According to today’s regulators and bureaucrats, those of us who were children in the 40s, 50s, 60s, or even the early 70s, probably shouldn’t even be alive today.
As I walked down my driveway the other day, I heard an elderly man—a great-grandfather, actually—lecturing his 11-year old great grandson on how pampered kids are today. It was, basically, the same lecture I gave to my own children many times.
It went something like this.
Today’s kids are soft; they’re too coddled. When we were kids, there were no such things as childproof lids on medicine bottles, or latches on doors and cabinets. And when we rode our bikes—if our parents could afford to buy us one—we had no helmets.
And if we didn’t have a bike, and we wanted to go any significant distance at all, we’d either walk or HITCHHIKE a ride! I even remember thumbing a ride and getting one from a police officer. Most kids of my era weren’t afraid of the police.
On spring or summer days, riding in the back of a pick-up truck was a special treat. And as long as we stayed seated, our parents didn’t give it a second thought; neither did the police.
Oh, and if we got thirsty, no one—our parents included—considered drinking straight from a garden hose as grounds for turning us in to the Board of Health.
In fact, I can’t recall ever seeing bottled spring water in grocery stores. That’s because no one would have considered wasting their money on such nonsense. People bought distilled water. My mother used it in her steam iron.
We ate all sorts of sweets—cookies, cakes, bread with REAL butter on it, and candy by the pound. We ate French Fries cooked in LARD, and we drank all sorts of drinks loaded with sugar.
But we didn’t gain an ounce because, if we were not in school or in bed for the night, we were outside playing . . . even in the rain as long as there was no lightening.
In fact, I recall my summer routine with fondness. I’d be up and dressed by 7 AM, fix myself a bowl of cereal with LOTS of sugar and ice-cold milk. I’d then grab my baseball glove and head for the ball field some 7-blocks away. So did most of my male friends.
Our mothers never gave it a thought. The only reason we’d come home during daylight hours was for lunch and supper. Otherwise, we’d be out of the house until the street lights came on, doing whatever our inventive minds could conjure up.
Most of us didn’t swim in swimming pools; our parents considered them breeding grounds for polio. We swam in “swimming holes:” small streams, coves, and creeks.
Yes, we got hurt at times. We fell out of trees; we broke our bones; we lost a tooth or two in the process. And while our parents would break up a fight in a heartbeat if they were around one, we did manage to get into one occasionally! But no one sued anyone over it.
Our parents simply considered accidents and childhood fights as part of growing up. My own father used to tell me; “If you do stupid stuff, expect to pay the price!”
In school, if a teacher disciplined one of us, and sent a note home to our parents about it, our parents automatically took the teacher’s side. WE were in deep doo-doo, NOT the teacher.
And if a school principal become involved, it became tantamount to an in-home prison sentence. It might have involved several weeks, sometimes a month or longer, no outside the home activities.
And if we got into trouble with the police, there were no parental bailouts. Unless our innocence was glaringly obvious, our parents automatically sided with the police. We were guilty until proven otherwise. Our parents held us totally responsible for our own actions. NO! EXCUSES!
Through it all, we were granted the freedom to be creative; we were given the credit for our own successes, and we were held responsible for our own failures. And we learned to deal with all of it. It taught us to be risk-takers and problem solvers.
Yep, this was life for children throughout my childhood, and I’m no spring chicken, having been born in the 40s.
But it’s way different today. Kids of today can take a bullet through the head just by playing outside of their homes. Drugs are everywhere. In teacher and school disputes with students, the teachers and schools are blamed automatically. And people sue everyone under the Sun at the drop of a pin.
And who do we have to blame? The liability lawyers and a ton of government agencies. The former have sued people for billions of dollars—just listen to the TV commercials—and the latter have regulated our lives ad infinitum . . . supposedly for our OWN good.
Oh, and let’s not forget a plethora of clueless and apathetic parents who simply let it all happen.