You might say that Dad, my sister and I were definitely “old school”. This term is thrown around today instead of using old fashioned. But we grew up to understand the term “old school” as not outdated, rather we learned from Dad that it meant have a longer-term point of view that was consistent, fair, and honest.
Our dad taught us how important it was to have standards and that our word was our bond. He lived by those beliefs his entire life and expected us to do the same.
Since our mother was busy with her “hobbies” of drinking and smoking, Dad knew the upbringing would be left up to him. He was a lifelong learner and instilled the pursuit of knowledge in both of us.
As my sister and I grew up, we knew how proud Dad would be for us to carry on with the same standards he set for us. The time we spent teaching was a culmination of our growing up years. Our standards in the classroom were “old school”. But certainly not impossible.
We set high expectations for our students and enforced our standards with guidance, fairness, consistency, and care. If our students called us old fashioned, Abby and I considered it a compliment.
Mother was old school in her own, strange way. She told us repeatedly that she was the boss since she read somewhere the parent was to be in control. Now our mother was never in control of her own life, and she only controlled ours through fear and intimidation.
- Her drinking was uncontrolled
- She smoked three or four packs of non-filtered cigarettes a day for most of her life
- Her diet was “binge binge binge”, always behind closed doors
- Her generally out of control behavior was, well, out of control
She did periodically try to set dietary standards for herself. Some of her diets lasted until she ran out of Spam or baloney.
Others ended when the latest fad diet turned out to not work if you ate massive quantities of whatever the “diet” called for.
And some relied heavily on the use of “diet pills” that we later learned were basically over the counter amphetamines.
Mother also tried to set standards for her alcohol consumption. She did this via rationalization games that we later learned are quite common:
- If she didn’t drink before 7 p.m., she didn’t have a problem
- If nobody could tell she was drinking, she was fine
- As long as she had some booze left in the bottle, she was in the clear
- When she was at the bar with others, she wasn’t drinking alone, so how could she have a problem?
She would tell Abby and me to be ladylike when we were around members of the opposite sex. We never knew for sure what she meant because her behavior did not fall under the heading of ladylike.
- Did she mean screaming and yelling at a pitch that would break the sound barrier?
- Or did she mean hanging out all day in a dive bar, the only woman in a dark, crappy tavern otherwise filled with men?
- Perhaps she meant disregard for wind gusts in relation to one’s underwear (or lack thereof)?
Being old school is never a bad thing. It just means you have standards and are not afraid to live them.