It’s hard for me to think of my Uncle Wayne Byer without thinking of my mom, Collene Byer Spencer, and my Uncle Larry Byer, because they were like the three musketeers of that generation. If one was getting in trouble, you could assume that the other two weren’t far behind. It’s not that they were troublemakers, because they weren’t. It was that these were the only boys in the family, and my mom was the one sister who fell between them in the family line. That meant that where the boys went, and what they did, my mom wasn’t far behind. She wanted to be right in the middle of everything they were doing.
Mom always thought the world of all her siblings, but her brothers were a combination of superheroes and partners in crime, though no crimes were ever committed…unless you count the antics that got all three into trouble with their mom. Grandma and Grandpa raise their kids to be responsible adults and good citizens. They taught them well. They all turned out to be amazing people, but no childhood is without mischief, and the Byer kids were no different. Anytime you have nine kids, you have nine imaginations to come up with something new to get into trouble with.
While boys can be mischievous, they can do some of the nicest things too. My mom has told me about several things her brothers did for her. Besides being her best friends, they did nice little things like buying her a set of salt and pepper shakers that she had admired…just because she liked them. That act was more than just doing something nice, it showed that they were listening to her. I think that has always endeared them to my mom. So often in life, we go through situations where we don’t feel like anyone is listening to us at all, but then when someone picks up on something we said and does something so nice with it, your realize that they really were listening to you, and that they wanted to show you how much they care about you. What better way for brothers to be toward their sister?
Uncle Wayne has always been one to pay attention to those around him. He loves entertaining the children that are around him, and especially loves making them laugh. He has a great laugh, and that makes everyone laugh. His sense of humor and ability to tell jokes is awesome. In all, he is a great guy to have around. I don’t get to see him as much these days, as in the past, but when I do see him, it is always a good time. Today is Uncle Wayne’s 78th birthday. Happy birthday Uncle Wayne!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
Several of my cousins were talking a couple of days ago on Facebook, about our grandmother, Hattie Byer, and how she kept her numerous grandchildren in line when they were at her house. Now, in reality, I pretty much mean Greg Hushman, Elmer Johnson, and Forest Beadle, because most of the rest of us would never have done anything to provoke the Wrath of Grandma!! It’s funny, but I can almost hear the skepticism from every reader. Ok, I’ll admit that I was no less likely to get into trouble with Grandma than Greg, Elmer or Forest, but I truly don’t recall having her coming after me with the broom, although my cousin Shirley Cameron, who is from the other side of my family remembers it once or twice, when she was over there with us.
One thing I do remember, and that I know every one of Grandma’s grandchildren will agree on, Grandma was the boss when you were at her house. You see, those were the days when it didn’t matter if the adult in the vicinity was your parent, grandparent, or the parent of the friend you were visiting, they all disciplined the kids who got out of line. And if some adult caught you doing something in the public arena that you shouldn’t be, such as graffiti or some other such mischief, they weren’t afraid to tell you to “knock it off” either. That was just the way things were back then. From what I am told of this barely five foot tall, broom wielding grandma of mine, she was able to make that broom go around corners, so if you thought you were going to get away from her, you might just as well think again.
I certainly remember that when you found yourself in trouble with Grandma, you were about to get a very clear understanding of what the word “trouble” meant. Yes, I too, had my share of times in my childhood where I found myself on the wrong side of Grandma Byer. Oh boy, believe me, it was not a place you wanted to be. And don’t think she was going to threaten to tell your mom just how bad you were, and then conveniently forget to do it when the time actually came for your parents to come home. Grandma wasn’t about to be the helpless little babysitter who had to wait for your parents to make you behave…oh no!! Whether she used a broom, her hand, or some other punishment, believe me when I say the punishment was swift, and it fit the crime. You see, Grandma was old school, before there was a new school form of discipline. People weren’t afraid of some well meaning, but not too bright passerby telling them they shouldn’t spank that kid…those people didn’t exist then. People knew that most situations required a little whack on the seat to get through to the brain. For many of us those lessons made it crystal clear, who was in charge, who was acting up, who would refrain from such activities in the future, and who would apologize for their elders for acting such a horrible fashion in the first place.
