I can’t believe how far the world has come with technology and social habits since I was a little kid myself. It’s crazy, really. Mobile phones used to be the size of bricks and only fancy business people had them. The internet was not all that exciting, except for the thrill of giggling with your 14 year old friends as you snuck into chatrooms your parents would be having a heart attack over if they knew. Computer games had graphics with square pixels the size of small countries and if you wanted to listen to music you had to use a cassette player, rewinding and fast forwarding until you could listen to your favourite song over and over and over and over. Heaven forbid if the tape got worn out and started scrunching up in the player. You’d have to save up all your pocket money to replace it…then leave your house to go to the shops where you’d buy it!
I sound like I’m about 100 years old (and yes sometimes I do feel it when I’ve had one too many sleepless nights), but I’m only 28. It’s crazy how fast the world is moving these days.
I hope that I’ll be able to be one of the kind of/sort of cool mums that isn’t too embarrassing, but just embarrassing enough that I fulfil my duty as a parent. It just wouldn’t be a childhood if your mum didn’t embarrass you just a little bit, right? I like to think that I’ll probably keep up enough to know what music my kids are listening to (although that whole Call Me Maybe/One Direction thing has thrown me so maybe I’m not that cool), get a feel for what television shows they’ll be watching and keep an eye on the movies they might try to sneak into before they’re old enough. I also hope I’ll be able to still use the internet and be proficient at using the iPhone 15 by the time it is released (seriously – so gonna happen).
In saying that, I think I’ll be a bit old school. Some of my values just won’t be changing easily. Which will make me soooo unpopular. I might look back on this in 13 years and realise I was being ridiculously idealistic, but I hope I’ll stay true to my vision of my parenting future.
“Go outside and use your damn imagination!”
I want my kids to play make believe. I want them to run around pretending to be characters from their favourite kids shows (the original fan fiction) and make their own props and costumes out of old clothes and bits of garden junk. I don’t want to be afraid that if they hang out in the yard they’ll make a mess or stab themselves with something or catch some kind of dirt related disease. When I was a kid, I ran around like a crazy person digging holes (my parents lived on an acreage so it was allowed), building things out of sticks and branches and getting physically active (I sound like Huckleberry Finn or something). I didn’t rely on video games, the latest gadgets or the “real” toy shop merchandise to dress me up as my heroes/make believe characters. I would scrape my knees falling off my bicycle and while I was protected and cared for, I was never wrapped in cotton wool. I know times have changed and we’re far more aware of evil predators and various illnesses and while I will adapt to the times, I like to think my kids will have a bit of freedom to explore their independence and stay socially active (IRL that is).
“Turn that off when we’re eating dinner and look at me when I speak to you!”
Yep. I’m gonna be a stickler for manners. No kid of mine is going to get away with staring past me at a screen while I talk to them about something important. They’re not going to be texting or tweeting while we’re eating dinner or spending quality time together (if it detracts from what we’re doing) either. There’s a time and place! I want my kids to live in the moment – not miss it all because they’re staring at someone else’s moment on the television or online. I want them to look back when they’re my age and remember a real childhood. I want them to grow up to treat their work colleagues, friends and romantic partners with the same respect. It starts at home is the saying, right? I don’t want simple social etiquette to fly out the window just because we’re living in an increasingly technological world.
“You want it? You earn it or you can wait until your birthday or Christmas!”
I remember when my brother and I were kids, there would always be a new games console on the market or some kind of toy/clothing/book that we wanted. OK, so books my parents were a bit more relaxed – educational and all that. Anyhow, we knew that if we wanted it we had to beg for it for Christmas or our next birthdays (whichever came first). We’d get impatient and probably annoy our parents every so often as we tried our luck at getting something earlier, but we knew what was expected. We had to negotiate with extra chores, save up our meagre pocket money allowance or even “get a loan” and then pay off what we received in advance with chores afterwards (and no more gifts until our debt was cleared). Now, I see the latest gadget and everyone’s uncool if they don’t have it RIGHT THEN AND THERE. Damn consumerist society. I don’t remember it being so bad 20 years ago. God, 20 years ago. Makes me sound like a bloody dinosaur.
All of this, while frustrating at the time, has made me a better person and as an adult I thank my parents for taking this unpopular approach. Yes, Mum and Dad. You were right. Yep. I said it. I now know how to be patient. I don’t believe I walk around this planet with an over the top sense of entitlement. I appreciate what I have and I don’t buy what I can’t afford. Take that, Generation Y haters!
I hope my kids will learn the same lessons. Either that or they’ll steal my credit card while I’m sleeping…
“I’m sorry, but you’re going to have a childhood.”
Look, I was the worst for this when I was a kid. I wanted to be a grown up, not having a clue that one day I would be a grown up and wish I was a kid again! I would watch M15+ movies at my friends’ houses (where my mum didn’t have her ever-watchful eye on me). I would stay up late with a childhood friend/partner in crime who will remain nameless so we could titter away at dodgy SBS channel movies on weekend sleepovers (I have some vague memory of some naked wood nymphs dancing in front of a bonfire under a full moon – on the television, not in real life). I wanted to wear make-up and act like a teen when I was really just a tween. I would swear a lot (as long as my parents or school teachers weren’t in ear shot). I would get all boy crazy and be deluded enough that I would be mature enough for a “relationship”…which luckily for my parents was never tested because I was always in the “friend zone”.
Basically, I know that a few misdemeanors will get past my vigilant parenting attempts, but when possible I won’t be letting my children watch adult television shows they shouldn’t be able to understand. I won’t be letting them dress like mini adults when they’re just kids. I will not expose them to my adult problems unless completely necessary and even then, age appropriate explanations will be given. I won’t be allowing them unlimited internet browsing time without permission or supervision. I will encourage them to focus on having fun and being as carefree as possible (while still fostering a sense of responsibility to themselves and others) while they still can. Kids just know too damn much these days. There are 8 year olds who want to dress like Kim Kardashian/Lady GaGa/Nicki Minaj/Snooki, sing along to sexually explicit songs while dancing in a way that would even get a grown up in trouble! I know I was kind of headed down that road (even though I had NO IDEA what “going down on someone in a theatre” meant when Alanis Morrisette warbled about it in the 90s), but if it wasn’t for my parents fiercely protecting my innocence and my right to enjoy a childhood, I don’t know that I would enjoy adulthood now half as much. I would have been jaded and washed out by the age of 15! Parents can’t control every influence their kids are exposed to, but they can be the main influence – that safe place to come back to for good guidance. I hope I can be that in this ever increasingly adultified world (yes I made a word up).
Um…also? We’ve all seen what can happen if we don’t…
Pic: I rest my case.
I will probably also spend all my time telling my offspring all about my youth, boring them senseless…
“Back in my day…”
We didn’t have Google! We had to go to the bookshelf and use an encylopaedia set to find out information for school assignments. I’ll explain what that is some other time.
We had to press a bunch of buttons on our mobile phones to call someone and text messaging was a newfangled concept which involved pressing numbers several times until we got to the letter we needed to use. We would then repeat this process until we had a whole word…and then another one…and so on. Texting could take hours.
Books were made out of paper.
Justin Bieber and One Direction (or whoever the new teen sensations will be) weren’t even born yet.
All the movies and television shows you enjoy were once actually other movies and television shows that have been remade. ALL OF THEM.
There were lots of children’s television characters that didn’t wear pants, hung about with small children and no-one cared.
There was this thing called MySpace…
So now that I’ve convinced you that I am in fact an 80 year old in a 28 year old’s body, I will leave you with that.
What’s your take on this?