My Childhood Could Beat Up Your Childhood (Pt. 3)
This has been a pretty fun series that brought back a ton of memories. Alas, like Boys II Men sang, it looks like we’ve come to the end of the road – mostly because everything else from my childhood wasn’t so awesome. So if you missed part 1 or part 2, go check ’em out. Go on. I can wait.
So here are the last few things that I miss from my childhood that are also why I’ll always tell my daughters that my childhood can beat up your childhood.
Airport Security (or lack thereof)
One day, I’m going to tell my daughters that 1) even if you didn’t have a ticket, you could escort your friend all the way to their gate and wait until their plane took off, 2) you didn’t need to take off your shoes to get through security, and 3) Red, Orange, Yellow, Blue, and Green were colors of the rainbow; not terror alert levels, and they will put me in a home because they will think I’m nuts. Thankfully, I still have a picture of me before I headed out to missions in 2000 with 20 people from my church with the gate and plane visible in the background as proof that I’m not crazy.
Today? You get dropped off by a friend or loved one hours before your flight. You say your goodbyes and can’t take pictures together anywhere near anything that would indicate you are at the airport. You have to wait by the gate all alone for an hour. And then you hope and pray that you make it to your destination. These were all things that never crossed my mind when I was a kid. Now people quote statistics, such as: you’re more likely to die using an escalator than riding an airplane, to reassure that air travel is safe.
Oh and baggage fees? Those also didn’t exist.
I was a dude…well, I am still a dude…so I never made a scrapbook because that’s not very dude-like. That being said, I always wished and hoped I’d go over to a girl’s home and see myself in their scrapbook – hopefully not with the letters D, I, and E cut out from magazines and my name written in blood.
My wife is a sentimental being. For example, just before she got married, we cleaned out her room and began moving things over to our new house. That mug still had journals, diaries, scrapbooks, and teen heartthrob posters. Show of hands: how many of you ladies had NKOTB, Devin Sawa, Jonathan Brandis, and JTT posters? So for an anniversary gift, I made her a scrapbook of our first year of marriage.
I wish I could say that it was an awesome experience, but it wasn’t. It sucked. I’m anything but meticulous and I got tired and finished half-way through and put a note in there about how the rest of the pages are blank to symbolize all the adventures we’re going to have together. That’s right – call me Ellie, Mr. Fredricksen.
But my wife still loved it. There’s something special about a scrapbook that you simply cannot capture with a MyPublisher, SnapFish or Shutterfly photobook.
Ok, so this may be a sensitive subject but I’ll go ahead with it anyway. Did you know that in every class of my elementary school years we had a stinky kid and a fat kid? I wasn’t spring fresh nor was I the epitome of fitness, but I wasn’t the stinkiest nor the fattest.
Today, however, if you visit an elementary school, you’d probably find that the fat kids have in fact become the majority and have eaten all the skinny kids. You’ll also likely be considered a pedophile if you visit an elementary school, but that’s a different story.
I take a lot of photos of my kids but I have very few of them printed up. There was something special about dropping off a roll of film and eagerly anticipating how the photos turned out. Nowadays, you know exactly how they should turn out but end up complaining about how crappy the print quality is. Before, since you only put the good photos in your albums, showing off your photos to friends was always fun. Now, you flip through photos on your computer but since you took 8 shots of the same thing at different angles, the slideshow gets old REAL quick.
Safety (or lack thereof)
I rode my bike without a helmet and rode in my parents’ car without a seat belt, let alone a car seat, and I’ve made it this far. Did I suffer permanent brain damage? That’s debatable. Today, kids look like they’re trying out for a football team just to ride their bikes in front of their house.
Back in the day, we used to have people called Safety Patrols (sadly, a Google image search didn’t yield the iconic, neon orange belt) but they did nothing but get people they didn’t like in trouble. Today?! Everyone is a freaking safety patrol. Like fat kids, narks were in the minority in my childhood.
Thumbs Up, Seven Up
They may still play this today, but on rainy days in my childhood, we always played this game during recess. And if a girl you thought was cute was up there, you hoped that she would pick you (she never did 😦 but I figured she was just playing hard to get). And you also knew who the kids were who cheated and you never picked them.
Play dates (or lack thereof)
Growing up, we didn’t have play dates; we just played with friends. Today, you have to schedule play dates far in advance. The scheduling is so hectic and finding the right fit for a play date is so difficult that I’m wondering if I should start-up a play dating service, e.g., KHarmony, KidMatch, or It’s Just Snack Time, to help parents find the right play date partner for their kids.
Maybe it’s just me, but there seems to be a lot of distrust in America today. We don’t know if we can trust food companies (expansive food recalls, HFCS), corporations (greed, corruption, product recalls) the government (wars, national debt), public toilets, and even our own neighbors. And I’m guilty of it too. (yeah, that’s right. I hover if there isn’t a Rest ASSured in the bathroom – I don’t know whose butt has been on that seat and where there butt has been).
Whether I verbalize distrust or not, my actions clearly communicate that I am prone to question people and their intentions, and I fear that will be transferred to my kids. And that is a crappy outlook on life and people. Things were simpler when I was a kid. If my mom had to run out, she left me with my neighbor, and that was without Googling their names and finding out their backgrounds. I want my kids to be safe but I also don’t want them to be paranoid about every little thing and person they encounter.
The Concept of Us
Growing up, we were taught how powerful a group could be, you know, only being as strong as your weakest link and all that. So it’s ironic in an age of unprecedented tolerance that the individual is stressed more than the collective.
Think about all the things we consume today – it’s all about what we want, when we want it, where we want it, how we want it. Somehow forgot to clear your calendar for Mad Men? First of all, how dare you?! But no worries – you have DVR and can watch it when you want. Don’t like onions on your burger? Have it your way! The Web is all about an experience that is tailored to what the individual likes. So many things are on demand. Heck, in my childhood, I didn’t even get food on demand – I ate when momma said it was time to eat. And if she didn’t have food when I was hungry? Guess what? I continued to be hungry.
Additionally, I was rarely told I was special growing up. In fact, when someone said you were special, that was a nice way to say you probably rode the short bus. My parents never stressed how gifted I was; they stressed what a gift to my family I was. By these powers combined (I love squeezing in Captain Planet references), I realized that I needed others and that together, we could achieve great things.
I want my daughters to know they are special people, but I also want them to know that they exist in a larger collective and they need to do their best to make that place the best it can be. I want them to know that their value is not in what they can do but in how they can add value to others.
That’s something I learned from my childhood and I hope it’s something I can instill in my kids as they navigate their way through their childhoods.
You know how Uncle Joey was a comedian but he wasn’t actually really funny? This post was supposed to be lighthearted but somehow wasn’t. Good thing this series is over because I’m getting all crotchety. So as Uncle Joey would say, “Cut. It. Out!”
What about you? What do you miss from your childhood?