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The Bad Ol’ Days

May 25th, 2005

Have you gotten that chain e that’s been going around the last few years? It’s usually headed “And we Lived to Tell About It.” (WM has received five copies, and counting. Honest to God, if I wanted to hear a granny rant, I’d pick up the phone and call her.) The e is all about “our parents used lead paint in the nursery, and we lived,” “We got to play outside for hours — and were fine…” etc. and ends with “…kinda makes you run through the house with scissors, doesn’t it?”

No, it doesn’t, and here’s why:

Okay enough of this “good ol’ days” crap. Here’s my version of what we’re missing out on…

We hitchhiked, and lived, because we managed to jump out the car door when we realized the driver was a rapist. (This happened to my friend K when I was 13 and she was 14 — she waited til he was turning a corner, ducked her head and rolled. She broke her arm and fractured a rib, but lived, thank God. And thank God, too, that I wasn’t with her and that it didn’t happen to me. We didn’t have cars, obviously, and our parents weren’t big on driving us places, so hitchhiking was how we got around town.)

A number of us, in the ’30s, ’40s, ’50s, ’60s & ’70s!!! were raped and molested and somehow lived. But some of us didn’t. Just like nowadays. But back then, people just didn’t talk about it because it “wasn’t nice conversation.” And most of us didn’t tell our parents, or a cop, a teacher, or another “safe grown-up” because we thought it was our fault. (Wait, some things haven’t changed, eh? How many kids still blame themselves when they’re hurt? Lots is my guess. And please God, on a less serious note, let me not get anymore chain mail with bright bold colors!!! and exclamation points!!! Or pictures of roses!!! Or grannies wearing purple hats!!!)

We didn’t know all of the rules we teach our kids nowadays — “good touch/bad touch,” “uh-oh feeling” “tell a safe grown-up,” “how to say ‘no’” etc. And some of us, when we did tell our parents, were given variations on “I told you so.” (ie — “It’s your own fault.”) The police were rarely called.

Some of us got mild brain damage (mild memory loss and learning disability), from falling out of unscreened second-floor windows. (That would be a mom I know from school, whose family makes jokes about it to this day. “Yeah, she’s got a hard head alright!”)

Some of us drowned because no one was keeping an eye on us. (My friend R’s brother, in grade school. Out playing by himself.)

Some of us lost teeth when our brothers cracked us in the face with a bat, ’cause our hippie parents refused to say “PUT DOWN THE DAMN BAT. NOW.” (This would be my neighbor friend, when I was about 9 and she was 8.)

Some of us threw up all afternoon, after picking strawberries and eating half of them, in a sun-kissed field that had recently been hosed down with pesticides. (My entire family, plus my friend C, when he and I were 12.)

Kind of makes you never want to go back to the good ol’ days, doesn’t it?

I know we can’t prevent every little accident. I know this. I know that we’re, like, the most hyper-vigilant generation of parents EVER and BAD SHIT STILL HAPPENS. That’s the world. Bad shit has always happened. (Hello? Bubonic plague? Polio? War after war after endless g.d. war?) But I like the “nowadays” better than the “good ol’ days” any day.

WM

3 Comments

  1. Roxie says

    I am so glad that I didn’t grow up in your neighborhood. Not that mine was perfect, but it was a bit more idyllic than what your post describes. My mom deserves the credit for that. After having a crappy childhood, she vowed to make mine as normal and happy as possible.
    The tone of the original “old days” was not so serious, hopefully giving folks a laugh. I think that the incidents you listed happened back then and will continue in the future. Not everyone has evolved. Not everyone has been given the insight and education to evolve.
    Wacky Mommy, it is people like you who make us look closer at how we want things to be for our children. We sure as hell don’t want our babes to have anything evil happen to them. By being informed, aware and seeing things for what they really are, without all the denial or shame we can prevent those bad things to an extent. There freaks are out there, waiting for their perfect victim. The more informed we are, the likelihood of it happening to one of us (our ours)is much less.
    Carry on . . .

    May 26th, 2005 | #

  2. Wacky Mommy says

    Yeah, I wish I’d grown up in a different neighborhood, too. But it made me the smartass I am today, which is a good thing. The first time I heard a girl tell a boy, “Boy, you are fucking with my nerves,” I just about died. Woo, buddy — was he in trouble!

    May 29th, 2005 | #

  3. mom-too says

    I just received the same “good old days” e-mail from my dad, and I agree with you…I think my dad is looking through the haze of his memories. I also had to escape once when hitchhiking, was lucky to make it home after dark, had friends who were poisoned or hurt because there wasn’t as much scrutiny regarding our food or toys as there is today. My dad doesn’t remember that my mother protected my brother when he behaved poorly, and I wasn’t able to participate in sports because I was a girl. Thanks for posting some good thoughts about some memories that should be corrected!

    January 17th, 2006 | #

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