I got this in my inbox a couple of days ago, and apart from a giggle and a smile, it got me pondering too…
According to today’s regulators and bureaucrats, those of us who were kids in the 60’s, 70’s and early 80’s probably shouldn’t have survived, because our baby cots were covered with brightly coloured lead-based paint which was promptly chewed and licked. We had no childproof lids on medicine bottles, or latches on doors or cabinets and it was fine to play with pans. When we rode our bikes, we wore no helmets, just flip-flops and fluorescent ‘spokey dokey’s’ on our wheels or a playing card pegged on to make it noisy. As children, we would ride in cars with no seat belts or airbags – riding in the passenger seat was a treat. We drank water from the garden hose and not from a bottle and it tasted the same. We ate chips, bread and butter pudding and drank fizzy juice with sugar in it, but we were never overweight because we were always outside paying. We shared one drink with four friends, from one bottle or can and no-one actually died from this. We would spend hours building go-carts out of scraps and then went top speed down the hill, only to find out we forgot the brakes. After running into stinging nettles a few times, we learned to solve the problem. We would leave home in the morning and could play all day, as long as we were back before it got dark. No one was able to reach us and no one minded. We did not have Play stations or X-Boxes, no video games at all. No 99 channels on TV, no DSTV, no videotape movies, no surround sound, no mobile phones, no personal computers, no DVDs, no internet chat rooms. We had friends – we went outside and found them. We played elastics, marbles, sticker and writing paper swap, skipping rope, touch rugby, king sting and rounders, and sometimes that ball really hurt! We fell out of trees, got cut, and broke bones but there were no law suits. We had full on fist fights but no prosecution followed from other parents. We played tap-the-door-run-away (tok-tokkie for us South Africans) and were actually afraid of the owners catching us. We walked to friends’ homes. We also, believe it or not, WALKED or rode our bikes to school; we didn’t rely on mummy or daddy to drive us to school, which was usually just round the corner. We made up games with sticks and tennis balls. We rode bikes in packs of 7 and wore our coats by only the hood. The idea of a parents bailing us out if we broke a law was unheard of…They actually sided with the law. This generation has produced some of the best risk-takers and problem solvers and inventors, ever. The past 50 years have been an explosion of innovation and new ideas. We had freedom, failure, success and responsibility, and we learned how to deal with it all. We had the luck to grow as real kids, before lawyers and governments regulated our lives, for our own good. The majority of students in universities today were born in 1986……..They are called youth. They have never heard of “We are the World, We are the children” and the “Uptown Girl” they know is by Westlife- not Billy Joel. They have never heard of Rick Astley, Bananarama, Neneh Cherry or Belinda Carlisle. For them, there has always been only one Germany and one Vietnam. AIDS has existed since they were born. CD’s have existed since they were born. Michael Jackson has always been white. To them John Travolta has always been round in shape and they can’t imagine how this fat guy could be a god of dance. They believe that Charlie’s Angels and The Italian Job are new concepts. They can never imagine life before computers. They’ll never have pretended to be “The ‘A’ Team” or “The Famous Five”. They can’t believe a black and white television ever existed, let alone having no TV! And they will never understand how we could leave the house without a mobile phone or a PDA.
So did you giggle? Did you smile over fond, soft-focus memories? Did you immediately copy this or are you about to e-mail it to someone else your age? Well, apart from the emailing bit- so did I!
So what- apart from the obvious things like TV and mobile phones- is different with our kids now?
Well, for one thing, crime was not so prevalent then that- like now- you clean forgot to mention that you were once again robbed, hijacked, pick-pocketed or had a car or phone stolen. Fidelity and morality were expected. Divorce was a last resort. Teenage pregnancy and single parenthood was unusual. Teachers and policemen were respected. Pedophiles, kidnappers and rapists were the exception to the rule not the norm. We were encouraged to make a living, rather than do something we loved as I encourage my son to do. And politicians who were found guilty of criminal activity actually lost their support base as well as their position, and they were usually ashamed and or apologetic.