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KS Alternative Factor

Remember “Go outside and play?”

I have a serious allergy to all those nostalgia pieces that go on about “wasn’t life grand back in the day?” They just push my buttons big time. I usually respond by quoting the title of a Dolly Parton song, "The Good Old Days When Times Were Bad".

This isn’t one of those pieces, and it sure makes a lot of good points.

http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-oe-brooks15-2008may15,0,3678233.column

I feel sorry for kids nowadays. People blame the parents, but if they did let their kids "go out and play" and if something happened to the kid the parents might be arrested and charged with negligence and child endangerment.

I hate to think, for example, of what would have happened to my mother if she was raising kids now. When I was 3, while she was napping, I let myself out of the house and crossed a busy street. There were multiple attractions on the other side - I was fascinated with trains and there was a busy train crossing at the intersection, and there was a Dairy Queen there, as well.

Some total stranger brought me home; he knocked on my mother's door and asked if I was her kid. She had had no idea I knew how to work the door lock. If that had happened now, who knows, she might have been arrested and I might have been put in foster care. And the total stranger probably never would have dared to help a stray little girl.

Not that we want to go back to the bad old days. When I was in junior high, a friend of mine showed up with a broken arm. We were all excited, thinking she'd had some kind of adventure - maybe climbing on the mountain behind our school, or who knows? Instead, she said her dad had done it. I remember feeling a kind of sick disappointment. We all knew these things happened, and we knew there was nothing to be done about it.

There's got to be a happy balance, but people never seem to be able to make that balance work for any period of time.

But I have to say, I do have plenty of happy memories of those 1960s parentally-unsupervised “go out and play” days. It was pretty damn amazing how little attention parents paid to what their kids got up to. I can bet good money that not one parent in my old childhood neighborhood knew that just about every one of the 15 to 20 kids in the neighborhood between the ages of 4 and 6 were involved in digging a tunnel underneath a house perched on a cliffside and held up by stilts....

Comments

Amen and that's the thing -- what must be done is what works, apart from ideology. When the ideologues get hold of things, we're all in trouble (I know you and I have discussed this before).

As for the "good, old days", my grandmother (my "Nanny" whom I think you remember) used to have a poem on the wall about the "good, old days" that ended with "you can cram the good, old days". lol When she was a little girl, she had to churn her family's butter, scrub her family's laundry and do a thousand other things -- and they had it well off next to what people went through in the 18th century.

We live in the good, old days, if only we'd let them be.
LOL, good for your Gram.

Every once in awhile, one of those "weren't things grand back in the day" lists about going out to play in the sunny carefree days of the 60s (yeah, right) pops up on one of the Dark Shadows yahoo lists.

And whenever one of those things raises its ugly head, all I have to do is tell people how I started watching Dark Shadows.* That's a conversation killer.

*I don't know if you remember, but I saw my first DS episode in the summer of '68 (an episode with Julia Hoffman and Tom Jennings). I was 13 at the time, about to become a sophomore in high school at that age because I'd skipped 1st and 2nd grades. A friend of mine, a 16 year old unwed mother, wasn't going to go back to school in the fall because of her baby. She was living with her 27 year old cocaine sniffing boyfriend, and they had a teeny apartment on top of a teeny grocery store (looked a lot like the apartment Ennis and Alma Del Mar had in Brokeback Mountain; the RL grocery store was much more crowded and dirtier than the movie version).

Anyway, Julie was hooked on DS, and I'd come to visit round about that time so we could both watch our soap.

We live in the good, old days, if only we'd let them be.

Word.
Word!

It's very hard being a parent these days. Damned if you do and damned if you don't.

And I had tremendous freedom compared to what my kids have.

The kids are still worth it, but it's not easy.

{{{hugs}}}, you. :)
{{{{{{{{{{{{[hugs}}}}}}}}}}}}}} back.

I have tremendous respect for people who choose to be a parent these days - every step seems to be littered with landmines.

It's interesting, isn't it, that we have an entire culture devoted to keeping children very protected. As adults, will they be fearful of the world beyond their boundaries, or will they break through to some new insights?

I think we create different types of human beings with every generation.
As adults, will they be fearful of the world beyond their boundaries, or will they break through to some new insights?

Lucky for them, they don't really listen to us all that well. I'm not actually worried. :)

I think we create different types of human beings with every generation.

I'm not sure that basic human nature ever changes much, but we certainly learn and grow with each incarnation, so...yeah, they've got to be the improved version. Evolutionarily, even, for those who won't go with me on the reincarnation thing. :)
Expanding on this a bit further (smile) I'm sure you're familiar with the linguistic concept of extinction - i.e., all humans are born with tbe capability of producing every sound in every human language ever. But as children learn their "mother tongue", their brains convert any "language cells" that aren't being used to other purposes, which is why it's so hard for adults to learn a foreign language.

My theory, off the top of my head, is that it's the same with culture. In the 80s, when affluent kids living in the US started growing up with computers and video games, their minds essentially learned and incorporated "new language". That, along with the more restricted living conditions than the baby boomers enjoyed, I think has created a different generational gestalt.

I'm absolutely a believer that "people is people", but "culture is culture" as well and where and when we live probably determines which switches in our brain are set to on and which to off.

Anyway, my two cents, based on nothing more than idle musings. :-)
I used to spend hours in what I now call the "pocket woods," the small woods-let between our house and the next one, playing "living off the land." I would practice making shelters, traps, and other survival skills. I would also go down our quiet street and follow the brook back, trying to find its source. My parents had no idea where I was.

It was a much less child-centered time (I grew up in the 60s, too). I have an eleven-year-old now, so it's interesting for me to compare how it was then with how it is now. She certainly doesn't go wandering off the way I did.

The role of the computer and computer games, online social groups, cell phones and texting and popular culture have all heavily influenced today's kids, or some of them, anyway. We actually try to filter popular culture pretty heavily -- we joke about being Amish. But then again, my kid's only 11. Check back with me when she hits 16!