Tag Archives: Lessons learned

Only Child asks: Is honesty the best policy?

The teenage Only Child with her late mother

My late mother was a stickler for honesty. Unlike Gibbs on the NCIS TV series, who had his 10 rules for living written in a small notebook, Mom’s 10 rules were in her head, perhaps some buried in her subconscious. She couldn’t tolerate lies.

Some of the stories spanning out from this, could get complicated, sometimes funny, and sometimes leaving me at a disadvantage some way – but at least I was doing the right thing.

One that comes to mind is when one of my classmates who I hung around with was messing up in marking math exercises. We were in grade three and the teacher had us  pass our exercises to the person sitting in front of us for marking. My friend sat behind me so I got hers to mark. She had some questions wrong and I marked them with an X. When she got the exercise back she changed he X to a tic.

That really ticked me off. But I was too shy then to say anything to the teacher. So I told Mom.

Her solution was for mr to tell the teacher. Mom even offered a 25 cent reward if I did this. I sold my friend out for 25 cents. But, hey, I told the truth.

However, when Mom learned that this same friend and I were cutting through the laneway behind houses and shops to come home from school, she told me I couldn’t do this because it wasn’t safe. But I was more afraid of getting the ire of this friend again, so I followed her like the proverbial Pied Piper, through the alleyway. What the heck. Nothing looked bad. The most menacing thing we saw was a man unloading food from a truck for the IGA store.

When I returned home from school Mom asked, “Did you go through the alley?”

“No,” I replied. And didn’t feel good about it.

Not so with sneaking out the back and dangerous way over to the park the girl gang I hung around with played in. Mom had definitely said I couldn’t take the dangerous route. I was supposed to go the long and boring way along the street and cross the busy street intersection at the lights, then continue walking along the sidewalk to the park.

Nope. I followed the ringleader (my math marker cheating friend) and the others to the end of my street to the dead end street and over to the steep steps down to dangerous, curving and busy Don Mills Road. And this was in the late 1950s before the Don Valley Parkway was built nearby with a major exit from Don Mills Road just a bit north of where we landed on the road. There were no sidewalks there, but if we did continue further south, sidewalks were on the part of Don Mills Road close to the busy intersection. But the shorter back way into the park was before that on the other side of the road. So we waited for a small break in traffic and darted quickly across to the other side. We always made it there safely.

I never told Mom; but she never asked on this one.

Looking back, except for a few of these diversions I told the truth – or more often kept my mouth shut as I was shy.

Fast forward too many years to now in the 21st. century. Not a big truthful world. There are scams, frauds, lies, etc. etc. happening non-stop everywhere. You know who in the States is a master at this. It is hard to think that anyone is honest anymore.

However, I have met some honest people, people who do their best to tell the truth. Which is my policy now, with more complications. For one thing, I am no longer shy and I can be blunt and sarcastic when truthful. Sometimes words seem to come out of my mouth without my mind connecting first. This ties in with my sense of justice versus injustice and people being inconsiderate and doing the wrong thing, often making the situation unsafe. For example if I see someone acting badly, I often just chastise them…in public.

One of my biggest peeves is people who block the subway stairs just so they can stand there and muck around with their digital device. They stand at the top of the stairs. They stand at the bottom of the stairs; and they stand partway down (or up?) the stairs, oblivious of anyone going up or down the stairs.

So, there I come, senior citizen with bad feet and a bad left eye. I’m hanging onto the railing and carefully looking down at the steps and what is or isn’t ahead.

“You’re blocking the way,” I say to the person in front of me. Are his feet glued to the step?

He turns around and we get into a heated discussion.

“I’m a senior and I have to hang onto the railing and not have to go around anyone,” I say.

“There is another railing over there.” He points to the other side of the steps.

“Yes, but that is for people coming up the stairs to hang onto.”

And so it goes back and forth a bit. But he does move out of the way. (I can be persistent as well as honest and blunt). Afterwards I wonder what would happen to him or others who do the same in rush hour when people are zooming up and down the stairs and assume everyone else is doing the same. What if someone accidentally pushed against the digital device fanatic and the person fell? Seems like a hard lesson to learn for being stupid and inconsiderate.

So, I don’t feel bad about being honest telling these digital menaces off.

