Choose Your Own Adventure and Grumpy Old Man!

I’ll admit I am less than patient and say things I probably shouldn’t when my girls mourn their dropping internet signal…from a moving car. I have to remind myself, though, this is what they know. This is the adaptation and conditioning of new humans to the world they were born into. The very definition of evolution. I have, though, at times caught myself summoning up lectures in which I played with a stick when I was little…😒 And, for realsies, I did.

The experience of childhood has changed. So much. So drastically. But, I am part of the camp that does truly see this as a societal evolution. Not so much that our children’s future is collapsing in on itself like a dying star. The world changes. And we change with it. So do our children.

I spent a great deal of my early childhood being bumped around after school while my parents worked. The best and, at times, worst of those years were spent bussed out to the country to my Godparent’s home. A large Catholic family with more kids than they could keep track of, I suppose. Their son Sean and I would spend the evenings in make-believe in their woods and miles off their property where there was a literal tar pit. No one wondered where we were for hours. We made a lean-to where we would hide from cars and distant neighbors. Pretend food from woodchips and leaves. Making up our own adventures. We wrote plays of mysteries we solved while in the forest and had this “great idea” that an audience could follow alongside to watch. Brilliant! We drew up programs and everything. We could never convince more than our moms to break the secret circle and come watch but we had fun acting them out regardless. And these were great times.

This morning, my kids and I replayed events of yesterday’s school pickup. A day where I retrieve Joey from her class line at the bell and walk her to an afterschool drawing class that she takes all year. I was five minutes late. Five minutes. As I rushed by, her usual class escort grabbed me and said that they were already calling for her…on the walkie talkies. From where she stood a ways off with her teacher, walkie messages and hand signals were flying like mad and she was scooted straight to me like she was on fire. On the way down the hall we were stopped by the cleaning lady. The cleaning lady. “You got an art student there, you better hurry! GO! She needs to go straight there after school instead of waiting for you!” We get to the room and all the children start screaming from their seats, “WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN!? WE COULDN’T FIND YOU ANYWHERE!” I felt like I’d been late for surgery. Surgery! Well, you get the point.

Anywho, the joke this morning was “Geez, did everyone survive you being late yesterday!? The world didn’t implode in those five whole minutes!?” I told them both that *in my day* after the bell rang, the teachers didn’t know what happened to us. We just…left. “They went home, I guess“. I said if we didn’t show up for school in the morning no one was calling to check up on us. Today I have a five step information chain procedure I have to go through when they will miss school. And, so help me, if we’re running late or absent and I forgot to write. I have until 9am on the dot until administration starts asking questions.

In the 80’s there were no afterschool programs. Period. Not in my neck of the woods. We had bikes and cap guns. *crickets chirping* It is no stretch to say we had to make our own fun. And find our own way. But the world has changed. And parents and children have changed with it. This fall Joey will carry on with her drawing class for the third year. She wants to be an animator so, who knows. This class may end up the kickstart to a fulfilled life story one day. She will also be old enough for Coding for Girls. Which she’s been signed up for since February. For now, she spends her time on animation programs, and writing little video game side scrollers. Building contraptions out of anything she can find. This is her future. Hopefully one day all of it will come together for her.

The world changes. But our experience of it does not. Whatever it may be. Our children have dreams just as we did when we were adapting to the changing world around us. Like it or not, things are very different now. But so are we. This is evolution. When she is grown, my daughter may not love coding video games and drawing like she did when she was little. The world may require twenty changes of her between now and then in order to adapt. That will be her experience. Her childhood memories. So different than my own. At the same time, not so much. Experience is relative, after all. But I will always, always love writing in the woods. And adventuring…so there.

I’ll close this out with the book that sparked this memory today…and my absolute favorite quote from Dana Carvey’s Grumpy Old Man. Which isn’t entirely that far off, my friends.

Hope this week finds you all well!
Sam

In my day we didn’t need *moving pictures*. In my day there was only one show in town and it was called “STARE AT THE SUN!” That’s right! You’d sit in the middle of an open field and stare up at the sun till your eyeballs burst into flames! That’s the way it was AND WE LIKED IT!

