It seems that every generation is completely different from the generation before. Especially when it comes to how we raise kids. What might be routine now was unheard of then, and vice versa. It's just the way it was. I grew up with a mother -- and a culture -- that thought it was perfectly fine to do certain things that, how shall I say, would get her arrested now. My mother was 21 when she had me, so perhaps she wasn't quite ready for a child, but she did the best she could. And my upbringing made me who I am, and I'm happy about that.
But here are seven things my mom routinely did -- that might get her arrested now. (Sorry Mom!)
Cigarette runs to the liquor store. Nowadays, parents probably wouldn't dream of bringing their kid into a liquor store -- let alone letting him or her go into one alone. But I routinely ran for cigarettes for my mom at the local liquor store. I can still remember the owner's cute dog, who always lay by the door. I think I even picked her up a six-pack a few times.
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Going to bars. My mom spent some time working as a bartender -- so I came along! There were always other kids in the bar too. Patrons would pull up a chair for me so I could play pinball. I got pretty good, too, and could beat the adults. Yes, I drank Shirley Temples.
Being left alone. Every day it seems I read a story about a kid being left alone with tragic results. My mom also used to leave me alone -- and luckily the results were fine. Not that this makes it acceptable -- but no one really thought it was bad to leave their kids alone in that town, where everyone knew everyone and no one locked their doors. In fact, I often babysat for the younger kids in the neighborhood -- even though I wasn't a teen yet.
A boy babysitter. When I did have a babysitter, it was a local teen boy named Fred. No, he never molested me. Even when my friends and I insisted on posing for him in our bathing suits. I remember him laughing awkwardly and quickly leaving the room.
Riding bikes without a helmet. Standard. Never heard of a helmet. That goes for being in a car without a seatbelt too.
Running around town without an adult. My friends and I were always out by ourselves -- sometimes after dark. It was just that kind of place.
Naked pictures. It seems like at least half the pics of me as a kid were naked ones. My mom always said I hated putting on clothes. She has a picture of me and a friend -- both naked -- both around 5 years old in a garbage can where we were hiding, playing hide-and-seek. I can only imagine the jail sentence she'd be handed down if a pic of her kid and another kid naked in a garbage can got around. Yet it's one of my favorite photos. (I don't even dare post it!)
There's more where that came from, but I don't want the police barging down her door. Now, I'm not suggesting anyone do this stuff just because it was done then. Nor am I saying it should have even been done then. But today, I'm a very independent, responsible person who has moved to various cities by myself, and I appreciate my upbringing.
I mean, now there's an actual movement called "Free Range Kids" that advocates this kind of laissez-faire parenting (minus, perhaps, the trips to the liquor store). There are actual classes to teach parents how to let go more.
So ... thanks, Mom. I think.
Do you think my mom would be in jail today?
Image via Mike Baird/Flickr