|Once Our Minds Were Challenged|
"BILLY, NOW!" would soon follow, which was acceptably countered with one simple and plaintive objection; "Five more minutes, PLEASE?", which was then met with a more emphatic overruling.
This was the era of my childhood, the time of innocence and equal mischief. The time when kids were left to explore the recesses of their own minds and to use their imaginations to entertain themselves, rather than being pre-programmed by the State and their parents so as not to become "bored". It was a time when we learned what worked and what didn't, what succeeded and what hurt.
It was the 1960's, and we who rarely went to university still managed to get jobs and become somewhat critical thinkers without the alleged benefit of advanced professors. In short, we who didn't require rigid structure, but rather the freedom of becoming acquainted with our own possibilities, and who "miraculously" found success despite the absence of the societal prescription of strict guidance and channeling, made it relatively unscathed.
Intellectuals today would sniff dismissively at the notion that we were busy, insisting that we were merely wasting our time, but the truth cannot be denied that the children of the time prior to 1970 were better equipped to deal with the world than their contemporary counterparts. The adults referred to our activities -- when not in school -- as playtime, and while it's true we were playing, we were very busy doing it. And we learned volumes of invaluable lessons.
So what is the primal need today for parents to plan every move their kids make?
Well, much of it is due to the pressures of the new society we've permitted our so-called public servants -- politicians -- to inflict upon us "for our own good". We're now told how we should raise our own children by people who have neglected theirs in the quest for their careers, and at the risk of losing them to the State. Didn't see that one coming, did you kids? My parents never imagined that by simply letting us walk home, alone, from anywhere would one day lead to them losing custody of us. The very notion of it was too ludicrous to ever consider.
Never mind that we walked home -- or rode our bicycles -- to and from anywhere. In summer time we were away from home all day, only knowing it was time to come home by the sun or, if we were in close proximity to home, by the sound of our mothers calling or our fathers whistling for us. Our days were filled with endless and ever new adventures created by our own imaginations, and we reveled in them. For instance, the photo at the top looks like a simple shipping container, but it used to be so much more after the contents were unpacked.
That box was a palace, it was a simple cabin, it was a locomotive, a plane or a submarine, to mention a few of the possibilities. And hold your hearts, people, because this next part is going to shock you...sometimes we cut ourselves on the edges we had cut. And we bled! Can you imagine the horror?
Give most eight-year-old's a large cardboard box today and they're liable to look at you incredulously as if to say, "What am I supposed to do with this"? There is no Xbox in there, no Netflix, and no internet service. Completely useless to a child today. (And besides, you're late for a dance recital or soccer practice).
We played baseball in any field we could get to and played football in the street. Yes! The street, made of hard asphalt and traversed by fast automobiles. We occasionally broke neighbors' windows, and got spanked by them first and then by our parents. But no one died and no one sued.
We did have little league baseball, but -- wait for it -- not everyone made the tryouts! We were the ones playing sandlot, and we probably had more fun doing it. And when a parent swung by where ever a game was being played to take one of us to an actual appointment, there was wailing at having to leave on such a beautiful day.
We actually performed work around the house on certain days too, so we could earn an allowance, which we learned how to spend wisely when we were out on an adventure and worked up an appetite. And when we ran out of money toward the end of the week, we'd make a pact with our friends to meet back at a designated spot after the dreaded trip home for lunch. And the only thing more excruciating than those moments was the inevitable one happened only hours later...the "call to dinner". That meant that if you were lucky, you had perhaps one more hour afterward to complete the days activities.
No, in the 60's, we were not bored, not by a long shot. We were way too busy to have our parents find something for us to do, and much too busy for something organized by adults who could barely remember what it was like to be us. We learned problem solving, how to deal with pain and adversity, and compassion.
Today, kids only learn to go where they are told next. Everything is laid out and scheduled for them, and they are shocked by the realities of life after school. Which is probably just the way the government, the Department of Education, and our new society designed it.