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Ever feel like you are just constantly messing up this whole parenting thing? Not just because you are walking in a minefield of your child’s emotions. Seriously, some days I feel like I am actually tiptoeing through a minefield that can be set off for something as simple as peeling a banana in an undesired way. But, it’s more than that.
As a mom of three little kids, I am constantly bombarded with so many warnings about, well, everything. I mean, have you been on the internet lately? There is a website that can shame you for practically anything when it comes to parenting these days. Watch your kids every moment in case they fall, no you watch your kids too much, stop hovering, you’re a helicopter parent. You say no too much, try using a more positive word. Oh you have to start saying no to your kids, they need healthy boundaries. Feed your kids organic food, wash their hands, but not with antibacterial soap, don’t let them drink juice, and for the love of God, do not under any circumstance, use anything with MSG.
For a while I got so caught up in all of these rules and keeping my kids as safe and as healthy as possible. However, it does dawn on me, that with all these rules we have for our kids now, where were they when we were little. You know this is true. Us “xenials,” that is what they are calling our “kind.” I’m starting to suspect that science needed to define us as the generation of lab rats.
We came of age in the time where technology was making major advances and manufacturing in the food industry was transitioning from a focus on natural ingredients to a focus on efficiency and bulk. As a result, we were the guinea pigs, the ones that tried out all of these “advances” with hopes that we wouldn’t just drop dead.
I mean, really think about this. I want to say that throughout my entire childhood I probably consumed MSG on everything. I bet there was a bottle of MSG in my house that my mom would sprinkle on things, just so that it would taste good.
I would say “Mom this chicken is a little bland.”
“Oh sorry honey, just grab the MSG from the cupboard. Delicious.”
McDonald’s in my house was not a special treat, it was the norm. We had McDonald’s sometimes just because we were driving down the street and saw the golden arches and said, “oh let’s just stop and get a happy meal.” “Why not?” People would absolutely mom shame you now if they knew how often you feed your kids McDonald’s and now it’s at least somewhat real food. When our parents were feeding us Mickey D’s, it was barely regulated, the chicken nuggets were not chicken and the burgers were sort of meat and heavy on the ammonium hydroxide [you should be picturing this back then there was pink slime too, it just went in our food].
When this article came out recently about Yellow dye in the Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, I shuddered at the thought of what our Mac n Cheese was probably made from. That big blue box was a staple in my house, I even had a song for it “Macaroni and Cheese, Macaroni and Cheese..” that’s all I remember but you get the point, I LOVED Mac n Cheese night, which was almost every other night, when we weren’t eating McDonald’s ofcourse. If it’s still being regulated for having artificial coloring and inorganic ingredients can you just imagine what we used to shovel into our mouths back then.
When we go to birthday parties now, and my kids are like “Mommy mommy can I have apple juice?” Sometimes I answer “NO! You just had apple juice this morning.” Do you want to know why? Because that’s so much sugar and kids can’t be ingesting too much sugar. [Who am I?]
When I was their age I was drinking Coke, Sunkist, Sprite, and Mountain Dew (honestly just thinking about Mountain Dew makes my insides hurt). Have you seen that video where someone uses Coke to get rid of corrosion on a car, well you can see that here. Well if that doesn’t make you sleep better at night, I’m not sure what will.
How about safety? Today my kids get into the car, and I will not drive a single inch without making sure seat belts are on and that they are on correctly. Things were much more, how would you say, lax, back then. I can’t think of a single time my mom asked me to put my seatbelt on. Every car ride was like a game of roulette. The backseat was a single bench, maybe there were seatbelts, maybe there weren’t. It didn’t matter.
We were living life on the edge. Nowadays kids can’t sit in the front seat until they are 13. 13! I had been sitting in the front seat for 6 years at this point. You remember when you were 7. Were you sitting in a booster? Let me answer that for you, no, no you were not.
Every time I have purchased a scooter for my kids, I have also bought a helmet. If I am being super super honest it’s not a hard line rule in our house. However the thought is there. I’m also pretty sure if I ever teach my kids to ride a bike (apartment living makes this hard and I get it- OK! I will show my almost 8 year old to ride soon), helmets would be mandatory. I see so many kids at the park riding with helmets. I didn’t even own one. It wasn’t even a word that came out of my parent’s mouths. Helmet? For what? Take your bike play outside for a while and be home by dinner time.
Remember the first day you had a computer lab in your school? This was awesome. It was hands down one of my favorite times of the week. We would walk into a room with about 10-15 huge beige blocks, the first Apple. The black screen with the green cursor, and we were blown away. Skip over some years and games started to come into the picture. Right now, I want you to think about how vigilant you are today with what your kid is watching on the iPad or what games they are playing.
Now I want you to remember that at the age of 7-8 you were playing The Oregon Trail. Think about this, you were playing a savage game of Oregon Trail where you had to barter and hunt and hope your entire family wouldn’t die of dysentery, typhoid fever or starvation. Every time I had to hunt, and I kept missing those super slow buffalos and had to settle for a rabbit, my daughter inevitably died of starvation.
It was a cruel horrible lesson to teach 7 year olds. It’s no wonder we were so excited to play Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego. Being an international super spy was way less pressure than trying to make it through the maze of death that was the Oregon Trail.
Speaking of screening what your kid watches on the iPad, I make sure what they are watching has some sort of educational value. We use Commonsense Media to make sure the show has some of benefit. Don’t’ get me wrong, my kids watch a shit ton of television. I just try to monitor and make sure that it isn’t mind numbing crap, you know like we watched.
The other day I was driving on the expressway with my kids and we saw some neanderthal roll down his window and throw a paper out of his car. I felt so much motherly pride when my kids began to shout “Hey that guy is littering! Booo!” I got so caught up in the emotion of it that we put our windows down and shamed him. Then I realized, I was that guy.
This may be a Miami thing, and I also want you to remember how I just told you that I shamed a guy for littering recently. But when I was a kid that was just where the trash went. Remember how we would stop for McDonald’s on the regular, well when we were done the wrappers went out the window. No questions asked, that’s just where they went. Honestly the Captain Planet kids sort of offended me. I felt like I was being attacked. I didn’t really understand. Forgive me guys. I’m on your side now. Littering is bad. I was a child. Get off my back.
I make fun of my mom all the time for unknowingly trying to kill me growing up. Even with the MSG, no seat belts and helmets, and lack of supervision I still look back at my childhood and smile and laugh at all the amazing things we had. Like playing neighborhood games of hide and seek, riding my bike pretty much anywhere I needed to go, and slip and sliding in my underwear in front of my Abuela’s house. Plus the music, TV and movies were simply epic
[we will dive into this another day].
It was a simpler time, which is maybe why our parents were so much more lax than we are now. I hope one day my kids look back at this time, and besides pointing out all the ways we are maybe trying to kill them feel the same warm nostalgia I feel towards the 90’s. Hey, if we can survive the 90’s and turn out just fine, then I think we can take it a little easier on ourselves and know that our kids are going to turn out alright.
Mom, if you read this all the way through, I love you. I know my kids are going to think the same thing about me when they grow up.
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