What Will the Neighbors Think?

"I don't give a damn 'bout my reputation!" - Joan Jett

Oh, but someday you will. . .that's what my parents and grandparents tried to tell me during those "what will the neighbors think?" speeches. I would roll my eyes and lament the absolute "fogey-ness" of their sentiments. I didn't care what the neighbors thought.

As time has passed, I've learned to appreciate what they were trying to tell me. It wasn't really about the peering eyes of the Venetian peekers that I needed to worry about. The manner in which I conducted myself in all things would become my "advertising" when it became necessary to "sell" myself in an important situation.

Those who know me are aware that I am far from perfect, but I do believe that my good points outweigh my bad ones in the big scheme of things. Halfway Between (10 & 20) and I were talking about this last night at dinner. We'd listened to one of the Town Hall meetings on the ride home yesterday, where an angry man was chastising Arlen Specter and telling him that he and his cronies on the Hill would face God's judgement.

"Do you think he was right to bring God into it?" Halfway asked.

"Well, in my opinion, he might have been more 'appropriate' in suggesting that the Senator look in the mirror and judge himself. I don't like make assumptions about anyone's religious convictions. . ."

The conversation continued about politicians' reputations, the choices we make and why it is important to try and do the right things. I pointed out to Halfway that he has established a trusting relationship with his father and me by following the rules and making wise choices. "Because you have a reputation for being honest and responsible, we extend you certain freedoms. But if you ever do anything to tarnish it. . ." I drew my finger across my neck.

His older brother and sister have been useful tools in teaching him that lesson. They've had to test the waters and learn their own lessons, in their own ways, about trust and the importance of conducting oneself with integrity. They've encountered some stormy seas, but I think the end result is that they've learned to become skillful sailors.

If you've been following along, you know that I've made some mistakes as a parent. I share them with you, dear reader, in the hopes that maybe we can all learn from them. I have a reputation for being a wee bit overprotective, marginally inconsistent, perhaps even a little crazy. But part of the process is to learn from my mistakes and to live with the knowledge that someone IS watching me, taking note of my behavior, ever-mindful of my reputation . . .and it's not the neighbors (actually, we're usually watching THEM!)

It's my children.

Poor guys. . .they've certainly gotten an eye-full! Maybe they'll turn out okay anyway.

Have fun!


JenellyBean said...

My family is from Liberia, Africa, and they are a community based culture.

Everything you do is being watched by the community and when it is good your parents gloat. When it is bad, your parents are shamed.

Nothing is a family secret.

Lara said...

Well, Jenelly, we have six people and two bathrooms. . .nothing is a family secret around here, either! :)