Growing up was simple back in the 70’s. There were no worries about people snatching children off the street, the internet wasn’t even mated between sperm and egg, and we still had the old rotary phones. Cell phones were unheard of. Apps? What the hell is that? Social media? Blogs? The only thing that was cool and new was the new electric typewriter that replaced the manual typewriter and the pushbutton telephone was on the brink of “making it big.”
And, yes. We had color TV – I would refuse to watch the “Brady Bunch” or “Hawaii 5-0” without it.
When I was growing up in Hanover Park, my parents made a toy room for my sister and I. This is where our imaginations went into overdrive.
What’s an imagination you ask? Let Willy Wonka fill you in….
This is where we discovered that when you had a cardboard box, you could figure out at least a dozen fun things to do with it: Makeshift coffin, pretend freezer to hide a dead body….ya know, all the fun stuff.
This where my sister and I came up with our newfound venture “The Grapevine.” Funny how we turned out to both be wino’s, but the Grapevine was our imaginary restaurant where we made up menus for our friends and then whatever they ordered came delivered on a plastic plate with incredibly delicious plastic food.
The Toy Room is also where I let out my aggression. When I hated my sister, I would chop her Skipper doll’s hair (for you “youngin’s” out there, that was Barbie’s younger sister), to look like really bad bed hair.
This is also where I wrote with permanent red marker “666” on my doll’s forehead because I felt she was constantly staring at me (and, this is also in conjunction with me seeing The Omen). I think I was 8 or 9 at the time. My mother was furious with me because it was the only “lifelike” doll I had. It wasn’t bad enough I would drag this poor thing around by its hair and toss it into a corner hitting the easy bake oven, but to permanently mark on the doll’s forehead with red marker “666” was unforgivable.
Why did I treat dolls that way? I hated dolls, that’s why. I liked Barbie’s because there was alot of role playing with cars, other Barbie’s and big Barbie playhouses with pools and all the other cool Barbie stuff that came with it. But a doll? I mean, this doll was stupid to me – it did nothing but stare at me from the corner. I became afraid of it and kept it in it’s crocheted blue bonnet and baby outfit (since it had no other clothes to transform into a waitress, or a cashier from Kmart).
The Toy Room was where we would break out “the tunnel.” This was nothing but a gigantic slinky with flimsy material covering it. We would place it in the yard and crawl thru it like a makeshift obstacle course.
Then, there were the board games: Candy Land, Don’t Break the Ice, Ants In the Pants, Sorry!, Monopoly (where I always lost), Pick Up Stix, and the famous Ouija board.
We started a girl band with our neighbors called, “The Sunshine Girls.” I was the drummer and used two butterknives as drumsticks to beat against my Barbie suitcase. This is when the Partridge Family and the Monkees were the shit, we would watch “Dark Shadows” every afternoon, and be inside the house when our garage door lights came on.
If we were down the entire block and didn’t see the lights go on, you could hear my mom yelling, “DONNNNNNA!!!! NAAANNNNCY!!!! GET HOME!” Man, she had some lungs…..
You didn’t worry about pedophiles or people who wanted to take your children and sell them as sex slaves or use them for sex and then kill them.
The 7-11 was a block away and we went there at least once a day to buy candy. Every Wednesday during the summer was bottle cap day at the movies. All you needed was ten bottle caps to get into the movie where you’d see “Attack of the Killer Tomatoes”, or “Godzilla.” This is also where I was hit in the head with a Suzy Q. Food fights at the matinee were typical, and I was a normal target.
There was a field behind our home where we lived with an old abandoned barn. The older kids in the neighborhood decided to make a horror movie. I don’t exactly remember how that turned out, but I do remember being stuck in quick sand, or what I recall as being quick sand while my friends all stood around laughing at me. I was petrified – I literally could NOT get out of this sinking hole.
As I finally managed to get out, I walked the entire block and half covered in gooey sand while my friends all laughed behind me. When my mother saw me, she laughed too. I suppose I would have laughed as well if I had not had the feeling of almost being sucked in and being suffocated to death by a big hole of wet, gooey sand.
Life was simpler back then. Kids didn’t have computers or cell phones. All we had were our imaginations. And, frankly – that’s all we needed.
Today’s six year old children should NOT have cell phones. Small children shouldn’t be playing on ipads, but they should be exploring your garage getting into shit they shouldn’t be. Remember your child’s first birthday? Christmas? All they wanted to do was play with the paper and the boxes. Now they’re wearing helmets, knee pads, elbow pads and face guards when they ride their damn bike.
SO, LET THEM PLAY WITH THE PAPER AND THE BOXES FOR GOD’S SAKE! Don’t rob them of their imaginations by letting computers and technology do it for them.
Some of you may say, “But there are some very educational software programs out there that can benefit my child.” Really? What about you – the parent? That’s the best educational tool out there. Start with the good ‘ol building blocks of the ABC’s. Read to them. Color with them. TALK TO THEM.
Gen Y kids have a difficult time having an average discussion with a person face to face because they are so used to texting and social media to have conversations. Parents are too busy on their iphones to play and talk to their children. This teaches a child to be isolated and not learn how to deal with social skills because their parents never taught them how to do this.
So, what happens with the next generation? Thoughts? Are we raising today’s children to be isolated, lacking complete social skills and making them afraid of walking into a grocery store unless they’re wearing a HAZMAT suit?