My mother had arbitrary rules for everything under the sun. It didn't matter how odd or contrived they seemed, when Mother made a rule it stood__forever! If Mom declared there would be no supper until 7:30 during the summer, that was the rule, in stone and could not waver unless Mother herself declared it otherwise. Then the exception took over. There will be no dinner before 7:30 pm unless The Fugitive was on and it was a re-run they had missed. Or there would be no meals before 7:30 unless they were invited to play canasta with friends. Or there would be no dinner until 7:30 unless Dad was home early and was cooking on the grill. In that case supper was whenever he had it cooked.
We had laws passed about everything imaginable. Remember those old rib cord bedspreads from Sears? We had lavender ones and if the rib cords were not perfectly straight the beds had to be re-made. Vacuuming was done in a north to south motion, because the rugs looked "funny" when the sun hit them if they had been vacuumed in an east to west order. Silver had to be polished using the silver polishing rags, not to be confused with the dusting rags or the cleaning rags. (Understand all the rags were washed and clean but they could not be used interchangeably and God help the child who used the red flannel plaid rag to polish the silver, since that the blue flannel plaid rags job)
In addition to meals and chores, Mother also had a set timeline for major events in our lives. We could walk by ourselves to school the third week of first grade. (Understand by ourselves meant with the neighborhood kids who all walked to school together) We could swim 1 hour after eating and not 1 minute before. (This rule was torture during beach vacations). We could play outside in the summer until 9 p.m. but not one minute later.
The rules continued as she applied future "ready" dates, for things we would be able to do. 11 was the predetermined age we were allowed to stay at home by ourselves when Mother had to pick Dad up from work on the days she needed the car. (We were a one car family at the time and this was about a 15 minute round trip .) We would be able to stay home sans parents at night when I turned 12 effectively babysitting My Beloved Sister. (She was my best bud so no bossiness was required but we could only be alone if they were not getting in late, otherwise we had to have a sitter.) I would be able to go to boy girl parties at 13 (supervised, and only if Mom knew the parents well) I could wear makeup at 15 ( This was the one rule that Mom actually changed a little. I was one of the youngest in my class, so I started high school before my 14th birthday. I begged and was allowed mascara and blush only midway through my freshman year.) I could begin double dating at 15 as long as my parents knew the kids well. ( Attending a high school football game or an occasional movie ) My curfews weekend were set and I would be able to stay out until 10:30, 11:00 and11:30 at 15, 16 and 17 respectively. All of these dates and times were scripted well in advance of them ever being an issue.
But the first milestone I looked most forward to was Easter of my sixth grade year. In my community, that Easter was the year young girls started transitioning from children's clothing to a pre-teen look. I was going to be allowed to wear hose and heels. Now by heels I am talking about a tiny kitten heel and I am not talking about any pretty princess shoe here. I am talking about a daintier Mary Jane with a thin strap across the foot and a 1 inch kitten heel. And hose, real hose before panty hose were accessible to everyone. Hose that had to be held in place with that garter belt (the ones with a tiny rose in the front) I was to be freed of the bondage and humiliation of wearing white ankle socks with lace around the edges and trading it for silky sheer leg wear. I didn't care what you had to do to hold those suckers up.
A little back story here. As I mentioned once before I did all of my growing very early and by the middle of the 5th grade I was as tall as I am now. (Taller possibly, because I may even be losing a little height now. )
Nothing says adorable on a 5th grade girl who looks like an Amazon among her peers than wearing black patent Mary Janes with white ankle socks. Because I was still 10 my mother made sure I dressed like a ten year old, which was very difficult since I wore adult sized clothes. Not only did I wear adult sized clothes, but I also wore adult sized undergarments and the females in the maternal side of the family were all very "healthy". Again nothing says adorable like a girl who looks to the outside world like she is an older teen wearing young kid clothes. (Did I mention Mother sewed, so there was never a problem finding clothes she wanted me to wear in a size that fit me?). When I look back on pictures from that time I see My Beloved Sister with all of our friends, then me at least a full head above everyone else, standing with my shoulders hunched to try and have the appearance of a concave chest. My Beloved Sister calls this time "The Lerch Years."
I somehow survived the fifth grade, the sixth grade fall, and winter wearing my "little girl" clothes,socks and shoes. Spring was coming with the promise of hose and heels. Easter Sunday arrived and I woke early to dress for church. I put on my first ever hose and heels, fixed my hair a million times, slipped on the blue linen dress with it's matching blue check coat then went to the dining room for the annual Easter picture before church. I had never felt so cute in my entire life. I had entered the new realm without the trappings of my little girl socks and little girl shoes. The world was mine, it was a new day and a new beginning. I felt fantastic until Dad had the pictures developed. Then, My. Ego. Shattered.
You know how we can all be a little delusional sometimes. I was so taken aback with my new footwear freedom and not looking like a little kid that I had not realized the visible peril of hose and heels combined with one of Mom's written in cement arbitrary rules: Thou (Anne) shalt not shave thou legs until thou art in the 7th grade. And that is what my Beloved Sister called "The Gorilla Year".
p.s. Hell will freeze over before I post that picture!