I don’t remember being a baby or a toddler, but now my kids are at ages I remember vividly and I’m often struck by just how different my childhood was to theirs.
Was it better or worse? I don’t know, but it was more dangerous. And possibly more fun.
I think of my ’70s childhood with a mixture of warmth and horror and ask:
How did we survive?
1. Our sandwiches contained leftover roast chicken; we didn’t have fridges in classrooms or ice bricks in our lunch boxes, but we didn’t get food poisoning.
2. We rode bikes without helmets or adult supervision or bike paths but we mostly just ended up with scarred knees.
3. Our mothers wiped our faces with spit on a hanky not an antibacterial wipe.
4. Tuckshop was sausage rolls and cream donuts but kids were wiry and fast.
5. Our parents rarely knew our teachers’ names, let alone their NAPLAN prep strategy.
6. When our teachers would whack us, we wouldn’t tell our parents for fear of getting punished again, so we avoided trouble in the first place.
7. Our trampolines were netless and sometimes hosed with water and a squirt of Palmolive for extra slipperiness.
8. What was said on the playground stayed on the playground.
9. We went on camps and excursions without 18 forms to be signed and witnessed.
10. As toddlers, we rode in supermarket trolleys without padded trolley liner thingys.
11. Angry teachers were treated with caution. We just prayed for a nice one next year.
12. Weekends were about our parents’ social lives. As kids, we played murder in the dark while parents talked with their friends and forgot we existed.
13. Generally, we went to the closest school, not the best one.
14. Kids got scared before parent-teacher interviews, not teachers.
15. We got ourselves to Saturday sport and told tall tales about how the win was won.
16. Helping with the washing up was as important as homework.
17. Birthday parties were fairy bread and Fanta, not fruit kebabs and face painting.
18. When a kid was injured, people felt sorry for her parents. They didn’t ask what the hell were they thinking letting her climb that tree anyway.