Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Spare The Hotrod And Spoil The Child

If you're raising kids these days, you'd best toe the line. We know a lot more about parenting than we used to and we're all willing to jump in--as a village, you might say--and cluck at you if you're doing it wrong. Don't think we won't. We will raise eyebrows and widen our eyes in your direction. Or, you know, call the cops and have your kids taken away, depending. If you spank your child, say. Or vaccinate it, or refuse to vaccinate it. Or even for such a mild transgression as Springfield native Alana Nicole Donahue recently committed.

She got in trouble for towing three children in a plastic wagon with a short rope attached to the bumper of her car. Reportedly she was doing 5mph in a roundabout, and just continued to go around and around, but that's only sensible when you consider that the wagon had no brake, for Pete's sake. It's not like you can just stop, so you pretty much have to commit. Which she probably was smart enough to recognize after she began by towing the kids through the neighborhood at 30mph. The two-year-old got all upset when the wagon briefly went up on two wheels but toddlers are notorious sissies, as everyone knows. Anyway apparently a number of citizens who hate freedom and have the nanny state right in their contacts list got Ms. Donahue in trouble.

The two youngest were her own children and the eight-year-old was a nephew. All in the family, and no harm done. It's all a big to-do over nothing much; what else are you supposed to do when you're just trying to watch Family Feud in peace and the kids are all whining that they're bored and you don't even like your sister's kid and you're two and four years too late for an abortion?

Maybe the case can be made that this particular genetic patch could use some weeding. But the fact is we're raising a bunch of pantywaists. Gone are the old days when the neighbor lady would send us to the corner store for a pack of ciggies. "Run," she'd say, "and take the scissors with you. They need to get some air too." Nothing was all that sharp in that house, not even the knife that was set aside for digging the toast out of the toaster. We learned what was dangerous by experience, which is by far the best method, for the survivors.

Raising Little Dave.
But we were very safety-conscious. On snow days we'd always test the sledding velocity on Suicide Hill by sending the skinny kid with the flippers for arms first, because he was the most likely to be able to slide under a car unscathed and he was always cheerful no matter what. We were rinsed off only once a week, on Saturday night, but we were regularly exfoliated, old-school, using asphalt. We got sent out to play kickball in the street and also World War Three, which involved throwing rocks, after being duly warned not to do anything that would put an eye out. As far as I know no one did put an eye out, or take candy from strangers, and if there was a little culling of the population here and there it didn't upset anybody for very long. Stuff happens. That's one of the lessons.

But you start siccing the po-po on some poor woman just trying to show the kids a good time, who may not have the money to buy them each a personal digital device to stare at, and you'll end up with adults that don't know a damn thing about centrifugal or maternal force. And they'll never be able to handle Boston traffic. Sissies.

34 comments:

  1. Heehee.... Yeah, Murr, it's a wonder we even survived babyhood, isn't it, now that it's been scientifically proven that our parents knew squat about parenting. (Apparently we are just lucky to be alive, or have amazing survival skills.) There were no outlet covers in my home. My mom told me that if I stuck something into an outlet, I would die, and I didn't want to die, so to this day, I cringe when I plug in so much as a lamp. And yes, I knew what death was, because I was taken along to funerals even as a toddler. Hell, I was even at my grandparent's bedside when they died. That would be considered unthinkable today, when children must not know that death happens to them and their loved ones eventually. Sliding boards were metal, which got hot in the sun, and there was asphalt at the end of it, not soft grass or pea gravel. And they were long, not the wimpy "sliding boards" of today. Seat belts in cars were optional, and only for the alarmist. I remember playing with my dolls in the backseat with my best friend while my mom drove, all of us unrestrained. Of course back then, one could concentrate on just driving, as there were no coffee holders in cars, people didn't eat or talk on the phone while driving (the cord wasn't long enough!) and there wasn't Facebook to check every five minutes. Simpler times.

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    1. Aww, you don't die from sticking something (like a butter knife) into an outlet. It does cure curiosity. I must be a little older than you because I don't remember seat belts even being an option.

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    2. Cram backseat with four children under eight. No seatbelts required.

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    3. I plugged myself into a wall outlet when I was three. No one told me I wasn't supposed to put one finger between the pins. Knocked out the power and hurt like hell, but no harm done. May have served me in good stead for when I was struck by lightning in 1983.

