I want to preface this piece by saying, I am well aware I don’t have kids therefore, really have no business writing about parent/kid stuff. But I’m going to anyway, because I was one and it doesn’t take much for me to revert back to an 8 year-old tomboy when I hear the word “fart” or whistle out of an acorn cap like my dad showed us when we were kids, and god help anyone if I see a Big Wheel anywhere. I will ride that thing back and forth to work with zero shame.
I’m from what I consider to be one of the best generations thus far.
We were a generation of bone breakers, concussions and countless stitches. We were bloodied and bruised and rough and tumble kids. When my older sister was a kid, she and the neighborhood kids were playing Releivio and she ran into the front porch of the triple decker we lived in and slammed the glass door behind her only to shatter the glass and have the flying shrapnel spray into her face. She was on the floor of the porch, bloodied and a scared as her bestie ran up the stairs to tell my mom. My mother handed her friend a paper towel not realizing the magnitude of the situation until her friend returned upstairs to get another paper towel and handed my mother the blood-soaked one from Amy’s face. Of course only then did my mother lose her shit.
My point is, we were so much freer back then. I realize our world is not the same. However as an unbiased onlooker I see a generation of kids, my beloved nieces included, who may never evolve into anything but fragile whiners. I can literally hear all the moms feathers ruffling as you read this. Hold on. Let me finish before you lynch me. I saw a piece on the news recently where indoor trampoline parks are now being targeted and sued for “injured children”. Ummmmm, really?? We’re really suing places now? Because I’m quite sure when we came home from the park with road rash all down the side of our bodies from falling off the handle bars of someone’s bike, or a broken arm from the monkey bars or a black eye from taking a Louisville slugger to the face during some makeup version of a neighborhood baseball game, we weren’t suing anyone. Because that’s what kids did.
We were a filthy grimy bacteria laden mess and no one was was suing or spraying Purell and blaming the manufacturer of the monkey bars. You got stitched, casted and your mom took a wet face cloth, and wiped you down so hard she just about peeled the skin right off of your face and sent you back outside. Then you got to show the neighborhood kids how bad ass you were. A little street cred. I watch parents hover and helicopter. Obviously not my business but let the kid get a little dirty and roughed up. Let him fight a battle or two when he’s being bullied. Let her eat the dirt and sand on the beach. I’ve taken enough headers off my bike to know that a face full of pebbly mud builds character. Even more so if you ingest it. We drank out of public water fountains, from random hoses on the side of houses, picked stuff up off the ground, had our mouths on the station wagon windows.
We were a gross generation but we were tough kids who became tough adults and didn’t have allergies to everything and weren’t always incubating some illness. My mother wasn’t coddling us like terminally ill kids when we were sick. She did her job, made us feel better and back out the door you went. And I’m grateful for that. I’m grateful I grew up in a safer world. I hate that this younger generation will never get to experience that type of childhood. A childhood where you had to get creative. Bored? Never. You found stuff to do. We used the Welch’s Archie and Veronica jelly glasses to catch fireflies at night. We used to climb the mountain of rocks in my grandparents’ backyard and made ourselves a “jewelry store” by using broken beer bottles from older neighborhood kids that drank up there at night. Heinekens were emeralds, MGD clear bottle were the diamonds and Bud bottles were the rubies (even though the glass was brown because we were just idiot kids.) Of COURSE that’s not safe!! But for some reason back then it was OK. Because you were outside being busy and disgusting and touching gross stuff.
God I loved it. I feel (in my unsolicited opinion) that we have actually created allergies and illness over the years because science and medicine has somehow instilled utter fear into parents. Everyone has a diagnosis. Everyone falls into some category. Makes me nuts to watch. And I feel sad and angry for the kids and their parents. When did we cross this threshold?
I look at my nieces and they know WAAAAAY too much from the Internet. A blessing and a curse. It’s not their fault. It’s all they know. Being a parent to this generation can’t be easy. Imagine telling your 12 year old to go outside and climb a tree? The faces my nieces make when I tell them at their age I was on my sixth set of stitches, had been hit by a car and drank a glass of bleach? I tell them so they will think I’m so badass, but they look at me like I’m just a complete simpleton. There are predators, and allergies and sicknesses out there today that kids need protection from. It sucks. We never had to worry about that stuff. But maybe, next summer, find yourselves some glass mason jars, grab your offspring and catch some fireflies. They’ll think you’re wicked lame but I will guarantee they will think it’s pretty cool when they see that mason jar lit up.
Michelle is originally from Malden, Massachusetts and now resides in Falmouth (Cape Cod) with her two beloved dogs. She has been a hairstylist for many years and works in a popular spa in downtown Falmouth. She loves Crossfit, her dogs (any dogs for that matter) and Oreos.