Nowadays it seems that madness is the norm, rather than the exception.
My Grandmother had a saying that she relayed to my Dad when he was a child and in turn he relayed it to me and my siblings.
“It starts at home and spreads abroad.”
This was often the opening to one of his many lectures, driven home with the authority of the Almighty Belt …
I didn’t appreciate the power of these words until I was much older.
My Dad was more apt to bellow his lectures rather than saying it in a conversational tone. I believe it was his contention that he had to project his voice for effect.
Often, I felt as if his words were being embedded in my bone marrow with the resounding thud of each syllable.
He was always reading something and he would weave the material into whatever narrative that fit the situation.
His discourse often left me puzzled, because at 5 years old I had the faintest idea of what “recalcitrant” meant, but I nodded as if I understood. I learned early on that if I looked as I didn’t understand what my Dad was saying, he would make me look it up in the dictionary along with a demand that the words be used in a sentence to ensure that I comprehended it for next time.
For some reason my older brothers did not have to endure the literary punishments that my Dad meted out to me.
Like clockwork, I would trudge off into the corner to harness the words bouncing around in my head before left for work, which was always promptly at 9:15pm.
One exercise that I particularly hated was writing “I will be intelligent” 100 times on college ruled paper.
It had to be properly spaced and legible or he would make me start over; often my tears dotted the paper because my fingers would be sore from trying to mimic the shape of the words as I saw it in the books.
I was convinced that my Daddy was the meanest man in Chicago, but I kept those blasphemous thoughts in the darkest recesses of my mind because I didn’t have any words for that.
I hated going into the corner of the living room with the World Book Encyclopedias and the Childcraft books with a passion, but had I known that words would save my life and ultimately fill me with purpose would I have been more appreciative?
He often told me and my brothers “You’ve got to set an example for each other” this mandate was mainly directed at them in lieu of my being the youngest son.
In retrospect it was very insightful of my Dad, because I was always watching my brothers, always recording what I bore witness and storing it into my mental database.
And it is that mandates are a scary thing. Because a mandate is a authoritative order or command and often we shirk away from commands because of the intimidation factor that they pose.
But can it be said that it is just as intimidating to give an mandate as it is to be issued one?
Perhaps this is the conundrum that society finds itself in …
Fathers and mandates seem to be in short supply with the bellow and the belt being a relic of a bygone era.