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Do not go sliding into geezerhood so easily, my friends.... - It seemed like a good idea at the time... [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]

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Do not go sliding into geezerhood so easily, my friends.... [Dec. 5th, 2007|12:39 pm]
[Current Music |the sound of co-workers obsessing about the snow]

Oh, stop already, ya old farts…

When everybody was polite, and childhood was idyllic, roaming the neighborhood, flying your model planes and playing kickball, and you came home and Mom had dinner ready and you sat down and had wonderful family dinners and watched quality shows on television and learned everything you needed to know in school and became so much more literate and educated than kids today. And everyone went to church every Sunday and was upright and moral and always remembered to say thank you and please.

Okay, for starters, maybe some of that WAS true – if you were white, middle to upper-middle class. And you were a boy, so you could do ANYTHING and grow up to be anything you wanted, instead needing to play quietly with girl things, and act like a lady and dream of becoming a teacher, a nurse, a secretary or a Mom. And you didn’t have a learning disability or a cleft palate. And your parents were happily married or at least could hold it together enough so that you didn’t know how miserable they were. And your Mom knew how to cook everything from scratch and didn’t have to rely on preservative and sodium-laden “modern food”. And you managed to eat a diet with enough iodine, so you didn’t get a goiter. And you managed to dodge the Spanish Flu and Polio epidemics. And the plant your Dad worked at didn’t get shut down. Or his job gave him some terrible disease like lung cancer, or cripple him in some industrial accident. Sure, you knew all of the state capitols. Heaven knows that’s really been instrumental to your success as an adult. And maybe you were lucky and you weren’t a Catholic altar boy. Or one of those girls who got sent away, or died from an abortion, because Uncle Billy couldn’t keep his hands to himself. And you didn’t die the second time you ate a peanut. Or smother in your crib. Or go flying through the windshield of the car or fall off the monkey bars onto the concrete pad and break your neck. And you thought that having a school drill where you huddle under your desk in case the bomb hits was…funny.

(Oh, if only I had the time, I could create a maelstrom of grim! But you get the point.)

See, for starters, when you’re a kid…you’re oblivious to a lot of stuff. Surely, by now, you’ve had some surprises – learned about some things that were going on in your family or neighborhood that you totally missed – like all of those adult references and jokes in Bugs Bunny cartoons. Go ahead, listen again to the songs on the radio you innocently sung along with when you were young. They were DIRTY!

And you tend to forget and minimize the bad – a lot of the things that sucked when you were a kid. Obviously, I haven’t forgotten all of the things that the boys in my neighborhood could do, while I had to sit and learn how to knit. The phrase “be a lady” still gives me hives. And sure, I had the freedom to head out into the woods and play for hours all by myself, totally unsupervised. I also had the freedom to be stalked and sexually harassed by older boys. And in these lovely, innocent days before we had a name for it, was turned into a reclusive social leper for several years due to their behavior. Because in those days…a girl must have done something to attract that kind of attention.

No, wait – I’m not looking for pity here – obviously, “whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” applies here. And my kidney punch is FIERCE. But my point is: don’t sugarcoat it. Maybe you WERE one of the lucky ones who had an idyllic childhood and to YOU, the world was a much more wonderful place than it is now. Chances are, you’re just sugarcoating – but if you’re not, just keep in mind that for lots of other people growing up at the same time, YOU got all the luck and they did not. So shut the hell up, you lucky bastard.

I suspect that world then was as the world is now – a mixed bag of wonderful and horrible, with lots of stuff in between. After all, doesn’t EVERY generation think that the world was better when they were kids? Doesn’t EVERY generation think that kids today are less educated, less polite, less…everything? Until Grandpa needs his TIVO set-up....

Sure, I never learned the state capitols. On the other hand, I did leave school with a really good foundation in genetics, which has actually been a lot more use to me. It’s in our nature to piss and moan – oh, hell, I am the Empress of Complain – but here we are, looking down the runway to geezerhood, teetering on the threshold of being some teenager’s Mom, some child’s Pop-Pop, let’s not be boring, okay? Let’s embrace the new, accept that there’s always been bad with the good, quit treating teenagers' fashion and music choices with contempt (however this does NOT give you permission to dress like them in a pathetic attempt to seem young. Don’t embarrass me, my generational cohort, please!), quit acting like the barbarians are at the gate and civilization as you know it is crumbling. That shit was old even back when Vespasian was a pup.

