Monday, September 19, 2011

Wish for the Kids

Monday = Fun Day over at the Good Life with Stasha and her famous Listicles.
This week's theme:

10 things you wish kids could do like back in the day

1. Play without Play dates
We would have friends come over, but I don't remember the term "play date" ever being used. We would just go outside and play. Most of the time, we would meet up with other kids in our neighborhood, sometimes in a backyard or the neighborhood playground. There would be little interaction with our parents until one set would remind us it was time to eat, or come in for bed.
What a foreign concept today, lettting the kids just play without structure or formality.
2. Learn how to lose
There weren't any trophies, ribbons, or awards just for finishing. If you won, you won- You got the ribbon! The big trophy was yours. If you lost, then you licked your wounds, maybe wiped away a few tears, and got on with it. In those instances, the losers learned how to lose gracefully, to accept (eventually) that someone or some group was that much better. The winners got to enjoy the spotlight.
Everyone doesn't win, and that's okay.

3. Lose the plug
The Nintendo NES game system came out in 1985. (link) For years, we begged my parents to have a gaming system. They refused. Christmas lists and repeated mentions that others had it, did nothing. Left to our own devices, we played. Life went on. Then in 1989, our school district went on strike. My parents finally budged as the thought of an extra month of us home, without the local swimming pool as entertainment, scared them.
When I taught a special education Kindergarten, I remember quite a number of parents commenting on how well their five year olds were on the computer or their personal gaming system. The speech therapist I was working with at the time made a comment which to this day has been influential in my own view of parenting.
For every minute a child spends engaged with a computer, gaming system or television, that's one less minute they have to engage with real people and learn socially acceptable behavior.
So true, so very true.

4. Know our history
My family has been in the United States for five generations, thus many of cultural celebrations have all but disappeared. While I don't have memories of my great grandparents, the older members of our Catholic Church hold a special place in my heart.
I grew up in a Catholic town. There were five Catholic Churches within five miles, and each had a ethnic group primarily associated with it.
My Church was Slovak.
Which was perfect, as I was a Slovak, Polish, and sliver of Irish/Welsh kid!
On Christmas and Easter, the older members would always sing at least one hymn in Slovak. Easter baskets were brought to the Church to be blessed, with its contents for Easter dinner inside. Occasionally, a prayer or some phrase would be overheard. Yearly Church picnics were filled with piergoies, stuffed cabbages, & haluski.
Over time, the cultural ties to our Slovak heritage became less and less evident, as these members passed.
With new membership, the retirement of the Pastor, the Church is no longer the same, and gone are many of those traditions I held dear.

5. Sit for three hours worth of Saturday Morning Cartoons
I remember going to bed Friday night and being excited for cartoons on Saturday morning. Sitting in the couch, three hours of cartoons were at my disposal and then the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling, GLOW. There was no DVR to tape episodes of Backyardigans or Fresh Beat Band, and no Sprout or Nick Junior to pump twenty fours straight of kid friendly fare across to the masses.
We had three hours on Saturday. That was it.

6. The Vastness of the World
I may wax nostalgic as I write of how large I thought the world when I was a child. But I did! I thought Florida was so far away, and the thought of another country, like Australia or Taiwan, ridiculous. We never called my mom's friend in Australia because the phone bill would be crazy. Now, with the Internet, cell phones, and Skype, it's easy to communicate.
The world seems that much smaller.

7. Eat
When we moved into our new house when I was going into fifth grade, our next door neighbor brought over a plate full of cookies.
"They're all organic" she proudly informed, "no processed food for us". The smile gleaming as she continued. Informing my mother of the dangers of most of the food we purchased at our local supermarket, my mom nodded along. I think she may have thrown in an eyeroll when the neighbor wasn't looking.
It was 1989. "Organic" was not part of our family's vocabulary. Taking a bite of that cookie, I almost choked. My sister and brother's responses were similar. After our shared complaints, the cookies ended up in the garbage. Knowing now what I do about organic, I can only imagine the price tag for that dozen?
We ate without worry of high fructose corn syrup, or pesticides, or arsenic in our apple juice.

8. Know the Extended Family
I grew up in the same town as virtually all of my family. My father had seven brothers and sisters, and my mom had five, all but one lived within a twenty minute car ride. Our family tree was expansive to say the least, and we were close. Great Aunts and Uncles around every corner. The running joke in my circle of friends was that no place was safe in our town, because we were bound to run into one of my relatives. It seemed as if everyone was a cousin. We had large family picnics three times a year, and most attended our Church. As a child I knew all these faces.
My girls don't have that.
Many of these faces, these relatives, they only see once or twice a year and so they're virtually strangers. 
While I cannot imagine living in my hometown as an adult, I do wish my girls knew more of our family.  

9. Girl Power
Where's Punky Brewster, Cyndi Lauper, & the Spice Girls when we need them?

10. Write
The beauty of a postcard, the heartfelt emotion put into a thank you note,
the seductiveness of a well written love letter,(maybe when they're older),
 these things are slowly falling out of fashion.
The art of the pen and paper, replaced by the immediacy of email and texting.
Bring it back, I say! Bring it back!
Plus, the post office will thank you for the work.


  1. Love this list.

    I never really thought about gaming that way.... told my kindergartener that if he has a good day at school today, he can play on the computer when he gets home. Oops.

  2. The writing one really got me; I think the hand-written letter is almost like a dying art. I remember putting so much passion into choosing the stationary, the pen and then the words for the letters I wrote to friends and family. And reading the letters and post cards I received was so captivating.

  3. awesome list; i agree with so, so much. the losing thing is a good (and annoying) one. and the writing one. i LOVED pens and paper and writing everything long hand...but now it actually HURTS my hand when i do so- ha!

  4. I love this list. I remember how much time and effort I put into sending a letter to my pen pal in Africa and checking our mailbox for two months waiting for the reply. Now I get an entry email back from people for not responding to theirs in less then 8 hours. Great reminder Jackie of all things that matter.

  5. I remember that Saturday morning excitement - and would've forgotten all about its wonders had you not reminded me so thanks for that! You're so RIGHT! I love this entire list.

  6. I love your number 10...I remember sending letters in the mail and getting letters and cards, now I only get junk and bills. And I'm with Shell on the gaming one, I didn't think about it like this...and as I'm typing this, my boys are playing a Star Wars video game. :/

  7. I really liked this list. Especially kids learning how to lose and being ok with it. I remember the first trophy I ever received was for 'Most Improved Player' in softball. I carried it around for weeks because I was so proud of it. I busted my butt to get that trophy.

    Everyone didn't get a had to earn one. I earned more later but that one will always be my favorite. Now everyone gets the same trophy and it's no big deal. To me, that seems sad.

  8. I'm with ya sister! Now the question is, what are we going to do about it?

  9. The food thing is one of my pet peeves too.

  10. the importance of losing. So true. It's like "The Incredibles" (everything is like the Incredibles. I love that movie): if everyone has a super power, then NO ONE is super. Kids aren't fooled by the "hey you did a good job but didn't win" trophy; they know the deal. And if we all stopped being so afraid of their "damaged self-esteem," then I think that probably their self-esteem would do just fine.

  11. Wonderful list! Losing gracefully, limiting TV time so that we actually look forward to it, handwriting letters, engaging with family and friends...these are all so important.


Let me know what you think.