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Graeve, Oscar (ed.) / Delineator
Vol. 118, No. 6 (June, 1931)

[Continued articles and works],   pp. 46-58 PDF (8.1 MB)


Alyea, Dorothy Collins
June days,   pp. 58-59 PDF (1.4 MB)


Page 58

'  DELINEATOR
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GRADUATION FOR PARENTS
Continued from page 7
to enter the field of delicate and dangerous
dogma; and when the last chapter was
finished, my listener, who had been not
only receptive to, but absorbed in the match-
less narrative of the Great lhvsician, re-
marked feelingly. "I don't see why my own
mother didn't tell me all that long ago."
I did not see myself. And I knew, charming
and cultured as his mother is, that I should
never feel she had passed beyond the pri-
mary grades in parenthood.
FEEL the same way about a still more fas-
cinating woman, who so far betrayed her
chi!Iren's every trust that they never vol-
untarily saw her again after they were grown;
about a "perfect housekeeper" whose in-
sistence upon immaculate order, undis-
turbed by stumpy young feet tracking in
mud, robbed her children of their heritage of
hospitality; about a dainty butterfly whose
exquisite attire spelled shabbiness for every
other member of her family and cast the grim
shadow of debt over the household. All these
women took beautiful physical care of their
babies; nevertheless, they were incapable of
earning degrees in parenthood.
But many do earn them, of course-a great
many, fortunately.  It is after they have
graduated that the hardest tests, and the
most frequent failures occur. And it is to
parents facing such tests and fearing such
failures that I am venturing to try to speak,
feeling that we share a common problem. For
my own children, around whom my whole
existence centered for so many yearp, have
all grown up now; two of them have already
struck out into the world, the third is poised
for flight. I must try to face life as a graduate
parent. And I want to do it successfully if I
can.
It seems to me that we graduate parents
must, first of all, permit our children to re-
joice in that sense of new-found freedom and
opportunity which is so precious to them,
conscious that they may always turn to us
for help if they wish or want it, yet un-
hampered by any word or deed of ours. They
regard their independence as their birthright,
a birthright which they believe we ourselves
enjoyed a generation ago; and if their unbe-
lief is unfounded on fact, all the more reason
why we, remembering how we suffered in
having our spreading wings clipped, should
let our children soar untrammeled, It is very
hard to do this, much harder than anything
JUNE
DAY
S
by
DOROTHY
COLLINS
ALYEA
April is a sweet month,
May is a better.
In June I would not read a book
Or write a letter.
April speaks of crocuses,
May of budding trees,
But June cries out of butterflies
And bumble bees.
April shivers slightly,
May is still too cold,
But June can warm the silly heart
That's growing old.
we had to do before we graduated.  And we
feel they could learn so much by past experi-
ence, if they would only let us tell them about
this-forgetting that "that of sterling worth
is what our on experience teaches." We feel
that love nmust express itself in solicitude- a
survival of our primary period-that if we
may not spoon out junket and shut down
windows any more, we may at least issue
warnings against rapid driving and unde-
sirable companions and profitless pursuits.
We feel that surely our presence, if not our
counsel, should seem essential to them and
need to steel ourselves against doubting the
loyalty of their affections-which actually
we have neither cause nor right to do-when
we discover that it is not.
A woman I know very well, whose only
son has been for many years her constant and
congenial companion, told me recently that
when this young man left home, after a brief
final vacation, to begin the practice of medi-
cine in a city several hundred miles away, she
suggested that she should make the trip with
him in the small battered motor-car which,
by dint of much personal economy, she had
managed to give him. "I can take the train
back, you know," she said eagerly. "I really
wouldn't mind the return journey a bit. And
you would have company when you start
out."
"Oh, mother," he exclaimed impetuously,
"don't you know that when a knight goes out
on his great adventure he always goes alone?"
He paused a moment, then added still more
impetuously, "And there is always a beauti-
ful young princess waiting to wave to him
from a tower."
"All right, dear," his mother said, feeling
rather proud of her self-control, "only just be
sure she is a real princess."
"Oh, mother," exclaimed the boy again,
'didn't you ever hear of princesses in disguise?
And don't you know the knight may see
through the disguise when nobody else
could?"
IN THIS little story lies much of the logic of
youth-the logic which the successful gradu-
ate mother must respect and try to compre-
hend. She must let the knight ride out alone
on his high adventure; she must let him look
for the princess in a tower; and she must take
his word for it when he says he has found a
real princess even though the disguise seems
very complete. If the knight's mother can-
not do all this, she is not a noblewoman.
Next, having given our children the boon of
