I was talking with a young friend on FB last night, whose 10 year old is demanding that she let him have a Faceboook account. He is of course using that age old excuse of Everybody is doing it. She’s not buying it.
But it got me to thinking of the things mother’s feared in the 1970s when I was his age. Here is a tongue in cheek version of my mother’s greatest fears:
1) Packets: In the mid 1970s, as I got ready to enter Junior High School, my mother discovered that the school used Packets to teach. Packets were simply mimeographed sheets of paper with homework assignments stapled together. Each child was to work at his/her own pace. There were no grades, you simple “did the best you could do.” My mother was convinced we’d all turn into drug heads by being forced to use packets. She only knew one family with a kid at the Junior High and he was a prime example of the fact that mom was right. She fought the school board. And won. By the time I entered the Junior High, text books were back and so were grades.
2) Gum: Mom had heard at PTA meetings that drug heads would give kids gum to get them addicted to drugs. Then they could sell drugs to us kids. We were warned to never take candy from strangers (which made Halloween very interesting). Now you have to consider that my grandfather was a professional candy salesman. Gum was everywhere at my house. I am not sure why mom was so concerned about drug heads giving me gum and not me becoming a gum toting drug head.
3) Jumping off bridges: Every mom in the 70s had the same mantra: If all your friends jumped off bridges would you jump too? Secretly, I think they all feared we would discover bungee jumping and realize that it was fun. We had to promise that if our friends were to jump off a bridge, we would NOT watch, but rather we would scorn that friend and never speak to them again. I am 50 years old. I have painted a bridge, with permission from the Governor’s office. I was not discouraged from calling public government officials and asking for favors, and so in 1982, me and my best friend did just that. We called the Governor’s office and asked for permission to paint the bridge over Blue Hole Road in Antioch, TN. Permission was granted and the next week the Pep Club painted the bridge. We did NOT jump off of it.
My mother raised us kids during scary hard times. Our house was full of laughter and joy. I was 17 before I realized that I had grown up during a major world conflict called the Vietnam War. We were sheltered from everything from the Manson clan to the Cold War. We kids weren’t sure what the big deal was. We knew every school in the country was equipped with desks maybe of particle board that, when you sat under them, could protect you from tornados and nuclear attack. Ironically, when the tornado hit our house in 1973, we were under a table made of particle board and I am alive. Maybe there was more to that than we realized in the 1970s.
My mother survived disco, Nixon and got us kids grown without any of us learning from packets. None of us became bridge jumpers. Thanks to my grandfather, I am still to this day addicted to gum. Oh well, 2 out of three ain’t bad.