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  2. She did what?? I was a bit lackadaisical myself when raising (ha ha) my kids, sending them down to the rain swollen creek to slide down the muddy banks on a sheet of cardboard, but even I didn't do anything as silly as towing them behind a car. They had fun, my kids I mean, I had peace and quiet and when they got home we all had more fun with me hosing them off in the backyard, with towels and clean clothes waiting in the shed.
    I remember the asphalt method of exfoliation, stung a bit, but left no lasting scars.

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    1. Right. My lasting scars are from trying to shave my legs really fast with my Dad's razor for the first time. I thought you had to press down. I wore paper towels inside my knee socks for days.

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  3. Apparently, many of today's kids get lost easily as they keep looking at their thumbs and not where they are or how they got there. You can take them just a few blocks from home and they haven't a clue how to get back.

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    1. Fortunately, their smart phones have GPS!

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    2. I guess you wouldn't even have a map in your head if you never looked at a map, right? Even with phone navigation, I always want to look at a map so I can feel where I'm going.

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  4. Nice job catching that action photo of Pootie being ejected from the wagon!

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  5. I'm not sure of my parents' motive here. They bought us Jarts to play with. We survived, but I do wonder if they were disappointed, maybe just a little.

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    1. I think most children are only improved with a little perforation now and then.

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    2. OMG, Jarts! We had a set until one of my nephews tossed one that pierced the roof of my brother's Jeep. Could NEVER be sold now.

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  6. Mom (I don't think Dad had a chance to opine) was of the old school, "let them find out for themselves" way of parenting.
    We were told to be home by 4:30 because the cougars woke up about then. And to be within hearing distance of Mom's police whistle.
    I don't remember any other rules.
    We all survived.

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    1. The cardinal rule in our house was "off the road by 5pm" as that's when the knock-off whistle blew and the streets were like a Grand Prix circuit.

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    2. The great thing about all this is we don't have to listen to the non-survivors, the little whiners.

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    3. Yeah and it's great prep for figuring out how to deal with things like gas grills, power drills, hurricanes and public transportation!

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    4. I like that: putting hurricanes and public transportation in the same basket.

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  7. I remember the asphalt exfoliation. And have used it in adulthood as well. Painfully effective.

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    1. I do believe I have shared some photos already of my adult asphalt exfoliations. Mostly in the face.

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    2. I was a slope-challenged child, and once exfoliated with freshly-poured hot asphalt. Sometimes the oldest is not the smartest.

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    3. I'm still slope-challenged. I just didn't know what to call it. I'm not all that great with the horizontal surfaces, either.

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  8. Hmm. For once I'm unclear of what to say (though I often say things best left unsaid), and was waiting for the irony or something at the end, and missed it. Parents in the late 1800's treated some ailments by pouring liquid mercury over their kids backs. Those weren't the good old days, and parent's have become aware it ain't a good thing. Some things like being towed behind a pickup are the same, and I don't think when I was a kid in the '50's that most parents would put a toddler in that wagon (or sled, or whatever).
    I'd probably have called CPS too, and this coming from a guy who's family has never been without duct tape.
    Cheers,
    Mike

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    1. Oh gosh. I would've too, in case you're wondering. I remember when we did relay races with a drop of mercury in a spoon!

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    2. I used to play with drops of mercury that I got out of broken thermometers. (From the hospital dump, unmonitored, of course.)
      And lead fishing lures that I melted in a pan to play with the lead.
      So now I can blame any brain farts on childhood lead and mercury poisoning. Not aging; never aging.

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    3. I'm just HOPING it's the mercury and lead poisoning, instead of that other thing.

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  9. Like Dr. Mike, I am unclear if you're for or against experience as the best teacher, Murr! I'm going to go with "ambivalent" :)

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    1. See, this is how I get into trouble. Tongue a little too far in cheek. Don't visualize that...

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  10. Oh dear. You have been looking out the windows again and spying on your neighbors.

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    1. No, that's Dave. He's a regular Gladys Kravitz.

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  11. There's a Britannica's worth of knowledge and a full Carlin 's worth of sarcasm in this comment. I love it.

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    1. Britannica abridged, maybe. Is there a Cliff's Notes for Britannica?

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