Life Among the Savages – Shirley Jackson – Quotes

I remember the morning, long ago, hen the landlord called. […]he said that of course we were aware that our lease was up? I said well, no, we hadn’t really known that our lease was up. So he said well, he supposed that we hadn’t looked at the lease recently and I (wondering if that was the paper Laurie had torn up and eaten) said that it had been quite a while, really, since we sat down together and read over our lease. 

I found that, where in the city I had always been too busy to do anything at all, I was now making odd things like gingerbread and cabbage salad. 

I have, as I say, never found a way of life preferable to this; its only fault – aside from the back-breaking labor and the vicious pie crusts which refuse to brown – is that it goes on and on. without, it seems, any major change at all. 

One of the most unnerving, and least original, observations I have made about my children that as these years turn and Christmas inevitably follows the fourth of July and the fourth of July inevitably follows Christmas, they tend to grow older. Every October, for instance, Laurie has a birthday.

Sentimental people keep insisting that women go on to have a third baby because they love babies, and cynical people seem to maintain that a woman with two healthy, active children around the house will do anything for ten quiet days in the hospital; my own position is somewhere in between the two, but I acknowledge it leans towards the latter. 

Sometimes, in my capacity as a mother, I find myself sitting open-mouthed and terrified before my own children, little individual creatures moving solidly along their own paths

During that fall the conflict of individual cultures in our family became explicit, and uncontrollable. My husband and I, a little frayed after a number of years spent – is seems – almost entirely in the society of small children, had managed to build up little sets of foibles which we were reluctant to sacrifice. Laurie had developed opinions which could only be called decided. Sally has not so far seen any reason for doubting that anything could be achieved if you just made enough noise about it. 

Now, I have nothing against the public school system as it is presently organized, once you allow the humor of its basic assumption about how it is possible to teach things to children. 

Laurie succeeded in fighting his way to the fourth grade without showing any noticeable signs of contact with education

Photo by Violetta Kaszubowska @vkphotospace.com 

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