Raising Boys vs. Girls

A story by Lois Keating Learned

As the youngest of six children – four boys and two girls – I guess you’d say I’ve some experience in a ‘mixed’ family. Though my brothers were seven to fourteen years older than I, and were away at boarding school, college and World War II when I was young, I do remember some differences. My mother was the eldest of four – three girls and a boy, and my father, youngest of two sons, with an older and younger sister – I’m sure their upbringing was much like the way they treated us, their children. My brothers had chores appropriate to their age and ability. They’d take turns mowing the lawn, cleaning gutters, trimming the privet hedge and other such outdoor activities. My sister and I kept our rooms neat, made our beds – and our brothers’ beds. (We had live-in help to cook and do the heavy cleaning, plus wait on the table and wash the dishes.) When I questioned my mother about making my brothers’ beds, her answer was we’d need to know how to do that when we were married. I later discovered that my brothers learned how to do such things when they were away at school and in the service during the war. My sister, older than I and Queen Bee for the five years before I was born, liked to ‘push the envelope’ and set the limits to which I, too, could get away with ‘things’. My father was a big softie as far as we were concerned and referred to Mom and the two of us as his ‘three sweethearts’. I remember one incident when my sister Nancie and I had an altercation in the playroom over a doll and I threw an old small, metal clock at her, which hit her forehead and caused a gush of blood. I accompanied her to the kitchen where Mom dressed her wound and sent us to our father. I guess Mom didn’t quite know how to handle the situation. Dad was stretched out on his bed, perusing the paper, with his reading glasses half way down his nose. He gave each of us a stern look and then said, Lo, go to your room. As I left I heard him say, Nan, what have you been doing to your little sister? I don’t remember her punishment, but I learned never to judge an incident, especially involving children, when you haven’t been a witness to the occasion.

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 altercation,bed making,boarding school,chores,hedge trimming,lawn mowing,World War II
  Garden City, Long Island, NY
Feb 25 2024

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