When we were kids, life was much simpler. No thoughts of bills, health issues, or death ever entered our minds. When The Boy gets to be my age, he may very well look back and say the same thing, but I can assure him, life is not simpler now. Guess it really depends on your point of view.
When we were kids, there was no talk about water-boarding unless, of course, you were referring to the Slip-n-Slide in front of Neighbor Thomas’s house. Add about a thousand water balloons, and it was a whole summer time full of fun. Add a little soap, and no one took a bath. When the kids from the Duke of Gloucester came over, it was an out and out water balloon war. A war in which no one won, no one lost, and everyone went home clean. Yes, it was a much simpler time.
When we were kids, if we needed extra money we worked for it. Spent all day Saturday picking up bottles, turned them in at the 7-Eleven, and walked away with a pocket full of nickels and dimes. Not only did we make enough money for a movie, Milk Duds, and a Coke, but we also cleaned up the vacant lots around town.
Now bottles are all aluminum or plastic. And litter piles up on vacant lots. Guess it doesn’t really matter. I haven’t seen a 7-Eleven around here for years.
When we were kids, the only people who had tattoos up and down their arms were those strange carnival workers, and we didn’t want to get too close to them. Our parents warned us that if we didn’t study hard and make good grades, we’d grow up to be just like them. It was a great incentive for me to pass math class.
Now that I’m grown, most of the people I work with have tattoos. They believe if you don’t have at least one then you’re the strange person. Perhaps they think I should be a carnival worker and they should be the patrons?
When we were kids, there were a certain set of values and behaviors that society considered to be the norm. Right was right, wrong was wrong, and there was no gray area in between. Now people sue because their kid gets pushed on the school bus, because you voice an opinion, or because the hot coffee served at restaurants is actually hot.
I don’t know if you can sue if the waitress has hideous tattoos up and down her arms, or the waiter has so many body piercings he looks like he fell into a tackle box, but you should be able to.
When we were kids, thoughts of our parents dying or getting old never entered our minds. We were too busy playing on Slip-n-Slides and throwing water balloons, collecting bottles, or going to carnivals. When you reach 50, you realize your parents passed that age a long time ago. You suddenly see them slowing down, starting to slip, and not remembering things — things you can remember like it was yesterday.
No one is prepared to raise their own parents. How could they be? When we were kids, it was indeed a much simpler time.
[Rick Ryckeley, who lives in Senoia, has been a firefighter for more than two decades and a columnist for The Citizen since 2001. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.]