Monday, August 18, 2014

Oh, for the good old days

I've been listening to some music from the early 70s, lately. It brings me back to the 6th grade, when life was so easy.

Back then, my mom bought my clothes for me. All I had to do was choose what to wear each day. I never thought, "will this make me look fat?", "will this make me look thin?", "will this bring out the green in my eyes?", "will this be in style?". I think my only criteria in what to wear was whether or not the garment was comfy, and in my favorite color.

My room was my domain. My mom did her decorating, then I did mine. My decorating consisted of posters on my closet doors. These "posters" came out of magazines, so I didn't even have to spend money on my "decorating".

Food was provided, and just showed up, either in my lunch bag or at my place at the table. I never thought "what should I have for dinner?" My mom took care of that for me.

I never thought about retirement funds, medical bills, whether the price of milk was high or low this year, how expensive college tuition is, or how we will make ends meet with current inflation. I just existed.

I received 50 cents per week for allowance, in exchange for doing some chores. But I didn't have to buy groceries, clothing, housing or pay for utilities with my allowance. Allowance (after tithing) was strictly for my "wants", which was primarily candy, small toys or games and an occasional Saturday matinee at the movie theater. A Hershey bar cost about 10 cents and a movie ticket was 50 cents. (Check out this link for the price of a Hershey bar through the decades. Other food prices included on this page. If you're up at the top of the page, for Hershey bars, click on the Hershey prices link in upper right section, or scroll down about 3/4 the way. http://www.foodtimeline.org/foodfaq5.html#candybar)

My "wants", now, are more along the lines of a professional haircut, new shoes, or drapes for the family room -- all things that were provided for me as a child, not things I had to pay for with my allowance.

My thoughts about life were simple when I was in the 6th grade. I wasn't striving for a better financial picture. I wasn't pondering when would be a good time to "downsize". I didn't have to reconcile our expenditures with our income.

I simply lived. Oh, for the good old days. 6th grade, I miss how simple you felt.

22 comments:

  1. I know, sometimes it's a pain being a grown-up! Movies cost over $20 to go and see nowadays if you're an adult. Luckily I'm still a student so can get $6.50 tickets!

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    1. Hi Liz,
      Can you tell that our family is in a financial crunch these days, with me as the one to figure out how to pay for everything?!
      Yikes! $20 for a movie ticket! That's $100 for a family of 5. We have a couple of discount theaters in the area, but their selection is limited. Mostly we wait for movies to come to the library, and borrow them for free. But every now and again, it's fun to go to the movie theater.

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  2. So true. I have been thinking along these lines lately as well.

    My mom always worked outside of the home. Until I was old enough to stay home alone in the summers, I stayed with my grandparents, who lived less than a mile away.

    Those summer days spent on my grandparents' farm were so simple and carefree. The summers seemed to last so long and I had all the time in the world to follow my grandpa to the barn and watch him milk the cows, or walk to the watering tank with him, or help both my grandpa and grandma weed the garden, or help my grandma string and snap green beans, or just sit on their big front porch for hours. Life seemed to move at a much slower pace.

    Now, I have a husband, two kids, four dogs, a home, a yard, fruit trees and a garden to care for. I have a full-time job outside the home as well. It honestly seems like just yesterday that my kids started Summer Break and Thursday they start back to school. I have barely had time to sit on my front porch and relax.

    I am so thankful for the life that I have, and that I am able to do the things I have to do. Sometimes, I do long for the more simple times of my childhood though.

    I agree with your thoughts also, it was so simple to be a child at home and not have to worry about finances or even what to plan for meals. I have even more appreciation for my mom now that I'm a mom!

    Sometimes the every day decisions I have to make seem exhausting. It might sound silly to some, but the constant meal planning is the hardest for me. It's a very involved task to constantly know what I have on hand in the pantry and freezers, to always be watching the sale ads and doing budget grocery shopping and then figuring out what we will eat for every single meal. Sometimes, I wish that someone would just tell me what to buy and cook.

    Angie

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    1. Hi Angie,
      you said it all so well. The every day decisions can be the ones that are so taxing. What to cook, what to use up, not to overlook something lurking in the fridge, which household chores to allocate for spare moments.

      Summer does fly by, doesn't it? I hope that you and your family can find a bit of time to just enjoy the remaining days of summer break.

      Your life a a child, with your grandparents on their farm does sound idyllic. I'm sure it made for some wonderful memories for you. What a great gift they gave to you, those days on their farm.

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  3. While I had more home responsibilities than you did in sixth grade, it was one of the golden years. Seventh grade began the difficult social years of junior high--not being invited to any of the "in" parties, being made fun of, etc. Money was a factor in this also. While money didn't matter up until this point to the other kids, suddenly it was the "rich" kids who were the popular ones. I learned a lot of life lessons during this time, but it wasn't fun learning them.

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    1. Hi live and learn,
      even though 6th grade was middle school where I lived, 7th grade was the beginning of social importance, where I lived, also. That age is a hard one for many kids.

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  4. I think we all go through stages where we want to be young and carefree again. I just got off the phone with my mom after a conversation about how my dad isn't supposed to drive anymore and my mom is debating about selling their home and moving to a senior apartment. They currently live in the house I grew up in so I have to separate my emotional feelings ("but that's my childhood home!") from practical concerns. I miss the days when visiting them was a mini-trip back in the years and I am suddenly a kid again in a safe environment surrounded by parents who love me and protect me.

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    1. Hi Kris,
      oh, that is hard, for your whole family. It could be a very good move for your parents, but sad to say good-bye to the place where so many memories were made.

