A lot has changed since I was a child.
Well, it was a long time ago, so it’s to be expected I suppose. I grew up in the 80’s the days of frizzy hair, lace gloves and jelly bags. They were good days but everyone’s childhood should be filled with memories of good days. Your childhood is your time, they will be the fondest memories you have as you grow old, hopefully.
School days spent talking pop idols, choosing your favourite band member and defacing your school books with I ❤ John Taylor. Smoking was very fashionable as was glue sniffing, not that I partook in the latter it just didn’t seem very glamorous to me. Sitting in abandoned garages, of which there were plenty, sticking your head in a plastic bag.
The days of having to go and knock for your friends if you wanted to see them or even speak to them. Mobile phones, although the idea was out there, were not considered entirely mobile. It is weird to think that car phones/mobile and even the internet were all born of the 80’s, they seem like such a new thing even now, despite being readily available to everyone. Not a luxury anymore, more of a right.
In the 80’s anything seemed possible and everything was big.
Hair was big, clothes were big, computers were ginormous, everything was booming. It was becoming possible to see more of the world by way of television. Television of course had been around for a while but in the 80’s TV seemed to become more youth orientated.
MTV was a revelation and music videos were my first love. Oh how I wanted to star in a music video, to be aboard that yacht with Duran Duran, draped over the rails in a lime green swimsuit, my sun-in soaked hair blowing in the breeze.
At the time, as with most children I suppose, you barely appreciate the freedom, lack of responsibility and the joy of just being footloose and fancy-free.
As I grow up I realise how similar I am to own Mother and by reflection as Elsie grows I can see how similar she is to me. I see things in her that I can remember in myself as a girl her age, her obsession with stationary for example, her loyalty and her love of music.
Tom is at present more like his father, I am not sure if this is just because he is a boy and he has his father’s devil-may-care attitude but there are definitely similarities, some of which I am not keen on, it has to be said. He is though a sensitive and loving boy most of the time although he has a temper, the like of which will be difficult to manage when he is an adult.
Believe it or not I was a very sensible teen, I had a boyfriend for most of it, which rather than lead me astray kept me actually very sensible. At the moment both Tom and Elsie seem to be going the same way, although boyfriends seems to be a long way off for Elsie but on the whole I have no real complaints about their behaviour.
People have very conflicting ideas these days about how children should be raised but overall we all raise our children loosely based on how we were raised, or at least I do.
I didn’t have a lot of freedom to come and go as a child, despite living in a fairly safe, working class area of a fairly large town. There were rules to follow, place I could go and couldn’t go, I had a curfew for which the cost of breaking it far outweighed the pleasure of having an extra few minutes at the end of the evening. Generally I stuck to the rules.
Growing up my own Mum was the heart of the family, what she said went. She ruled the house with a my house my rules phrase that has stuck with me all these years later. We were under no illusion that Mum was in charge and even though Dad was very clearly the head of the family he left all the ‘child related issues’ to my Mum, on the rare occasion Mum would say “you had better ask your father”, he in turn would say “What did your Mum say?”
In those days it was usually Mum who was the backbone of the family, while Dad silently protects and is for all intents and purposes the hunter gatherer it is Mum who deals with the everyday. The endless stream of things to do, the school stuff, the friend issues, the playground politics, the food and meals, housekeeping, the diaries and timekeeping, the emotional stuff. For the most part not much has changed.
I use the same system for Tom and Elsie that my Mum used for us. You can go out and see your friends, have fun, mess about and be kids but there are rules, break them and you will punished.
Tom seems to be the one testing it as he is the more adventurous by far. Elsie is still, at present content to play it safe with her crew, the crew she has been in for probably far too long now. Tom is still playing fast and loose with anyone, he has mates but they change depending on the activity and the day, he is happy to swap from one group to another, girls or boys, he has no preference as long as he is gadding about somewhere.
I do worry about them when they are not with me, of course I do but I worry more about their behaviour than I do about anything happening to them. As parents we all know the dangers and we all know the risks but you have to let your child learn that those risks will always be there, it is up to them to make informed decisions and choices and they do that with the knowledge that should they make the wrong decision there will be consequences but more than that, there will be hell to pay when I find out.
I got in to scraps as a kid and did some truly stupid stuff, as we all do, mostly stuff that hurt myself not anyone else, like riding down a steep hill on a bike with no brakes, narrowly avoiding being run over. I’m not sure what hurt the most the gravel rash on my legs or the hiding my Nan gave me when I finally got to her house but mostly we just got up to mischief, writing in places we shouldn’t, bunking off school, stealing the pic ‘n’ mix from Woolworth’s, trying to make fires in the park, annoying people with the music from our ghetto blaster (remember those), another thing that was far bigger than probably necessary and just generally being noisy, irritating kids.
Growing up my childhood wasn’t perfect, nothing is perfect but it was as I remember it a happy mostly carefree time. I look back on it with a smile and that is what I hope my kids will do.
Things can be harder now for kids, the divide between the haves and have-nots are still there but less easy to forget about than they once were. School life is now a 24/7 thing as home life is overrun with social media and constant infringement from outside.
We wanted all these things and we got them along with trying to find a balance between living in the now and trying to retain some of the simpler things from the past.
We couldn’t live without the internet now, gone are the days of traipsing to library to study for your exams and that is not a bad thing but swimming with your friends in the creek or going to the travelling fair and being spun around on the waltzers until your head spins, those are the things you will remember.
I loved growing up in the 80’s, the music, the movies, everything big and garish, the freedom, the ra-ra skirts and the blue mascara.
My two will grow up in the teens the decade of eyebrows, Trump and… Ummm… I’m struggling for a third.
I know, I’m biased nothing will ever beat the 80’s it was my time but then I suppose everyone thinks that about the decade they grew up in.