Memories Of A Lost World
A Childhood Long Past
From the time I was born in the year 1960, there was structure in my life. I was given 3 meals every day and I had to eat during the time the meals were served or I learned that I would be hungry. I learned to appreciate the food that was put in front of me, no matter if I liked it or not. I didn't understand until years later why I should be appreciative for the food but nevertheless, I had to eat it or go hungry and I was grateful that I had food each day.
I had to get up in the morning and make my bed, eat breakfast, and then until I was of school age, I was pretty much free to play until nap time, which was a must every day. I hated nap time but I had to nap. That was time for me to let my body rest and my mind rejuvenate, while my mother did her cleaning, and laundry, and later prepare food for supper time. The nap worked well for both of us. Once I was of school age, the naps tapered off. I went to kindergarten in the morning and then I had a short nap when I came home. After kindergarten I no longer was required nor did I need a nap.
After school I had to come home and hit the books. I had to do my homework before I was permitted to play. The only break from my homework was to eat supper with the family, and then if my work was not done, I had to continue doing my homework until it was done. Sometimes I got done just in time to go to bed at 8:00 o'clock in the evening. There was no exceptions to those rules. I had to live by the structure that my parents created. I am not criticizing that structure. As a child it was sometimes hard to understand but that is why children should have adult supervision and guidance in their lives. The weekends were a little more free of school work and the bed time was relaxed as long as I was behaving. As long as I was behaving, I could go to bed when I got tired on a Friday and Saturday night.
Growing up I was assigned chores to do around the house. During the school year my chores were limited pretty much to doing the dishes at night after supper, and taking the trash outside. We never had a dishwasher. I also had to feed our pets. We always had dogs and many times we had cats also. During the summer months when school was not in session, my mother would have a list on the table for me and my sisters and brothers with a breakdown of the chores that needed to be done and who was to do each chore. We had to do the laundry, the dishes, take out trash, mow the grass, feed the animals, mop the floors, vacuum or broom the floors. Sometimes we had to wash the windows. Those chores on the list better have been done or the person that was assigned to do that chore was in trouble when mom and dad came home from work. You were punished by either getting a spanking, or grounded from playing outside with your friends, or something that would tic you off and make you want to do your chores the next time.
In today's society I see many children without any family structure. They are free to do what ever they want to during the day. They are not required to spend time at the kitchen table with family to eat together as a family. They are left to eat junk food throughout the day as they please and come and go as they wish with no responsibility to make sure they are accountable for anything. They are not assigned chores or if they are and do not do them, there are no consequences. It is my belief that without the structured upbringing, they are not learning how to be responsible citizens. Everything is what they want and they are given whatever they want. It is a society of entitlements. The children growing up today believe that they are entitled to anything they want without paying the price for it.
Throughout my childhood, I was not fortunate like some kids to have many toys or a lot of new things. I never owned a brand new bicycle. I always had a used bike and if I complained about it, I was told then go without one. It would be trashed if I did not appreciate the bike that I had. I might have had old bikes and most of the time I had a girls bike, but I learned to take care of it. My bikes lasted longer than some of my friends bikes that had brand new bikes. They did not take care of them like I did. I took mine inside the house to our basement each night. I used to wash my bike and at times I sanded it and gave it a brand new paint job. Although my bike was well over 20 years old, it looked clean and shiny.
Growing up in the 1960's and 1970's we did not have video games or computers to play with. The most current technology that I had was a cassette player and then later on an 8 track tape player. I spent most of my leisure time outside playing baseball with my sisters and brothers and neighborhood friends. Sometimes we had only 4 or 5 players on each team but we had fun! We would play in the woods behind our house making up things such as we might have been mountain men and we were hunting, or we played cowboys and Indians. Sometimes we pretended that we were explorers and we would hike through the woods and discover cool places to hide. We would pretend that they were caves and sometimes we would find a real cave. We used our imagination to have fun. While doing that we interacted with real people in real time and we made friends. We learned how to handle disputes, and we learned how to solve problems. We learned to think for ourselves and we learned how to be loyal to our friends and how to help someone in need. If one of our friends could not play because they did not get the grass mowed yet, we helped them mow the grass so we could all have fun together. We played outside all day, (after our chores were done) until it was time to come inside to eat supper. We looked out for each other so our parents did not have to worry where we were or what we were doing. There was safety in numbers and we were better prepared to handle problems than the kids today are.
