Like many kids raised in the 1950s and 1960s, my brothers and I were taught to anticipate what could go wrong if we tried to do something we hadn’t thought through very well. Well, my older brother Tom and I were really the test cases for that. I don’t think it worked well at all until the 1990s on Steve and Tim. Dad would scold us saying, “Use your head for more than a hat rack.” It was so Jack Webb (Officer Friday on Dragnet) of him. Dad always wore a fedora, much like Sinatra and Officer Friday. It was pretty cool of him, actually.
OK, so if you rode a bike with no brakes, you wouldn’t be able to stop, and might get run over by a garbage truck. That kind of thing. If you misbehave in school, you will be kept after. If you break the law, you will be arrested. And Lord knows who will bail you out, but you know Dad won’t. The parents never had to worry about me doing that sort of stuff. I didn’t break the law, never had a speeding ticket to this day. Not that I couldn’t have. But you get it.
Sometimes, in being the kid who thought of consequences before an act was committed, you just don’t have a whole lot of fun. I was too scared of the consequences to throw caution to the wind. With my kids, I taught them the same, yet if they did do something a normal kid would do, I was glad. They still got to be kids. Sometimes, I feel like we never did. But nowhere would I trade it for being a cream puff. Shocking as it was, if something bad happened in the world, we were told about it. My generation is the one who witnessed Lee Harvey Oswald be shot dead in front of us, by Jack Ruby, the Dallas nightclub owner who took the law into his own hands. (Allegedly). Depends on which conspiracy theory we are talking about.
I know a lot is said about anxiety these days. I have discovered, I used to suffer from it greatly as a kid and in school. First thing I remember worrying about was needing to use the bathroom and not having one around. That caused me a lot of stress. Gosh, kind of like now, being a person with old plumbing, hoping we make it. Most older people know what I mean. Never pass a bathroom. Ever. Problem solved. See? Then you don’t have to worry as much. Maybe this was from Mom being impatient about us getting ready to go somewhere. I always had to wait until the boys were done. Her theory was I was older and a girl, so I could wait longer than they could. Poppycock!
After a garbage truck lost its brakes and went out of control in our hilly alley, crossing F street, and crashing into the ravine at Spring Lake Park, across from our house, I was afraid of garbage trucks. Petrified I would die if one came down the alley again. Didn’t make sense, but trauma caused that. I was too scared to look down at it, for fear I would tumble down the embankment after it. Mom said I was silly, but I just knew it would happen.
I was afraid of being hit by a car walking to or from school. I saw a girl hit when she ran out as a car sped through the yellow light. It was both of their faults. Dad taught us to look left; look right; then look left again. Why? That is the direction you would be hit by a car first. Pretty smart guy, my dad. I always employed his method of crossing the street, and still do to this day. Feel free to keep yourselves safe by employing my dad’s method of crossing the street.
Kids now don’t know how to defer to a car. An eighth grader at Addison’s school walked right in front of a moving line of cars to cross and go to her parent’s vehicle. She didn’t even flinch. No, honey, that’s not how it works. This comes from being driven everywhere, never having to negotiate traffic on foot. Could you imagine her taking the bus anywhere alone? I loved going downtown with Grandma Bobell or Aunt Anna. Both sides of my family had avid bus riders. We all learned how to negotiate the city streets. It was a matter of our survival back in the day.
This COVID-19 is really causing some anxiety in everyone. I haven’t felt anxious in years. Until now. When we were all quarantined to home, I actually didn’t want to go out. Erring on the side of caution, you couldn’t have a do-over catching this virus. Sounds as if you can be infected repeatedly, depending on which part of the virus makes you ill. What a great thought. At this point, I think it’s almost keep yourself safe, and hopefully you won’t get really ill. All we can do is try and keep each other safe.
Kids are openly talking about the Covid. That’s good. It would be hard to be the child of an anti-vaxxer. They don’t believe in preventative shots. I do. I also believe in flu shots. I believe it keeps you healthy. At this age, I don’t want to waste time being sick with the flu if it can be prevented. Erring on the side of caution.
We have to try and strike a balance in our lives. We need to know how to problem solve should we need to. We also need to remind ourselves life is more than problems. Struggling is an important part of life, but is not life itself. No, it’s not because we’re more privileged than anyone else. It’s because we need to focus on what is important in life. We need to learn to be able to take care of ourselves, and to be civil to everyone. When you’re young, school, family, and home has to be the cornerstone of your being. You build on that as you grow up and learn more. Whatever you family looks like, you can succeed. Two moms or two dads; one mom and one dad; one mom and grandparents; one dad and aunts; they can all raise wonderful, balanced children. The children must learn respect, contribution to their communities, and problem solving.
I’m forever grateful to the parents I had, the extended families I’m part of, and the friends I have at this point in life. Some have passed away, some come into and out of life, but the true ones never leave. Thank you for reading today. Relax, if you can. We’ll be ok. Take precautions, but don’t worry yourself to death if you can help it. We’ll meet again tomorrow, right? See you then.