While out with girlfriends recently, conversation changed to how it was ‘back in our day’. How 25 years ago things were entirely different. Life just seemed so simple and straight forward yet it was something kind of wonderful.Running out the door and shouting “I’ll be back later”, riding our bicycles to the nearby pier that we referred to as our very own ‘Summer Bay’, we wanted to believe we were having our own remake of Home and Away. Picking up our Fat Frogs and getting penny chews at the corner shop on the way, riding fast down hills letting our hair blow behind and jumping off the end of the pier, life could not have been any better.
Sitting on the minibus singing our way through Grease, deciding on characters before we started into Spice Girls and getting ‘in the habit’ with Sister Act, Saturday hockey was never complete without a marathon sing song. It was like school hockey and choir all in one.
Spending hours on a hack around a scenic route, trotting along taking in all the little houses and lane ways that were never even visible from whizzing by sat in the back of the car.It was like time just stood still, you were moving at a slower pace or rather the pony was and you could just sit back and go leisurely.
It was all about roller skates, shell suits, bum bags, teen magazines that we were still too young to be reading but yet we managed to sneak it out from our big sisters’ bedrooms. It was Top of the Pops, Gladiators, Kylie and Jason, and our trusty bottle of Coty Exclamation.
Time moved slower; summers lasted forever, and wintertime unearthed a magical fairytale existence. Memories so sweet of sitting in the long grass behind my home and feeling invisible being hidden from all around, to going outside to a winter wonderland where icicles glistened and powdery snow lay like a blanket. Forever the day dreamer with a mind full of wonder and adventure, delving regularly into Pandora’s box and reminiscing of these magical moments leave me feeling nostalgic but rich, blessed with joy and happiness if not emotional sometimes of a time once had.Today things have progressed tenfold. Life moves fast. Opportunities are unending. There have been so many advances in so many ways, some being the forms of travel, paths of education, standard of living, career possibilities, and possibly more than anything else technology. There once was a time when as young people we mostly knew of Well Worths, St. Bernard, and C&A. The choices now are huge. How families and children operate today and the routines that have become established are very different in this progressive new day of age. We can all feel so fortunate and grateful to everything there is available to our young people right?! As much as it is pretty impressive in contrast, I think of it as a little scary, sorry let me be honest it is absolutely and utterly frightening. Our entire way of life and living are totally different. There are many factors which are responsible, but none more so than the huge impact that is caused by the whole other world of Cyberspace. There are so many advantages to having the internet at our finger tips; online shopping, banking, study, careers, communications, businesses, services, I could go on and on listing the endless possibilities and benefits that it provides. However there are so many avenues, openings and forums which make it downright dangerous, especially for our young people.
When sat round during meal time on a school trip ten years ago it became apparent how meal times with young people are no longer for interacting, sitting down, having a laugh at a story or joke, singing and talking about the music video that was seen on MTV (I know back in our time it wasn’t even MTV, it was waiting for Sunday evening, cassette tape recorder ready to record the top 20 hits from the radio). It was a scene of young people all with a smart phones sending text messages, picture message, sharing songs, taking pictures and recording voices all at the one time. It was a silent meal time apart from staff chatting and taking in the scene in front of us. Needless to say, restrictions were put in place for the remainder of the trip limiting use of phones while at meal time and much effort and encouragement was given to prompt discussions and chat. Not only is it young people who we can point the finger to, it is ourselves. So often it is the adults who are all sat round, each with their iphone close to reach and although an opportunity is there for talking and a catch up we each find ourselves having to fiddle or go searching at something that could otherwise be just done at another time. I can look into my own life, and put up my hand and say yes I too am guilty of injecting time and attention to the different social networks and the internet on large available to us nowadays. I like to think the habit started during night feeds with my little ones in an effort to keep alert and awake and from there it has stuck with me. I need to make changes and devote time and energy into interaction with our little ones. Excuses can be given such as, I have been in the house all day on my own with three little ones all under five and I am ready to scream….or I am fed up trying to divert attention away from another squabble over that toy the other wants to play with….or another meal or snack to produce….or another mess to clean up….or this….or that….but hey I love my life and I wouldn’t want it any other way. It is our responsibility as parents and those raising our children to teach them social skills. Our little ones are constantly watching, learning, copying all our behaviours and actions, being influenced by what we say, how we say it, and how we react. We need to teach them, by talking to them, showing them, and listening to them so they can learn….we owe it to them. Lets face it, it is what it is. We have no control over the day in age in which we live. Going back to the past or back to the future with Marty and Doc is not an option. We are here on this planet right here right now and it is up to us to make the most of our life. We need to move with the times as there really is no other option, while keeping our children and our families safe in the process. There is a lot of badness and evil in our world today, but there is also a lot of good and prosperity. Helping to educate our little ones and teach them how to be honest, kind, caring and loving little people we are doing the best that we can. Making them aware of dangers without scaring them, sheltering and protecting them without smothering them, giving them freedom to explore, find their way and be a light of hope yet keep a watchful eye. Finding the balance is the difficult part, but we must find a way.So from the times when an apple was in fact just a juicy apple and not another technological smart device, when we waited for hours for a connection to the internet to be cut off with yet another phone call coming in, when we interacted with other people with words and emotions with no mobile phone to be staring at, when we ran in fields, climbed trees, told jokes, got excited with our strawberry laces in our Santa stocking with no brand of Disney in sight. Lets share these stories with our young ones, show them the videos, sit down and leaf through the photograph album from the back of the cupboard. Let them know about their family past, let them get excited for the memories they will make in the future and let them know how to live for each day. It was a wonderful life back then and it can be today if we make it that way.