Friday, June 17, 2005

How Did We Ever Survive Our Own Childhoods?

How true this is...

How Did We Ever Survive Our Own Childhoods?
--- By Devin Silloway

According to today's ubiquitous child advocates, self-serving regulators and 2 bazillion published so-called child development experts, those of us who grew up in the late 60s and then 70s, probably shouldn't have survived to experience high school in the 80s. Yet somehow, most of us are parents now. So how can this be?!

As infants, our baby cribs were covered in lead-based paint, there were no childproof lids on anything and we were always made to sleep on our stomachs. Our strollers didn't have any brakes and our booster seats were a wobbly pile of Sears catalogs and phone books. Formula was thought to be superior to mother's milk and car seats, if we had them at all, were purely ornamental.

As toddlers, we roamed around freely in our homes that had no outlet covers, baby gates or cabinet latches. In fact, 'childproof' anything had yet to be invented as prescription pill bottles were as easy to open as a box of Tic-Tacs. Alas, we were carted around in cars with no seat belts, anti-lock brakes or air bags and riding around with our heads out of the window on a hot day, was always a special treat.

As kids, we would leave home in the morning and play outside completely unsupervised all day long; dangerously skating on frozen ponds, building tree houses high in the air and blazing trails through poison ivy fields. As long as we were back home by dark, no one ever thought to check in with us. 'Digital leashes' or pagers and cell phones, weren't even on the drawing board back then.

We used to spend hours building go-carts out of used lawnmower parts only to bomb down the hill without a helmet and rudely discover that we'd forgotten about a thing called brakes. We fell out of trees, fell off our bikes, fell on the pavement, got cut, got stitches, broke bones and teeth... and there were no lawsuits from any of these accidents. They were, after all 'accidents'. No one was to blame... Remember accidents?

Sure, we were violent and politically incorrect by playing games like Smear the Queer, Kick the Can and the most deadly of all games, Dodge Ball. But we also made up countless games ourselves and the only one that required batteries was Flashlight Tag. We were particularly reckless at birthday parties, where we were willingly blindfolded as we ran with sharp objects or wielded clubs to try to win Pin the Tail on the Donkey or crack open the PiƱata. Heck, we ate Play-Doh, modeling clay and ear wax and although we were told it would in fact happen, our faces never froze from crossing our eyes.

We all drank water from the same garden hose and not from designer plastic bottles. We ate Ding-Dongs, Wonder bread with real butter, eggs cooked in the left-over bacon fat and gulped down sugar cordials called Kool-Aid; yet we were never overweight because we were always outside playing. Quite simply, frozen Eggo Waffles, SpaghettiOs, Hamburger Helper and Creamsicles represented our 4 basic food groups. And although we shared one Bomb Pop, Devil Dog or cherry Lifesaver with the entire neighborhood, no one ever got sick and died.

And our most prized possession, besides the toy that fell out of the cereal box earlier that morning, was not our latest Gameboy game, DVD or laptop. It was our banana-seat or 10-speed bike. We did not have an Xbox, 501 cable channels, DVD players in our family mini-vans (a.k.a. station wagon) or Internet homework services. Nope, we had friends. We went outside and found them. We rode our bikes, roller skated or walked to their houses and stood in their front yards and yelled for them to come out to play... or simply opened their front doors and walked inside.

And despite, or perhaps because of all this, our generation has produced some of the most outstanding risk-takers, problem solvers and innovators ever. The past 20 years has seen an explosion of advancement and new ideas. So why?! Because we learned how to make the most of what we were given and exercised our bodies and imaginations daily. Our parents were wise enough to grant us unabashed freedom while tasking us with accountable responsibility; the chance to succeed or to fall on our faces, while learning from both. And indeed, we did just that.

From the website: Do You Remember?

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