Out planting bulbs (yes, I know, late spring is also a good time for daffodils and narcissus) & because I often think about my parents when gardening*, I got to thinking about my life choice to say ‘yes’ as often as I can and how many of the people who are always encouraging me to say ‘no’ more often had v different upbringings to me …
They could go home once they left, there was room for them, money for them, a place for them. Whatever age they were when they left home, there was something for them to fall back on – perhaps not quite Pulp’s, “If you called your Dad, he could stop it all”, but not far.
That wasn’t the case for me and for the kids who came from poorer families as I did.
And it interests me that the poorer kids are the people I gravitated to as soon as I left home – the ones who knew what it was like to fend for yourself.
We left home, we got on with it.
There was no allowance, no money to fall back on, no back to go to.
Not because my parents were unkind or unloving, but because they didn’t have either. From the age of 17 I looked after myself.
I ONCE borrowed $200 from my Mum to pay my rent – and I paid it back.
Add that to being freelance my whole life, and the chances of being someone who says an easy “no, thanks” to pretty much anything that might result in work, that might lead somewhere, one day … well, it’s not quite as easy as just learning to say “no”.
Like so many other things, saying “no” is a class and poverty thing too.
Those bulbs will be lovely in April and May.
*economic migrants, my parents moved to my father’s native NZ when I was five. They went from decades of post-war shared houses and the council flat I was born in to a little weatherboard house (like all the other mill houses in Tokoroa) with a 1/4 acre section. My mother had her first ever garden at the age of 48. They both worked full time and they both worked that garden.
So true, Stella. My working class background and grammar school education caused very mixed emotions when I was growing up. Being able to see what was possible but not attain it was a constant worry . However, I’ve sort of survived and had s great nursing career. I’m becoming more of a sociopath now I’ve moved into s small apartment, back in England from Wales, but will Carpe diem for now and see where that leads me. Keep up the good work Stella !
Thank you. And you.
Those words! So very true. Never daring to turn down work when it’s there. Brilliantly said.
I have two sons who are currently saying ‘no thanks’ to a lot of things and that angers and saddens and confuses me…it was certainly not the way I was brought up and not the way I have raised them either and yet it is happening. My father died when I was 13 and my mum was always the breadwinner of the family, and had to manage her money to the half pence…still does. I was fully independent at 18 and had Saturday jobs to finance my own wants so I didn’t have to ask my mum, from the age of 14. My daughter took the same attitude but my two sons are quite different. I have no idea why and am at a loss as to how to change it.
I value the possibility of ‘no thanks’ but – even with the caveats about why I say yes so often – I have certainly found yes to be more useful in the long run. (if a lot more tiring!). Hopefully they’ll grow to be keener/more adventurous – for their own sakes!