Here is a true account from my past ~
"And I was Just Picking Tomatoes"
I was born in 1949 to a very nice couple in Gary, Indiana. My mother was the daughter of Swedish immigrants, and my father's grandparents came over from Germany. They had known each other as children on the prairie of North Dakota. They loved each other and were loved by numerous relatives and friends. My father could play just about any musical instrument, and my mother was a very articulate woman. As I heard my aunt say once, "Elsie was no dummy." They both died when I was three-years-old. At the time, my sister was twelve and my brother was eight-years-old. We were summarily parceled out to various aunts and uncles. Again, I lived with a very nice couple, who, being childless, heaped all of their love and good intentions on my small person. I was well fed, clothed in lovingly handmade dresses, carted about to a variety of plays, concerts and operas, and all in all felt loved, accepted and worthwhile. In short, I had a wonderful childhood. Since there were only the three of us, there wasn't a need to get formal in the assignment of "chores," and basically I just cooperated with Mom and helped her with whatever she wanted me to as it came along. She really didn't put heavy demands on me.
You may wonder what special form of lunacy later led me to bear six children of my own. Believe me, there have been moments when I have wondered the same thing, as the following account will illustrate.
Not having grown up with other children, I continue, even at my advanced age, to be amazed at the family dynamics as they unfold before my bewildered eyes. One glorious summer day in 1990, I was outside in my vegetable garden picking tremendous quantities of beautiful ripe tomatoes. (Due to my upbringing, I find I have often fallen victim to the "little red hen" syndrome.) After I had been working for a while, my youngest child, six-year-old Mark, suddenly exited the back door of the house, shoulders hunched, and his countenance giving roughly the impression of a ripe boil. Hoping against hope, I continued at my happy work thinking perhaps he would not feel a need to inform me of the cause of his obvious distress. After a tense interval, I, sighing deeply, turned on my best empathic demeanor, and said, "You're upset about something." What followed from him was rather lengthy, tearful, and furious. The bottom line was that I was letting his nine-year-old sister paint some woodwork in the kitchen, and I wasn't letting him. Now, I ask you, how can one tactfully explain such a necessity to a six-year-old boy? If I were brutally honest, I would have to draw a comparison between Heloise and the Tasmanian devil, but I knew from the moment I had seen his face that I was doomed. I tried my best. Really I did. When I finished my explanation he stalked off, picked up a good-sized stone, threw it at random and broke the base of my bird bath. I went over to inspect the damage, and rather than scold him, knowing that he had not intended to break it, I began to cry. Hearing our conversation, Lydia, the 9-year-old sister I mentioned earlier, stuck her head out of the window and said, "What happened?" Now,the last thing Mark needed at that moment was to have his sister's opinion of what he had done, so I told her, "Never mind." (I was still trying to forestall disaster.) She quickly (and ravenously, it seemed to me at the time) came out to get involved. I insisted that she return to the house, and she refused, so I grasped her shoulder, and moved her in that direction. "Ow! You're hurting me!" I, by that time, was yelling, and she did go into the house, flinging "I hate you!" over her shoulder at me. When I turned back to Mark, he was nowhere to be seen. I went back to the tomatoes for a short while to calm down, and then I went to look for him. I found him at the end of the sweet corn patch. He was lying on the ground and had nearly covered himself with dirt. I gathered that he felt so much like dirt that he figured he might as well be in it. I tried to communicate gently with him, but only got, "Go away and leave me alone!" from somewhere there in the garden soil. I walked dejectedly back to the tomato patch and finished the job. I mean, after all, I was just picking tomatoes....
Here is a fairly recent photo of all of our children and my husband and myself. You can see Lydia and Mark are on the right side. They are good friends now. :)