Sunday, June 12, 2016

Why when I was a kid...

I think my parents made life too easy for me growing up.
What am I supposed to say to my children about the hardships of my youth?
The only angle I can think of is I had to work a lot when I was younger, but other than that there’s not a lot to whine about.
When I was around 10 years old I asked my dad for some money. Instead of money, he handed me a shovel.
My first thought was, ‘I guess I could sell the shovel for some cash,’ but I knew if I wanted money I would have to work for it.
I took the shovel - which conveniently came with a handy wheelbarrow attachment - out to the section of property where my dad and grandfather were building a nursery.
Sitting in the middle of the empty lot were two dump truck loads of dirt.
My mind was attempting to form a picture: a shovel, a wheelbarrow and a pile of dirt.
“Nope, sorry dad, I’m just not making any connections.”
It’s amazing just how motivating he could be when he explained things, and I began moving those two massive piles of dirt.
Thus began my foray into the working world. I was bringing down a whopping 50 cents an hour.
As I got older, the nursery got busier so I would work after school and on weekends.
Child labour laws, what child labour laws?
Actually, it was good because I could afford bikes, cars and the most important expense – girls.
So that’s about it, that’s all I have to complain to my children about.
I can tell my children, “Why when I was your age I had already mastered the art of moving dirt with a shovel and wheelbarrow.”
I never had to endure any great hardships like being poor or having to eat the family pet because we couldn’t afford meat.
I desperately need more “Why when I was your age” rants, but they are hard to find.
“Why when I was your age we didn’t have any of these fancy remote control units for our TV sets. If we wanted to change the channel we would have to get up and walk all the way over the set, change the channel and then walk all the way back to the couch.
And if you wanted the TV louder….”
It pales compared to my dad’s stories of working 12 hours a day when he was 15 years old.
Like many people of his generation, my dad grew up poor and worked hard to provide for his family. When he goes on a rant about how tough the times were – which I believe is the right of every senior – his stories are of true hardship.
So the TV remote rant is pretty weak. What else can I say?
I may have to resort to making things up.
“Why when I was your age we didn’t even own shoes. We tied a piece of bark to our feet and walked 20 miles to school in the snow in May – up hill both ways.
“We had to get up at 4 a.m. to milk the cats. We had to milk cats because we couldn’t afford cows. Then after school we had to milk the dogs before we went to bed. In fact we didn’t even have a bed. Me and my 18 brothers and sisters all slept in a broom closet. It was so small we had to sleep standing up, on one foot and we liked it.”
I wonder what my children will be telling their children.
“Why when I was your age our computer didn’t have a hyper-gig of RAM. We had to try and get by with 512 megabytes. Do you have any idea how slow that is? Let me tell you kids something, it was pure hell trying to open a website with lots of pictures.
“Why it took a full 22 second. You kid’s don’t know how lucky you have it.”
Somehow it just doesn’t compare to my father’s stories of growing up after the Dirty ‘30s.
I guess the size of the rant depends on the size of the hardship.

Copyright 2016, Darren Handschuh

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