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That’s What Girls Are Made Of

“Sugar and spice and all things nice, and that are little girls are made of,” is a line from the poem, “What are Little Boys Made Of?’ Many are familiar with the first two stanzas of that poem penned by Robert Southey, later modified by some. Those stanzas read as follows:

“What are little boys made of?

What are little boys made of?

Frogs and snails and puppy-dogs’ tails,

And that are little boys made of.

What are little girls made of?

What are little girls made of?

Sugar and spice and all things nice,

And that are little girls made of.”

Those of us with children can look at our kids and feel some of what’s written in those two stanzas in the persons of our sons and/or daughters. I say some, because there were times as they were growing up, when we became a bit ragged, maybe a little “farshimmelt” (Reference: Dr. Sidney Freedman on the M*A*SH* episode titled, “Hawk’s Nightmare”). Let’s face it, in between the wonderful moments they give/gave us, and the many memorable events that occur as they grow up in their early childhood, there were also many moods, temperaments, whines, cries, bumps, bruises, scrapes, cuts, among the ups and downs of raising children.

Included are early school days, getting them into routines of getting up on time, getting ready for school, instilling the proper behavior we expect them to exhibit, and homework and study habits that need to be taught and expected as well. Then, each year, we, as parents needed to raise the bar a little higher and see to it that school was the highest priority, while also encouraging them to get involved in extra-curricular activities in school, church, and community, helping them learn commitment and the balancing of time for work and play.

As we did/do these things, hopefully loosening up here and there, giving them room to take what we’ve tried to teach them and let them make it their own, but keeping one hand on the reins to guide them if they begin to go astray or venture off the road a bit. This is an unwritten job we took on when we made the commitment to have children, and is a job that that’ll continue until that day we leave this earth.

As those children become adults themselves, it’s our hope that we did a good enough job that they’ll be able to take on and succeed at whatever life offers, or throws at them. We hope they’ll catch on to the good that they do and build upon it, and pass along to their children, and that they’ll be able to deal with the not-so-good stuff that comes with life, and develop strategies to handle that, and also pass along some of that to their children as well. And, as we do this from their birth to our death, we realize that most of what we did, most of what we tried to teach and instill in them is/was trial and error, hit and miss, because there’s no book out there on how to raise children, despite what many educated people try to tell us what to do and how to do it.

Back to the poem of Southey, I’m blessed with one son, four grandsons, and one great-grandson made of “frogs and snails, and puppy-dog tails,” and two daughters, and we’re awaiting our first granddaughter’s arrival, made of “sugar and spice and all things nice.” It’s my two daughters who’ve motivated my pen today.

When Sally and I married, I became an instant dad to two young girls. Saying this was an instant culture shock would be putting it mildly. I was clueless. I stumbled, tripped, fell, got up, and fell again. I couldn’t ask them to be like me, because I’ve always been known to have a short temper, been rather loud in some of my deliveries, and I didn’t want to pass any of my bad qualities onto them. I think I had a few qualities, though, they might’ve been able to use later on in their lives, at least I hoped I did.

Their growing up had some moments of rebellion and revolt. They made some choices we didn’t particularly like, but it was part of being adolescents and teenagers, the time of making choices and being accountable. I think, as parents, we’ve all sung the refrain from The Grateful Dead’s song, “Touch of Grey,” “We will get by, we will get by, we will get by, we will survive.” And we did.

Chasity and Christina didn’t see college in their futures. After High School. they worked, then each found someone whom they wanted to marry, and did so, all the time never fearing work. Chasity’s marriage didn’t work as she, or we, hoped, and she took on the arduous tasks of single parenthood, raising two boys, all the while working two and sometimes three jobs, making sure she provided for her boys as best she could. After working all those jobs, she chose to relocate to Tennessee, where now, she not only resides, but has started, built, and established an excellent, and in high demand cleaning business. She’s watched her boys grow to become hard working adults as well. She’s always doing for others, was a wonderful friend to her ex-husband’s grandmother, until she passed away, and she is still a wonderful friend to her ex-husband’s father as well.

Her life was not the smoothest road to travel, but she never hid behind the bumps in her road, using them as excuses. In her marriage, her relocation, and her single parenthood, she was, and is, one of the strongest women I know. She looked all the bad stuff in the eyes and said something like, “I’ll not only survive, I’ll pave my own path to happiness for me and my family.” She’s definitely done that.

Chris became a Marine wife with her marriage, and uprooted to California, where they also had two boys to raise out there while Jeff was stationed at Camp Pendleton. She was both parents when Jeff was deployed, and continued being a working mom when he wasn’t. They moved to Virginia after Jeff’s hitch was up and he found a job there. They moved a couple times while there, but their family never missed a beat. They then relocated near Pittsburgh where they had a wonderful home which, sadly, they lost in a fire. Again, they kept it together and rebuilt. An opportunity arose for them to return to this area, and they’re now living in Dewittville, where Chris has worked, and still does, as a Pharmacy Assistant in Mayville. The times of being both parents while Jeff was gone, the moves, the fire, rebuilding, and being a Sports’ Mom has come from within her. On top of all this she’s an amazing builder, restorer, refurbisher, and antiquer of things that no one wants anymore. Her roads weren’t always paved with fresh blacktop, but she did, and continues to do, what’s necessary for her family.

When I look at my two little girls, they’ve grown up and are doing very well, despite any rebellions, revolts, and/or some decisions of their adolescence. Add to that, of course, my stumbles, trips, and falls, which tells a lot about their mother, who picked me up, when I made my parental errors. Despite all that, I can honestly say they’re still made of sugar and spice, but I can add that they made their lives what they are today, combining that sweetness of sugar and spice, with the strength and toughness of fire and ice. All that’s what my little girls are made of.

Happy Mother’s Day, Chas, Chris, (you too Sally, and all mothers here, and above, too.)

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