When I was a kid!

I don’t know about y’all, but I honestly remember my dad saying “When I was a kid, I had to walk 6 miles, in the snow, uphill both ways to school! We never had snow days!” This would occur anytime we kids would be watching the sky, waiting for the illusive Northwest storms that could, JUST maybe, result in one of those rare magical events: the snow day.

As I got older, I honestly tried to figure out how the hell he coulda walked uphill both ways….  I never said I was a smart child…

Today, while hanging out with my 80 year old Mother-in-law (while Michelle was on the phone setting her up with a land line) I found myself telling a story that would most likely never happen today.

She was a California girl, so she never had a snow day in school.  For most of my years, I was in Western Wa, so I had few, if any of these.  The only time I lived in snow country was 1st grade, and that was Pennsylvania.  And saying this is what triggered my story.

We lived in a trailer park back then, at the bottom of a long hill.  At the time, there was Me, Kid sis Annie and kid Brother Michael.  Both siblings were basically babies.  No way mom could leave them home alone.  To get to my bus stop to go to school, it was up the hill (but down coming home, How DID he walk uphill both ways?) Then I am pretty sure I had to cross a street, and then I remember something like an alleyway.

As I was explaining this to the MIL I vaguely remember discussing with mom that I was perfectly OK walking that far alone.  Now, we lived in the sticks at the time  (Strinestown, PA), so it really was ok for this to happen.  Why?  Cuz ALL the kids in the park walked up there at the same time.

There is the #1 things you don’t see now, how many kids today, anywhere, in the 1st grade (hell even 6th grade) walk to school or bus stop on their own?  I know I don’t know any…

Now about that alley way.  What I remember most was it got very icy.  It was fun to get a running start and slide as far as you could.  (This could be why i do very well nowadays when is slippery outside)  Well one fateful day, there was, for some reason, a small layer of water on top of the ice.  Well a smart lad woulda thought “Hey, I better not slide today, if I slip I will get wet!”  But then, I’ve already pointed out that I wasn’t that smart!

So run and slide I did, slip and fall I did, and my butt was soaked!  (Here I am, pushing 50, and I can still remember the fall, the wet butt and the thinking that went through my head!)  The rule was I had to go straight to the bust stop so I wouldn’t miss the bus.  There was NO way I could get back home, changed and back to the bus in time.  So, thought my younger self, “As long as I stayed sitting, no one would notice my wet ass!” (No I did NOT use the word ASS back then!)

I do remember some older kids telling me I should go home, “Nope I am fine!”  (If little kids still walked to school on their own, I could totally see this happening today.)

But, what happened later?  No way!  I was felling pretty proud of myself as the day went on.  I was doing a good job of not getting out of my chair, and it wasn’t all that long till my butt was dry!  Someone musta told me though, because my first grade teacher (I think her name was Miss Humm but don’t quote me) call me up to her desk.

When i got there she leaned close and said “Did you wet your pants?”  “NO!” said I.  “Did you fall in the water?”  Well technically I slipped on ice, not water, so I said “Nope!” “Are your pants wet now?”  Well like I said, I was dry as a tater chip by the time she called me up.  “NOPE!”

Then the #2 on the list of things that would never happen now.  She grabbed the seat of my pants to see if they were wet!!  Lord if that happened now you’d have sirens going off, kids yelling stranger danger! SWAT teams swarming parent suing, dogs and cats sleeping together….

One more story, this is later, in the 8th or 9th grade.  Mr. Raymond, all 5′ 2″ of him told a kid to watch his mouth and keep it down as he was walking in the hallway.  The kid looked at him and said “Shut up!  I will do what I want!”

Now this kid had 3 or 4 inches on Mr. Raymond, and I think he was on the wrestling team.  Mr. Raymond grabbed this kid, lifted him OFF the floor and pinned him to the lockers!  I will never forget how scared the kid looked, cuz that teacher was mad!  “WHAT DID YOU SAY TO ME JUST NOW????”  That kid was ready to pee his pants, and apologized over and over again.

Mr Raymond asked “Will this EVER happen again?”  “no…” “No WHAT!” “no SIR!”

He then let him down and sent him on the way.  No principal, no suspension, no parent complaints, AND  I do not EVER remember that kid bering disrespectful again.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying parents should let 5 year olds walk on their own nowadays, nor should teachers make of habit of patting kids butts.  Though, there is part of me that thinks the teacher’s should be able to “Pull a Raymond” if needed.

I do consider myself damn lucky that I grew up back then.  It made me much more independent, and more likely to give the Manchild and Mathmajor freedom to do things on their own.

And yes, I still run and slide on ice….

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4 Responses to When I was a kid!

  1. jimdev7 says:

    Yep, things sure are different. Gavin is not allowed off the school bus if we’re not at the bus stop. They take him back to the school and call us. Fortunately, that hasn’t happened yet!

  2. echo says:

    haha 🙂 funny stories 🙂

    In a way, it’s a little opposite just comparing how my sister and I were raised. I am the older one (by 8 years) so things were a lot more restricted for me. I can’t even tell you how many times I whined, “But you made me wait, like, an extra 3 years before I was allowed to do that! NOT FAIR!”

    Funny, though, because I walked myself to the bus in middle and high school, but I don’t think my sister ever did…so I guess it depends on what thing you’re talking about. I mean, c’mon, who has parents that are consistent about everything anyway 😉 am I right, or am I right? hehe

    As for letting small children roam around, it’s more complicated of course. We have to remember that all of the people who are talking about “when I was kid, I was allowed freedom!” are here to tell us they survived. It’s kind of like, a selection or sample bias in a sense: We only hear from the people who had it turn out okay for them. Kidnappings from strangers have actually reduced. By being more watchful of children, we have reduced the number of kids being taken my strangers (We were looking at the statistics for this very thing in some class of mine a couple years ago).

    It may not seem this way, but I’m trying to add a positive note 🙂 I often see people lament the past — we’ve just made so much progress I don’t want it to be forgotten!

    With all that said, though, being too restrictive isn’t necessarily ideal either. And I think that many people are misguided in the way or degree to which they let their fear of strangers influence the way they parent. Or, in the case of Jim’s kids’ school, school policy. Children are MUCH more likely to be harmed or kidnapped by their own parent than by a stranger. So, as a society, I think we’ve kind of missed that and there is way too much focus on “stranger dangers.”

    That is all 😀

    • Never thought of the Darwin theory of those of us complaining are the ones who survived. My siblings got nothing from me as far as earlier privileges. I was a boring kid and did nothing. So when they wanted to, it was as if they were the oldest:).

      I do agree, I think we’ve gone too far towed stranger danger. But it’s hard for people with little kids to find a happy center. Great response! Thanks!

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