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  5. I had some recent requests from readers to have my children write guests posts about frugality. I knew it wouldn't work--precisely for the reasons you just illustrated. While they understand some things, there are plenty of things they don't think about, as you mentioned above.

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    1. Hi Brandy,
      Yes, I think at a young age, children just don't need to think about some of the family financial issues. And to certain extant, maybe that's a good thing.

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  6. I remember my mom sewing me two new dresses each year for the new school year. Pants weren't allowed back then. I am appalled at what parents spend on "back to school" clothes now.

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    1. Oh, I know, Ruthie! It's just a ridiculous amount. The sad thing is so many families feel they "need" to buy expensive clothing or shoes for their kids, or their kids just won't "fit in". What kind of message does this say to our kids, about how well we think they can handle the challenges of finding and keeping friends?!

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  7. Excellent post. It's funny because we were talking about similar times the other day. I can remember feeling "rich" if I had a whole dollar and not only remember when Hershey's were a dime but I also remember when some penny candy ( like banana bikes) were actually 2/.01. Only the better penny candies ( like bubblegum and tootsie rolls) were actually a penny.
    Life was so much easier when all I had to worry about was homework and what friends would be around when school was out. I feel very sorry for kids now who's lives are so regimented with extra curricular activities that they have no time for play.

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    1. Hi Anne,
      we had a drugstore nearby that still sold penny candy, back when I was in middle school. That was fun, to take a dime and get a whole bag of candy!

      I often wonder if the over-scheduling of the kids is more about the parents than the kids. It gives the parents lots to brag about. But in addition, we've made being a homemaker so unimportant, it seems that all of these kid activities are "justification" for a parent to stay home with the kids. So what we're left with is a kid-centered culture. A stay-at-home mom's primary role is now to shuffle kids all over town every afternoon, instead of the traditional role of making the home a welcoming place for the family to return every evening. But that's a whole other post in and of itself!

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    2. I don't remember whose editorial I was reading a while back but the premise was that excessive violence we see from older kid today is directly proportional to the lack of free style neighborhood play. It seems that in prior generations kids learned conflict resolution at a fairly young age. You played, became angry, bickered, went home, made up and played some more. I did not agree with everything in the article, but we did have neighborhood kid arguments. Everyone always worked it out or you got left out of playing and it was just no fun to play alone when there were kids all over the neighborhood.
      You might be correct about the over-scheduling for the parents rather than the kids. Don't get me wrong, my kids all played sports and took music lessons ( because I would not let them play sports unless they could play an instrument) But those things took up only a small amount of time 2 afternoons a week. None of this every afternoon occupied until supper time.

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    3. Anne, that makes a lot of sense to me. While we had a few organized activities (some sports, scouts and music lessons), most of our non-school hours were spent just playing in the neighborhood. And we did have to learn how to get along in groups, on our own.

      My kids had some sports/activities, as their individual interests indicated. But I do know some families whose entire lives revolves around the kids' activities. That just sounds out of balance, to me.

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  8. Those were definitely the good old days. :) lol

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    1. Weren't they, Belinda?! Few responsibilities, but all of our needs provided for. Oh, for those good old days!

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  9. You paint such a beautiful picture of a carefree childhood. I don't remember mine being that way. It wasn't a horrible childhood by any stretch of the imagination - I was certainly provided for. But I felt an enormous responsibility to try to fix so many things - most of which I had absolutely no control over. Becoming an adult was an incredible relief for me - all I had to worry about was myself, and I actually had the resources to do what needed to be done. I think that's probably a big part of why I chose not to have kids.

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    1. Hi Cat,
      6th Grade was my "golden year". The rest of middle school had it's share of not-so-pleasant occurrences. We moved from one part of town to the other side, during the summer between 6th and 7th Grades. In 7th Grade, I was bullied, and this was before anti-bullying campaigns. I had a rather big kid slam me against the art classroom lockers and threaten me with violence, all while the teacher stood there and did nothing. My mom complained to the principal, and nothing was done. I had another idiot kid spit on me while on the school bus, that same year. Again, my mom complained to the school, and nothing was done. I never rode the bus again, but chose to ride my bike, even in the rain, everyday.

      What I learned was, if you're relatively insignificant, no one is going to go out of their way to help you. I also learned that kids can be horribly mean to each other, and it didn't matter what kind of economic status they came from. There are rich bullies as well as poor bullies.

      But I do admit, 6th Grade was idyllic. Life was carefree and I was oblivious to the bad in the world.

      I'm sorry for you, though, for what your childhood ended up like. Kids shouldn't grow up thinking they need to fix adult problems. But that does happen all too often. (Why else would there be all those support groups like ACOA, or AC of Persons with Mental Illness?)

      Now, you do, too, have kids!! Your kids are the furry kind!

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    2. Well, that's an abrupt and horrible end to an idyllic time. I am so sorry that you had to suffer through that sort of torment. I can't believe that a teacher witnessed it all and did nothing!

      You know, in a funny way I'm very grateful for my childhood. It left me disillusioned from a very young age, but it also taught me to be very independent and to reject many of the "pretty pictures" that our society is so full of. In other words, it left me with a pretty finely tuned BS sniffer, which has served me well over the years and allowed me to avoid a lot of the traps that I've watched my peers fall into.

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  10. Love this!
    And I agree with Brandi - posts by her kids? Why? They are kids!!! Let them be kids!!
    I was just having this discussion about gas/petrol when I first moved to the states, so cheap now -- ahhhh!!!!! -- goodness another thing that is clearly running a muck on most peoples budgets

    To be in 6th grade again ;)

    Be Blessed,
    Cathie

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I'm so glad that you stopped by today. Please comment, and let me know what you're thinking.