Oh Nella...how I wish I'd known you

>>  Sunday, October 24, 2010

Yesterday I watched 4 children, aged between 3 and 5, in Starbucks run manically around the shop whilst 2 mums watched with loving smiles on their faces.  The children shouted, swung on chairs, ran around other customers tables and from one side of the shop to the other.  We are lucky that my 'local' Starbucks is spacious, rarely manic and has that old coffee shop  'lounge in sofa and read paper' air.  The children could run around, but that didn't stop it being damned irritating after a while.  Yes, children must be children but there must surely be some level of control.  How will children grow into adults aware of how their actions affect people around them if not taught at a young age?
I fell  into a train of thought as I wondered where the curious lack of responsibility to others began.  Our generation taught children 'Don't leave gates open or the poor little moo cows will get lost and not find their mammies and be cold and lonely at bedtime', 'Let's bury this nasty sharp glass so no one will cut their feet','Such lovely flowers, but we only pick some for the glass jug and leave the others to grow - they like growing as much as little boys and girls', 'It's ugly to be dirty - look how pussy washes herself and then begins to purr and sing because she feels so nice when she has washed herself'.  Now they talk of 'repressions' and 'fixations' and hidden things in children's minds. I'm old-fashioned enough to think a child is less complicated than the clever ones think. The security of comforting arms, a sharp slap when needed, busy hands and minds and the example of elders would be better for growing children than all the new and clever ways.

I could hear myself saying this, but it is in fact from Nella Last In the 1950s. A candid and clever lady.

She always wanted to write a book, to be published.  She would be amazed at her diaries being made public.  But really I think she would be very pleased to know how much she has taught me about thrift, self control and expectations of life. Housewife 49 and Nella Last's Peace are 2 of my favourite books, and now I am finding myself nodding sagely through the 1950's.

It's interesting how some things seem ageless, we all think our problems are new and a result of the 'way we live now' but to me it seems like our parents, grandparents (or great-grand parents) have been through this mill already!


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