Some days.... some days are harder than others.
Most day's lack any kind of cool.... for sure.
I don't think I'm alone in this, but I don't feel old. Sure, sure... I can look in the mirror and see the grey hair and the laughter lines... but in my *mind* - I'm not sure I'm much older than may be 11 or 17?
I look at the date and I'm confused.... 2015? I could swear that by now we'd be wearing clothes that changed color on their own, we'd have robotic maids that prepared all our meals and be traveling in flying cars....
Society and social advancement is falling woefully short of my 9 year old fantasies of what "being old" would mean.
We were cool.
Well... cool for a couple of 9 year olds circa 1985.
Angie, Mary, Amy and I would ride our bikes around for hours and hours.
We would head down to Bear Creek and wade in the water. Sometimes we would ride, one hand on the handle-bars and one arm laced through the center of a giant inner tube... and we'd just float down the creek and walk back up... and then ride home.
In the summer we would chase the ice-cream man and scarf down ice-cream sandwiches, or a Trumpette or a Rainbow Rocket.
Most days we would start out Angie's house and then to go to Mary's and then (if we were soooooo daring) we would ride our bikes all the way to the other side of the grade school to where Geoff XXXXXXX lived in the hopes that he might be outside and we could gawk at his coolness.
That kid was hot.... seriously. H.O.T.
But almost everyday... you would see us riding around our neighbourhood, past Shane Shaeffers house, playing cards flapping and arms folded across our chests .... "look MOM: no hands!!!!....."
Because we were cool like that.
Some days we sat around Susan's house listening to Motley Crue or playing "school" with her life size home-made Leif Garrett doll. For the record... some of us may or may not have learned to "kiss" a boy by molesting that poor, floppy, stripped shirt doll..... just sayin.
Some days we were all piled into Cheryl's Mom's VW camper van, the kind with the pop-up roof, where we'd pretend we were a family going camping... just piled into that van and playing for hours and hours. No one was worried about anyone suffocating in a closed up vehicle or whether or not a parking brake was on... no one.
Almost every day we rode past Mr. & Mrs. Schilling's where we all dumped our bikes on their front lawn, knocked on the door to say hello and collected our free cookies that the Schilling's always seemed to have on hand. My parents never went and met The Schillings.
We were getting FREE COOKIES from TOTAL STRANGERS.... and yet: no one died.
No one got sick.
And every single day, this lovely old couple would get visited by a gaggle of little girls who told funny stories and were polite and scarfed-up cookies......
It sounds utterly un-safe and yet.... perfect all at the same time.
It was somewhere between The Goonies and Stand By Me... only sans a super hot Keifer Sutherland chasing us or robbers and pirate ships. But, we were young and wild and free.....
And by wild, I mean to say that none of us wore, let alone owned, a helmet of any kind.
And by free, I mean to say that the only "rules" we had were to be home before dark.
Carefree days of childhood look ... almost unrecognizable to me these days.
I can't trust that my children are safe just playing on their own in the front yard without an adult sitting out their watching them.... let alone let them ride around a two or three mile radius on their bikes. Sh*t... I don't let them the ride past the house three doors down without making them turn around and come right back.
Frankly, I don't even know the names of any of the kids in my neighbourhood and .... The Boy and The Girl don't either because they never play outside after school.
Gah.... 9 year old me would be sooooo disappointed in the kind of Mother I am.
Instead, these day's I'm more pre-occupied with the scores of homework they have to do (common core for the win: not), or after-school gymnastics, or choir practice for The Boy. There is so much pressure on them and on me.... honestly - too much pressure.
Benchmarks and testing and scores galore... that's what school and childhood have become.
Finely tuned and planned play-dates are the only "adventures" the kids have... isn't that sad?
Goonies might never say die.... but it doesn't feel like there *are* Goonies anymore.... Instead, everyone is stuck in their house doing yet more reading and trying to figure out a common core Math problem that is so convoluted and ass-backwards that Pythagoras himself wouldn't be able to solve basic fourth-grade Math homework these days.
My kids are not wild or free....
I worry about this... .and frankly: we should ALL be worried about this.
Bill Gates and Steve Jobs and Einstein... they didn't have mother's with flash cards in their faces from birth and highly structure pre-schools and daily tests that start in third grade monitoring their "progress"... and yet: they turned out pretty f*cking smart.
We no longer learn how to solve our own problems, because now we have 'zero-tolerance' policies and parents who have meetings with principles because some girl chased down our son on the playground and kissed him on the cheek.
KISSED HIM ON THE CHEEK: that's sexual harassment you know.
When I was a kid there was this girl Laura and she... she was a bully. She had a horrible bowl cut (clearly her Mother didn't like her very much) - and she was just plain mean.... one day she hit me and pushed me off my bike. That night I re-told the story, bruised pride and arm on display, and The Papa showed me how to "box" her ear and said that the next time she went to hit me, to strike out and box her ear first and that would solve the problem.
Not too many wild, bike riding days later.... Little Bowl Cut Bully Laura ran home with her left ear ringing and a headache.
And that.... was that.
Cool for 9 year olds these day's looks a little different....
Now there are programs in schools to encourage being kind and caring and a 'good citizen'.... ideals that I have attempted to instill in my children since birth. LIT.ER.ALLY. Before The Boy could talk, I have tried to teach him to choose kindness.
But... let's be honest, I've been trying to teach/accomplish/do *lots* of things that haven't worked out so most days I'm just grateful when I can tread water long enough to keep our heads above the rising tide of chaos and life just long enough to get us back into our beds safely at night without any kind of sh*ttastic catastrophe taking place. Clearly... that doesn't happen that often.
Yesterday, however.... I was standing firmly in the shallow end high-fiving The Boy: and it felt good.
Yesterday, The Boy came home from school wearing a t-shirt I had not sent him to school in. This would usually lead me to ask a series of questions that would end in something not awesome.... BUT NOT THAT DAY!
He gets into the car and informs us that his class voted on which kid was the "Most Caring" kid in class. He say's.... "yup, and I voted for my friend Gunner.... but you know what? I guess other people voted for me.... I mean - I really think Gunner should have gotten it, Mom.... but hey - it was me!"
So there he was....with his sweet toothy grin and his t-shirt and he was so proud of himself....
So. FREAKING. PROUD.
So UTTERLY COOL.
And.... it might be sans flapping playing card bikes cool or incredibly dangerous creek floating type of cool.... instead, The Boy was recognized by his class and the ENTIRE. SCHOOL. at an assembly where his name was announced and he stood up and people clapped.....
"The kids were allllll clapping, MOM!" he told me.
So. Totally. Cool.
So I have to hold on to the hope that for The Boy and The Girl, the Goonies take a different shape.... one where they can *may be* be a part of a generation that understands that racism and discrimination are wrong and that *really* the way to deal with Little Bowl Cut Bully Laura isn't by boxing her ear... but with kindness and caring and being a good friend to everyone......
It's a pipe dream, this I know... but I have to keeping believing and raising the kids to believe the same. I mean, just imagine if alllll kids were raised in tolerance and understanding.... I mean, I know it seems so far away when we read about the horrible episodes of cyber bullying and whatnot... but - I still feel like we are so much closer to accepting each other than we were 20 years ago.
If nothing else.... I can take this small piece of Cool Croc awesomeness as a mothertrucking win for this single Mom..... it isn't often that I feel like I'm actually winning at this thing called life and motherhood... so today I WIN.
Today I ride... arms folded, smile on my face, playing cards flapping and handle bars-hands free.....