“When I was a kid…”

Right now, Maura’s sitting on the toilet with the crackPad…as you do.  In the other room, teens are on the computer, and tween girl is watching yet another episode of “Friends”.  It’s a beautiful sunny day, and they’re all inside.

Meanwhile, yet another “When we were kids” meme popped up in my Facebook newsfeed.  Like this one –

TO ALL THE KIDS WHO SURVIVED the 1930′s 40′s, 50′s, 60′s and 70′s !!

First, we survived being born to mothers who smoked and/or drank while they were pregnant.

They took aspirin, ate blue cheese dressing, tuna from a can, and didn’t get tested for diabetes.

Then after that trauma, we were put to sleep on our tummies in baby cribs covered with bright colored lead-based paints.

We had no childproof lids on medicine bottles, doors or cabinets and when we rode our bikes, we had no helmets, not to mention the risks we took hitchhiking.

As infants & children, we would ride in cars with no car seats, booster seats, seat belts or air bags.

Riding in the back of a pick up on a warm day was always a special treat.

We drank water from the garden hose and NOT from a bottle.

We shared one soft drink with four friends, from one bottle and NO ONE actually died from this.

We ate cupcakes, white bread and real butter and drank kool-aid made with sugar, but we weren’t overweight because  WE WERE ALWAYS OUTSIDE PLAYING !

We would leave home in the morning and play all day, as long as we were back when the streetlights came on.

No one was able to reach us all day and we were O.K.

We would spend hours building our go-carts out of scraps and then ride down the hill, only to find out we forgot the brakes. After running into the bushes a few times, we learned to solve the problem.

We did not have Playstations, Nintendo’s, X-boxes, no video games at all, no 150 channels on cable, no video movies or DVD’s, no surround-sound or CD’s, no cell phones, no personal computers, no Internet or chat rooms…….

WE HAD FRIENDS and we went outside and found them!

We fell out of trees, got cut, broke bones and teeth and there were no lawsuits from these accidents.

We ate worms and mud pies made from dirt, and the worms did not live in us forever.

We were given BB guns for our 10th birthdays, made up games with sticks and tennis balls and, although we were told it would happen, we did not put out very many eyes.

We rode bikes or walked to a friend’s house and knocked on the door or rang the bell, or just walked in and talked to them!

Little League had tryouts and not everyone made the team. Those who didn’t had to learn to deal with disappointment. Imagine that!!

The idea of a parent bailing us out if we broke the law was unheard of. They actually sided with the law!

These generations have produced some of the best risk-takers, problem solvers and inventors ever!

The past 50 years have been an explosion of innovation and new ideas.

We had freedom, failure, success and responsibility, and we learned


If YOU are one of them . . . CONGRATULATIONS!

You might want to share this with others who have had the luck to grow up as kids, before the lawyers and the government regulated so much of our lives for our own good

And while you are at it, forward it to your kids so they will know how brave (and lucky) their parents were.

Kind of makes you want to run through the house with scissors, doesn’t it?!

It’s some sort of nostalgic retrospective of what was our carefree easier childhoods were, and how it made us better people today, and how the kids today suck because they’ve been molly-coddled by hovering safety-conscious parents.

Most of the time, I’d read these and laugh, remembering burning the backs of my legs on hot metal slides of doom and being dared to eat the dog cookies by my brothers (yeah, I did it – so did one of the boys. Pretty sure we shamed the other brother into trying one as well, since he dared us.)  I read these memes and think of a time with Holly Hobbie, Little House on the Prairie, bikes with banana seats, and the cream colored rotary phone that moved from my parents bedroom to the upstairs hallway with the super-long cord so we could take it into our rooms for privacy.

I was one of those tough kids who survived the 70’s with no seat belts, bike helmets and a houseful of lead based paint.  So I should be all proud and peacocky when I read one of these memes, right?  Because I’m part of that Much Better Than Today’s Kids generation.

Except recently…in reading one…where the writer was all “We didn’t need cell phones, we played outside!  We didn’t need computers to entertain us, we went outside and found friends!  We’re better than today’s youth because we did more!”….I wondered…

Aren’t we the ones raising these kids of today with the misspent youth?

