Let’s talk about ages for a minute.
I’m 30. Not old, but not young either. I’m in-between ages, and that itself is pretty significant when you think about it. I’m part of the generational middle-child group. I’m a child of the 80’s and 90’s. I was born in 1982. I grew up listening to Hair Metal, New Wave and Grunge, and somehow managed to almost completely miss the pop scene.
I have two older brothers, so I never was very girly. I was also a nerd. I play video games and listen to all genres of music. I crochet and I watch TV. I also have a wild imagination and understand how to entertain myself.
But one thing is for certain… I am part of THAT GENERATION.
You know, the one that was supposed to either make or break the world? I’m a child of the 80’s (and early 90’s). I love horror movies and bad one-liners and puns and cheesy music. I grew up reading Christopher Pike and R.L. Stine and Stephen King and Anne Rice. My favorite movie EVER is The Lost Boys. I’m one of those that is still in pursuit of happiness, that understands the meaning of the phrase “shit happens” and who first heard The Rainbow Connection when Jim Henson sang it as Kermit the Frog while sitting on a log in a swamp.
I remember when horror movies were scary and Saturday morning TV meant cartoons for six hours. I grew up in the back yard with my Dad building things and roasting marshmallows and hot dogs over bonfires. I went crabbing with my Mom and learned to cook by watching her feed the world. I was taught manners and respect, both for myself and for others. I was taught to treat everyone equally, to believe in a higher power, and to always say “thank you”. I spent more time than is healthy with my cousin Jamie (we’re five months apart, and she’s more like a sister) and we did everything together. We fought like cats and dogs, but siblings do that, you know.
We did things like attend Fourth of July fish fries in “the country” and ride our bicycles at top speed through the neighborhood. We used to get up with the sun in the summer and when our feet hit the grass we stayed outside until the street lights came on. We didn’t spend all day indoors watching TV and eating junk food. Our toys weren’t electronic. We played with each other and other kids. We climbed trees. We went to the playground to swing and play on the slide. We swam in lakes and ponds. We walked in the woods and picked ticks off our legs. We scraped our elbows and knees and stayed dirty. We made mud pies and trusted our neighbors and never, ever had to worry about war or thieves or being shot or stabbed.
Our dogs were our best friends. We chased frogs and hung lizards from our ears. We shucked corn and shelled beans on my parents’ front porch (and ate plenty of both while doing so), we ran around barefoot and skipped rocks and laid on our backs and stared up at the clouds for hours. We watched meteor showers and lunar eclipses. We shot fireworks on big holidays and had family dinners and woke up at 5AM on Christmas morning to see what Santa brought us.
And on Halloween, we dressed up in our creepiest costumes ever and went trick or treating around the neighborhood. Each one of us would carry a pillow case and by the time we got home we’d have enough candy to last a whole year. Then we’d eat it until we were sick and crawl into bed. Half the time we went to school the next day with most of our makeup still smeared around our eyes.
The word “Family” really meant something to us.
And I came from a big family. Each of my parents was one of twelve. I had lots of aunts and uncles and cousins. Still do. On my mother’s side alone there are 75 of us. My daughter is the 30th great-grandchild, and my oldest niece will soon bring the first great-great grandchild into the family. My grandmother is an Alzheimer’s patient in a nursing home, but she’s still with us. My Dad loved his family more than anything else in this world. He taught us all how to be the best we could possibly be. He led by example.
We ate dirt. We didn’t use hand sanitizer. We fought off ringworm and fleas and bug bites. We breathed exhaust fumes without thinking and ate dirty fruit and vegetables straight out of gardens and off trees. And you know what?
We turned out alright. Jamie and I both have children now, and we’re teaching them the same way we learned… by example.
It all sounds a little bit like a fantasy world, doesn’t it? Well, when I was a kid it was all true. Silly as it sounds, quaint and Rockwell-esque as it may seem, that’s what life was like when I was a kid. Not everybody had it so good, I know, but compared to kids today, we are the richest of generations because we knew how to live.