Pansy Pandemic

Okay, I don’t want to come off as a total curmudgeon here, but, kids today have it easy.

As I am learning, poor little HRH  here is ‘heat intolerant’, ‘noise intolerant’,  and just about every other ‘intolerant’  that one can think of (too bad she’s also not Caillou intolerant’ ).  I’m surprised we haven’t interred her in a sealed plastic bubble as of yet.  You know what we were intolerant of as kids?  Intolerance.  But in her defense, so is every other kid nowadays it seems.  So this got me thinking, if kids of today were to travel back in time to when I was young, I wonder how they would react to the way things were even just a few decades ago? They’d probably curl up into the fetal position and pray for sweet, merciful death to take them ASAP.  Intolerance was simply not allowed.  If it was hot out, our mothers stripped us down and banished us to the local public pool for the day.  And if anybody was ‘noise intolerant’,  it was those cantankerous neighborhood seniors we did our best to drive bat shit crazy; and rightly so.

That also got me to thinking about what else was different back when I was a child.  For example, entering a playground for a child today would be like walking into certain death since they have pretty much been wussied in every way possible since birth.  There was none of this plastic molded playground equipment with smooth, multicolored, gentle angles, in nice non-toxic spongy mulch to prevent possible scrapes and bruising. We had cold monkey bars anchored in cement which only in came in cold, unforgiving metallic gray.  It was not much different had we been playing in a scrapyard.  The closest we ever had to protection were those hard rubber coated tiles that were every bit as hard as the concrete, but it may limit your injury to a concussion instead of a full-on skull fracture. And we were LUCKY to have that stuff! More often than not, they just sprayed painted graffiti on the cracked concrete to give it that colorful, warm and inviting kid’s play area feel to it.  Also as it happens, that was the way we communicated with each other about the significant events of the time that affected our neighborhood; like ‘who-blew-who-where’, and who had the latest inflection of Cooties.  Oh, and ‘Splash Pads’?  Fugetaboutit!

“Moments later, little Pedro was rushed to the hospital and placed in traction as the result of multiple compound fractures to the head…”

The actual playground apparatuses themselves were even more foreboding when I was a kid, and playing on them was a bout as safe as playing Paddy-cake with Edward Scissorhands.  In my childhood, climbing into the Jungle Gym was like entering into a medieval torture chamber.  On the slides, you could be inflicted with third degree burns if ever you had the temerity to slide in shorts on a summer’s day.  You’d more than likely have to admit yourself into a burn clinic for skin grafts afterwards.  And how about the well-thought out physics that went into designing the ingenious Round-a-bout, or “Barf-mobile” as it was more aptly nicknamed?  Place kids on a single free-spinning axis point, and have them hold on for dear life as they are spun at mach 3 speeds until the massive built-up inertia hurls their bodies at incredible velocities so that they end up as splattered red stains against a a distant immoveable object…like a tree, or brick wall.  Remember the wooden swing sets?  Remember trying to launch yourself into orbit without ending up with splinters the size of hockey sticks lodged in your ass?

Oh, remember the kid back in the day that would show up at the playground wearing pads and a bicycle helmet?  They’d inevitably end up standing out from the other kids like John Merrick at a swimsuit contest. No one exactly flocked to be their friend, did they?   Hell, no!  We punched and kicked and bit one another as part of the natural establishing of the neighborhood pecking order. We just took our lumps and immediately jumped in line behind the Alpha bully of the pack for our crack at the next looser.

We were harder as kids back then and even though we had things tougher we just roughed it out and shook off the bumps, stitches, and broken collarbones and returned to the playground, business as usual. No lawsuits or nothing.  If you take into consideration all the safety improvements that kids have now, as opposed to those available to us in the 70’s and 80’s, then technically those of us over the age of 35 should have been killed off long ago like a Brontosaur with Immune Deficiency Syndrome.

