As I hunker down in the bliss of middle age, there is one thing that has become extremely clear to me: I am very lucky to be alive. I have been babysitting my grandkids fairly regularly lately and though I figured that I was pretty good at mothering, it's a lot different now. I grew up in dangerous times and didn't even realize it until I became a grandmother. I raised my own children like I was raised. I thought my parents did a pretty good job with me, so I carried on their work with a few upgrades.
As I was strapping my 2 1/2 year old granddaughter into her car seat the other day, it all hit me as to how lucky I was to be walking this earth. I am pretty sure I didn't have a car seat or even seat belts when I was young. Oh, I take that back. I did have a seat belt. It was called Mom. When she had to hit the brakes suddenly, she would throw her extended arm across me to keep me from being hurled into the air. I don't think that kind of protection would prove effective in today's crash tests, but I am still here to tell the story.
When my grandson rides his bike or his scooter, he wears knee pads and a helmet. When I look back, I rode a bike and roller skated on the city streets without any kind of head gear or padding, I am astonished that I made it to this age. My younger sister skated too and she wasn't as good as I was and was prone to falling down pretty often. Obviously, Mom was ahead of her time in the field of childhood safety, because even though she never thought about protecting my sister's head, she started belting a bed pillow to sister's back side when we went outside to skate down the sidewalks. The pillow trick worked really well because my sister's butt was unharmed and is flourishing to this day.
Come to think about it, I am closer to being a senior citizen than a debutante, so how did I escape death when I grew up on white bread? I even ate Velveeta and Spam and I am here to talk about it. I don't eat it anymore, but I can assure you that in my youth I had my fill of gluten and trans fat. I am pretty sure that an Omega 3 oil never crossed my tongue as a kid unless it was found in fish sticks. Growing up, the closest I ever came to eating organic was when I decided to taste one of the mud pies I had created in the yard.
Thank goodness my brain was never corrupted from watching television in my early years. Although there was no such thing as Parental Control to block me from watching unfit things, there weren't actually a lot of unfit things on TV back then. How much trouble could Gilligan really get into to that I would need to be shielded from?
It's a miracle that I lived to be this old because I was spanked within an inch of my life for misbehaving. Kids today are not spanked or slapped anymore. Even if they try to touch something dangerous or run into the street, corporal punishment is considered wrong. Now parents discuss the wrong-doing with the child and make contractual agreements with 5 year olds about the consequences if the infraction should ever occur again. I was slapped on occasion, spanked from time to time and otherwise punished in addition to being put in solitary confinement to think about what I'd done. How did I ever escape childhood relatively unscathed?
And to think I played with cap guns, and pogo sticks and jump ropes. I could have been burned or impaled or strangled for goodness sake! I faced so much danger and yet... I made it.
I had mumps and measles and chicken pox and, except for the permanent little hole in my forehead from that spot I couldn't stop scratching, I came through all of it.
I feel very fortunate to have lived through so much despite the fact that I didn't have anything to keep me safe and healthy. I am one lucky lady.
Miss Fifi has yet another gift to be thankful for in this life... The privilege of getting older.