For most of us, the discipline Grandma dished out, is looked back on with a smile, because we all knew how much she loved us. People who have never had any discipline simply don’t understand that discipline is a form of love. Does it hurt…yes, because it is tough love, but are you better for it…oh yeah, because they love you very much. If your parents or grandparents didn’t care about you, they would have no need to want you to behave. They just wouldn’t care, but since they do, they want you to know how to act in public, because then people are happy to have you around. And for any of you, who have ever been around an out of control kid, can you honestly tell me that you did not wish their parents would just give them a spanking? Of course you did. So to my grandma, to her broom, and to our parents, aunts, uncles, and teachers…I say thank you. Whether we felt the broom on our backside, or some other form of discipline, I can say that we all turned out pretty good. And people don’t seem to mind having us around.
My cousin Shirley Wolfe Cameron, commented on a story I wrote a couple of days ago, and while this story and that one really have very little to do with each other, her comment sparked a little memory for me. My story was on my great grandmother, Henriette Schumacher’s debilitating arthritis, but it reminded Shirley of our grandmother, Anna Schumacher Spencer when she was in a wheelchair with debilitating arthritis. Shirley is Grandma’s first granddaughter, and while she is not the oldest grandchild, she was always very close to Grandma. Grandma lived with the Wolfe family for many years, and so the two of them shared many good times, and Shirley has many great memories of those times, and of her grandma. They are memories that most of us younger grandchildren wish we had too. I don’t remember my grandmother at all, because she died when I was just three months old, but in some ways, I really think I must be a bit like her…especially when it comes to my grandchildren.
Shirley told me of the times when she was in trouble with her mother, my aunt, Ruth Spencer Wolfe. She said she would run in to Grandma, yelling, “Grandma, Grandma, Grandma!!” Then she would climb up in Grandma’s lap a wait for her mother to come in after her. Grandma was always a bit of a peacemaker, and like me, she hated to see her grandchildren being disciplined. As grandmothers, we know they have to be disciplined…otherwise, they turn out pretty bratty, but it still breaks our hearts that our precious little babies have to get punished. Unfortunately, their parents don’t always like our soft hearted ways. They think that Grandma is a pushover…and, really we are. So, our pushover Grandma, would lift Shirley up into her lap and make a game of protecting Shirley from her mom’s punishment. Aunt Ruth got frustrated during those little episodes, like most parents would, but most of the time, in the end, she laughed along with her mother and her daughter, because she knew that this battle was lost.
My grandchildren were totally my weakness too. I was a fairly strict disciplinarian with my daughters, Corrie and Amy, but when it came to the grandkids, I was a pushover. Everyone knew it, from the grandkids to their parents, and even my parents and sisters. Even if the kids did something wrong when they stayed with me, their parents never knew it, because I didn’t want them to get into trouble. Thankfully, they are good kids, and they don’t take serious advantage of their grandma…or maybe they do, and I am too much of a pushover to realize it. My status as a pushover became a family joke of sorts too. The kids always knew that if Bob and I went out of town, we were going to bring them something back. They have had a variety of toys, candy, souvenirs, and t-shirts, including one of my favorite t-shirts. It was the one that went something like, “When all else fails…Call 1-800-Grandma.”
We have laughed at and used that saying many times over the years, and while I can’t say for sure that they ever really told on their parents, they did do their best to spend the night often. Maybe their parents were grouchy, and they wanted to go spend time with the pushover, or maybe they just liked to spend the might with their grandma, I can’t say for sure. One thing I can say for sure, however, is that kids have been calling 1-800-Grandma in one way or another, for as long as grandmothers have existed. There is simply no way for a mother who was a good parent to their own kids, not to relax and realize that you don’t always have to take life so seriously with your grandchildren.
There is nothing quite as amusing to a kid as their sibling getting into trouble. I’m not sure why that is something that kids find so funny, but they do. Of course, the one who got in trouble sees nothing funny about it at all, and in fact is often very annoyed at their sibling…if they have the chance to see it anyway.
My grandchildren have told me of several events where they were guilty of laughing when one of the other three kids was getting in trouble. Of course, I told them I was shocked, but in reality, I was a kid once too. I caught them on several events, and of course, that meant that an equal measure of the same punishment had to go to the offending child. As time went on, I caught them less and less, so either they quit doing it, or got better at not getting caught.
