Friday, September 10, 2010

Stand Up Straight!

I discovered a note in my Evernote box that I had emailed to myself one day a few weeks ago: Write a blog on "Stand Up Straight!"  I vaguely remember seeing a girl walking down the street with very rounded shoulders ... she would be a pretty girl except for the fact that everything was hunched over on her body ... and at this point, she would never stand straight.

These are words that I will always remember mom saying to us: "Stand up straight!"  She didn't want us to slouch or be sloppy as we stood or walked.  It drove her absolutely crazy.  You know, I'm pretty sure that the fact she died before pants became sloppy on boys was a good thing.  She would have had no qualms about challenging every young man she came into contact with.  (I digress)

Because I knew that mom's threats were things she was serious about, I learned to listen.  She threatened to take me to a physical therapist and she guaranteed me that she would force him/her to put me in a back brace unless I chose not to slouch.  That was a pretty quick decision on my part.  I stood up straight.  But the poor woman seemed to always be telling me the same thing - stand up straight!  Even the times when I was pretty sure that I wasn't slouching, she was right there with her hand on my shoulders, rolling them back where they belonged.

She wouldn't let me hide behind long hair or slump when I walked, she wouldn't let me be anything less than who I really was.  Stand up and face the world withe everything you have.  And every time she saw someone who wore their hair in front of their face, she'd point it out to me and make comments about their self-esteem, to remind me that the world's perception of who we are is based on how we present ourselves.  She was going to have none of that surly, sullen stuff from her kids. 

One time I tried to do something fancy with the part in my hair.  I was just having fun with my hair.  It ended up spilling down the front of my face.  I didn't make it two steps past the bathroom before she had me back in there, rearranging me so that in her eyes I was presentable to the world.

Just so you know, she carried threats with her so that they were available in any area of my life.  For some reason or other in junior high I picked up a lisp.  For the life of me I don't know why I did it, but I refused to rid myself of it.  Mom took care of that for me.  One of the members of our church was a speech therapist.  I didn't really like him, he kind of creeped me out (remember me telling you a while ago about the little girl who removed her cloth diapers when I was babysitting and I had to make Mom come over and put something back on the child?  That family).  Well, when she had finally had enough of my lisp, she informed me that if I didn't take care of it, she would make an appointment with him and I would be done with it one way or another.  It was gone in a day.

One thing that mom never wavered on was her consistency in expectations and threats.  We had boundaries laid out, they were firm and when we chose to cross them, punishment was swift and firm.  She also never wavered in her belief in us as great kids with great potential.  She and Dad expected the best from us, expected us to always behave ourselves in public, and expected us to move through life with confidence.

Stand up straight!  I'm glad I listened.

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