Friday, January 15, 2016

The Old Fart's Guide to Parenting: Now vs. Then


(post copyright 2016, Dawn Weber)

The other day, as the kids tapped away on iPhones worth more than six months' rent on my first apartment, I marveled again at how much things have changed in the past 40 years. I'd been busy with my usual lunchtime routine of cooking two different meals for two different kids -- a.k.a. Picky and Pickier -- all the while tripping over them and kind of wishing they would go outside.

So I said, "Why don't you two go outside?"

They glanced up in horror from their screens.

"Mom, come on!" said the Princess (a.k.a. Picky).

The Hobo (a.k.a. Pickier) opened his mouth in disbelief. "It's only, like, 30 degrees out there!"

And before I could protest, both kids hunched back over their phones and returned to the important Instagram business at hand.

Feeling very old and tragic, I continued preparing their lunches -- plural -- and had several Get Off My Lawn epiphanies about life in the 70s compared to life  in 2016, so I grabbed a pen and jotted them all down. Read on for your handy Old Fart Guide to Parenting, Now vs. Then:

Food:
2016
"Would you prefer pasta or chicken? You'd rather have steak? Of course, honey - whatever you want!"

1976
"Oh, so you're tired of fish sticks. Is that right? Guess what - here's seven more. Don't leave the table till they're gone."

Playtime:
2016
"Are you warm enough, honey? It's so cold outside! Let me bring you a blanket and some hot chocolate so you don't have to pause your video game."

1976
"Aw, baloney. Nineteen degrees isn't that bad. Bundle up and go outside! I'm locking the door  till the street lights come on."

Clothing:
2016
"We have $800 for your school clothes shopping  today! Let's see. We'll go to  Hollister, American Eagle, Abercrombie . . . crap, that won't be enough, will it? I'll grab another hundred."

1976
"What do you mean your jeans don't fit? I just bought them two years ago! Alright, alright. Here's five bucks. Ride your bike down to Kmart, put some pants in layaway, and we'll pay them off by the time school starts. Maybe."

Transportation: 
2016
"Hop in, sweetie, and buckle up. You're such a big fifth grader! Only two more years and you'll be out of that booster seat."

1976
"Get in the car. No, not the back seat - Grandma and Grandpa are sitting there. Sit in the way-back, and quit complaining. Seat belts? Hmm . . .there's some chains on the floor, I think. Strap yourself to the spare tire."

Discipline:
2016
"Now, if you keep talking to Mommy that way, she's going to take away some of your XBox time . . ."

1976
"Who do you think you are, telling me how to drive? There's 18 feet of road -- I use all 18 feet. You open your mouth again, and I'll kick your ass from here to the end of the highway!"

Health:
2016
"Come over here, baby, and let Mom help you with your sunscreen. SPF 50 won't be strong enough for a bright day like this! We'll reapply in 40 minutes, and take a break from 10-2 when the sun's the hottest.

1976
"What are you doing back in the house? What's that? You have a sunburn? Well, there's some baby oil in the bathroom. Rub it in, suck it up and go. I'm locking this door till the street lights come on."

Independence:
2016
"Whoo - is it hot outside! Let's hurry into the store, sweetie, before we dehydrate!"

1976
"I have to run in for a few things, so stay in the car and keep the windows rolled up and the door locked. If it gets too hot, start the engine and turn on the A/C. Don't look at me like that. You're old enough to drive. In eight more years."
____________________________________________________

As you can see by my Handy Old Fart Guide to Parenting, things are indeed very different these days. I'll think I'll start showing this to my kids whenever they complain, and if they don't like it, you know what? I have no problem locking the door till the street lights come on.

Now get off my lawn.


22 comments:

  1. Hey, did we have the same parents when we were kids? LOL

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi there, sister ;)
      There is a bit of hyperbole here for effect. Some of these 70-isms were things I heard from my friends when they'd complain about their parents.
      But I do remember the night of the seven (plus seven more) fish sticks.

      Delete
  2. I didn't have kids for many reasons, but if I had, I would definitely have raised them 1970s style (except leaving them alone in the car, even though my parents did, and we didn't have a/c so I just rolled the windows down). The mollycoddling these days is turning this generation into a bunch of self absorbed pansies with a sense of entitlement.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've heard it called the "wussification of America," JoJo.

      Delete
  3. If we didn't like what was offered for dinner, we could make ourselves a peanut butter sandwich, but we mostly never thought about not "liking" the dinner -- only getting our 1/7th share of it before there wasn't any of whatever it was left. Besides, peanut butter was the every-day-of-the-year packed lunch, along with either raisins or an apple, and how many times a day can you eat that? We were just glad to get any dinner at all!

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    Replies
    1. Exactly, Gale. I don't know how I ended up cooking different meals, or with kids who are so particular, but I did. I do love the picky little boogers, though.

      Delete
  4. LOL! You know, your depiction of 1970 isn't much of an exaggeration.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Replies
    1. "It's funny 'cause it's true!" - Jerry Seinfeld

      Delete
  6. I remember we lounged in the very spacious area above the back seat, where the rear window of the car slanted down, enough room for at least one kid to lay out there and we fought over who got to do that. That was my grandparents car. We also stood at the end of the jetties and let waves crash over us. Can't do that now. there was streaking back then. Someone I knew from college streaked through the fish cannery where I worked in Alaska. Unfortunately she slipped in fish guts and went sliding but came up laughing and kept going. Nowadays she would get a sex offender label and jail time. One landline house phone. Games meant building forts in the woods or tearing down the neighbor kids forts. Or Junga. Or monopoly. Or Clue.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And you know what, Strayer? All of that sounds like so much fun.
      I do wish "kids these days" would go outside more. They'll grow up and have to spend their entire lives inside in front of a screen at work.

      Delete
  7. Sounds very, very familiar.
    And remember 'no dessert until you finish your main course?' And riding/walking to school was the rule.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh yes, I remember that although we didn't have dessert too often.

      Delete
  8. So true! I blame it on the fact we had no world war for a couple of decades prior. And on Dr Spock - he said mothers know more than they think they do. And we are a soft-hearted bunch and took that to mean that we should follow our instinct to protect our kids ... from Brussels sprouts and outside air, apparently ...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "to protect our kids ... from Brussels sprouts and outside air, apparently ..."
      Genius, Jenny-o!

      Delete
  9. Your '70s version captured my childhood though it was more in the '60s. I barely remember what the inside of the house looked like because My parents threw me outside in the morning and kept me there until the street lights came on.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I bet you're still waiting to come inside, dm!

      Delete
  10. Blessings......
    Not all evolutionary inventions are a good thing. Progress in some cases is really regress when examined thoroughly.

    Have a wonder filled weekend
    peace.
    Rhapsody
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    ReplyDelete
  11. I love it when the last line makes me yelp. Funny stuff...now go turn the thermostat all the way down. We're not made of money.

    ReplyDelete