This has always been a fave of mine for obvious reasons. It’s a sweet, nostalgic auto-biographical story of a group of children out West and the elaborate imaginary community they created together through the seasons from nothing but nature and things left behind. With a not so subtle undertone of the passage of time.

27 thoughts on “Choose Your Own Adventure and Grumpy Old Man!

  1. Yes times do change but not necessarly for the better. Our kids, my grands . are missing out on some important growing up things and when things really do change they are going to be lost ducks. All it takes is three days with out power to understand .

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    1. Hopefully they will not be too lost for too long 😔

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  2. My goodness, things are so different. In elementary school I went to a Catholic school on the other side of town. So I had to take a public bus. To school and then after school I had to walk down the city streets, cross railroad tracks, stand on the corner and wait for a bus full of adult strangers to come and take my little first grade self home. So different! I also thought with your being five minutes late all the walkie talkies KNOW you now – and probably as “that Dad” 🙂 Was a funny five minutes to read about though!

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    1. Oh my gosh! 😲 Does’t that just make you cringe now to think of? But things were just so different. I think there is some early independence being lost nowadays but that is precisely *because* things have changed in the world. We’ve been made awarw we have to keep them closer than our parents needed to. All in good time tho 🤗! I knooo, I was totally “that dad”. Just like I was on her first day of preschool when she went in with no underpants in a dress, and I wore my nametag upside down the whole time 😂😂😂😂😂

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      1. Oh yes, that bus, those years – so cringeworthy! You are right – as times have changed we have changed and kept our kiddos closer to be safer. Hahahaaaaa – oh no you didn’t!! Oh my gosh, that is soooo funny!! 🙂 🙂

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        1. Lol! I think that’s my topper though as “that dad” status so I’m keeping my fingers crossed 😂😂😂

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  3. I agree, evolution, thank you, I felt like the only one. Great article! I loved the perspective, humor, and nostalgia.

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    1. Thank you so much! 🤗🤗🤗

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  4. I guess another way to look at it is that they are used to your routine and if she’s not there people will take notice and an effort to make sure she is safe 😊

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    1. All true, BUT a startling difference from when I was a kid! “Hasn’t been to school in a week? Eh…we’ll give it till Monday.”

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      1. Haha samesies! Have you watched the Netflix special “kidnapped in plain sight” or something like that?’ Omg it’s infuriating

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        1. I have. I have such a soft spot for those completely clueless parents though! Just in the matter of the guilt they must have felt for acting so passively through the years. They are lucky it didn’t turn out way worse than it did 😲

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          1. Yes exactly! I was so angry though when I was watching it “oh ya know we didn’t want to bother the fbi about our missing child” ummmmm yes. Bother them! Lol

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  5. I grew up outside in a small city in Switzerland near Zurich. On top of trees, in flowery cemeteries, near creeks and rivers and lakes. My 4yo sister climbed into someone’s house through an open window and stole their sausages sitting on a plate on the counter, along with a set of keys, and buried them in their backyard. We babysat twin toddler boys and took them along residential streets with cars (!) at age 6 or so to random parks nearby, aimlessly without a plan, without their parents even asking us where we were going. The twins were 2.
    It was a different world.

    Today, I don’t even want to contemplate taking phones away from the teen. Most of his closest friends don’t live in the ‘hood (hockey or baseball friends from across town) and this is how they communicate. It’s… different. So different. And like you say, we have to adapt.

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    1. I’m laughing at stealing sausages! 😂😂😂 That is so Little Rascals, lol! I can’t believe all the independence and responsibility little ones had then! I dont know sometimes if it’s something I wish was still like that, or if it was totally dangerous then too but it happened anyway 😣 I know! Right now my daughter is at the stage where she rides around on her bike to see whos home and can play like we did. But i know the days are coming when its going to be texts and not *actually* getting together with friends!

