Parenting norms change over time. For example,at one point, parents legit considered cages hanging out of windows (!?) a viable play space.
Now that I’m a parent myself, it’s funny to reflect upon my own childhood and some of the things that were totally normal at the time, but seem outrageous now.
Note: I’m not shaming my own parents here, so Mom and Dad, if you’re reading this, know that I find these things utterly delightful to look back on.
1. Just put the baby outside
My mom likes to tell a story about how she would put me to nap in the stroller outside when I was small. A summer baby, I always slept out in the yard. This was the late 70s and with three older siblings, she was not watching that stroller like a hawk every second. But hey, it worked. I slept. When the weather turned colder, I refused to nap unless she brought the stroller inside and let me sleep in it in the house.
Speaking of those summer naps, I’m relatively sure there was no sunblock involved. We used to get sunburned **on purpose.** It was like a contest to see who could develop the most lobster-like exterior. Scales included.
3. Car seats? We don’t need no stinkin’ car seats.
I used to ride in the front seat of the car on the bench seat in between my parents. There’s likely an entire generation that doesn’t even know that was possible. If I wasn’t there, I was in the back with my siblings where we would pretend to have no bones and flop around on each other when the car went around corners.
4. Come home when the street lights are on.
I have warm memories of running wild all summer long. The rules were largely limited to “don’t go past the end of the block” and “don’t come home until the streetlights were on,” which we took to heart. We scrambled over fences, played ball in the street and ran around like a pack of feral cats until the street lights came on, someone broke a window, or Mister Softee ambled onto the block, at which point we all sprinted home to beg for quarters.
5. Just wait here a second!
My parents would leave us in the car when they went to the store for a quick stop. This one I totally get because it’s super annoying to run errands and have to take the kids in and out of the car seats EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. They would crack the window, lock the doors, tell us to stay put and then just…walk away.
6. Can you watch this other human for me?
When I was 10 or 11, I spent my summer being a “mother’s helper” for the family next door. That meant I essentially was responsible for a small child all day. I adored it, but holy cow, 10 years old? Should I really have been in charge?