Aren’t we the parents buying them the cell phones and computers and video game systems?

If our childhood was so awesomely character building, why aren’t we providing similar ones for our kids?  How can we complain about how our kids spend their time if we’re providing all the gadgets and games and luxuries that we swear they could survive without because we did?

Oh, don’t get me wrong – I love that my kids have cell phones so I can get a hold of them and have them check in when need be.  I love that they don’t have to find a pay phone and make a collect call, hoping I’m home to reach them.  I do wish that my boys would get out more, be sportier.

But I’m dealing with realities here.

The reality is – that hot metal slide?  Kinda sucked.  Leaving pieces of your burning flesh behind is not really my idea of a good time, not even when I was six.  I didn’t get to roam free for hours in the neighborhood as a small child – I wasn’t allowed to cross the street until I was 10.  I was short. My mom was afraid cars wouldn’t see me.  I was very lucky that there was a girl on my block the same age as me and that she was my best friend – and a head taller than me, because Mom would let me cross the street with her.   Otherwise, I’d have to go with a brother.

And hours of being unsupervised probably wasn’t always a good thing.  Like the time my friend and I decided to try lighting chunks of foam in her garage, over the grill.  Yeah, foam flames up quickly and melts…and creates this acrid fume.  Her nosey next door neighbor did yell at us at least.  Or the time I went to the mall with a friend and was supposed to be back by seven?  Except we ran into some other friends of hers and started chatting in the food court….only for me to realize it was WAY past the time I was to be home, then had to walk the two miles home…I bet my mom would have been less upset if I’d had a cell phone she could track me down with.  (I’m pretty sure I’m still in trouble over that incident.)

We think of it as a more innocent, care-free time.  But it really wasn’t.  There were just less conveniences.  And yes, less tv, no computers, no cell phones.  No, my kids will never know the torture of trying to call into a radio station to win the latest album  on a rotary phone.  They will never be able to slam a phone down in anger.  But they have been able to keep in contact with grandparents who live far away easily, and have been able to talk to their father when he’s off in a different country via Skype.

Life wasn’t easy back in the 1970’s.  We just want to remember the big wheels and riding in the back of pick up trucks.  But honestly, how many of us would want to go back to that time?  I wouldn’t.

Most of us say kids today need our childhoods, but the reality is, we parents don’t really want to relive that.  We don’t want to send our kids out without a cell phone.  We’re too busy signing our children up for fourteen different classes a week and making sure they stay on honor roll to let them spend every evening roaming freely.  We’re the ones bailing our kids out when something bad happens.  We’re the ones making sure our kids eat organic foods free of red dye #40.  We’re the ones who think back to bitter disappointments of our 1970’s childhood and try to shelter our kids from ever feeling that way.  We’re the ones not drinking and smoking our way through pregnancies, or putting our kids in cribs painted with lead paint, or letting them hitchhike…

…hmm…maybe we have learned a few things along the way.  Maybe we shouldn’t be so hard on ourselves.  Maybe we could just take the best of our childhoods and couple that with the best today has to offer.  I’d like to think I’ve done a decent job at that.  My children went to Dairy Queen after soccer games and know how to mow lawns.  They hold doors open for older people, say “yes ma’am” and “no sir”.  They’ve yet to try to set a friend’s garage on fire with flaming foam.

So I’m going to sit back and enjoy the “holy shit, I can’t believe our parents did that!” parts of these memes…but I’m not going to crow about being better than the kids being raised today, when I’m one of them doing the raising.

And in the meantime, one teen has left the computer to venture voluntarily into the sunny day, Maura’s gone out back to play, and the tween girl found a “Sing Along with Adele” half hour on some cable station.

No, I don’t think I’m doing too bad as a parent.

Of course, my children will see that as a challenge now…luckily my 1970’s childhood has made me tough.  Right?

Me - an awesome little '70's girl in her Wonder Woman bathing suit
Me – an awesome little ’70’s girl in her Wonder Woman bathing suit