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  6. I’m right there with you, Sam. Or perhaps a couple of decades ahead. When my hubby bemoans the youth and their attachments to all things electronic and indoors, I understand. He forgets that I mad the children spen time outdoors when they were growing up, that we insisted they help with yard work and imaginative play, like tents and camo paint, snacks under the trees and raking leaves to burn. All in all they were great sports about it too. I try to help him recall that his olkd had to deal with the teens of the slate 50’s and early 60’s and that his behavior was bizarre to them. The thing that is most different xomes from an emotional place, I think. Kids as a whole have lost a general respect for age and experience that evn in the sixties the yout was trying to get through to the older generation rather than thimbing their noses and thinking them ill equipped to adapt or i derstand new ideas. Sometimes we feel as though much of the youngest generation of adults just wish we would all go away. Parenting has always been a balancing act, if one is doing it anywhere near right. To question ourselves is the right course but we must also believe in what we learmed along the way from our parents and grandparents. There is a lot of value in history and that is what is being lost. While you don’t have yo force them to play with a stick, they need to hear the truth of your story and what it meant to you, i used to take my Barniand my brother’s GI Joe (Ken was not for her-weak chin.lol) and plop into the tree lined grassy slope that ran beside the neighborhood canal and play Tarzan and Jane, removing myself from all the reality of my life. We used worms to catch little crawfish from the canal and hinted for four leaf clovers. I remember spinning wildly in the front yard in the first dtages of a storm and imagining myself flying. The one thing I don’t care for in many of the electronic devices is the instant entertainment with no room for imagination. Your children sound very creative! Art and code writing. Very nice. My oldest write programs for a new computer company and is doing better than he ever thiught possible but he taught Montessori school for a lot of years first. Evolution, indeed. OMG. I was so glad to be free of school rules and domination when my last son graduated. I am always amazed at how small the world of education seems at times. All neat and ruled with checks and boxes and checked boxes. And still one school allowed my then fourth grade son to take a ride home with a friend’s brother whom we had never met because my son missed the hus that day going home. What a nightmare. Sorry this was so long. You are such a great Dad.

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    1. It’s sad that all the simpler things they grew up doing outdoors every.single.day, they’ve forgotten. We will go to places now and she acts as if it’s the first time. I’m like you quite literally grew up at this preserve over the years. No memory whatsoever. But…all the art, music and exposure to travel, nature and the new experiences have added to who they are now and what they will be. Even if they dont know why 😭😭😭

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      1. You’re raising them. I wager they’ll know why when the time is right. 😉

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  7. This is why I homeschooled my kids in the early years and long as they wanted it. So they could learn to love nature and imagination AND they did…. it made its mark.
    That being said… they needed the real world…all this structure and speed. Times have changed and they got to be in it.
    Reminds me a bit of Kahil Gibran “our children are not our own.”

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    1. It has made it’s mark here too for sure. It’s all in there somewhere even if I can’t see it 24/7. Even with the digital this’s and thats they are still my same down to earth kids. I’m happy for all the opportunity they have through school that I didn’t have. At all. I think that adds to new interests and experimenting with things just as much as their childhoods did 🤗

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  8. Life is different for kids these days. But somewhere in amongst all that technology, they need to ground connect to nature too. Get their feet dirty, jump in the puddles, make mud pies and cubby houses, poke sticks in ant hills, eat snails straight from the garden, play with sticks and stones and chase butterflies, lie in the grass and create pictures out of clouds, dance in the rain… just to balance life

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    1. I moved out to the “country” a few years ago in hopes of them remaining close to these things they knew growing up, like I did. They stay children of nature at heart from their upbringing. And plus…those are still all my favorite things! 🤗🤗🤗

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  9. Love this! TOTALLY relatable! I think I can even hear my groaning children as I tell them, “See, I’m not the only one!”

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    1. Hahah! They will never believe you, lol! Every kids parents are always the *ONLY* foagies to preach about the ‘olden days’. When my 7 year old pretends to be an old grandma…she says she was born in 1975! 😂😂😂 I guess I know what that makes me!

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      1. Yup! According to them, I’m, “Old, old, old, old!” 🙂

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