Our world has changed tremendously even in the last 20 years. We have survived a lot of things in our lives and when I came across this list, I realized they all were part of my life and I’m still here. Here is how that goes.
Yes, I survived spankings. My parents had been raised that way and when my brother and I did something wrong, we might receive a quick swat on the bottom.
My dad had very large hands and it really hurt when he spanked me. One day I remember grabbing one of my golden books and sticking it quickly in my pants. He didn’t realize what I had done and his hand came down on the book instead of me. Now he was really angry. I never did that again and that may have been my last spanking.
When my brother and I were misbehaving at my grandmother’s house she would tell us to stop, just once, and if we didn’t she would go outside to the big apple tree and break off what she called a switch. She said she was going to swat us with it, but never did. It was all a bluff on her part in an attempt to get us to shape up.
Even though it was a common practice, now the world feels differently about spanking, and I believe, I do too. That doesn’t mean that I don’t think children should be punished for things they do wrong. Sometimes that’s the only way to get through to those darling little minds, but probably not in the corporal way.
I survived rusty playgrounds. In fact, our school jungle gym, as we called it, was not only rusty, it was also very high off the ground as were our slides. The surface below was asphalt. If you fell down at recess, you might have a big scrape on your knee. I know we have come a long way in making our playgrounds safer, but many years later we are alive and well to show that you can survive anything.
I survived second-hand smoke. My mother was a smoker and when I was young she smoked in the house. No one knew before the 1960s how dangerous cigarettes would be. It was common for people to smoke. Just look at all the movies from the 1930s up into the ‘70s. Smoking was just a part of their life. I remember Johnny Carson smoking on his late night television show as he talked with his guests. That now seems bazaar. The world has changed considerably and smokers are now forced outside so that second-hand smoke is minimized.
I survived toy guns. My brother was a few years younger than me and was a typical young cowboy. At age six he had a cowboy hat, vest and chaps like you would wear for riding a horse. Around his waist was a holster with two six-shooters that were silver with white pearl handles. I remember them well. He would put caps in the guns and they would go pop, pop, pop when he squeezed the trigger. Sometimes he would hand one to me and we would shoot each other, playfully.
As I look back on it, I realize how that looks now, but then it was just accepted child’s play. Now, some people own real guns and we have to be careful what we teach our children. I get it that we don’t buy toy guns anymore even though that all seemed so harmless many years ago.
I survived no seatbelts. The years when there were no seatbelts were crazy ones. When we drove to Florida when I was about 10 years old, it was boring on that three-day drive. To break up the monotony, I can remember my father letting me sit on his lap and actually steer the steering wheel when he was on two lane roads and not going too fast. That seems so weird now.
Even in the 1970s, our own children did not wear seatbelts. It wasn’t the law and we didn’t see that we needed them. The child’s car seat hung over the front seat so that your child could be next to you when driving. Though children are much safer today in the backseat of a car sitting in a seat appropriate for their age, when something goes wrong back there and you are the only adult in the car, it’s difficult to handle the situation while driving. It means the mom or dad has to pull the car over to deal with it. But everyone is safer now with seatbelts and car seats.
I survived no helmets. We rode our bikes everywhere as children, but had no helmets and no one ever thought of that in my years of growing up. We would fall off our bikes and scrape knees badly, but fortunately we never hit our heads. Helmets are good, too. We need them.
I survived drinking from the garden hose. The hose water seemed fine many years ago. When it was hot while we were playing outside, possibly building a fort or playing hide and seek, we would turn on the hose, get a drink and go on with what we were doing. Most kids wouldn’t do that now and maybe that’s a good thing because the water in those hoses can’t be all that clean.
Here is one last thought. It is hard to believe I once had a phone attached to the wall. It rang and I would pick it up without knowing who was calling. Imagine that. When a boyfriend would call there was no walking easily to the other room for a private conversation as we do now.
Well, things have changed since those days. This was all in a time when gas prices were only 27 cents a gallon! It’s amazing I’m still alive.
(Melanie Behrens – firstname.lastname@example.org)
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