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My Hybrid Children
by Laura Bradbard

The formative years of my sons' lives occurred in the South. Joshua was 3 and Jonathan was 14-months-old when we moved from the tundra of Potsdam, New York, to the bucolic Advance, (emphasis on the first syllable), in North Carolina.

Their first friends, first teachers, first everything just about happened with a Southern twist. Jonathan hadn't been able to touch the earth until he moved to Advance. The ground was either covered in snow or he was too young to stand, so he really became acquainted with our planet from a y'all-take-care-perspective.

My children remained childish through their early teens because of their Southern upbringing. That's the way it's done in the warmer climes. Mom and Dad are Mother and Daddy, and the kids are children, forever.

A lot of things take forever in the South, because no one would be so rude as to re-surface your driveway or plant your azaleas without saying hello and chatting a bit. And one conversation with the septic man led to everyone else he saw that day knowing all about you. In the South, that's not gossip, it's community literature -- like the book-mobile.

Raising my boys in North Carolina defined them. They said please and thank you and yes, ma'am in school. They ran and tumbled and climbed trees and dug holes and then put on their dress-up clothes for birthday parties.

After nine years in that slow-moving, sweet-smelling South, we were transferred back up North, and that's when I realized I had raised hybrids.

Re-entry into the fast-moving, mad-dashing life in the nation's capital was a shock. Although I had spent my whole life in such surroundings, I had a migraine for the entire first month I was back up North. (Yes, I know I was still below the Mason-Dixon line, but that's just a technicality.) It was a rat-race and I smelled like cheese grits.

The other kids were more worldly in our new neighborhood, but my kids were more polite.

When the teacher spoke, my boys listened. When my kids spoke, they were laughed at, called 'red-neck', and 'Opie', but these other kids not only talked faster, they worried more and fought for their space in line. My boys stood back and let others take a turn.

The classes were academically a year ahead in the new schools, but after a while my kids caught up; they traveled to other countries, they learned to talk faster -- but they never lost the essence of their formative years. They play, they laugh, and they love to tell stories about the people they met in their day.

I'm really so grateful that they were able to grow and blossom in a little town in Dixie because it made them the gentlemen they are today.


Laura Bradbard resides in Laytonsville, Maryland, with her husband Steven and the dogs they adopted to replace their children as they grew up and left home. A graduate of the University of Maryland, College Park (B.A.- English) and Johns Hopkins University (M.A. Government), Bradbard works in a press office for a federal agency in Washington, D.C.

The mother of four, Laura writes poetry, essays, and articles for the sake of her sanity. She has had articles published in Quilt, Quilt World and in health magazines such as FDA Consumer and the NIH Record.


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