Wednesday, February 1, 2012
The Good Old Days
Ah, the good old days…I started thinking about them when I was dialing my son’s cell phone for the fiftieth time, trying to find out if he was all right. Being a young adult, he doesn’t cotton to Mom checking to see if he is lying on the floor, dead, and being eaten by his cats (my mind does go there when he doesn’t answer the phone). I finally got a response when I texted him and told him if I did not get a call back within five minutes that I was turning his cell phone off. Poof, magic, he called. I remember at his college orientation that one of the professors called my generation the “helicopter generation” because we constantly hover. Odd, but true. My parents didn’t hover; they turned us loose and told us to go “play,” kind of like a missile – seek and destroy.
That got me to thinking of all the brain-damaged things we used to do as children; before the days of child abductions and warning labels. My earliest memory was my older sister making mud pies and I, stupidly trusting her, ate them. Not bad, could have used a little salt. Today, parents, upon learning that their child ate dirt would rush them to the hospital and have the poor child’s stomach pumped. There is also the memory that every year when I got shots, I also got a worming. Maybe the doctor knew about older sisters, water and dirt.
Seatbelts. We never wore them as children. I can remember jumping all over the back seat, hanging out the window (bugs in the eye didn’t bother me) and lying in the floorboard against the hot transmission hump, dozing and thoroughly enjoying myself. Jeff Foxworthy made a comment about this: he rode in the rear window deck of the car from Texas to California. I remember doing that because my sister wouldn’t let me sit on the car seat. Sometimes I wonder where my parents were or exactly who was driving the car. Today children are strapped in, harnessed and hog-tied to prevent them from becoming projectiles. The rule is even a booster seat until they are over four feet eleven inches tall. Geez, I barely make that now – maybe I need a booster seat.
Bike Helmets. The only person I knew who had a helmet when I was growing up was Evil Knievel and we all know that worked out well for him. I can remember racing down a hill on my bike, loosing control and crashing into a tree. Being at least five miles from home, I nearly bled out trying to reach the medicine cabinet and the mecurichrome. Who needed stitches? Today, children have to wear a helmet to sit in a shopping cart, let alone to ride a bike. I don’t think I’m brain damaged from hitting all those trees…well, you judge.
Wandering the neighborhood. Early in the mornings during the summer, my mother would open the back door and tell us to go find something to do. Implied in that statement was not to come back until lunch or if she called (she never did). Off on a grand adventure, my sister and I would go looking for soft drink bottles to take to the local grocery store to get the deposit. If we got enough, we could buy candy and drinks or at least there’d be enough for her to have them. I was a scrawny kid and she definitely had the upper hand. Or, we would go to some construction site and get into dirt clod battles with the boys who lived down the street. I can remember my blond hair turning beet red from the clay but it didn’t bother me. No one worried about getting abducted or killed or anything. We were having fun. Today, I think parents can have GPS locators implanted in there children, just in case the little boogers get passed the fifty locks and alarm system on the house. I know, there are a lot of bad things out there to protect kids from but I do long for the day when a child didn’t have to be afraid.
Burn Piles. Spending part of the summer with my grandparents, I got to be out in the country where there was no civilization for miles and certainly no garbage pick-up. My grandparents had a place where they dumped their garbage and also a BURN PILE where the paper wastes could be disposed of. Gleefully taking matches (I couldn’t have been ten) and going out to do the chore of burning the paper, I would spend all morning finding things to burn. Sometimes, my grandmother would miss the steel aerosol can of Lysol and, wow, I would get to have a real explosion. Okay, so maybe there is something about me hitting all those trees. Today, no child is allowed to have matches. And a burn pile? Forgeddaaboutit. Kids today do not know the joy of watching Styrofoam melt in a hot fire (think of the carcinogens).
Cake batter. One of my favorite things (before I started worrying about weight), was to lick the bowl after my mom made a cake. It was actually better than the cake itself. My sister and I always fought over who got the spoon; I usually lost. Today, the threat of salmonella from raw eggs prevents parents from even letting a child near a fresh bowl of cake batter, sigh. Maybe we didn’t get sick because of all the dirt we ate; salmonella didn’t have a chance against things living in the dirt. There could be a correlation.
Monkey bars and swings. Ah, the playground was the place to hang. Literally. Upside down for hours. Maybe all the blood rushing to my head saved me from severe brain-damage. Swinging high on the swings and then launching off was also a big thrill. Landing wasn’t so great if you chose not to tuck and roll. Kids today are definitely not allowed to be anywhere near such dangerous apparatuses without helmet, adult supervision and an ambulance on stand-by.
Do you have any fond memories of being a child? Were any of them “brain-damaged” stunts that make you shudder now that you have children and can see the dangers? Share some of your stories with us under the tulip tree (which now we are not allowed to climb without a helmet).