Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Since we're going down Memory Lane this week...

I was reading Emily's recent entry and it made me think about a few things; the principles of inertia for one, and how (much more) stressful and pressurized parenting has become in the last ten or fifteen years. Mrs. Kennedy (now parenting the darling Jackson in my hometown) readily admits it, Heather's most recent post at AlphaMom talks about how "the bar has been raised in imperceptible increments, for such a long time, that much of the time we don't even realize that we are holding ourselves to standards our mothers never had to meet" - which, in turn, can cause some people (Heather included) to be depressed. Wait, wait... I have a point to make here, I promise.

So I got to thinking about what things were like for my sisters and I growing up...and I came to a few conclusions, the primary of which was this: Despite the "mistakes*" our young parents made, we had a lot of fun, a lot more fun than loads of kids do anymore. I'm really happy they forged ahead and made a family of five where they might have just left off after me. Given the facts that I woke up every hour until I was two, walked and spoke in complete sentences far too early (imagine a year and a half old child stomping her tiny foot on the ground and saying, "Oh S##T! in irritation, in front of your conservative new friends...) and also had an irrational fear of strange things like snails...I'm amazed that my mom had the bravery to give procreation another round, on purpose. She maintains that they had my first sister to keep me from being, in her words, a complete and total raving brat. My second sister followed a mere twenty months later and, like me, was a big surprise.
*I'm not saying they made mistakes, but they might be judged harshly for things they routinely did with us if it were now. You know, like how I was allowed to run around stark naked everywhere without SPF 200 covering every inch of my tender baby flesh (which tanned quite nicely, thankyouverymuch) things like that.

Take the fact that my father used to routinely allow a whole pack of kids to ride in the back of his pick-up truck. I'm talking, ten, twelve kids in the bed, and two or three in the front with him. We'd all pile in and rattle off down the road to the beach or a softball game or on a hike, not a care in the world between us. One day we were en route to go on a hike and had our usual gang of kids, plus a loveable (if a bit thick in the head) boxer named Max with us. Being a dog, he was placed in the bed of the truck with about ten of us kids. Being a dog, he happily hung his head over the side and slurped up the warm summer air. Being a rather dumb dog, he decided to push his thickly muscled chest up to and over the edge of the truck.

"Nat, grab his leash tighter, he's going to jump out of the.." SWOOP. In a flash of tawny fur, he was out, rolling across the pavement with a smattering of yelping cries.
"AaaaaaaaaaaaaaaAAAAAAAAAAAIIIIIIIIIIIIEEEEEEEEEEEE! DaaaaAAAaaaaaaaaD!" (chorus of ten kids screaming in terror) By some miracle, Max managed to escape with only a few cuts and scratches that we bandaged at a friends' house and was perfectly able to go on our hike. Other times, I remember him letting us ride laying down on top of his toolbox, lying down.

I don't know one parent that would allow any of that kind of nonsense to go on with their sprogs... for that matter, I don't know that I'd allow some of that. But what do we have to show for it? The fattest, least interested in learning, most neurotic, over-stressed, unhealthy generation of children yet. As a Have-Not, I can only watch and report from the sidelines, not smug, but cushioned, by my blissful ignorance. That and sit back in my rocker on the porch, reminiscing about the good old days.


Girl con Queso said...

Poor Max! But how fun. Growing up in the Texas hill country (heavy on the country), we routinely motored from place to place in the back of a truck. And I'm worried when I can't get all 27 of the straps buckled on my 10-month-old's FDA-approved $500 car seat. Jeez.

Dawn said...

I remembering fondly riding in the back of my dads pick up. I remember riding in the front seat sans seatbelt and if we had to stop quickly dad or mom would hold up the arm. I never saw a bicycle helmet--and did run into my fair share of parked cars and seemed to survive. Kids today are too sheltered, too protected (yes that is possible) and miss out on so much fun...Sometimes I am surprised that those of us born between 1964-1978 have survived to adulthood.

Karl said...

Just popping in to say hello. Saw you over on 25 Peeps.

Chiada said...

Our yearly treks up to "Or-ee-gun" and "Worshington" were in the back of a 1978 Dodge Ram truck that had a camper shell on it. Dad put a boot inbetween the shell and the front cab and took the windows out so we could have the cab open to the shell/bed area. Mom made up some upholstered cushions to use as seats and rolled out sleeping bags on top of foam that lined the bed of the truck. Lemme tell ya, those were some luxury accommodations - barreling up the I5 in the back of a loud truck. At one point dad rigged up some seatbelts for us, but we hardly ever used them. Good times.

Meepers said...

Hello all! Girl con Queso - You and Dawn are up next to go on my Newbie links list.

Dawn! Are you just jumping out of your skin with excitement, or what?

Hi Karl!

Chiada... You know we so had the parallel childhoods. We were just bouncing around unbuckled in the 'tin can' van.