I was blessed to have children with excellent work ethics. I will be sharing more about that in posts to come. Mind you, not all work gets a money payment, sometimes there is just joy in the task and pleasant memories for others to recall. When Bob and I were first married, we lived in his little mobile home, in Johnson City. Melissa & Shawn would have been 6 & 4 (ish). I do not know why or when, but the 2 of them loved it when the garage truck came by. They always had to stand on the sidewalk and wave. Plus, they were on task to get the empty container back to its designated area. As time went on they started moving the empty containers, for our neighbors. This is how my garbage day memories began. Little did I know, then, how dear those moments would be for me, as I attempt to jot a recall.
Back then, each week, it was made clear to me, by Melissa & Shawn, that helping the garbage men, was at the top of the to do list, for that day. It didn’t take long and my 2 garbage men helpers were going further down the street, replacing emptied containers. They never had a clue that I was having such pleasure watching the 4 enjoying themselves. Melissa & Shawn, also, made sure the full containers were placed in the correct position, for pick up. Their motives were so sweet; they were just trying to help everyone.
I had spoken with the garbage men, telling them how much fun it was for Melissa & Shawn to help and how much joy I received in watching their efforts. I asked for their honest opinion-if this was a bother, I would have the children stop and go back to waving. They told me how much they had enjoyed their company. With safety boundaries determined, the garbage men and their sidekicks were happy to get Mom’s okay. The garbage men loved the work ethic they had observed in their new helpers. The garbage men had fun conversing with Melissa & Shawn. They even had clean jokes for them to bring home.
Then, one day, one of the garbage men had to tell me that there had been a complaint; allowing the children to help with garbage pick up, was against child labor laws, and they could no longer help. Of course, I wanted to know who made the complaint-defensive me wanted to find out exactly what was so wrong. I was not allowed any more information. I was irkitated, to the max. The complaining strangers made my children sad. The complainers squelched a good. One of the men was going through a difficult time, and Melissa & Shawn brought him cheer, if only for a few moments.
All was not lost. My mind started figuring how I could make this situation work out good, for all. I had already determined that to be hateful was not how God wanted me to act. In fact, this was one of the many times God was clearly working on me to keep my attitude in check, trust Him and let Him deal with the complainers. So, with the wheels turning, I came up with a solution. I went to the people in charge of Johnson City. They had received the complaint, they felt very bad, but there was nothing they could do. It bothered them so-the complainers butting into a situation they knew nothing about, except the little they saw. How many times do we make judgment from only our small viewpoint, not thinking about all the other details worked out behind the scene? And, sometimes our small perspective may be squashing a character building moment. I think those old complainers missed out on being a positive influence. If they truly cared about the well being of those 2 children, they would have found a way to build a friendship, and share some of their wisdom.
I asked the managers if they would mind if Melissa, Shawn and I took their cousin for a walk at the garbage pick up time. The response was very positive. Our family had taken many strolls around Johnson City, so that was a norm. We always tried to share joy along the way. I did learn that the old complainers did not like the fact that Bob & I were home schooling Melissa & Shawn. They expressed to management that it was a type of rebellion, just plain wrong. I, also, learned that they did not like us coming so near their trailers. The complainers said things had been misplaced around their area, and with all the other kids in school…? So, I varied our times and directions. I must admit, there were times we did use the sidewalk, but for the most part, we stayed on the pavement.
I surprised Melissa and Shawn, one garbage day when I told them to help get their cousin ready for a walk. They were quite perplexed, as home schooling lessons were not completed for the day. It always made us chuckle when we were getting the little one ready for a walk, happy squeals began the second he was strapped into his stroller. Once outside, the talk became cheerful as Melissa & Shawn realized what Mom was up to. We walked merrily along, behind the garbage truck. The empty containers being moved back to their proper spot, by ? & ? All were delighted. My Nephew was especially thrilled that Auntie was taking him on a walk, behind the big noisy truck. Somehow I understood that it was important for me to keep up with his cousins, The garbage day walks did not last long. The complainers were more upset. Even my new new plan of going to the park, on garbage day, caused upsetness.
Oops, another precious memory !!! I recall a particular rainy day; the puddle in front of our trailer was big- across the road. Lessons were finished and Melissa, Shawn and I were at the puddle, blowing bubbles. We had a little bubble town. One of the 2 figured how to get the bubbles to stack. Each time a car passed, our town was destroyed. No biggie, we just blew another one. There were some that tried to pass carefully, hoping to not stir the water too much. Several passersby gave nods of approval and asked if they could join the fun. None did, but the pleasantry was special. Of course, we were vigilant to be out of the way for cars. Chalk drawings on dry days, bubbles on rainy days. What harm was that ? The old complainers let it be known to management that the children should be in school, not playing in the road. Why couldn’t some of those older people find delight in the things we did ? As time past, a friend of one of the complainers, feeling bad for us, secretly told me that that was just her friend’s nature, and to not let it bother me.
Another recall, I totally forgot this one ! I do not know how the bubble city recall made me go back to… when Melissa, Shawn and myself, first moved to Oregon. Having no car, walking was our mode of go. I came across these harnesses that were like the bib part of overalls. They gave me a sense of safety and control for our walks. We had come across many who thought the harnesses were a very good idea.
An Aunt had told me, when she was little, a rope was fastened-safely around her chest, with lots of spare rope, and the end tied to the clothesline. Well, I could see why that might have been a problem, but surely not the harnesses.
On one of our outings, I do not remember where, but there were a lot of people, all ages represented. The 3 of us were walking around. Melissa & Shawn, were not one bit bothered by their harnesses. Then some older women approached us and proceeded to lecture me on being an abusive mother, claiming the harnesses were cruel. They said they were going to report me to CSD. This conversation took place in front of some young couples-with children. The younger people joined in, wanting to know where I had purchased the harnesses. They liked the idea, especially, in a crowd of strangers. The conversations went on for a while, as the older women glared on.
The abuse idea had hit hard. I then planned to go visit my uncle and get his opinion about the harnesses and ask if he had seen any abusive tendencies, on my part. You see, my uncle had a position that dealt with children who were being abused. Uncle J. assured me that using the harnesses was not a form of child abuse. He wished there were more parents like me. His heart ached from the abuse and neglect, of children he did have to help. When events happened, like with the complainers, I would ask my Uncle J. to give me his opinion. I just didn’t want to do anything wrong.
These events showed me how folks draw conclusions with only a few details, and judgment is made according to the standards THEY set for everyone else. Not once did those ladies speak to me with a kind and caring concern. Oh, how can I be more gracious to those God places in my path?
I apologize for the backward way this was written, not chronological. I had totally forgotten the harness event, until something triggered it from the garbage men and bubble town recalls.
Yes, defensive me was defensive-at first, in situations where someone had accused me harshly/falsely. Back then; it was a freeing moment when I remembered that God is gracious in His dealings with His children. I needed to make sure I did not hold hate in my heart for those complainers.
I am thankful God directed me to visit Johnson City, a couple weeks ago. Sure there were some bum memories that popped up. But, for the most part how blessed I am for the recall of the walks, swing times and building bubble towns, in Johnson City, with my precious children, nephew, and Bob, especially since Shawn’s death. K