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Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Good Old Days

Written by Amy, a mom without a blog

I remember when my mom took me to McDonalds as a special treat for having a tooth pulled at the dentist. This was a huge treat.

I remember playing in the basement with a bunch of neighbor kids late into the night while my parents and their friends were upstairs playing cards, drinking and smoking.

I remember playing Kick the Can on a warm summer night and staying outside as late as bedtime.

I remember sitting at the table by myself until I finished my dinner.

I remember watching
One Day at a Time on a tiny black and white television in our family room and thinking that Valerie Bertinelli was the most beautiful girl in the world.

I remember my chore of grooming our Llasa Apso and sitting there for at least a half an hour almost every day gently combing through her matted hair. I also remember walking said dog. Her name was Cream Puff.

I remember buying my first car.

I remember learning how to play Hotel California on the guitar and being deathly afraid of singing “it could be heaven or it could be hell” because of the ramifications of saying a cuss word.

Times have changed.

Fast forward 30 years (yes, I am dating myself) and now I sit and wonder what will the kids of today remember 30 years from now ….

Their first iPhone?

Their first MySpace page?

Their first sext message?

Their parents carting them from activity to activity?

Their defiance in eating anything nutritious and their parents’ willingness to agree?

Their sense of entitlement for their first car?

Each and every one of their incredibly amazing birthday parties?

Watching America's Next Top Model on their very own color television in their very own room?

You can call me cynical. It’s OK. I’m realizing this about myself more and more as I grow older.

You can bet one thing kids of today WON'T remember is a trip to McDonald’s as a really special treat.


  1. I'm thinking the really special treats and memories will involve the rare sitting down around one single table at the exact same time and talking.

    I'm desperately trying to do this!!

    P.S. my first girl crush was Valerie Bertinelli - she's still gorgeous!

  2. you're so right. and i am guilty of perpetuating the entitled behavior of my kids. some of your list (facebook, iPhone) i have to hang my head in shame. but i can proudly say i haven't thrown ANY birthday party for either of my kids, much less an extravagant one, in years!

    i remember wanting a pair of sperry topsiders, an izod shirt and luv-it jeans with rhinestones on the back pockets, but my mom wouldn't let me have any of them, and i had to settle for "faux" versions. ugh, the vinyl topsiders were awful and i hated them.

    listen, this hotel california thing scares me. isn't that the one that if you play it backwards, it talks about worshipping the devil?? i remember THAT from my childhood.

    oh, and i liked kate jackson from charlie's angels. all the boys thought she was the "ugly" one, but i thought she was pretty and had a brain.

  3. oh, and ask lee about the trip to Africa we are taking with our children. you are totally invited to come with!

  4. Thankfully, my kids still think of McDonalds as a special treat because--no joke--Two-Year-Old's preschool teacher suggested I'd take the boys to McDonalds after pick up to get him to calm down.

    Great list. I had a crush on Scnieder. How odd is that!

  5. Em - I agree with you. I would desperately LOVE that too.

    Deb - no hanging your head. Times are different now. The whole entitlement thing is a constant battle for our generation. And, uh, vinyl topsiders? Girl, I'm feelin' for ya. Also, I'm all over that trip to Africa (as long as it's first class and we can be in an air conditioned Hummer during the safari).

    Ann - Thank God for you and your children! Schnieder??? Are you kidding me??

    Jen - I agree.

  6. Oh Ames. Some of it is sad. And some is not. Although I do agree with you that there is certainly a loss of more innocent, simple times, I also think that you can look around and see the things in your kids' lives that are similar to what we had growing up. Yes, they may feel nostalgic over their first iPhone but is there something inherently wrong with that? Just because it is a piece of technology will it make their memories or feelings towards it any less than ours when we were kids?

    We felt affectionately towards One Day at a Time and Happy Days and they will feel that way towards their iPhone or some other show that is airing in High-Def. I think that this is okay. Their memories will be less fuzzy with better technology.

    For me the trick is to recognize that although times have changed and I look back on my youth with affection and wish that I could impart the same kind of simple innocence to my kids, I know that I can not discount the stuff that will be special to them.

    Am I making sense?

    Along with that, however, I am a STRONG believer in NOT letting my kids grow up too fast or be exposed to more than they need to.

    And I do think as a culture we indulge our kids waaayyy too much and that some things need to be held as special events.

    And I agree with Em about sitting around a single table and chatting....I don't want that to be a special occasion - I want that to be everyday but so far, no good on that one. It is rare for us. Too rare.

    Great thought-provoking post Ames. Love it.

  7. oh can I borrow a dime so I can use the payphone and call my mom??

    "This is it, this is life - the one to share, so go and have a ball"

  8. Thank you for such a thoughtful post that opens up such a great dialogue. I agree with Lee -- I think what's important are the strong and positive memories, no matter if those memories center on a small black-and-white TV (which was high technology in its day, remember) or a flat-screen high-def monitor. Each generation feels as if the next has it easier. That's just the way we are. But you are so right that entitlement and "privilege" are just wrong.