[User Picture]From: sestree
2007-12-05 05:58 pm (UTC)
Trust me m'dear - I"m near to - a bit over I think - the same age as you and I grew up in the pastoral splendor of the biblethumpin midwest ... where nobody reported my black eyes and bloody noses because you just didn't. It might cause shame. I hear people bemoan the villify the cell phone but they obviously haven't walked down a country road (5 frickin miles or more) in prayer of finding someone who would 1) let you use their phone because your car broke and 2) wouldn't make you wish you (and the baby) had stayed *in* the car to start with.

In short - keep preachin it. I see the advantages my kids have and I want to verbally thrash them when they whine. They've obviously never been denied condoms because they were an unmarried female -- or had to beg for the right (and been refused) to take the SATs because the guidance counselor didn't like girls (in more ways than one).

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[User Picture]From: thatliardiego
2007-12-05 06:01 pm (UTC)
You had me at your knickers in a twist.
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[User Picture]From: pyllgrum
2007-12-05 07:39 pm (UTC)
I am older, whiter, and maler than you, and I do not remember this golden age everyone else was living. I think sometimes the biggest nostalgia nuts were too mentally numb to notice how bad things were for everyone at one time or another.

Even Jean Shepherd, whose "Christmas Story" is the main source of nostalgia for lots of folks who were not even alive in the time frame of story, talked about losing his best friend when his father lost his job and the house was sold at a Sheriff's auction and what it was like to never see his friend again.
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[User Picture]From: terribleturnip
2007-12-05 07:44 pm (UTC)
That's hot.
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[User Picture]From: pyllgrum
2007-12-05 08:00 pm (UTC)
My "Y" chromosome assortment, let me show you it.
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[User Picture]From: ferlonda
2007-12-05 08:23 pm (UTC)
It's also possible that some people actually had a good childhood whether they were white, male, middle class or any other sort of description. I had both a good and bad childhood complete with safe beach to romp on and a dad who molested me and my sister for years and years... plus we were white, middle class, had a stay-at-home mom (who was devastated to find out the molestation and promptly divorced our dad, took him for her fair share and never spoke to him again and apologized to us for not taking better care of us). I had good friends who are still good friends, was the lowest of the low in the school hierarchy and only escaped serious notice of the boy because I was so ugly, fat and pimply that they just couldn't be bothered. The girls however were another story and since one of my main tormentors was the daughter of the vice principle (who was an alcoholic- but that's another story) nothing ever came of my and my mother's complaints.

So I have two parts of my childhood, one exceedingly good, the other not as bad as many I've heard by any stretch but still not great. The real end of my childhood was in reading On The Beach and realizing that no world with a species capable of utter destruction of itself and everything around it was a safe one. I certainly don't look back before that and think, oh, yes, it was all perrrrrrrrrfect.

I miss that beach, though. That was perfect.
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[User Picture]From: thewhitedragon
2007-12-05 08:53 pm (UTC)
just an odd question, but did you set your LJ or this entry as adult content or did LJ? This entry's behind "the cut"
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[User Picture]From: o_ade
2007-12-06 12:48 am (UTC)
We complain the most...about what we want most...
When you feel the Gap...no not the store... widening...its a good time to put down your 45 records and learn.
It's bound to make you feel better... whether you're black, white ,yellow, red or green:0>
Yea for knowledge.
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[User Picture]From: chellebelle74
2007-12-06 01:41 am (UTC)
You know, I was thinking about this entry as I was enjoying my slow drive home and something struck me. Sometimes two different people can experience the same thing very differently. For example, my mother had a habit of planning family theme park trips down to the smallest detail, she would even plan out which rides we would hit and in what order so as to use our time most efficiently. My childhood memory of this was that this was just mom's minor eccentricity and only occasionally annoying. On the other hand my older brother saw it as extremely controlling behavior and now, as a grown up, has relationship issues because of it. Wierd...

I wish I'd had the idyllic childhood so many people talk about missing, but I didn't. Oh well, at least it wasn't as bad as it could have been.
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[User Picture]From: 67_charger
2007-12-15 03:01 am (UTC)
I agree with you that most of our childhood we are oblivious to the important things that are going on around us, and hence everything has a brighter shine to it when we look back at it.

At least for most of us; there are those, as you and some other posters have mentioned, who are more than glad that that chapter of their life is over and done with. The lucky ones grow into amazing people in spite of the trauma/badness they went through.

Healing does take time and having friends and/or good family there to help speeds the process.

Things like this do still happen regardless of how "enlightened" we say we might be. Sometimes in the households that espouse to be the most enlightened.

Hoping that none of the trauma experienced by those near and dear to me, and their near and dear ones, comes back to haunt them.

Love, hugs and kisses, as well as warm fuzzies to all in need,

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