What Mama didn’t know, didn’t hurt me. Let me explain. She had it on good authority from somewhere that all children needed ten hours of sleep. Since the McGee household got up at 6 AM, that meant an 8 PM bedtime.
Now, I’m in favor of a good night’s sleep and enjoy one almost every night, but even when I was a child, it didn’t take me ten hours to get it. To play on the old saying, you can put a kid to bed, but you can’t make her go to sleep. I never bothered to share with Mama what I heard after I went to bed, knowing she would find some way to put my entertainment to a stop. My fun started habits that continue to this day.
The radio was on the other side of the thin wall. The first treat was hearing the whodunits that Daddy loved. He refrained from listening to them while we were up in deference to Mama’s theory that they would terrify us and we would be unable to sleep. I was intrigued rather than fearful and began a habit that continues with NCIS and its spinoffs, Criminal Minds, and Blue Bloods.
The other habit has come to mind in the last few weeks. The first political campaign that I remember following – after the eight o’clock bedtime – was the race between Truman and Dewey. I heard the politicians’ campaigns along with my parents’ conversations as the election approached. They voted on election day and, with hopes for a win for Truman, listened to returns well into the night before they gave it up and went to bed.
Counts were much slower in those days. So slow in fact, that the Chicago paper went with their supposition that Dewey had won and ran their erroneous, and now famous, headline “Dewey Defeats Truman.” Nobody loved the mistake more than Daddy. That election started me on the road to being a political junkie. Since I came of age, I’ve voted in local and national elections, going now with my husband in his red truck where we often patriotically cancel each other’s vote. If I am honest, there are a few votes I’d love to take back and do better, and none that have helped elect perfect officials.
Once again this last two weeks, I’ve watched the pageantry and machinations of two conventions. I could wish that we could disagree without being disagreeable, but I remain grateful to live in a country where we can participate in the process.
Mama might not be thrilled with my partiality to cop shows, but I think she would approve of my taking advantage of my rights and responsibilities as a citizen. And I must admit, what Mama didn’t know may have started a habit that has hurt me a trifle. I have once again lost a bit of sleep a few nights staying up to watch past my bedtime.