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Fri, March 22

Remembering the past, wondering about the future

Looking back at how things used to be is always something to share with other old people. It breaks up the conversations about your health.(Adobe Images)

Looking back at how things used to be is always something to share with other old people. It breaks up the conversations about your health.(Adobe Images)

Who doesn't remember hearing "Sleep tight and don't let the bed bugs bite" as a child? Up until the last fifteen years or so, I did not know there really was such a thing as a bed bug.

I was well acquainted with the cockroach and crickets, but not a bed bug. I recall even head lice was a common thing. Yikes! Been there and done that.

There are many things our parents and grandparents shared with us that didn't always make sense. How about, "Make sure you put on clean underwear in case you end up in the hospital." Now there's a happy thought.

Do you remember going to sixth-grade camp and having mom put your name on everything from your socks to your hat? Your first time away from home, and everyone wants to steal your stuff?

There was an elderly gentleman that lived down the block. He was a bit odd and had very long, gray hair. Sister and I called him "the long-haired man." For some reason we all just stayed away from him.

Was he a bad man? Who knows? He was just different.

Our parents often warned us about people and places. There were bad neighborhoods, and some bad people. We stayed pretty much close to home, as most kids did.

We felt safe in our area and had the street lights to signal when it was time to go inside. Bike riding, playing hop-scotch, and walking to the 7-Eleven was pretty much how we spent our non-school time.

I don't ever remember hearing that any of our neighbors were bad. Then again, some of them were our family members. In as much as the little kids depended on the street lights, the teenagers all had a curfew. I think on school nights it was 10 p.m. and weekends maybe midnight. If you were home on time, nothing bad could happen.

I am sure all the bad people and the boogie men came out after midnight! At least that was supposed to be how it worked.

Our parents pretty much raised us the way their parents raised them. Nothing wrong with that. We were taught to go to school and learn as much as we could. We were taught if you worked hard, you could buy a house someday. You did not have to be rich to buy a house. If you screwed up, it was your parents fault! At least that is how it was perceived.

As new generations came, the whole family unit changed. Pretty soon it took two working parents to afford a house. Kids started spending time at daycare and babysitters. The parents started to overindulge the kids after feeling guilty for not always being there. They suddenly all became soccer moms taking turns schlepping the kids from one practice to another.

No more room mothers for each classroom. By this time, all the kids had allergies, and you could surely kill at least one by bringing any homemade goods.

Each decade seems to bring on more and more new things, and less and less of the old ways. I think it was when I hit about 40 that I even realized how good the music was that my parents liked. With a New Year close by, I wonder what kind of changes there will be in raising kids.

We may have thought our parents were strict, and by today’s standards, they probably were. There was no negotiating, time outs, or skipping of desserts. If your Mom read your forehead and caught you lying, you knew it would not go well.

Taking away the kids’ electronics is now a fate worse than death. It almost ranks up there with child abuse, I think. Looking back at how things used to be is always something to share with other old people. It breaks up the conversations about your health.

We do seem to move quickly from worrying about buying school clothes for the kids, to welcoming new babies, and then looking for a new doctor when ours leaves town.

Shortly before my dad passed, he left a letter for us kids. One of the things he said was, "As we grow older, we seem to live more and more in the past."

I think Dad was right.

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