My mom adventures in Fort Collins

21-Day Gratitude Challenge: Day 15

It was bound to happen. I have fallen behind on my posts for the Gratitude Challenge. As with most things, it’s not worth dwelling on the delinquency. What the heck, right? You do what you can, and one day you just can’t fit it in, and then the next day you’re feeling like it’ll take too long to do two posts, so now it’s like a thing. I’ve got days plural to write and I can’t just give myself a whole lot of uninterrupted time to crank out three beautifully written posts without losing an absurd amount of sleep and/or giving up the premise that I might watch Argo one of these nights after the kids go to bed.

The prompt for Day 15 of the Gratitude Challenge asks, “Who Or What Shaped Your Inner Compass?” Upon originally reading this prompt, I felt like I could acknowledge the simple things: I, like those before me, learned about morality from my parents, CCD classes and episodes of Little House on the Prairie. But then, I thought, I could go deeper than than that.

My parents were mostly black-and-white, but they focused primarily on rules that were relevant to keeping harmony in the family: Do not climb the fence into the neighbor’s yard (a rule enacted after I did actually do that), come back home when you hear dad’s loud whistle (until they had a large cast-iron bell installed, in which case they asked that we return to a loud gong of the bell), and the never-to-be-forgotten take your shoes off in the back hallway. Occasionally, mom and dad would talk about things like being nicer to my brother, or being more polite and affectionate to my grandparents when we greeted them.

This is a photo from last summer at my Mom & Dad's house--you can see the bell attached to the house right by the back door

This is a photo from last summer at my Mom & Dad’s house–you can see the bell attached to the house right by the back door

The CCD classes were straight-up rules as they applied to nebulous issues. The ten commandments? Yep, you’re going to have to pretty much explain all of those to me other than the Do Not Steal, Do Not Lie, Do Not Kill-bit. “What is adultery?” my little head would ponder. Turn the other cheek? Turning over tables in the temple? I cannot remember a whole lot of this making sense, but I did get the message that doing bad stuff was very bad and might cause some eternally bad consequences. Enter into the equation the fact that you don’t just do the right thing, you do it out of an interest in preserving your chances at a happy afterlife.

On the day of my First Communion

On the day of my First Communion

But “Little House on the Prairie”? That was a bit different. Laura’s Ma and Pa talked to her a lot about morality. They talked to their little Half-Pint all the time about how rule after rule had gray areas. For instance: You are supposed to be kind to everyone and stick up for those who are being bullied, but when you see Nellie being mean and rude you can’t just knock her over for doing something nasty. This was the kind of stuff that just made sense to me! I can remember trying to work out the details of every rule, and feeling overwhelmed by the fact that each rule can be so confusing. Laura always seemed to have her pulse on what was the most important of all the varying degrees of morality. Laura and her sense of justice–what little girl wouldn’t identify with that? Here’s Laura taking Nelly to task for some ridiculous shenanigans.

As a kid, I can recall a number of times where I just had to challenge what had been laid out straight-away and satisfy my own interests.

  • Stealing: There was the one time in the grocery store when the Bazooka bubble gum was just so irresistible, and I had to pocket some. I was probably 6 or 7. Afterwards, my mom (of course!) saw me looking at the comics and got to the bottom of that. She nearly marched me back into the store, but I promised so endlessly that I would never ever do it again. And I didn’t. (Except for the one time in sixth grade, but that deserves its own post.)
  • Lying: Now, without exploring the reasons why a third grader is interested in creating an alter-ego, let’s just say that I had long dreamt of re-creating myself. I explored this with my new third-grade friend, and she was only too excited to hear about Robert (my older brother) and our family’s plans (which would be extravagant, I’m sure). Eventually, this friend and I had a little truth-telling, and she learned that I had “made up” large portions of the stories that I was telling her. She was hurt, and I felt awful. Big time, awful. I’ve definitely lied since then, but I am the worst. The. Friggin. Worst. It shows all over my face, and I am prone to sweating. Seriously, it’s just so much easier to tell the truth.

All this to say, I am grateful for those initial morality teachers. It’s an ongoing quest, since morality is a messy business. I would love to look at this morality question again, because there are some present day inspirations for my moral compass, too.

During the Gratitude Challenge, I haven’t posed any questions to the wider blog reading community, but that seems silly. Especially as an American approaching Thanksgiving, it’s so fun to reflect on the holiday and the significance. What are you grateful for these days?


2 Comments so far
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I love that you mentioned Little House on the Prairie. My sister got embarrassed when she was in school, because when asked what famous people she would want as parents, she answered Charles and Caroline Ingalls. Everybody else in her class named cool famous people, which at that time, I would assume to be Olivia Newton John or something.

Comment by indiaindiana

That’s hilarious! Who wouldn’t want Ma & Pa, that’s the truth! Thanks for reading dearie, have fun on your travels back to Indiana!

Comment by jaymers

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