Shit, even our baby cribs were covered with bright colored lead-based paint and the bars were separated wide and inviting enough to be one of those theme park photographic sets that you place your face into the hole. “Look daddy, I’m a crib death!”   We had no childproof lids on medicine bottles, doors or cabinets.  In fact, we probably used those same cupboards under the sink to hide in behind our mother’s Economy sized bottles of Bleach and Drain-o whenever we played ‘Hide n’ Seek’.  Remember drinking straight from the garden hose without fear of contracting a deadly strain of Eccoli bacteria?  Now, in order to simply share a bottle of coke with their friends, kids today have to undergo blood work and pass a standard HIV testBottled water was only to drink if absolutely necessary in crisis situations, like, 7th  Inning stretches and maybe nuclear Holocausts, not just handed out willy-nilly because it’s ‘hot’.

“Lost Sheep, this is Shepperd…you got yer ears on?”

We did not have Playstations, Gameboys, Nintendo 64, X-Boxes, Wii’s or God knows whatever other video gaming systems that happen to be popular today.  Nor did we have, like, a billion channels on the television, or DVD’s, TIVO, surround sound, cell phones, personal laptops, Tablets, or Internet chat rooms.  Oh no, we had to go out and find our own perverts and child molesters to take us out for ice cream, damn it!

We would spend hours building Go-carts out of old plumbing parts and then rode down them down the largest hill we could find at light speed.  Brakes were for sissies! We used trees and parked cars to stop our momentum.  Danger was just part of everyday life.  We made up games involving sticks and tennis balls that would inevitably leave welts big enough to make our bodies look like the relief map for the California Badlands.  And somehow we never managed to poke out any eyes; we left that for high school Biology class.

Little League had tryouts and not everybody made the cuts.  Those who didn’t make the team had to learn to deal with the humiliating shame and disappointment.  And there was none of that “everybody is a winner”  horseshit either.  Losers were mocked and ridiculed mercilessly by the victors.  Being a water boy was never cool unless you just liked to be hung from clothes hooks by your underwear while wearing athletic jockstraps on your face.

As a result, it seems to me sometimes that this generation has produced some of the best risk-takers and problem solvers and inventors, ever. We have just developed better and more evolved Immune systems to protect us.  Those of us who have survived these old school tribulations do not fear germs or infestations.  Hell, we can wipe our ass with our hands and then make ourselves a sandwich and not have to worry about contracting any communicable diseases.  We could digest pure Bubonic Plague and still manage to make it into work in the morning.  I fear that young adults now, who have had it relatively easy, will have to inevitably have to place themselves in quarantine every time someone sneezes within 15ft.

I see it now nearly every day with the new employees that are hired at my work place. They are the products of these spoiled, protected, and wussied generations of fashionably safe children. Before they have even so much as adjusted the settings on their cushy swivel desk chair, they’ve been rewarded for having successfully completed the basic training with a veritable treasure chest of company goodies. “Hey, welcome to the machine!”  Unfortunately, the next day they will inevitably call in sick because that same cushy swivel chair has caused them acute lower back pain or something.  No shit!  As for the rest of us, we’re not accustomed to having things as easy as these younger pansies and we know the value of an honest days work.  We don’t bring in notes from our chiropractors to qualify us to sit in proper special backbone aligning office chairs, and we don’t whine when there is no more flavored Creamer left in the cafeteria fridge for our coffee. We just rub some instant coffee crystals into our gums and flip over our garbage bins as a seat and get on with the daily grind of the work day with not so much as a second thought for our poor, crooked spinal columns.

So what does this have to do with HRH?  For starters, I see now that it’s going to be my job to toughen her up a little bit.  It’s 43° outside with the Humidex reading through the roof?  Time for a long bike ride, kid!  Fall down and get a boo-boo?  Let’s just rub some salt into it and poke it with a stick, shall we?  Suck it up and consider it as future ‘character building’.  You’re welcome.

God help me.

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1 Comment

  1. Mike

     /  September 8, 2012

    Growing up in Winnipeg i remember this awesome public playground called Adventure Playground. It was a large enclosed area that had plenty of scrap wood, metal, tires, carpet and such. There was a shed that you would go to where you would sign out various tools at no cost. Hammers, screwdrivers, etc…no power tools. You could also get nails, screws, nuts and bolts. You were free to take any of the scrap and make whatever you wanted out the the materials. Most made elaborate forts and clubhouses. I was no more than 10 yrs old and building two level forts. I’ve never seen anything like it since, nor would it be allowed no doubt.

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