Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Back in my day...

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Back in my day

I am a member of a well-known chain of campgrounds. I have been a year-to-year member for almost five years now, and we’ll soon acquire a lifetime membership. This isn’t about camping; it’s about people. Over the years that we have camped, we have met some wonderful people. We’ve also met one not-so-nice person and a couple of crabs. Overall, our experience has been great. I don’t use my experience with one person to judge how others are going to act. I have noticed that I am one of the few who judge people by their own actions instead of making sweeping generalizations. What's bugging me? Some folks don't think kids should be allowed to play. These people are happy to tell you that the little ones who dare to ride their bikes and play outdoors are disturbing their golden years. And I say to these people: Why did you choose to spend your golden years camping in parks geared toward families?

I am disturbed, but I understand why the world is the way it is today. It isn’t because times have changed. It isn’t because the world has changed. It is because we have quite a few people who believe their way is the only way and everyone else in the world is awful at (insert anything here). Now, this hasn’t changed. It has always been that way. The difference is the Internet affords everyone the opportunity to broadcast their opinion to the world, and the negativity is absorbed and spread. It’s often infectious. I’m here to tell you folks, the world hasn’t really changed. The only thing that has changed is that now you’re more aware of what’s going on beyond your own front porch. These same things have been going on since the beginning of time. It just wasn’t broadcast for the world to see. 

The truly sad thing is that the Internet is being used to create negativity and divide the masses. We have unlimited information at our fingertips. We have access to more information than ever before, and we know more about the world we live in than ever before. Still, we have plenty of people who are happy to wallow in ignorance and spew vitriol at everyone they encounter on the web. With everything we have access to nowadays, people are getting dumber, and they’re more vocal about everything.

Well, I’m here to let you in on a little secret. People have always chosen different paths. People have always done things differently than others. People have always done bad things. People have always shocked others with their choices. People always raised their children differently than others. The ‘back in my day’ way is the very same today, just packaged in different clothing and with new technology. 

Oh, it’s true. Children always played outside or sat in the house. There was always a ‘fragile little Billy’ here or there that spent most of his time indoors. There was always a worried mom who didn’t let her children roam far. There were always parents who sent their children out to play unsupervised. There were always children who generally behaved well and children who often misbehaved. There were delinquents in my day, your day, your mother’s day, and even your grandmother’s day. Oh, it’s true. Before the Internet appeared things were happening that you didn’t know about. The collective ‘back in my day’ stories from every town always include a few bad things. Some people prefer to simply gloss over it all as they reflect on simpler times. Grandma might not have had a food processor or a microwave oven, but she still had unsavory characters and unruly children in her day. 

My point is this generation is not different from others. The population has grown and this generation is larger. Every generation will grow. This generation includes in-your-face headlines that entice you to believe the entire world has gone mad. Wait until something happens in your neck of the woods. You’ll see what I mean. A sleepy, peaceful town can be seen as a den of evil in 2.5 seconds after the media arrives. This is the difference. 

I can hear it now. But, murder is... No, murder occurred shortly after man arrived on this earth and it grows as the population grows. But, kidnapping is... No, kidnapping occurred way back when. You just didn’t have Amber alerts broadcasting missing children, and it grows as the population grows. Heck, before milk cartons you only knew a child went missing if that child lived close to you. Back before the radio and television broadcast news all day everyday, you didn’t know what was going on in the world. Things haven’t really changed. It’s the same. The population has grown. We know what is going on in remote parts of the world instead of simply knowing what we heard while hanging clothes on the line or yapping at the fence post. 

Now, why do people expect children to be young adults all day every day? Can a kid not be a kid nowadays? ‘Children should be seen, and not heard.’ Children were seen and heard all over the place when you were a kid, just as they are today. You had children who were respectful of adults, and you had children who were not. It’s the same as today. You might not have seen those kids much back in your day because your mama told you not to play with this bunch or that, but they still existed. It’s okay for kids to be outside playing, and it’s okay for them to make a little noise. Yes, kids did that back in your day, same as mine. Kids will do it until the end of time. Kids haven’t changed. Tolerance for kids changed. “My mama woulda taken a switch to us.” Your mama told you to get your tail outside and go play, because your mama knew kids needed to burn off energy and blow off steam. Kids didn’t come in rowdy at night because they were too tired from playing all day. Oh, yes. You might have gotten that switch at times, but most of the time mama just kicked you out into the sunshine to get it out of your system. 

I’m not saying kids should be allowed to vandalize and terrorize. I’m not saying kids should be turned loose to wreak havoc on the world. I’m saying if little Johnny and little Betsy are out riding bicycles, that’s okay. 

People will complain if they are outside playing, but they’d complain if they sat inside playing games and watching television all day. 

“Back in my day kids played outside. They didn’t sit up under the air conditioning all day long. That TV rots their brains.” 

People will complain if they’re in the swimming pool making noise and having fun, but they’d complain if they were plopped down indoors not getting any exercise.

“Back in my day we didn’t have all these kids with weight problems because we played outside all day.”

People will complain if they’re straying out of their mama’s sight, but they’d complain if they stayed up under their mama all day.

“Back in my day we didn’t stay up under our mama’s skirt all day and that’s why we have a generation of wusses that don’t know how to do anything.”

Frankly, you can’t win. Someone will always find something to complain about. To the generation raising kids right now, let kids be kids and just raise ‘em up to love and respect others. To the generation who has finished raising kids, ease up on the criticism and remember kids are going to be kids - noisy and energetic. To the crabby folks who can’t stand being bothered by a child who dares to speak or do anything other than sit quietly in a corner, find your own corner and keep to yourself, okay? 

Oh, and to the fellow campers who can’t stand the fact that children are playing in that ‘resort community’ because you’re a member and have rights, too, and you feel you shouldn’t have to be forced to be around the young’uns: It’s not a fancy-schmancy resort. It’s a campground. Campgrounds are geared toward families. If you can’t stand being around children, find a 55+ park and shush it.

Best Wishes,