Sunday, August 29, 2010

Stories You Keep from Your Children

We don't blame them. Can our parents be faulted just because they took such horrific risks with their children's very lives? (Although clearly we should find ample opportunities to blame our parents for many things.)

It was a different era, raising children in the sixties and seventies. It was a time of innocence. And a time of ignorance.

Our parents didn't know better when they allowed us to run, shrieking and giggling, through the chemical fog spewing from the mosquito trucks that patrolled our neighborhood.

No seatbelt laws were in effect when they piled ten kids into a five-seater car, to haul us all to the county recreation center for a day of swimming.

They saw no need to stick around at the pool to supervise us. Nor did they accompany their children on our two-mile walk there for swim lessons, when the oldest was only ten and the youngest just seven. The news then didn't broadcast a stream of announcements about nationwide child abductions. No one could yet conceive of the necessity of something called an Amber Alert.

We roamed the neighborhood for hours with no declared destination and no cellphone for parental communication. We played in parks and in the middle of streets several blocks away until the streetlights came on. Or well after.

Not only did our parents trust society, they trusted us--even when we became teenagers. They never imagined what might transpire if we had friends over while they were gone. Likewise, they never thought to call and confirm that the party we were attending would be chaperoned. In many cases, they never knew at all where we were going when we headed out the door on Saturday night.

High school "After Prom" parties weren't school-sanctioned, lock-in events. They were hotel room keggers.

Some of us went on unchaperoned spring breaks our senior year in high school. We ventured to Fort Lauderdale or Daytona Beach, driving twenty-hour trips in our parents' own car. Only half of us were even eighteen, but our parents figured all of us were nearly adults. Legalities were only technicalities then.

Amidst all this reckless behavior, most of us managed to survive our youth.

But once we became parents ourselves? Oh, the difference a few decades make.

It's not that we're a generation of better parents. Perhaps, however, we're better informed, thanks to health and safety laws and the ubiquitous media. Maybe we're wiser, too, due to our recollection of what we did--and shouldn't have done.

With all that we 21st-century parents now know, we can hope our own children reach adulthood safely, and cause us no undue worries.

Just as long as they do as we say, and not as we did.

And we keep a few stories to ourselves.


  1. Those were the days, huh?

    When I grew up, any kid riding a bike with a helmet was the immediate target of both scorn and projectiles.

    It's a wonder we ever lived to tell the tale.

  2. Yes, the ole street light rule!!! "Be in by the time the steet light comes on" Now days our kids hang out inside so much they don't even know what a street light is!!

  3. I think your generation ruined it for mine. When the kids grew up to be parents they realize they didn't want their kids getting into the trouble they did w/o their parents knowing.

    Thanks Sherry.
    Thanks a lot.

  4. Bluzdude: I don't even remember bike helmets existing back then! Likewise with kids' car seats. (Yikes--listen to me. Starting to sound like I grew up in the horse and buggy age...)

    Anon: Haha. Probably true. Not unless they've seen one in some video game.

    Amanda: No, no, you have it all wrong. My generation's PARENTS ruined it for you.