My curfew was the street lights, my mom called my name not my mobile, I played outside with friends, not online, if I didn’t eat what mom cooked I didn’t eat, sanitizer didn’t exist, but you COULD get your mouth washed out with soap, I rode a bike with no helmet, getting dirty was OK, and neighbors gave a darn as much as your parents did. Re-post this if you drank from a garden hose and survived.Different variations of this post have been circulating Facebook recently and it made me fondly remember my carefree youth.
Why is it that now as a mother myself, I cannot embrace so many of things I loved about being kid. I can’t decide if the media has made us paranoid, the world really is a scarier place or I have just become a worry wart. Now, don’t get me wrong, I do not classify myself as a helicopter mom, but I am a far cry from the laid back “if they get hurt, they will learn” mom.
Here are my comparisons of the mother I am versus how I was raised:
My curfew was the street lights –
THEN: I grew up in a suburban neighborhood in the North Hills of Pittsburgh until I was in 6th grade. We didn’t have street lights, but the local fire siren blew at 6:00PM sharp. When that siren blew, you knew it was time to go home for dinner. Looking back – did the fire siren blow for dinnertime or was it just coincidence and everyone had dinner at 6PM sharp? I’ll have to look into that one.
NOW: I still find myself preparing dinner for 6PM, but then I look around and I am lucky if 3 of the 5 family members are home. Between soccer, tennis, hockey, lacrosse and dance it is about as likely as the sun not shining in Arizona that all 5 of us are home. No need for a siren, no one is outside playing in the neighborhood and if they were we would just set the alarms on their cell phones to alert them it was time to come home.
My mom called my name not my mobile
THEN: If you needed to be home and there was no siren to alert you, your mom stood in the front yard and yelled at the top of her lungs until you or one of your friends heard her. No humiliation – everyone’s mom did it.
NOW: If I stood in the front yard and yelled one of my kids name, I am pretty sure they would check me into the nearest psychiatric facility. Likewise, I would probably do the same if I saw a lady screaming in her front yard and no one was around! And I rarely call my kids on their cells – texts are a much faster way to get a response. Have you ever tried to call your kid on their cell with no answer, then they text you right back and say “Did you just try to call me?” Yes, this is 2011.
I played with my friends outside, not online:
THEN: We lived outside as did every kid from our generation. We played kick the can, hide and go seek, stick ball, made and sold things door to door, had shows for the neighbors complete with tickets and all, played in woods, played in the creek and one time we organized a huge carnival in the empty lot across the street. We were never bored, unless it was raining and we couldn’t play outside! We had an imagination and we used it to the fullest.
NOW: My kids have never been big on video games, but my 13 year old is big on social media. Anything to interact with her friends is a top priority. By the time I was 13, I was the same way, but we just went about it differently. I will say that when she was younger, her and her cousin used their imaginations to the fullest and created a variety of “shows” on every topic known to man. My favorite was the rolling skating show where they started out as hockey players, wearing hockey jerseys passing the puck back and forth, then with a change of music stripped off their hockey jerseys, lost their sticks to the ice skating costumes that were underneath. They also made a boat out of cardboard, decorated it then took it for a test drive in the pool. They have done their own version of the show Chopped and tried to make something edible out of what was in the fridge. I guess their childhood will be filled with different memories but their memories will be just as special. Being online is a part of their lives, but I think we need to look past that and give them credit for their version of “kick the can”.
Sanitizer didn’t exist
THEN: I am pretty sure my mom made me wash my hands before dinner, but it doesn’t stand out as a solid memory. I know she made me bathe – does that count?
NOW: Fortunately, I am not a germaphobe. My rule is if you come into contact with a dead animal, wash your hands. If you have been doing sports and your hands have been touching germy mats or in a disgusting sports glove, wash your hands before you eat. Other than that, we are good to go! Many years ago I remember picking Paige up from kindergarten and one of the moms had a big bottle of Purell that she would squirt in her daughters hand as she exited the classroom. Part of me thought I was a neglectful mom because I didn’t carry Purell with me and the other part of me secretly chuckled because wasn’t the Purell only good until the little girl touched something else? Don’t get me wrong, I admit to being a freak on certain subjects, but getting dirty isn’t one of them.
