As those of you who have been reading my blog for a while know, I do not have kids. I never plan to have any kids. I do not even really like kids. They annoy the everloving fuck out of me, and I wish they’d get off of my lawn. That being said, I am also on record as being a big proponent of letting kids be kids. We seriously baby the absolute shit out of them these days, and it really serves the kids no good to have them growing up believing that both nature and the manmade world aren’t actually conspiring to kill them.
People my age were the second generation of fans to be drawn to comedian George Carlin thanks to the comedy specials he did for HBO back in the 80’s and 90’s. Here is what George has to say about the way we treat kids, and while a lot of it is harsh, shocking, and a bit overexaggerated for comedic effect, there’s a lot here I actually agree with…
The segment of that routine that applies to today’s Flashback Friday post starts at about the 2:20 mark, because today we’re going to look back on a glorious time when kids were constantly put in harm’s way every time they tried to go somewhere, and nobody gave a rat’s ass!
Back in my day, kids weren’t bundled up like a piece of fine china being shipped across the country just to head down to the grocery store. In fact, I’m old enough to have never even had to sit in a car seat before. Car seats weren’t mandatory in the state of Illinois until the early 80’s, and by then I had already outgrown them. I always buckle up when I’m in the car these days, but when I was 5? Yeah, right. The windshield was just begging for me to experience the sheer joy of catapulting through its thick layer of safety glass, but I got the last laugh on it! Most other kids from my time did as well.
Being part of a family with 5 kids in the 80’s, it was a no-brainer that we had a couple of station wagons. Remember the cool seating arrangements in those rustbucket beasts?
The rear facing back seats in the station wagon of the 70’s and 80’s did not exactly have child safety in mind when it was developed. They’d be a total nightmare in this modern world where our fascination with texting has made rear-ending the car in front of you popular again. Some really cool station wagons even had the rear seats facing each other on the sides of the car, like this:
Yep, these station wagons were rolling death traps that some how didn’t manage to thin out the population of Generation X. Why? Because not only were we built tough, but so were the cars in that day and age. In the interest of saving a few billion gallons of gas, about two decades ago, they decided to start making cars out of tinfoil and pixie dust. There’s a reason modern cars need to have a couple hundred airbags in them.
But riding in the backs of station wagons wasn’t the only way we thumbed our noses at child safety in that more innocent time. Nope, for a while we had a pickup truck as well, and this was the ONLY way to ride in style in one of those babies….
Yes, me and my sisters rode in the back of a pickup truck for several years and are still here today to tell about it. Whether on the mean streets of town, or burning down the highway, it was still the most fun I’ve ever had in a moving vehicle. And being the oldest and the only boy, of course I always got to sit on one of the “humps” over the wheel well. I feel for the kids today who don’t get to experience the joy of the wind in their face, the openness of the air, the certain death rolling just a few feet under you. Now only the dog is legally allowed to ride in the back of a pickup truck, and that’s only because everyone on earth hates PETA.
Of course, we could only ride in these dangerous contraptions when our parents needed to go somewhere, and quite often we’d want to go along just for the fun of the experience. These days, kids are dragged out to the unfun minivan by Mom and forced to go on boring errands since you are not allowed to leave kids under the age of 24 at home alone anymore. Uh oh, Mom needs to run down to the organic food store and buy some spinach for the veggie taco dinner she’s making tonight! Better hop on your bike and get away while you can!
Nowadays, adults even want to take the fun out of riding your damn bike! No self-respecting kid over 20 years ago would have even considered wearing a helmet while cruising around town causing trouble. Heck, bicycle helmets weren’t even as readily available then as they are now. When I started working at Mecca 15 years ago, we sold plenty of bicycles, but had a very small selection of helmets to go with them. Now there’s a whole damn counter full of head condoms to choose from. Boy have we gotten to be soft and weak.
Like all kids, I had numerous falls and mishaps with my bike. Most of them involved skinning knees and elbows, and maybe ripping a hole in my perfectly good holey jeans. None of that was going to be curtailed by a damn helmet. Like with all ridiculous safety laws these days, this one started when some stupid kid rode his bike out in front of a bus and got squished. Life never was fair, and we had to accept the fact that one loser could screw everything up for the rest of us, but that didn’t make us like it any more…
Yes, I would make a bad parent. That’s why I’m not one, and don’t think others who would make bad parents should procreate either. But it gives me the advantage of relishing a day and age when we didn’t have to wrap our bundles of joy up in a plastic bubble when they left the house. Here’s to all the daredevil fun my generation had risking our lives just to get from Point A to Point B! We came, we saw, and we lived to tell! And now, we must spread the warning for all to take heed of!