freedom, creating at least the illusion that we
are glad to give it even though actually we
have not been able to achieve as much as
that, it seems to me that we should strive
to make them feel that we ourselves are,
in spirit and sympathy, just as close to them
as we were when we tucked them into bed
every night and brought them   drinks of
water and heard their prayers. The graduate
mother who is delivered from the temptation
of trying to regulate her grown children's
lives for them must still pray to be delivered
from the opposite temptation-less frequent,
probably, but still general enough to be
a menace-of giving the impression that
she has now done her full duty by them, that
she has scrimped and saved and sacrificed
as long as she intends to do so, that they
need look for nothing more from herself and
their father in the way of needing material
assistance or equally needed moral support,
as their parents now propose to have a little
pleasure and respite of their own.
Boys and girls who have grown up with the
fixed idea that they could depend upon the
stability of their parents' affection and co-
operation in much the same way that they
could depend upon the stability of the Rock
of Gibraltar, are often horribly puzzled and
deeply hurt by such an attitude. They see no
reason why the mere incidental fact that they
have grown up should suddenly shatter the
stability on which they have counted so long;
and in the shock of the discovery that it has,
a deadly seed of discord is often sown.
The (lay is past, if it ever really existed,
when children respect their parents and feel
under tbligations to them because of the bare
fact that they owe the gift of life to them.
They are inclined-not without reason-to
argue that they were brought into the world
through no choice of their own, and that the
responsibility for their existence, since it rests
wholly with the authors of their being, en-
tails a far greater debt than they should ever
be expected to pay. They are not inclined to
regard the elementary necessities provided
during their childhood as causes for special
appreciation; they take these for granted as
the evidences of a decent and enlightened
civilization. But they respond with over-
whelming spontaneity to real generosity, real
sacrifice and real companionship; and their
gratitude becomes deeper and more under-
standing the older they grow.
All this brings me to the contention that
the graduate years should be joyous and not
doleful ones for parents. During the primary
period we were constantly saying, not com-
plainingly, but still with eager anticipation,
"Well, of course we can't do thus and so and
the other now."
And yet, after the children have grown up a
long lament arises, "Of course when 1\ary
and Frank were still with us we were very
happy; but now that we've lost them both,
we've really lost everything worth living for."
One would think, to hear such parents talk,
that Frank had been sentenced to life-im-
prisonment for murder, that lary had
eloped with her best friend's husband, or that
both had been blown to bits in an explosion of
gasoline. While, as a matter of fact, Frank is
probably the proud proprietor of the grocery
store just around the corner, and 1Mary lives
with her pleasant husband and three plump
infants in the other half of the double house
occupied by the bereaved fath r and mother'
Be this as it may, the graduate parents
usually still have many active years- the best
years of all ahead of them- " the last of
life for which the first was made." The de-
velopment and establishment of their family,
which they strove so long and so faithfully to
accomplish, is achieved. Certainly this should
be a source of happiness and not of sorrow'
Certainly we should be ashamed to confess to
a viewpoint so restricted that it causes us to
insist we cannot enjoy our children unless
they are dependent and helpless! Certainly
our love for them should be strong enough to
stand separation and sharing! '\nd certainly
from the wisdom and mellowness which oniv
maturity and experience, combined with
parenthood, can bring us, we should be able
to fill to overflowing the silver chalice of
abundant life!
THERE is a woman for whom I have un-
bounded respect and affection whose hus-
band-a struggling country clergyman-died
leaving her with a small son and no visible
means of support when she was well over
forty. She had had several other children,
who were already almost grown up, just be-
ginning to be able to take care of themselves,
but not able to take care of her, too. The
"little Benjamin," who was so much younger
than his brothers and sisters, and she were
practically alone in the world and practically
"tn their own." It was soon very evident to
her that her child was one of great and re-
markable promise; and she determined that
whatever she went without, he should have
the best kind of education obtainable. She
moved to a town where there was a super-
latively good preparatory school, and by dint
of living with the utmost frugality succeeded
in sending him to it as a day-pupil. He grad-
uated when he was only sixteen, the recipient
of every medal and prize which the school
could bestow, gloriously healthy and hand-
some and strong. I never shall forget his
mother as she looked on  (Turn to page 60)
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