Once again, my friend Molly Campbell's blog has provided the spark for an article of my own. It is funny, how things in your past sit dormant in the file cabinet of your mind until you read something that makes you go, "Oh, yeaaahhh...I remember when...."
Some of you will go read her blog via the link; some will not. For those who do click the link, you might want to skip the following paragraph, as it is a 'spoiler.'
For those opt not to go read her post: briefly, she was discussing the difference between raising sons and daughters. There is more to it than that, but I'm not going to re-post her content. Suffice it to say, she raised girls, and did not envy her friends who had boys; her friends seem to think her daughters will end up with boys as a final irony.
Here, then, is my story.
I raised 2 girls.
My elder daughter has 2 sons--and I see the other side of the equation second-hand; my younger daughter has 2 girls. She lucked out--or did she? At age 7, the eldest is already a drama queen, knows it, and can give you a spot-on definition of the meaning of that term!
I, on the other hand, struggled, even with girls, because they were siblings. I had none. I had no idea how sisters interacted with each other--only a naive concept of how I thought they should act. I was woefully unprepared for the reality. The endless squabbles over petty nonsense--I didn't think there was any angst left over for the rest of the girls in the world. I'm sure that looking back, neither of them could tell you now what they were squawking about back in the 'bad ol' days.'
I grew up in a quiet household. I value "peace and quiet." We were readers. We had no TV, for my father would not buy one. Apparently, he'd been exposed to TV shows somewhere away from home, but he had formed his opinion, and refused to allow a TV on the grounds that, "The commercials insult your intelligence." (Turns out, he was right!)
So, our household was quiet, calm and peaceful. We read, we listened to records (yeah, those old-fashioned plastic discs with grooves carved into them: they came in "45's" and "LP's."), and my mother and I played the piano. (Well, truthfully, Mother played the piano--I played with it--you'd never know I had 4 years of lessons!)
When there would be a family gathering, with aunts and uncles, was the only time we got really rowdy, and put on the "Sing Along with Mitch" records. Mitch Miller and the Gang was a popular band of the mid-to-late 1950's; they had released a series of LP's complete with lyric sheets to be passed around the room. That was as noisy as it ever got. If we were reading, we were reading. There was no radio on; no records playing. It was quiet. If we'd had a grandfather clock, you could have heard it ticking quite plainly.
Ergo, I find it very diffucult to concentrate with a lot of noise in the background. Even if I'm not particularly concentrating, a constant stream of noise/music/chatter makes me edgy. This became a huge problem about the time my daughters reached junior high age. They hung out with their friends; they were exposed to the "in" music of the day, and wanted to listen constantly.
My elder daughter is more like me, and values peace and quiet; does not like a lot of noise and ruckus; does not need that constant 'background noise' effect. She does and did listen to music, but not while she was doing homework...to this day, she has my preference for peace and quiet.
Unlike her sister and me, my younger daughter claims she "can't think" if it's too quiet, and will always have music playing or the TV on "for background noise." UGH. This drove me crazy when they were living at home! How I valued my daytimes alone in peace and quiet while they were at school. How I dreaded their return, when my peaceful, quiet house would be set pulsing to the music of "Chicago," "Air Supply," "Foreigner," Phil Collins, Cyndi Lauper, or I forget what others were then popular. "Turn it dowwwwwnnnnnn!!! " became my constant battle cry.
Worse, each girl, in her own room, would be listening to her choice of music. For them, sequestered in their rooms, they were each close enough to the music source to hear only their own. For me, downstairs, I got "treated" to a blend that was not pleasant. It might be "Chicago" mixed with Kenny Rogers, or "Air Supply" mixed with Cyndi Lauper. OMG! How I wished we lived in a climate where I could have escaped to the backyard--but alas, we lived in a cold and foggy clime.
Even my then-husband contributed to the mayhem. He grew up in a large family with constant noise, and had that 'need for background noise' built in. The first thing he would do when he got up was turn on the TV. Then, he would leave for work, and leave the TV on!!!!!! That was crazy-making for me. He knew I did not want to watch or listen to TV--particularly daytime TV! 90% of the time, he could not tell you what he was watching, because he wasn't really watching--the TV was simply on.
I often wonder if his upbringing resulted in a genetic coding for the 'need for noise' that got passed on to my youngest.....