But I try to use another of my mom’s characteristics, one she may have had difficulty using – being diplomatic. You can’t always be bluntly honest. Sometimes using some diplomacy and tact can go a long way.

I am also working on going up to people I see doing some good and complimenting them. For example, when I was at the CNE in August, the young woman (probably a student doing a summer job) who was cleaning the Ladies Room was doing an excellent job and going about it quietly without getting in anybody’s way. When she was cleaning the sinks, I walked up to her.

“Excuse me,” I said.

She turned around and looked at me.

“You’re doing a good job,” I said. “I know it must be tiresome.”

“Thank you,” she said.

Honesty has many ways to present. Unfortunately so does dishonesty.

What do you think?

Sharon

Only Child Writes

 

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Filed under 1950s, Ethics, Honesty, Learning Experience, Mother and Child, Only child, Seniors

Only Child on dental matters

 What you don't want the dentist to use on for extraction


What you don’t want the dentist to use for extractions

My late dad once spent two hours in the dental chair getting one tooth pulled. My mom was so incensed, she transferred the three of us to another dentist. But it was going from the frying pan into the fire. The new dentist was more than scary. Think of the 1976 movie Marathon Man where the late Sir Lawrence Oliver plays a dentist who torments patient Dustin Hoffman. Our family’s new dentist didn’t hurt physically. But he looked scary and his talk was scary. I remember him telling me that I would lose all my teeth at an early age.

That dentist finally died. But I would like to tell his spirit that I’m in my late 60s and still have more than 95 per cent of my own teeth. I did just have one removed a week ago and the oral surgeon who removed it said “you haven’t had any teeth removed for a number of years.” He was right – over 30 years ago – those pesky wisdom teeth and one molar.

This oral surgeon was just the opposite to Dr. Scary – gentle, kind and friendly in his talk and helpful. And the actual tooth removal took – are you ready for this? – five minutes. Most time spent in the chair was waiting for the freezing to take effect. And today, freezing isn’t heavy (as in weight) but still leaves that area of your mouth feeling no pain.

I learned a few other lessons from connecting with this oral surgeon. Lessons that could be applied elsewhere in life.

If at first you don’t get what you need, be persistent. The first oral surgeon recommended by my regular dentist turned out to be questionable – the practice at the same address had three different names and it was debatable just who was actually there and when. The receptionist was rude. So, my son stepped in, phoned his dentist’s office and got the name and contact info of oral surgeon I went to.

Sometimes what you expect doesn’t happen – But a caveat here – this can go both ways. For me, all the worrying (based on past dental experiences and yes, I had one hour in the chair with a regular dentist trying to pull a wisdom tooth and having to go right away to a specialist – that was one of the aforementioned wisdom teeth. At that point I lived in Aurora, so my dentist was no longer Dr. Scary, just Dr. Incompetent.)

Be thankful for your family members who actually help you – my son also met me at the oral surgeon’s, paid for the surgery (I had paid for the consultation visit), drove me to the drug store afterwards, then home and stayed until early evening to make sure I was okay. On the flip side – not with my son, but for all of us – watch out for family members who don’t care.

Follow post-operative instructions and if you get stuck, ask for help. I got detailed printed instructions and also chatted with the oral surgeon about them. But not everything goes smoothly. With me the bleeding didn’t seem to stop, although it was never heavy. But I went through a lot of gauge in the first four days, so made a follow-up appointment. The oral surgeon said it was healing nicely and at this point to ditch the gauze as it was getting in the way of the healing to finish. That was a relief – not just that everything was okay, but that I could stop using the gauze. Anyone who has ever tried to eat with a pack of gauze in your mouth will understand what I’m referring to about here.

So, did I learn to stop worrying about things?

No!

There is too much crap in life shoved at us to deal with and if you become like Ms. Pollyanna, you could be in trouble.

So, I go back to the Brownie motto when I was a child – be prepared.

And if that includes worrying, so be it. At least it gets you doing something about it.

Cheers.

Sharon

Only Child Writes

What Dr. Scary reminds me of

What Dr. Scary reminds me of

 

 

 

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Filed under 1950s, 1960s, Anxiety, Dental Surgery, Life demands, Mom and Dad, Only child, Worrying