NICHOLS: the freedom to choose

I had a deprived childhood. No kidding. For 11 of my first 15 years I was under my parents’ exclusive tutelage. No school teachers’ dirty looks, no canes on my backside, no school-yard bullies, no TV and scant radio, and certainly no social media, so the values I absorbed were the values of a couple of adults who, from their old-fashioned, back-woods perspective, clearly understood their roles as parents in communicating to their children the skills and values they would need once they broke out into the wide, hostile, delightful, challenging, and wicked world.
Believe it or not, but my parents even taught me that there were no such beautiful little things as fairies with diaphanous, transparent wings – or hideous trolls crouching under bridges, or gentle elves shading in the ferns, or any other such mythical thing. So my childhood was deprived of all those haunters of forest and glen. Even jolly old Santa could not get down our stove pipe.
    Later, when I grew up, I learned that my parents were wrong at least about ferries. Ferries do exist. I’ve sailed on them, prowled their decks, eaten their so-called food, leaned on the rails as whales sported in the waters beyond. Yes, ferries do exist; but I’ve never seen one with wings. As for trolls, elves, and other mythicals, my mature adulthood doesn’t really miss them.
    Nor am I deprived.
    That said, I am glad for growing up in the age and environment in which my parents saw fit to raise their children. We had everything we needed or wanted for mental and physical development.
    And that said, I’m afraid that had we grown up in the now age and had the misfortune of falling into the clutches of the authorities for our truancy, our lives would have been sadly twisted. No authority would have approved my taking 36 months to do grade five.
    No doubt steps would have been taken to separate such a reckless family.
    But we boys were having fun learning the things we wanted to learn.
    I know, my parents didn’t exactly approve of my 36 months either but such was life then and there.
    I did enter a regular grade 9 classroom in California with multiple teaching specialists about eight weeks before I turned 15 and I thrived. Life has never been the same.
    Life doesn’t stay the same?
    Skip lightly over a bunch of years to 2020.
    That’s where we’ll be for the next few months.
    Things are different now.
    Parents have much less control over raising their children than my parents had when I was under their care and this is problematic. Indeed, I have distinct memories of the feel of a supple willow switch applied to my wet trousers by my mother’s vigorous right arm. The swift penalty helped me remember the rule: Stay away from the river unless I am with you. The natural penalty for the disobedience could have been fatal. I remember only one other such application of the willow switch.
    It would seem that my parents had a definite care for their offspring and desired them to live past childhood.
    It was a dangerous world even in those pristine days.
    In 2020 such physical explanations or demonstrations of the rules are seen as child abuse and the child risks being removed from parental care and deposited to an uncertain future in foster care.
    Was I abused? I submit, with evidence available, that those physical lessons did not constitute abuse of body or mind. Aside from a few independent ideas, I’m as sane of mind and sound of body as they come these troubled days.
    But happy I am that I am well past the age of raising children. Big brother’s sharp eyes and long arms are too ominously obvious in 2020 – and getting more so according to reports you may read in alternate news sources. For an independent spirit the ties of family could be so easily sundered; to risk raising children according to one’s own wisdom and understanding is to risk losing them to the higher authority.
    One does not have to wield the willow to be caught in the crosshairs of big brother.
    To believe differently about current popular ideas might be reason enough to forfeit one’s parental rights.
    Our freedom to choose according to our conscience defines our humanity and governments of every stripe are feeling the pleasure of exercising increasing authority over our lives. On guard!
Cherish your freedoms and resist all efforts to have someone else’s values imposed on you or your family.
    By the way, the Ancients taught this particular wisdom: “Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it.” Does it always work? No, but the chances for a good outcome are better if parents actually train their own children.

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