Tuesday, January 13, 2015

I Remember the Days of the Old School Yard

Having been a father (or at least the dad’s stunt-double) for our two children who are themselves now grown-ups, I can say with certainty that I do not envy anyone growing up today. When I look back at the “good old days” I’ll concede I have to look back a lot farther than most other people and when I do, the contrast in lives and lifestyles is stunning.

I can recall a conversation with our son, Patrick, when he was six or seven (maybe) on his desire to have a color TV in his room and my excuse masquerading as a reason included telling him how at his age my family only had one TV and it was black and white. His response: you must have been very bad to be so punished. He refused to believe all there had been was black and white television. I thought about telling him how the dinosaurs ate the color sets but decided not to do that.

And here we are in 2015 and grade school children carry tablets in their backpacks. Heck, I still don’t have one (tablet, not backpack) but if I did, I would be a waste since I have no idea how to use it. To this day, Patrick and his sister, Michelle, are my tech support since Daddy-o has clue zero about much of these newfangled techno gizmos.

I’m not a Luddite; I’m just technologically-impaired. I just nearly learned how to operate the DVR on the living room TV and whatever the setting on the toaster is, that’s where it stays since I don’t know how to change it without creating briquettes.

Within that context, I warily watch a brave new world of life in these United States with its occasional short-circuit (I guess) as I don’t know how else to characterize this headline and story, “Western NY 4th graders planned to kill teacher with hand sanitizer because she was 'mean'.”

Yipes! That noise you heard was my mind softly boggling in my head (lots of room, by the way). My teacher back then was Mrs. McGary and in a classroom with close to sixty or so of us, she was the only adult we saw all day, for every subject. 

Everyone had a school-uniform; boys wore white shirts with blue ties (with "SPS" in white letters in the center) and the black pants that came with our First Holy Communion suits while girls had tartan jumpers, knee-high navy blue socks and black-and-white saddle shoes.

We didn’t have paint with pastel colors on the walls of the classroom and no one ever asked us how did that made us feel. I think our room was actually in the basement so the windows were those half-casement jobbers that opened outward but into a pre-formed mesh cage that kept small animals from using them as an entrance into the building.

Our understanding of science was how to make finger-print ink and plaster of Paris volcanoes and our class science fairs had at least a half dozen of each as exhibits. Fast-forward half a century and our grandchildren are wrestling with the chemical properties in hand sanitizer that can be used to poison a teacher….

All I can say is not everything new is better and “there are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” Somewhere, just now, David Caruso’s ears perked up.      

-bill kenny

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