I’m not completely sure why kids like to see other kids get into trouble, but they sure seem to. Of course, sometimes they are just annoyed at their sibling anyway, so seeing them get in trouble is almost like revenge. And if an argument between the siblings preceded the one getting in trouble, then obviously they are all for it.
Most of the time kids won’t admit to laughing at other kids who just got in trouble, because of the distinct possibility of getting the same treatment, but every once in a while they simply can’t deny it. When they get caught, they are probably in the most danger, because well…Mom is a already mad, but sometimes they get caught years later, because pictures just don’t lie.
We were having some family pictures take when the girls were little, and it was the entire family, so their were multiple kids and everyone was getting tired of the whole thing. Tempers were rising, and moods were getting bad. It was at that point that Amy got into a little trouble, and started crying. Obviously, Corrie found that amusing, because she glanced over at her sister, and proceeded to get a grin on her face that said, “Better you than me!” I didn’t see it at the time, and really hadn’t given it much thought until years later, so Corrie got away with that little no no!
Had I seen this at the time it happened, I know without a doubt, that she would had been wishing she hadn’t pulled such a stunt, but in this instance, she got away with it, because since she is a married mother of two teen aged boys, I guess it is a little late for a spanking. Just know this Corrie, I’ve got my eye on you now, and if I catch you laughing at your sister getting in trouble now, I will retaliate…so are you scared yet?
When you are little, your best friends are usually your brothers and sisters. And back when Bob and his sisters were little, there was no such thing as a play date. Kids played with their siblings until they started school, and a lot of times after school, especially when you lived out in the country. A lot of times there were no kids that lived very close, so once again, your siblings were your friends, and that wasn’t always so bad.
There was always some way to get into mischief when there were three of you. There are also lots of ways to have fun. Who needs to have company over when you have siblings. In this case, three’s company, and fun would be had by all. It might be in the form of trying to put 2 kids into a tricycle built for 1 toddler…the type that had almost a baby walker type seat on it. I have to wonder if Debbie had trouble getting out of that tight spot after she got in…or maybe she had help getting in and out. I don’t know for sure. I just know that it was the same tricycle Marlyce had used as a toddler, so it wasn’t built for 2.
Whether it was playing at home or riding horses at Grandma’s house, this little trio lived life with gusto. They got into trouble on occasion, but not all the time. Their imaginations ran wild at times, and when they did…well, the trouble could be bad…for their parents, who had to fix whatever the kids messed up, and from what I’ve been told, this little trio messed things up pretty good a couple of times. Still, when you look at those cute little faces, how could their parents be mad?
Being the only boy in the family had to be somewhat hard for Bob, when he was little. Bob was the first boy born among the grandchildren on both sides of his family. And when that happens…well, we all know how bossy a group of girls can be when there is only one boy in the bunch…especially when he is among the younger children.
I have little proof that Bob was bossed around by the girls, except that…well, being a girl myself, I know that against 5 girls, one little boy would find himself in a situation that was…impossible to be the boss of. And little girls can and do find as many ways to get into lots of trouble as boys do, but with only one little boy in the crowd, guess who will get the blame 9 times out of 10.
I can imagine how my husband, as a little boy, must have felt when the girls told his mom that it was all his idea or that he did it. Bewilderment set in, I’m sure, as he tried to figure out what had just happened, because something most certainly happened, and it wasn’t good. That is a fairly common scenario in the interactions between little boys and little girls. The girls aren’t being mean, it’s just that he was the easiest way out of trouble. I can’t say for sure, but I can see that his big sister, at least, was trying to get something straightened out, make Bob do or say something that he wasn’t cooperating with.
Of course, it’s entirely possible that being the only boy in the crowd isn’t such a bad thing. Sometimes, it’s quite likely that the girls treated him like the baby, especially when they were playing house. And if that meant making him some dinner, I’m sure that went over well, especially since dinner probably meant cookies, or some other such treat. That would make acting like a baby worth while. Besides, it’s never a bad thing for a guy to have a bunch of girls waiting on him hand and foot…right?
Being the only boy is a group of girls has it’s ups and downs, but I suppose there could be worse things in life. And from the looks of things, I don’t think it was something Bob minded very much…most of the time. In fact, knowing my husband, my guess is that most of the time he thought the whole thing was just fine by him….most of the time.