  9. I love the memories! I agree that that it is so hard to live in this time without the constant glut of "stuff" that is making our kids cynical, I'm sure, before their time. We are constantly trying to teach our kids that they have to do more than "just ask" to get anything their hearts desire. And to make sure that they know that that little plastic card that we use to pay for things is not just a key, it is attached to real money that we had to earn before we can spend it. That one is still hard to convey....

    And I adored Valerie Bertinelli, too! She was so so so pretty. :)

  10. Wow! What a great post! That brings back so many childhood memories. I think that you are exactly right.... the kids these days are truly missing out on something intangible.

  11. I loved McDonalds and when I was 12 that is exactly where I wanted to go. Sadly, I have to agree with all that you have said but you forgot their first pair of 300 dollar low rise jeans

  12. Wow.. thanks for the stroll down memory lane. =]

  13. This is an awesome post and really got me thinking as usual. It seems like so many of these entitlements that you mentioned(ie-extravagant b-day parties, cars when they are 16, and overscheuling them in activities) come from us as parents giving our kids too much!!! I know I am often guilty of it.

  14. Oh, man. You hit the nail right on the head.

    I remember riding my bike all over town in the summer. Now I won't let my kids ride down the street without me watching right alongside them.

    I remember when I got my first (battery operated) cassette player/recorder.

    My kids will remember their first iPod.

    If I could have been any girl, it was Denise Huxtable. ;) or Punky Brewster. I was a weirdo.

    GREAT post!!!

  15. It feels so eerie to read your post...I must be your age because I have same memories. Sitting in the dark at my kitchen table until I finished my nutritious dinner. I just now let my kid eat cold spaghetti noodles from baggie and called it good.

    I heard a statistic today that 1 out of 3 first dates ends with sex. (Maybe it starts with sex, but you get my point.) Call me crazy, but that is not something I worried about on first dates. You don't even really know a person on a first date and you are going to have sex with them? I don't think that's gonna result in a lot of good memories.

    Sobering and thoughtful post. thanks.

  16. Oh, Ames, I have chills from this post. Many of your memories are similar to mine growing different things are today.

    My parents were raised on farms in Ireland. I'm certain that, when I was a child, they were amazed at how much their kids "had" compared to what they had growing up (TV, running water, indoor get the idea). So in a way, I think that it's partly the nature of life. Things change and we are able to give our kids more than we had.

    But you are SO RIGHT about the direction of our world now. It is scary to think of the things our kids will be exposed to. I'm with Lee and the others- I want to keep my children as young and innocent for as long as possible. It feels like a battle. Every. Day.

    Thank you for this thought-provoking post. I'd love to continue it sometime over a glass of wine and some yummy bruschetta!!

    Oh, and I LOVED Shawn Cassidy. Da do run, run, run, baby!! :-)

  17. A very thought provoking post.

    I am totally and completely of over using McDonald's! In my defense we live in HOT Arizona and we have no pool (hard to believe) *smile*.

    McDonald's is an indoor playground for us.

    But I totally get what you are saying. Very good thoughts. Very good.

    Thanks for reminding's all about perspectives baby!

  18. McDonald's after the dentist. It brings back such fond memories. The drooling and not being able to taste a thing due to the novacain, but man, what a treat! I am with you on trying every day to fight the tide of letting your kid grow up so fast. It seems so hard, but I wonder if our parents thought the same thing? Great post and thanks for letting me wander down memory lane...I can smell the grease.

    Oh yeah...Shawn Cassidy all the way baby. Had the iron on T-shirt with him on it that I wore to the roller skating rink. And my female of choice - Lynda Carter as Wonder Women. Wore that Halloween costume till it was in shreds.

  19. McDonald's was no big deal: we took home cold Big Mac's every Friday, which I remember eating to this day, without any particular excitement.

    I remember complaining and moaning whenever I was given any household chore, all the way through high school, and only completing said chore about 50% of the time.

    I was GIVEN my first brand new 1976 Toyota Corolla by my rich grandmother as a sophomore in high school.

    I listened to Led Zeppeline's "Lemon Song" (lyrics un-printable here)(and others) repeatedly starting in the seventh grade without thinking twice about it.

    Fast forward to age 35: I have a sordid sexual history I am not proud of and eat whatever and wherever I want, despite my credit cards being maxed out such that the minimum payment I make INCREASES the remaining balance each month. All this a coincidence? I take responsibility but believe some proper values handed down by my mostly absent parents might have helped.

    Happy ending: Thank God my wife got me to turn around my finances, appreciate what I have in life and is an inspiration for me to work hard to earn money for my family.

    And for the record, the love of my life was Susan Dey AKA Laurie Partridge.

    Ames, I agree with all that you wrote.


  20. I feel sorry for them. They have a sense of entitlement that won't get them jobs or a future because the don't know how to work hard.


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