Remember when we were young?
The good ‘ol days, we call them.
Times when it was safer to leave our doors unlocked and we roamed the neighborhood at will, because our parents knew everyone or just considered us safer. Times when I, as a six-year-old, did not know of the F-word or drew pictures of male genitalia on the sides of playground equipment. Maybe other kids did. I didn’t. And I never saw any of them, or maybe I just didn’t pay attention enough. I rode my bike around my neighborhood and into the mud in the field behind our suburb, just like everyone else I knew. We roller-bladed with dogs attached dangerously to our waists and jumped fences to join friends playing hide and go seek or “spies”. I actually read books that weren’t assigned to me, and we were more interested in games and swimming than a mindless cartoon. We watched cartoons on SATURDAYS, early in the morning before our parents woke so that we could get “the good ones”. We never waited until noon to get up. Scooby doo was still a real dog’s-dog and the mystery was a mystery until the end of the show. Cartoons had hidden pop-culture meanings. Play was more than just a button on the VCR, which had tapes we had to REWIND. We did not color our eyes black and dye our hair. We thought coffee was “cool” and “stole” sugar packets while our parents talked at gatherings or in restaurants. We screamed songs at the top of our lungs as we reached the peak of our swing on the playground. We chased the ice cream man down the street because he was the only one with the good rainbow pops. We ran away from angry geese at the park, which we visited of our own free will. We sold lemonade as a summer experiment, collected Beanie Babies, and were obsessed with “whatever” and “yo”. And we ate Warheads until our tongues were raw.
What happened to that? To good clean fun? To Elvis Presley and songs blared through the boombox about crooning men who bayed loudly about the girl they were in love with or who wished “it would rain”? When rap was shaken a hand at as if it could be shoo-ed? When we watched Veggies sing songs, and knew all the words?
It’s amazing how once you have children, all those things you were interested in, or even took for granted as a child, are suddenly remembered and important. It’s like stories you wished you remembered, songs you sang, and memories you had should be shared. It’s a legacy. A time long past.
I spent a good deal of time tonight searching out an old tape that I was sure I hadn’t thrown out, writing down every good movie I could remember watching as a child, and reading a little piece of Owl At Home. How I loved his stories, as he invited winter to dinner and thought of sad things, like pencils too short to write with, in order to make his tea. Lion king was my favorite movie, I could repeat it verbatim. And I watched cartoons with dogs that turned into super heroes and ones where a duck was the dark hero. When you spilled coffee on yourself, it was YOUR fault for being stupid and not realizing that coffee is HOT, and you could not sue the person whose house you were breaking into for falling onto a knife in the kitchen and becoming injured. You took it like a man, and went to the hospital for a tetanus shot and 2 tablespoons of idot-be-gone which was activated by “hard-knocks”. The second, unfortunately, was not a dependable cure.
I want to share so much with my boy. I’m so excited to show him and have him learn. I want him to know what it was like. That life used to mean something. Something more than just scrounging to get by and frowning about it. That it was fun and exhilarating. It seemed like less things broke. We fell down the stairs multiple times and ate whole jars of peanut butter when we were in the new-age-declared “no peanut butter” stage, and chewed on lead-painted toys. We didn’t die. We were fine. We rubbed dirt in our wounds and put our ball caps back on. We weren’t scared to go out and be hurt by an invisible world. Back then, the world seemed a little less threatening. A little more like, “life as it is”. If that makes any sense.
How did we live before we forgot our cell phones at home and had the internet on them? Before our lives depended on them? How did we live before micro-filed novels you can buy over the internet and watch on an electric device the size of a book and could fit in your back-pocket? How did we live before plastic? Or whole businesses made from people wanting to be connected?
Truth is…We just lived. In some ways worse, in many ways: better.
But I sincerely miss the good days. I miss feeling safe. I miss playing pretend on the floor and thinking I was awesome while doing it. I miss PepperAnne and Hey Arnold. I miss field trips and day trips and falling asleep in the car on the way home. I miss raising tadpoles. I miss hardy, american made products. I don’t miss having to change out the cd a hundred times to listen to my songs, or worse, cassettes I had to fast forward 4 seconds at a time if I wanted a particular song. I don’t miss not having audio files that fit onto a device I can jimmy into my pocket..but I do miss the good days.
We’ll all just have to work at creating them again…but for now, it seems they’ve taken a vacation.