consequences. When I worked in London, Ont., I became a Big Sister. The training was great – one of the most emphasized points was “say what you mean and mean what you say”. I was “matched” with a 13 year old girl. She was “old” for a Little Sister, but her mom had agoraphobia so this gal had no experience with socializing outside of home with a female adult. This was a challenge because we had to think of things to do that didn’t cost money. The relationship was NOT to be about spending money on a young person!

      We attended a picnic – celebrating some youth-oriented event. She had to find a bathroom, she said, and off she went. A little too much time had passed and I headed for the washrooms. I saw her standing with a group of kids her age. I approached and she looked “caught”. I simply told her we had to leave now. We got to my car and my heart was pounding. I could see she had just done some kind of drug, but I knew so little about this stuff that I didn’t know what to do. I asked her what she’d done. “Nothing.”
      “Okay, if you won’t tell me and since I’m not taking you home without knowing what just happened, I’ll have to take you to Emergency at the hospital so they can tell me what you’ve taken. I care about you and I take responsibility for our relationship very seriously.”
      She confessed that she took some sort of prescription meds. I asked what they do to her. She shrugged.
      “I won’t drive this car without knowing the effect that drug has on you.”
      She mumbled a few things.
      “Thank you. I’m not so frightened now about driving with someone under the influence of something weird. I’m taking you home now. If you ever do this to me again, I’ll have to tell Big Sisters I cannot take the risk of taking you places. You’ll have to tell them why and deal with your parents.”
      She apologized and never did it again.

      I felt like the wicked witch of the North, but I knew I had to give her consequences and be willing to carry them out. I saw that to do anything less was letting her down – though she’d only see that many years later.

      How do parents deal with this day in and day out?! Maybe it becomes easy…? Hah! 😀

  8. ***As I left the house, I’d hear, “You decide, Darling.” She didn’t even have to pause or take her eyes off her book to send those chills up my backbone.***


    I Adore your photos. Love the name Indie. I want to kiss the black cat on his fur! Xxx

    • I hope, Charles, that it didn’t take you as long as me to figure out some of those doses! There were times that just trying to figure it out kept me out of trouble!

  9. Great story of wise parenting. My mom was wise, too. Staying home from school because we were sick was no fun. We were bed-bound whether we felt like it or not. I didn’t stay home from school hardly at all, either. Then again, I loved school… 😉

    • Kate, since you are such a good and prolific writer, I want to share something with you about this post:

      My God! If only I’d chopped that post in half. Talk about belabouring the point!

      There, that feels better…

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