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Friday, August 19, 2022
ArlingtonOpinion'Old School' column: The art of compromise

‘Old School’ column: The art of compromise

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I’ve heard more than one person my age complain that so many younger adults are unable (or unwilling) to compromise. I have a theory about that.

When I was growing up during the 1950s, we had one telephone, which was not only our family phone but used for my dad’s business, too. So we had to share the use of it. Personal conversations between me and my friends or my mother and her church ladies were brief. Call it the Joe Friday school of conversation: “The facts, ma’am, just the facts.”

We also had one TV, so we all had to agree on programs or take turns choosing. As I mentioned in an earlier column, Dad got dibs on Saturday nights to watch the fights, but Mom and I got to see Lawrence Welk and his champagne music-makers sometimes, too.

We lived in a three-bedroom house with a three-kid family. So that meant my sister and I shared a bedroom and a double bed till she left for college. She regaled the rest of the family each evening at supper complaining about my sleep habits, but she put up with them. She had no choice.

But most important, in a household with two adults and three children, we had ONE bathroom. To put it bluntly, dealing with bathroom use is negotiation and compromise at its most basic and important.

I know my mom bathed because I sometimes saw her in the bathtub, but I’ll go to my grave wondering if my dad ever did. I’m hoping he bathed at night, after we went to bed.

Because my sister and I were so far apart in age, we had little conflict about bathroom use. Since she was a teenager and I was a little kid, I was MORE than happy to let her spend as much time as she wanted in the bathroom. That meant less time for me.

I’m told my brother, the jock, usually showered at the gym, after practice for whatever sport he was playing at the time. Since he played one sport or another year-round, he had plenty of shower opportunities. And besides, we didn’t even have a shower. It was bathtub or nothing.

Sound dire? Not at all. That’s how many of us Old School types grew up. Today it’s considered child abuse if a kid doesn’t have his/her own room, phone, computer, TV and bathroom – no compromises necessary. See what I mean?

Reach Carol McEwen at carolwrites4fun@gmail.com.

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