Reflections Then and Now - Curfew!

By Gipp Forster

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I have noticed, over the past few years, that I seem to have fallen through the cracks, and I'm no longer in touch with what is called reality. Especially with children!

I grew up in the children-are-seen-and-not-heard generation and find it difficult to understand and accept much of childrens' behaviour today, and the petulant attitude shown toward adults.

My younger friends and my grown children tell me that times have changed and to get into the boat or be swallowed by the waves.

The more I see and the more I think about it, as a youngster, I too was rude and petulant. The only difference was I did it in secret because, if I didn't, I knew I'd get my ears boxed - and my rear end tanned!

I guess you could say I, and others, grew up with a healthy dose of fear. We didn't have television to champion us and dare us to rebel. We did that in secret and out of sight of our parents. We weren't an in-your-face group like kids are today!

Now that I'm a grandparent, I not only think back to when I was a child, but also to when I was a parent to my young children. They weren't as cowed as I was at their age. Times were a-changing.

I think back to one time, in particular, when my daughter was 16, going on 17, going on 60! It was 1982 and she was insistent that she be allowed to stay out well past midnight. I had given her a curfew and she wasnt pleased. Shaking her head at me, she gave a great grievous sigh, looked at me like I was a leftover from the 19th century and then sighed again. She seemed to epitomize the wisdom of the ages when faced with the ignorance of middle age. She blew a large bubble from a wad of gum that would have made an elephant choke, allowed it to explode over half her face, then she said to me in a placating sort of way: "Dad, life is more than a clock!"

I thought that very deep for one of her vast experience. I admired how expertly she peeled the gum off her face and deftly pushed it back into her mouth. "You're right," I said, "Life is not a clock." She smiled in triumph, silently congratulating herself on how clever she was.

"But life stops for you at midnight," I said. Another sigh, another bubble, another shaking of the head, now, she was ready for her topper. "Dad, I'm not a child."

Another good point, but I thought my answer far better than her statement.

"Neither are you Methuselah!"

Another deep sigh that almost became a moan: "Dad, if Methuselahs dad lets her stay out til after midnight, it doesn't have anything to do with the present situation."

"How late do you want to stay out," I asked. "Til one," she sighed.

"Okay,' I said, "you can stay out til one as long as you are home by midnight."

"Gee, thanks, Dad," she said peeling more gum off her face. "You handled that very maturely."

I thought I had too. Then, I looked through the 'TV Guide' to see what was on til 1 a.m. in the morning.

I don't think parents, as a rule, grow with the times - or grandparents either. Children do, and I guess that's what becomes scary to those who want to practise what our parents did, only to find it antiquated.

Parents reason with their children today. They talk to them. They listen to their opinions. The kids in turn, many times, stretch the rope to a breaking point.

But still, it's nice to see that confidence, which many of us never had, within our grandchildren (and children) - the lack of fear to believe in themselves at such a young age.

I wouldn't mind seeing a little bit of the discipline return though. Just to let me know my childhood wasn't in vain.

I mentioned boxed ears to a 10 year old a while ago, and he went to check the mailbox.

I think I'll see if I still remember how to chew bubble gum.


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