When I had my first baby, my mother acted as if she had been personally appointed by the Sock and Hat Commission to make sure my newborn’s feet and head were covered at all times. “She’s fine, Mom,” I’d say as she replaced a fallen sock for the 9800th time. It was like she had a fear that her grandchild would come down with a life threatening disease if her flesh was exposed to natural air.
As my kids grow up, she is still the grandma who hovers over them in the playground and looks at me sideways when they climb higher than she is comfortable. My stepdad is even worse. He’ll freak out if a knife or a hot stove is even in the same room as my kids. “Watch their fingers!” he’ll yell across the room while I cut strawberries a good ten feet away from them. “I see them,” I insist. “We’re good.”
Meanwhile, these are the same people who let us run wild as children. I’d ride my bicycle to my friend’s house, with no word on when I was coming back. There were major roads involved! We’d walk through the woods and nobody checked us after for tics. It’s more than the supervision that was virtually non-existent, even supervised outings were questionable. I’m not talking about modern day concerns like high fructose corn syrup and chemicals in plastic. I’m talking about seatbelt and car seat laws. Apparently, back in the 70s, when I was a baby, car seats were an optional thing. My own mother can’t even remember if she used one!
I also remember riding next to my mother in the front seat and can’t even imagine how old my daughters would have to be before this acceptable. Or legal. And I vaguely remember a friend of mine whose parents had a car where an additional child could ride up front in the middle. I always wanted that seat!
Compare this to an incident I experienced over the summer, when I was stopped by a police officer for taking my 4yo out on a tricycle without a helmet. It was a radio flyer with a long handle attached so that parents could push in the back. Basically a stroller built to fool toddlers into thinking they are riding a bike. And I was in a residential neighborhood right outside my house! He let me off with a warning, thank god.
Obviously, the rules and regulations that went into place since the 70s and 80s have been for good reason and because of very real accidents, but hopefully the lesson here is that we can all relax a bit and our kids will still probably turn out okay.
Grandmas everywhere— lay off with the socks, okay?
Here are 57 things our parents let us do that would get them tossed in jail today:
1) They let us ride bikes without helmets
2) They left us in playpens they put together without reading the instructions
3) They incorporated cocktails at a bar in their basement into our bedtime routine
4) They used a Heineken box as a baby carrier
5) They thought a middle hump and a seatbelt around the elbow was all the car safety we needed
6) They called this a car seat
7) They attached our car seats with rope
8) They threw those “car seats” in the front seat
9) They balanced our carseat on the back of a tractor and let our older sister drive it
10) They thought four kids hanging out the back window of a station wagon was a great idea
11) They let us take a nap above the seat in the back car window
12) They let Uncle Steve drive us around on the back of his Harley
13) They put us in bouncy seats on top of the stove
14) They let us cook while sitting on top of the stove barefoot without a potholder in sight
15) They helped us drink beer from a mug
16) They helped us drink beer from a can
17) They helped us drink beer straight from the bottle (presumably as a rite of passage at our first birthday party)
18) They congratulated themselves when we learned to drink beer all on our own
19) They let us unwind by ourselves after a rough day at school
20) They propped our bottles with pillows so they wouldn’t actually have to hold us
21) They filled our bottles with apple juice
22) They started us on orange juice at four weeks
23) They thought introducing solids meant a slice of pizza
25) They took us to parties at the playboy mansion
26) They let us ride killer whales because it was a major crowd pleaser
27) They stuck us in a cage with a bear and made us give it a hug
28) They told us to stand behind a lion for a photo op
29) They put a garbage bag in a Miller box and called it a pool
30) They turned their backs to us while we drank beer on the edge of a rocky cliff
31) They thought a PBR box hat would help cushion the fall from our metal stroller
32) They didn’t use bouncer straps correctly
33) They let us dive head first into one foot of water
34) They let us go paragliding in a chute that was clearly ten sizes too big
35) They redesigned the basement to be the perfect watering hole for preschoolers
36) They were not concerned about second hand smoke
37) They thought smoking from pipe was fine as long as it was supervised
38) They balanced our birthday cakes on a six pack of Coors
39) They sent us out in the lake by ourselves on a raft that wasn’t fully inflated (no life vest either)
40) They thought attaching a sled to a motorcycle by a long rope in a heavily wooded area was an acceptable winter activity
41) They sent us into alligator infested swamps with nothing but a tube and a paddle
42) They carted our high chairs around the house with a dolly
43) They stuffed our play pens with bears large enough to suffocate us
44) They filled our cribs with every flammable object imaginable
45) They trapped us in walkers on wheels and let us loose in split level homes
46) They let our older siblings drag us from their bicycles by a long rope down a main road
47) They let us build our own soapbox cars and then pushed it down a hill with no regard for oncoming traffic
48) They used us to improve their television reception
49) They passed out drunk while holding us
50) They thought three was old enough to shoot a gun
51) They thought the perfect place for their gun rack was hanging above the crib
52) They put their liquor on the kitchen counter with a handy step stool to make sure it was easily accessible
53) They told us to “smile for the marijuana!”
54) They let us use a pack of cigarettes as a teether
55) They let us take a nap in the front seat next to a shotgun and a dead bird
56) They got us drunk so they’d have free entertainment at their lawn parties
Seriously— how the hell are we all alive and well today??? Luck, I think. Pure luck. That, and probably our parents did a few things right. Like hug us every now and then and make sure we didn’t starve.
Thanks, Mom and Dad!