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Last updated: November 15. 2013 8:12PM - 278 Views

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My sister and I played our usual long-distance game of “Remember When … ” today. It soon became apparent that many of our adolescent sagas shared one interesting theme: extreme childhood fend-for-yourself-itis. We did many things on our own and were taught at an early age not to expect anything crazy from our parents during our productive years, like, say, vigilance.


In my day, Girl Scout meetings were a form of babysitting, and I was shoved into every possible Scout event at the drop of a kelly-green beret. I truly was not cut out for scouting, but I proudly went by myself to these weekly meetings, never missing one until the year I was invited to leave. (My crime? Because no one would ever help me obtain my badges, I stole them off my sister’s sash and glued them to my own. That’s, like, against the scout code. And the troop leaders knew immediately I’d done nothing to earn my own geology or equestrian badge. I don’t know how).


Anyway, I remember my mother coming to only one Girl Scout affair, and she couldn’t retreat fast enough. Then, mothers weren’t expected to accompany a child to and from every single event, class trip or sports practice as they are now. Going to meetings or any activity solo was just the way we kids did it. Yes, even in the dark. Without a cell phone!


I could’ve been abducted. I could’ve been killed! But I wasn’t.


My sister then reminded me how I was once dropped off at Girl Scout Camp, only to be forgotten. My parents neglected to retrieve me at the completion of camp. I believe one of the counselors finally took me home, and surely I walked into the house, hand on one hip, Popsicle-stick birdhouse and pot holder in the other, and demanded: “WELL? Did anyone forget something?” To which any one of my family members probably replied, “Oh, do you still live here?”


Poor me. Waiting for hours, in the wilderness, with lions and tigers and bears, and praying for a parent’s car to appear.


I mean, I could’ve really been killed! But I wasn’t.


Then came the memories of my sister and I jumping on a bus by our young selves and parading from West Pittston down to the Big City of Wilkes Barre. The day consisted of casing the Square and Kresge’s, then sashaying to Percy Brown’s for a power lunch of french fries and rice pudding. We were 9 and 10 years old! I asked my mother why she let us undertake such a grown-up excursion, and she replied, “Oh, those were different times.”


We could’ve been killed! But we weren’t.


Back in the day, my parents had no problem leaving us, at under 10 years old, to babysit each other while they went out to dinner. Then, kids supervised themselves all the time. We used to sit side by side on our couch watching “The Newlywed Game” and holding cans of Pam. In our minds, Pam would work just as well as Mace on an intruder. When I question the appropriateness of this to my parents, they reply, “Oh, those were different times.”


We could’ve been killed! But we weren’t.


Times really weren’t that different then. There was good, and there was evil, same as today. It’s just that this generation of spoon-feeding parents chooses to raise our children in a more insular manner. I’m not saying we shouldn’t keep them safe; we just need to loosen the reins a bit. My parents and every other parent raising children in the ’60s and ’70s didn’t actually take unnecessary risks with our lives, though it makes me feel courageous to believe they did. They simply were not a generation of hand-holders.


We, however, are.


By not hovering, my parents instilled an everlasting sense of independence in my sister and me. We are two of the most self-sufficient and resilient people I know, often muddling through with nothing more than our own senses of self-preservation, brainpower and Pam.


And guess what? We’re still alive.


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