Things have seemingly gotten out of control with the technology accessibility and just plain access for ‘youth’ these days. I don’t care if this makes me sound like a bitter old woman, it must be said! The brood in my house has me reminiscing about how things were ‘back in my day’.
Oh, they don’t want to hear what i have to say, i’m looking at them and constantly in awe of how freakin’ lucky they are at all the luxuries that seem to come standard in every household.
First of all, i was the youngest of three. The third child and only girl behind two older and very rebellious brothers. I watched the grey hairs sprout on my parents heads and somewhere, somehow decided to go easy on them. .. well, at least my mom. My dad wasn’t around to torment, so my mom dealt with the brunt of it. So as the third kid of a single working mom, you ended up doing what you had to do to get anywhere. Whether it be home from school or practice, or to any of your friends’ houses. When i was still in elementary school, i remember vividly having to take a YMCA bus (the Dolphin bus) home. At the bus stop, i waited dutifully for my oldest brother to meet me and then give me a ride home on his bike. … on the handlebars, i think.
He never showed.
I waited and waited and waited… this bus stop is about a half mile from where my house was. (On Narbonne in front of that giant brick school for those of you familiar with the cartography of my story)
I honestly can’t remember how i got home that day. I don’t know if he finally showed up later, or if i got a ride from someone else. I just remember being left. I was familiar with this feeling because when i was 6 my parents took me on a visit to The Queen Mary. I have no clue why i was the only kid taken, and i’m sure the whole thing was my dad’s idea to see The Spruce Goose. My mom must have dragged him to the boat if she had to look at the plane. They had a very give and take relationship that way.
Anyway, we are walking along and there’s a big hoopla at a display. I pull on my mom’s sleeve and say “I’m going over there.”
I get one of those, “Uh huh, ok” responses. I go. I look. There’s some mice running around the wax fruit in a display of some sort. I lost interest, turned around, and BAM. No parents.
I panic a bit. I look around, no parents. I run up and down the hall. No parents.
A little old lady gets in my face to ask if i’m lost.
*sob* uh huh.
She leads me to a security guard and we are reunited after i tell him what my mom is wearing.
I got lucky. Or, should i say, my parents got lucky. I can’t imagine that fear now being a parent myself.
Starting in 4th grade i have to ride my bike home from school. At this point my parents are divorced ,my mom is the only bacon-bringer so she can’t leave her job in L.A. to come pick me up everyday. We took my bike in the morning and i rode home in the afternoon. I went to school out of district, though, because my mom only went down the flunky rollercoaster two times with the brothers before she would yank me out and put me in the next district over.
So my bike ride home every. single. day. rain or shine. was about 3 miles. .. through main streets and traffic and lights and intersections the whole way.
I survived. I made it. I hated it and procrastinated the ride, but there wasn’t an option unless i wanted to sleep under a desk at school.
Now i’m in jr high. in a catholic school. Usurping my mother’s plans to not allow me to flunk out of elementary school in our own district, she moved me to another as i said and i was still having issues. After 5th grade she put me in Catholic School. After a year i decide to try out for the cheerleading team. I made it. During one summer practice , i was waiting for my brother to pick me up. I was, again, sitting at a bus stop when a sports car pulls up. This tool in a Hawaiian shirt tells me to get in and he’ll give me a ride. I told him to take a hike. He tried weakly again and i told him to piss off.
I did not have a cell phone to call the police. I did not have an app to make sure predators were nowhere nearby. I had my own brain, my own common sense to think for myself… perhaps the two years i rode my bike through traffic and intersections taught me how to make decisions quickly ? I’m thankful for that.
On family vacations we didn’t have iPads and iPhones and ipods. We had the sliding red window ‘car Bingo’ game my brothers cheated at. If they actually played. Mostly they used them to hit me. We didn’t have DVD players, we had the car window. God help you if you rolled it down or up or in any way used it. Dad’s arm reached as far as it needed to. HIS window could be down, but ours was off limits.
Now i get it. Up OR down. Not all at once all the time the whole time you’re in the car!
When I was a teenage mall rat, i didn’t have a cell phone to get a ride. I sure as hell wasn’t going to use the only change i had for calling my mom for a ride. My lunch was Chick-fil-a samples and any other freebies i could get. So how did i get a hold of anyone? I used the directory phone. I figured out – or was probably shown by a fellow rat – how to tap the lever and manipulate it like a rotary phone. Do young’uns even know what rotary is ?!
One glaring example of terribly poor teen judgement was my 13th birthday party. It was a slumber party. We watched horror movies (April Fool’s Day) on the Beta we had. The machine would cut off randomly. (perhaps one of the reasons for the death of the BetaMax?) When this happened, the TV would snap to static. LOUD static. You can imagine the headache my mom and her friend (Petty 🙂 ) had after the screaming we all did during that movie… the longest movie ever. The next day we all wanted to go to the mall, of course. My mom said we couldn’t , but when does that stop a kid? So what did we do? The one “bad girl” of the bunch suggested we hitch. Why not, right? So we all walked in a clan down to the local gas station and got in a van with two guys smoking pot. They took us to the mall and dropped us off.
No biggie, right?
We ended up getting a ride home from said friend’s boyfriend. He had a classic mustang fastback. Whooooooo did we get busted big time for that. But i’m glad. I’m glad i got in trouble. I’m not sure what the punishment was because there was nothing to take away. No iphone or ipad or PlayStation or XBOX.
When i was a kid growing up, you had yourself to rely on. If you were lucky, a friend. But as i remember it, teens and tweens are pretty much always out for themselves. It was up to YOU how to get home or to a friend’s house. I walked to my friend’s houses. Walked. With my feet. How i was still a fat kid as much as i walked, i have no idea. I guess because whenever i got somewhere, i ate. We didn’t have much in the way of options at home … at least nothing that matched. We had ketsup, but not hot dogs. If we had hot dogs, we didn’t have buns. We had wonder bread that stuck to the weiner… the generic weiner. We usually had jelly, but not always peanut butter. Nutella was something on a commercial. Hamburger helper was religion, and spaghetti was dreaded. Mostly because it was filled out with the ketsup.
When you’re in it, it sometimes seems really sucky and shitty. Now i can look on it and be thankful for how i grew up. It makes me appreciate what i’ve got because i know firsthand it’s not at all guaranteed.
So why the hell do i spoil my kids?! Perhaps the next time someone acts up, i start removing peanut butter and buns from the pantry …. shit’s about to get REAL up in here!