Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Wish I Didn't Know Now What I Didn't Know Then

Well, nobody ever drove me to school when it was ninety degrees below, 
We had to walk butt naked through forty miles of snow. 
Worked in the coal mine twenty two hours a day for just half a cent,
and to sell my internal organs just to pay the rent!"
— "When I Was Your Age", "Weird Al" Yankovic

A while back I wrote about the odd, meaningless things I remember from my childhood (here it is if interested http://richosravings.blogspot.com/2010/01/memory-motel.html). Recently I started realizing there are a lot of things happening now that I DON'T remember from earlier times in my life. I'm giving ample warning that while this is not intended to be a "middle aged, single guy without kids being judgmental" kind of list it will probably read like that. It's meant to be tongue-in-cheek but if you take offense to it, well, bite me! Onward!

- I don't remember my mom needing hours of prep and endless supplies to leave the house with us in tow. While she probably didn't take us out as much as parents do now there just wasn't the hullabaloo, she just loaded us in the car

- I don't remember my mom needing to ply us with snacks wherever we went to keep us in line. A simple look or request to settle down was all it took

- I don't remember my mom having carriages or strollers the size of Escalades to get us around (and there were 6 of us with a total of 8 years in age between us). Or leashes. Again, in all fairness the poor lady didn't leave the house that much when we were babies and my poor sister Eileen became our surrogate other mom when she was "older" (like 5 or 6)

- I don't remember the need for everyone to have ginormous vehicles. We had one station wagon to get  the 8 of us where we needed to get to including work, sports and activities.

- I don't remember most of my friends going on lavish vacations which their families couldn't afford. Most of my friends who did go away it was typically because their family had some kind of beach cottage that had been in their family for decades and where you typically had to share space with your entire extended family

- I don't remember there being so many schools. Seriously, every day I hear about kids going to another school I never heard of! I was a public school kid and was familiar with and had friends who went to Catholic school (or parochial school as my parents called them) and knew of a few private schools but never heard of the majority of them. Or of foreign language schools. Or of charter schools. Or of Montessori schools. And sweet jumping Jehoshaphat the cost!!! $10,00, $20,000, $30,000???? Dear lord

- I don't remember the majority of my friends going to colleges they or their family couldn't afford and being in tens of thousands of dollars in debt into their 30's. Some, sure, but not the majority

- I don't remember needing to have so much crap with me at all times. I'd leave for school with a bag with my sports stuff, lunch and books/homework. When we went out if you couldn't carry it in your pockets you didn't need it.

- I don't remember the need to always have water and food with me when I left home. I also don't remember anyone dying of thirst or hunger on the mean streets of Arlington

- I also don't remember the need for bottled water. Tap water was just fine then and for me still is today

- I don't remember the obsession over sterilization. Hand sanitizer is ubiquitous now as is the practice of wearing gloves for almost everything

- I don't remember the overwhelming need to "keep up with the Joneses". Oh it surely existed but not to the level I see it now. My parents and most of my friends parents were realistic about where they fell in the economic food chain and rarely strayed from that spot

- I don't remember going out with friends and being way more concerned about people who weren't there then people who were. I was happy to give 100% of my attention to the people I was with and still try and do that now

- I don't remember everything being a celebration or reward worthy. Big events, big accomplishments, milestones, sure, all celebration worthy. Pre-school graduation, half-birthdays and the like, not so sure.

- I don't remember getting a ride everywhere. First it was unfeasible as we had 1 car and 8 people in the house. Second the idea of having my mom drive me everywhere was just foreign. A sign of (supposed) maturity and independence was the ability to get yourself from here to there on your own. When I was a young teen nobody wanted to be the person who's mom/dad dropped them off for a night of "who knows what" and you'd cross your fingers they'd have the decency to drop you off around the corner (tho I do remember my awesome mom driving us to Worcester for a concert when my friend's car wouldn't start which was pretty cool). And no, it wasn't a different world back then. It was just as dangerous/safe and just as many crazy people. We just didn't hear about them as much

Whether these things I don't remember are for the better or the worse is up to you to decide. Other things I do remember that are no longer as prevalent are even more significant but that's a blog for another day. And while I am taking a poke at modern life I am not silly enough to think things don't change be it for better or worse. And yes I know in many ways I'm a dinosaur (and out of touch and Peter Pan etc etc etc) but I still have an opinion and a keen sense of observation. And I'm sure my 15 year old nephew will some day be saying "I don't remember never leaving the house because everything we need is right here. I remember going out and doing things. That's the way it was and we liked it"