Kids today are not taught to use their imagination. They are not taught to interact with other kids daily to work out problems, or to learn to be a friend. They do not know what to do outside without having some electronic devise attached to them. They are losing out of an important part of their growth by not being forced to put away the electronic devices, and go outside to play with friends. They do not learn conflict resolution, or how to create things, or how to fix things, or broaden their thoughts for the possibility of inventing something. They are lost in virtual worlds.
Real Labor and Responsibility
Things were not given to me for free. If I wanted a toy, I had to work for it. I either had to do extra work around the house, or save my allowance until I had enough to buy what I wanted. If I did not have enough money, I could not get the toy that I wanted. I had to learn how to be responsible and not spend money unless I had it to spend. At 9 years old I was working full time on a horse farm painting the fences, and the jumps, taking rocks out of the fields so the horses would not get injured, and walking the horses. I worked 36 hours a week during the summer and when school started I only worked on the weekends except in the Winter months. My boss would lay me off until Spring time. I earned my own money to buy the things that I wanted. I not only bought things that I wanted but I would give money to my parents to help with things they needed. My parents did not have much but always worked to keep a roof over our heads and to make sure we had food. It was hard to buy new school clothing for 6 children. I bought my own clothing and helped buy clothing for my brothers and sisters that were not working yet. I never gave that second thought because I was brought up to pay my own way and to help others when needed. I did that because it was the thing to do.
Today child labor laws would prohibit working at 9 years old and especially the amount of hours that I worked but once a child reaches 15 or 16 years old they can get working papers at the school and work some hours to earn some money. I encourage them to do that when possible. Today I don't see that work ethic being instilled in children. Most children today are looking to see what will be given to them for free. They are not taught financial responsibility. As I stated, I was brought up not to spend unless I have the money. I lived by that all my life. I do not use credit cards. Except for major purchases like a car or home, I do not loan money or spend on credit.
A World Of Credit
Today most people are spending their lives on credit. They have credit cards for everything from food, to gas, to big ticket items, to chain stores. The problem is not only spending what they don't have, it is the fact that they are trapped into buying even if they don't need something. Today many people need to have their gadgets and all of the accessories. They have to be the first to get that new thing on the market. The bank account can be empty but they have a card in their pocket that will get it for them. Later many of those same people cannot afford the credit cards and then they are getting bailed out through credit agencies making deals with the banks to lower what they owe or to eliminate the debt. Who pays for that? Everyone does including me, even though I don't buy on credit. I pay through the higher prices that are being charged to cover the losses.
My World Is Gone
When I was growing up, I was taught responsibility but in the world that I live in today, responsibility means taking care of those that are irresponsible. Our government is living by the same principles. They keep spending even though the money is not available. They keep borrowing more from other countries so they can keep spending. They take money from people that are trying to pay their own bills just so they can spend more, then they threaten people of fines and jail time if they do not buy certain things that the government tells them to buy, or if they don't pay the higher taxes. Instead of being responsible financially like our country once was, there is the mindset that by spending more than you have is somehow a good thing. I do not recognize this world anymore. It is not the same world that I grew up in. Most of my family from older generations are gone along with their values that they taught. It is up to me and my generation to teach those values to our younger generations but that becomes so much harder to do when there are so few responsible people left, including the leaders of our country. What will become of our younger generations if they are not given the tools to survive. The tools I refer to are the lessons of responsibility. Live by example and put away the electronic gadgets, go outside and play with your children. Show them how to interact with others, how to use their imagination to create things or to play with limited toys. Show them how to earn what they want in life instead of thinking they will just be handed it. Without teaching them these things, this country and the world as we know it will be gone forever. My world is gone and I hope to rediscover it before I pass on. I hope these values can be re-instilled in our young people. I hope for their sake there is still time to do that.