Friday, April 3, 2009

Living Willy Nilly

One day, while stopped at a traffic light not far from our home, an older model convertible mustang pulled up along side me. I glanced over and saw three young children in the back seat, none of which was wearing a seat belt. I could feel myself getting irritated as I continued to look in their direction. The three children were all quite young. I would guess their ages ranged from about 18 months to 4.

When I see situations like this, I have to try and hold myself back. Truthfully, I am not the type person who enjoys confrontation with strangers; and, I am definitely not one to second guess how others rear their own children. However, I could not help but be bothered by what I saw. Not only do I feel that those children are in very real danger not being in seat belts and/or car seats, I also feel that they are not being taught simple things that they can do to stay safe while in a vehicle. It is one thing to not wear a seat belt as an adult, it's your funeral. It's your life that you gamble. But, when children's lives are put in danger by their parent's laziness, it is an entirely different story. These children do not know. We must guide them. We must teach them. Without us, they have nothing. What were these parents thinking?!

OK, enough about that.

I remember when I was a child, I road around in the car all the time without a seat belt. In fact, I believe most people did. I also remember actually standing up in the front seat while going down the road. It was fun. It was what kids did. I hung my head and my arms out of the car window, the breeze blowing through my hair. My mom did advise me against that saying that another car would drive up and knock them off. Now, I have caught myself saying the same thing to Nick. Low and behold, I am still alive today having not worn a seat belt as a child. I was lucky. Most of us were.

We all seemed to survive those wild days where we were living by the seats of our pants. They were the days when mothers made costumes for Halloween out of aluminum foil, pillow cases and cardboard. I built "forts" out of blankets draped over our kitchen chairs. I didn't watch much TV as a child, I played outside. I came in to get a drink, then went back out. I was only around when it was meal time. My mom cut my hair. I remember only a few times actually going somewhere to get my hair cut. They aren't that great of memories. Most disturbingly, we didn't always wash our hands before dinner, or after going to the bathroom. When we did wash them, we surely weren't using antibacterial soap. We all ate real butter and chicken fried in three inches of vegetable oil. We ate eggs, hot dogs, bologna and real peanut butter. We didn't wear sunscreen. We didn't even lock our car or home doors at night. When I had an ear infection, I don't remember even going to the doctor. I guess it healed itself? We didn't take multivitamins. Children were actually spanked by their parents, heck, sometimes even by their teachers in school. We were sure living Willy Nilly!

When I think of those times, I have a big smile on my face. Those days were fun for me. Maybe because I was way too young to worry about much of anything. Also, I think that life, in general, was different back then. I believe that technology has helped to change the way parents parent. By learning about different diseases, we have found that we should wash our hands, always wear sunscreen, lower our fat intake, increase our exercise, etc. We have learned through research that seat belts and car seats save lives. All of this technology and all of this knowledge has changed our actions in our everyday lives. Then, we teach our children. We have really learned so much in my lifetime that if I were to make a list, it would be endless.

This leads me to wonder, how will life be for my children when they are my age? Are we living Willy Nilly now?

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