My mom sent me an email recently that contained the quotes I have shared below. I am sure we all have seen something like this go around on email over the years. I read through this and recognize many of these things as they are memories I have of growing up. Ah, simpler times. Simple isn’t always dumb. Or maybe it’s just dumb enough not to get caught up in a lot of to do about nothing. Either way, I would take the simpler times.
There was a time not so long ago when we decided how to fill the hours in our day. The hours weren’t already plotted out for us from one activity to another like a giant flowchart. Now if there’s a couple of hours open somewhere, it seems as though boredom shows up. It’s not boredom though, it’s a space where one’s mind says, hey wait a minute, I am not being entertained, nor is my mind being made up for me, now I have to use my brain? Imagine that.
Anyways, please read on and see what you think, or what you remember from this time not so long ago.
“My Mom used to cut chicken, chop eggs and spread mayo on the same cutting board with the same knife and no bleach, but we didn’t seem to get food poisoning.
My Mom used to defrost hamburger on the counter and I used to eat it raw sometimes, too. Our school sandwiches were wrapped in wax paper in a brown paper bag, not in ice pack coolers, but I can’t remember getting e..coli.
Almost all of us would have rather gone swimming in the lake instead of a pristine pool (talk about boring), no beach closures then.
The term cell phone would have conjured up a phone in a jail cell, and a pager was the school PA system.
We all took gym, not PE…and risked permanent injury with a pair of high top Ked’s (only worn in gym) instead of having cross-training athletic shoes with air cushion soles and built-in light reflectors. I can’t recall any injuries but they must have happened because they tell us how much safer we are now.
Flunking gym was not an option… even for stupid kids! I guess PE must be much harder than gym.
Speaking of school, we all said prayers and sang the national anthem, and staying in detention after school caught all sorts of negative attention.
We must have had horribly damaged psyches. What an archaic health system we had then. Remember school nurses? Ours wore a hat and everything.
I thought that I was supposed to accomplish something before I was allowed to be proud of myself.
I just can’t recall how bored we were without computers, Play Station, Nintendo, X-box or 270 digital TV cable stations.
Oh yeah… and where was the Benadryl and sterilization kit when I got that bee sting? I could have been killed!
We played ‘king of the hill’ on piles of gravel left on vacant construction sites, and when we got hurt, Mom pulled out the 48-cent bottle of mercurochrome (kids liked it better because it didn’t sting like iodine did) and then we got our butt spanked.
Now it’s a trip to the emergency room, followed by a 10-day dose of a $49 bottle of antibiotics, and then Mom calls the attorney to sue the contractor for leaving a horribly vicious pile of gravel where it was such a threat.
We didn’t act up at the neighbor’s house either; because if we did we got our butt spanked there and then we got our butt spanked again when we got home.
I recall Donny Reynolds from next door coming over and doing his tricks on the front stoop, just before he fell off.
Little did his Mom know that she could have owned our house.
Instead, she picked him up and swatted him for being such a goof. It was a neighborhood run amuck.
To top it off, not a single person I knew had ever been told that they were from a dysfunctional family.
How could we possibly have known that?
We needed to get into group therapy and anger management classes.
We were obviously so duped by so many societal ills, that we didn’t even notice that the entire country wasn’t taking Prozac!
How did we ever survive?“
As for all the food on one cutting board, well, isn’t the food all going to the same place anyways?
I remember swimming in local lakes from time to time and having a blast! We couldn’t wait for such times at these places. Many of these places have been closed for weeks and weeks during my adult life for various health reasons. I am sure there are legitimate concerns in these cases, I am also sure that many of those same conditions were present when I swam there. We loved it and we made it through.
Imagine if I had a cell phone during my childhood. What a distraction that would have been. All those hours I spent shooting hoops or playing baseball or even developing my imagination could have been altered or otherwise influenced with a cell phone. If I needed a ride after practice or a game, I either waited, went to a friend’s house to call, or just walked home. My parents knew when my practices were and if they weren’t there to get me then I figured they had something else that came up. Maybe it would have been better in some cases but I doubt it. If we wanted to talk to friends outside of school, we went to their house, called on the house phone (subject to parents listening in), or saw them at church. If I couldn’t say it with my parents on the line than it shouldn’t have been said, now or then.
Gym class, that’s one of the places where we learned about competition and teamwork. There’s not much better for learning teamwork when the people in your class are there because the schedule said so, and you have to figure out how to win or compete with these people you didn’t choose. Figure it out. Work together. That was the participation. Participate in the competition. Learn a new sport and work together.
I thought that I was supposed to accomplish something before I was allowed to be proud of myself. This is just awesome on its own.
The lack of channels, access to the TV to begin with, and lack of video games weren’t really known to me. We just didn’t have them or we could only watch for a certain amount of time, and only certain things. The time was spent inventing every sport imaginable. Or dreaming every scenario a baseball player, basketball player, hockey player, or football player could ever be in. I won more championships and had more game winning moments in my yard by the time I was twelve than most schools of kids do nowadays. My imagination was what made the pictures I have in my mind now, I didn’t have to borrow someone else’s vision.
King of the Hill, or Over the Top, as we often called it, was played anywhere we could find a hill to get over. We dove on and over piles of cow manure my grandfather would get for his enormous garden. We jumped with reckless abandon over and off of snow banks anywhere a snow plow had been. There was always a football around, and my brothers and I were diving from snow bank to snow bank making the most insane catches ever. Oh I know we left blood on those banks many times but it was always worth that next incredible catch when we would mob each other and celebrate one another as if we won the biggest game in history. There was no trip to Disney, just the sheer joy of making the impossible possible.
Oh and there were spankings. More than I care to remember. There was also respect, manners, and the knowledge that as a kid, I didn’t have the same rights or say as the adults. As it should be. Odd isn’t it? That we got spanked, my friends got spanked, and we couldn’t get away with bad behavior just because we weren’t home. All that said, we respected our elders and one another. We had manners and were constantly reminded when we didn’t. As a kid I couldn’t just start talking about the subject of the day, or share an opinion that I had arrived upon in my twelve years of observing life. I had to be spoken to, or at least be given permission to speak or share. As it should be. My mind wasn’t ready to carry on as an adult, my perspective was narrow, and I couldn’t have handled the responsibility of the conversation anyways, so it worked great. Now everyone’s got something to say and somehow they feel entitled to have an opinion. Please. Call me when you are thirty-five, with a couple of kids, and tell me how entitled you should be at twelve, or whatever age as a kid. As a matter of fact, don’t call me because I will already know you have learned the answer, and if you haven’t then well … don’t call.
All I will say about dysfunctional families is that my family probably wasn’t a whole lot different from anyone else’s. Maybe yours or mine, or someone we knew was defined as dysfunctional but we didn’t know that. We didn’t care either. At the end of the day it was a bunch of kids, created equal, getting through one day after another. Dysfunctional to me is a matter of decision-making. If the family doesn’t function socially or emotionally then it probably has to do with decision more than anything else. See the previous paragraph for the anti-dysfunctional approach.
All these things, or the lack of so many things, during our time, and most of us would probably go back to such a time in a second. In a time when life seems to travel faster than ever I catch myself lost deep in thought, longing for a time not so long ago.