By Cindy Phillips posted Jan 10, 2013
My granddaughter was born yesterday. Seven pounds and seven ounces of precious life. It was an exciting event and a dozen of us paced the hospital waiting room in wait. As much as I longed to see that baby, I first wanted to see my daughter to be sure she was ok. I was able to go to the recovery room once she was settled. I hugged her, kissed her, congratulated her and wept. Then her dad came in to do the same.
I already have a grandson who is two and a half. I watch in amazement as my child raises her child – I find it very rewarding that she uses some of the same principles with which she was raised. He already understands the concept of “please” and “thank you.” His daddy’s Southern traditions are also fortified as he is now learning to say “Yes, Ma’am” and “No, Sir.”
Many parents today utilize modern child-rearing techniques – and I use the term loosely. Discipline is viewed as a negative impact on self-esteem. Really? And the extremes of “protecting” the child include complete non-exposure to germs. Ummm, so how do they build up any antibodies? When my granddaughter was introduced to us at the tender age of one hour, we all washed our hands thoroughly and didn’t get too close to her face. But no one was asked to don a mask or be properly sterilized before entering the room.
How did we survive our own Boomer childhoods? The only times I recall seeing a doctor were once a year right before school started. I believe the school required confirmation of an annual physical and immunizations. I remember having chicken pox and the mumps, and we think I had German measles based on the diagnosis of our neighbor who had five children of her own. My mother gave me a chewable vitamin each morning that tasted orange and if I complained of feeling sick, I got one St. Joseph’s Aspirin for Children.
Play time, as I look back now, was probably an accident waiting to happen. But somehow it rarely did. We all rode our bicycles sans helmets and we rode them in the street. You watched over your should for cars and rode up someone’s driveway if a one approached. Hopscotch, stick ball, kick ball and dodge ball were also all played in the street. Again, if a vehicle turned onto the street, someone would yell “car” and we parted like the sea for Moses until it passed.
Of course there was the occasional injury that usually manifested as a skinned knee, a finger cut, a scrape from a thorny rose bush or a stubbed toe. These resulted from too much rough-housing and were said to be a punishment from God for not paying better attention to what we were doing. The antidote was always the same – a band-aid. Some injuries were more severe than others, but mom simply did triage and then chose the properly-sized band-aid. No home on the block was ever without a box of band-aids in the medicine cabinet. If there was fear the injury could become infected, it was tinged with Mercurochrome prior to the application of the band-aid.
We Boomers, for the most part, grew up unscathed by childhood injuries and germs. We learned to shake it off and be tough. A kiss and hug made most pain subside. The bonus plan was a band-aid sporting the replica of a super hero or cartoon character such as Superman or Yogi Bear. If one kid on the block came down with chicken pox, the mothers sent all the other kids to play and be exposed so it would pass quickly through the neighborhood. The only time I remember being sequestered was if I got a cold. So long as I was sneezing, I was contagious and kept inside. I hated not being able to play, but it did usually elicit a big pot of homemade chicken soup which made it easier to bear. Ginger Ale was administered for a stomach ailment.
Today’s medicine cabinets are stocked with antibiotics, sanitizers, vitamins, antiseptics, several kinds of pain relievers, cough medicines, decongestants, and myriad prescription bottles. An injury drawing blood often results in a trip to the emergency room or urgent care clinic. Kids learn quickly that an injury of any magnitude might attract an overabundance of attention and sometimes even a new toy as a reward for being a big boy or a big girl.
On Christmas morning, we all sat in front of the tree watching my grandson find the gifts left by Santa. In his excitement, he took a little tumble and his bottom hit a rigid piece of plastic. We all knew it smarted and he started to fuss. Without missing a beat, both his parents told him to “shake it off.” Within seconds, he was back to his toys – crisis averted. Looks like we raised them right. Now if we could still buy Mercurochrome we’d be all set.