Monday, July 9, 2012

The Good Deal and The Bad Deal

When I was living in my parents' home with my siblings, my father invented what he called "The Good Deal and The Bad Deal." Just writing that makes me smile. You may have read about my father's sense of humor here, and his very direct, dramatic, energetic personality. For example, you might recall the story of the time when I was a senior in high school and had done something that made him very angry. After telling me in no uncertain terms how furious he was, my father's way of delivering my punishment - taking away my driving privileges - was shouting, "You're a PEDESTRIAN!" Even in great anger, he could be witty and funny.
My dad has always had a great sense of humor
I'm the youngest of three - my sister Debbie is five years older than I am, and my brother Jim is three years older. I learned a great deal by watching them...watching what worked, what didn't work, what my parents would tolerate and what they would not accept. I observed the way my parents corrected us and disciplined us, what their standards were and how they responded if one of us fell short. I had an advantage in being able to watch the older two - and the advantage of their work of "breaking in" my parents.

By the time I was in my teens, my parents had figured out a lot of things; they had developed some calm in regards to certain teen behavior which had, at first, created some panic and major reactions in them. So I daresay it was much easier to be their 3rd child than their first - but isn't this true in many families? We learn parenting from our own parents - whether we like what they did or not - and mainly by doing it ourselves; many times, we learn by "doing it wrong."

When my brother and sister were deep into their teens, there was some conflict over the expectations in our home, and the way my parents felt they were being treated. In light of all that they did for us, and the teachings of the commandment, "Honor thy father and thy mother...," as well as their desire to raise courteous and respectful people, my parents held certain standards; at the time, these were not being met by the three of us.

My father, with a huge sense of humor and a deep sense of responsibility for his family, came up with a choice for us: The Good Deal or The Bad Deal. He and my mother obviously had a clear idea of which one they wanted us to choose, but they did allow us the choice.
Debbie, Jim and me, a few years after the Good Deal/Bad Deal offer
The Good Deal meant doing what my parents asked of us, including chores in the house and garden, following rules, helping out, upholding the family's standards. The rewards for that were total support, a great place to live, money for expenses, freedom to use the family cars, paid vacations, special privileges and treats, etc. A very "good deal," indeed.
The house where I grew up
This was actually a vehicle for work (my dad was a salesman with several states to cover), but it could also whisk you away for something special
The Bad Deal meant that you had more leeway to do things your own way, had fewer chores and expectations - but you were on your own financially. In-home services were reduced. You worked (elsewhere), and paid your own way.

My sister and I immediately opted for The Good Deal. My brother decided to try The Bad Deal. My father and mother stood back and waited.

My brother came back to ask for The Good Deal a short time later.
My family at the time of my first marriage
Why am I sharing these memories with you? Because I recently recalled the Good Deal/Bad Deal when facing a "parenting moment" with our own 19-year old son. I admired anew my father's creativity, ingenuity, humor and wisdom, and my mother's ability to flex with him. I am blessed to be their daughter, to be part of this legacy, and to be able to pass some of it along to our son...whether or not David appreciates that at this point in his life!

By the way: is it just me, or can anyone else see the family resemblance?
David in 2011
My dad in the 1960s
Note to Mich (Daisy): yes, David has a great sense of humor!

10 comments:

Anna Davies said...

Love the comparison pic between David and your dad! They do look very similar!! And I love reading about what your dad was like as a parent—I really enjoyed meeting him and our spirited conversation at your house last month :) And I think the "good deal/bad deal" MO seems like a great idea!

Princess Kate said...

Thank you for sharing your family memories. Brought back some "interesting" memories of my childhood and the ways my parents opted to raise the 5 of us.

Daisy said...

Wow Karen; there is most definitely a resemblance. Does David have the same sense of humour?

Smart dad...

Mich

ChiTown Girl said...

First, HOLY COW to those photos of your dad and David.

Second, your dad is one smart cookie. But you already know that, don't you?

I had to laugh at your description of how parents deal with children from the oldest to the youngest. I've always thought the same thing. My brother and sister were SO lucky I was the oldest. I was the "perfect child" (my mother's words, not mine) so it paved the way for my younger siblings to basically do whatever they wanted! My brother, naturally, got away with the most, seeing as he was the youngest, plus the only boy. The only boy in an ITALIAN family! His feet didn't touch the ground until he was about 6!

Busy Bee Suz said...

David is the SPITTING IMAGE!!!!!
Your father is so clever...and funny...and handsome. I heart him.
I love this good deal/bad deal plan...sometimes we have to let them find out on their own that we know better. :)
xoxoxox

Leslie said...

So true! I vividly remember my parents saying they weren't going to do things they were raised (I think I accidentally walk in on parent to parent conversation.)

Sure enough, what I remember about the grandparents I knew (one passed away before I was born) they did the same things.

YES! David looks just like your dad. Wow!

I wonder how long the cycle goes (parenting like your folks did ...) Hmmmm ....

M said...

Totally see the resemblance! Both very handsome men to have had in your life...you lucky girl :)

rebecca said...

oh karen what a heart warming post of endearing memories. the portrait you paint of your father is priceless. and YES your son is your father's younger self!

thank you for your kindest visit and encouragement as i delve into the art of painting. i have been so deeply engrossed in this immersion that i have not been "out and about" blog visiting all my dear friends in a long long time. thank you for not forgetting me!

Kay said...

What smart parents...the good deal and the bad deal..I love it! : ) Wow on the cool looking house...very retro. Now. : )

Karla said...

I love it. And those two last photos do certainly look a lot alike.