I rode a bike with no helmet
THEN: No explanation needed – there were no helmets. For that matter, I remember driving around in my grandfather’s car and there were little straps on the roof to grab onto if you were making a turn – no seatbelts necessary.
NOW: Here is one of those areas I admit to being a freak about even though my kids quit wearing helmets years ago. I do worry they are going to hit a rock and fly off their bike, or god forbid they get hit by a car. Years ago I remember a story of a kid riding his bike with a helmet and he hit a rock, flew off his bike and hit his head on another rock and died. That story still bothers me to this day. I know it was a fluke but nonetheless, this poor child lost his life doing something we always took for granted. I am sure kids died years ago riding their bike too, but we never heard about it….ignorance can be bliss!
If I didn’t eat what mom cooked I didn’t eat
THEN: My mom made a home cooked meal every single night. A protein, a carbohydrate and a vegetable. I was the best eater in my family, so this wasn’t a hardship for me, but my little brother was another story. I swear he existed on Slim Jims and those little sticks that were advertised as a complete meal for astronauts. Dinner time was just downright painful. We had a bench versus chairs and I had the unfortunate fate to have my assigned seat next to him. Since he was never eating, he had to the pass time somehow, so he would throw food on my plate, fling his arms and inevitable spill milk everywhere, and then stretch across the whole bench so I was hanging on by half a butt cheek. Everyone’s blood pressure would rise at dinnertime, but we went through the ritual every night. My dad usually lost his temper at some point during the meal – usually when the milk went flying into someone’s plate of food. Long after we all excused ourselves, Drew would still be sitting there with a full plate of food that he had no intention of eating. It didn’t matter how long he sat there, he was not going to break. There would be threats, timers set, and anything else my mom could think of to get him to eat. To this day, I don’t remember if my mom slipped him a Slim Jim under the table so he at least had some type of nutrients or if he starved, but that kid had a tough spirit and would not budge. I, of course, thought it was child abuse, but I was helpless to do anything about it.
The good news is that he is now a grown adult and hasn’t seemed to suffer the effects of malnutrition. He is still a picky eater, but has expanded his repertoire well beyond Slim Jims. P.S. I heard from a family member his 2 year old daughter only eats crackers… oh, the sins of the father.
NOW: From the time my kids were little, they always ate what we ate. I never made them special meals of mac and cheese or chicken nuggets. All three of my kids were great eaters as toddlers. As they got older, they decided that certain foods were off limits. Why, I have no idea, because if you liked something when you were 5 why would you not like it now? I figure I have bigger fish to fry, so if they want to make themselves something else for dinner, go for it. Maybe I am suffering from some form of post traumatic stress disorder or maybe I just don’t have the stamina to argue about food. Either way, I am proud to announce that none of my children have ever eaten a Slim Jim!
Neighbors gave a darn as much as your parents did
THEN: Boy, this one is so true. I remember being more afraid of some of the neighbors than my own parents. One night my friends and I decided to ding dong ditch throughout the neighborhood. We merrily made our way from house to house giggling as we ran. We could have gone on for hours but one neighbor stopped us in our tracks. The owner came out waving some type of gun (I have no idea if it was a pellet gun or a real rifle) yelling for us to identify ourselves so they could tell our parents. Boy oh boy, not only was he yielding a weapon, but he was threatening to turn us in too. That adventure turned south on dime, but luckily we managed to get away undetected.
NOW: We have the great fortune to live in a neighborhood where it is still neighborly. We know and socialize with many of our neighbors, but there are probably an equal amount we do not know. We also have a few neighbors who I would not want my children taking advice or parenting from. Case in point…I have a neighbor who received two DUI’s before ever leaving the driveway. If I didn’t see it myself I would have never believed it, but she had such a hard time negotiating the driveway she got her car stuck in a cactus and someone called the police. The second incident was a little more cut and dry. She didn’t negotiate the turn out of the garage and ended up over the embankment and into our neighbor’s house. Enough said – I’ll take full responsibility for the parenting of my own children. It is safer that way!
I DID DRINK FROM THE GARDEN HOSE AND HOPE MY KIDS DO TOO!