A Journey of “thousands” of miles
Be seen and not heard.-From the generation of parents before mine.
I’m sitting in our family car, which is a Delta 88 Oldsmobile, right behind my father. I’m tucked in a seatbelt with my younger brother. We are sitting on top of a suitcase so we can see out the window. My parents and one of my 4 siblings are seated 3 across in the front of the car, while there are 4 of us children along the back. We have managed to somehow get to Palo Alto California without killing each other on the LONG drive from Utah. The car stinks. We have dealt with bordem, car sickness, hunger, sleepiness, crappy music, arguing and the likes. We have been gone from home for days. We visited a cabin that is owned by my Great Grandparents for a few days beforhand, and because we were in California, my Dad felt it important for us to visit while we were somewhat close. Too many hours in the car. Days have added up, and now I just want to go home. My young body is done. I cannot wait to get out of the cramped stinky car to run around at my great grandparents house. The traffic in California is insane. It’s nothing like I know of in Utah. My Dad keeps telling my mom how he has to speed because that’s just what you do in California, and you have to keep up. We finally arrive at the house. It looks beautiful to my young eyes. There’s a LEMON tree! Who knew lemons grew in people’s yards? I’m so exicted to explore. My Dad puts the car in park and turns to face all of us. “Remember kids, this is not a place to play. You are to be seen and not heard.” WHAT? I’m not sure what the really means, but I sure want to get out of the car, so I nod my head and say okay. I have gathered from my wiser older brother that I am to be on my best behavior. I’m hoping I find an adventure behind that arched doorway. I cannot wait to find dolls and toys to play pretend. Maybe go in the backyard and climb a tree. We knock on the door and wait. Slowly the door opens and my aged great-grandparents open the door to greet us. We all line up in a way that my Dad can introduce us one by one, give hugs, and apparently we are all going to sit in the living room and talk. Ugh. My Dad motions for us to sit down with a quiet, “Don’t touch anything,” said into our ears. More sitting. NO! The house is beautiful. It looks like something I have seen on television. There’s a grand piano. A GRAND PIANO! I love to play on our simple upright at home and want to touch the keys. No I am told. Oh, and by the way, don’t sit on the bench because my Great Grandmother made the covering on it and I might be dirty. The decor is museum like with figurines that look expensive, furniture that seems impractical, and artwork that my young mind isn’t quite sure how it’s art. I’m hoping for an escape. I heard we were going to go to lunch. Perhaps I can have good behavior until then…hours later, okay maybe miutes, but it feels like hours. “Can I go play somewhere? Is there a toy room? Can I go outside? Do I have to sit here and listen to you and Mom talk?” I’m not sure how long I lasted, but I am BORED! I’m hoping Dad will give me relief. Shsh! Is all I am told. Finally I am not the only one who is restless. It looks like all 5 kids are. Great Grandmother takes us upstairs to a “playroom” of sorts. “Be gentle with the toys, don’t break anything, the toys are old.” There are dolls in a glass cage in the hallway. I wonder why I cannot play with them. The toys that are there are interesting enough to hold our attention for a time. Tin toys, blocks, old looking books, a pull toy. Suddenly our Mom appears. “You were told to be quiet. You can be in here, but we should not be able to hear all of you.” Okay Mom. We all hush for awhile. Soon we are all bored again. We have to go to the bathroom, we’re hungry, we start to wander downstairs. We sit on laps, and quietly ask if we can go outside, leave, eat, anything. Finally Dad relents and asks if we can see the backyard. Oh to be outside! There’s a massive tree in the center of the yard. Leaves that are larger than I have ever seen before. I’m so happy for fresh air, and it seems my siblings feel the same. The older people talk while we explore and look around for a bit. Finally my Great Grandparents say it’s time to go to lunch. Better words were never spoken! Somewhere with a playplace please. Nope. We are headed for Sizzler, they have a buffet for lunch. What’s Sizzler?
This is a picture into what I would begin to understand as the: “Put on a happy face and be seen and not heard” mantra. There’s nothing wrong with it. Especially for where I was and whom I was with. Honestly, as a mother and adult now, I understand the thoughts and feelings of those adults. They just wanted to get together and not worry about a bunch of kids infringing on their time. I get it. I need to chat and be with adults and friends too. Somtimes though, we need to listen to our kids, and the people around us. Maybe, just maybe they have something to say. Maybe they know something important. Maybe, just maybe they will change your life or your perspective. Maybe everyone needs a chance to have a voice.