Wednesday, August 12, 2009
I grew up in the suburbs in the '70s. Back then, we kids waited for the school bus without our parents. Horrors! If you were a child then, you were allowed to go visit your friend down the block, or ride your bike to the library, or play in the park without your parents accompanying you.
As infants & children, we would ride in cars with no car seats, booster seats, seat belts or air bags. Riding in the back of my dad's red 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! Who would have thought 30 years ago that it would be necessary to run public service announcements encouraging parents to get their kids 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 did not have Playstations, Nintendo's, X-boxes, no video games at all, no 150 channels on cable, 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! Do kids even socialize nowadays? If we needed information, we had to go to the library. Things were different; catching fireflies could happily occupy an entire evening. We fell out of trees, got cut, broke bones and teeth and there were no lawsuits from these accidents.
Tree forts, dodge ball, Red Light Green Light, hide 'n' seek, jumping through the sprinkler on hot days, slip 'n' slide, big wheels, swing sets, capture the flag, my banana seat bike was my mighty stead, imaginations - that is what many kids lack these days. Boredom was never an issue for me, and today if kids have to use their imaginations or if it has nothing to do with a computer screen they get - bored!
When we did something we were not supposed to or got into trouble, we got spanked! Mercy! Our actions were our own. Consequences were expected. We learned our lesson and moved on. I have noticed that the style of parenting has changed considerably from when I was a kid. I was taught that being out in public wasn’t a right, it was a privilege, and I’d better be on my best behavior. Act like a lady. Look, but don’t touch. No "I-wants and the gimmes". Proper table manners. Please, thank you, and excuse me. Mr & Mrs to adults. Do not interrupt grown-ups talking. Don’t bother strangers. Bring your own entertainment. Sit still, be quiet. You cannot get up from the dinner table until you are excused. I know parents these days don't have it easy trying to raise decent kids in these decadent times. Unfortunately, the tenets of my childhood outlined above are now the exception rather than the rule. I feel so lucky to have grown up when I did!
What did you enjoy as a child that you think kids these days are missing out on?