Saturday, October 13, 2012

Back In My Day...

Earlier this week, I was teaching a class to a bunch of high school kids and they got to talking about how difficult their lives are. They all complained about the hardships they had to endure because of their parents.  I tried to convince them that their lives were not as bad as they thought they were, but they insisted that they had it rough. I asked them for examples of their mistreatment and got the following answers.
  • "It's not fair that my parents make me use a cell phone that only has a 4 megapixel camera."
  • "I have to share a bathroom with my sister."
  • "My mom won't let me have a ferret."
  • "The cable TV in my bedroom didn't have HBO."
  • "My cheapskate dad bought me a car that can't even play MP3s on the stereo."
  • "My laptop doesn't have a webcam!"
As I tried not to laugh at their ridiculous claims about hardship, one of them noticed my stifled laughter. "Let me guess. You're going to tell us we don't know how good we have it and tell us stories about walking to school in the snow?"

I assured them that I had no such stories, but it was true that they had no idea what hardship was. However, since they wanted to direct it back at me and I always keep my laptop with me, I decided to treat them to a little slideshow.

I have been scanning all our family photos in my computer over the last few months and had the evidence I needed with me, so I didn't need to look very hard. I hooked it up to the class Smartboard and showed them photographic evidence of the real hardship I had experienced as a youth.


For the kid who thought he had it so hard because he didn't have HBO in his bedroom, I showed him what life was like before cable. We had a TV, but we used it like an end table. We would sit in front of it for hours pretending we were one of those rich families who had things like television reception.


Cousin Tabatha, Kyle, me
They weren't always in our size.
While the kids today are decked out in Hollister, Abercrombie & Fitch, Ocean Pacific, and Affliction, we had to wear hand-me-downs.
Hand-me-downs from the 70's!


Trevor trying to stay cool
 We didn't have crazy luxuries like air conditioning either. Sitting in an ice filled cooler in front of a fan was a good as it got.


Trevor hoping the dog doesn't fart again.
This picture was for the benefit of the girl who thought she was being mistreated for being forced to share her bathroom with her sister. We would've loved to have a bathroom and would have happily shared it with the entire family. We didn't concentrate on it much since we didn't have several of the other conveniences kids today are accustomed to.


Kyle was never ready for bed
Kyle had to sleep in a box because my parents refused to waste money on frivolities like beds.


Trevor would scoot down the stairs if not weighted down.
Trevor slept in a clothes basket when he was a baby. We had to put heavy books on top so he wouldn't crawl all over the house.


In chest: me  Closing it: Trevor
I would get shut in a chest each night. Once I brushed all the spiders out, it wasn't so bad.

It wasn't always this way. Eventually, the day came along when Dad announced to us that he was going to build us each our own room. We were so excited. He got to work on the construction and soon presented us with our new living arrangements.


Me, checking out my new place
Here was mine. I had to share it with the mouse traps and the paint, but it was all mine.


Trevor being ungrateful, as usual
This was Trevor's. I thought it was unfair that he had so much more space.


Kyle's really didn't change much.


Red the Cow. Tried to kill my grandmother once.
Next, I addressed the girl who had been whining all through class about not being able to own a ferret. My first pet was a cow and we eventually ate it. None of them could admit they'd ever had to eat one of their pets.

One of the girls piped up, "Well, at least you got to have a pet!"  This was true, but I tried to illustrate for them what having a pet meant when I was a kid. We didn't just have pets. We had to take care of them.


Before I was even out of diapers, I had to feed the cows every morning.


Stupid dog turned over the bowl again
After the cows were fed, I had to make sure the dogs had water.


Trevor: 25 feet off the ground
This cat wouldn't stay off the neighbor's roof
As the years passed, I was happy to get little brothers to share in taking care of the animals. Trevor always went after the ones that wandered off to bring them back home.


The choke hold rarely worked,
but Kyle insisted it was more humane.
Kyle took care of exterminating the ones that got sick.
I just didn't have the stomach for it.

Animals weren't the only things we had to take care of. My parents piled the chores on us as soon as we were able to walk. While kids today complain if they have to take out the trash, we had much more for which we were responsible.


Me learning my way around a hoe
There was gardening to be done.


Trevor and Kyle enjoying the smell
The lines had to be dug out when the sewer backed up.


Kyle doing some dirty work
We had to clean Dad's catch each afternoon.


The neighbor would use our lawn mower,
so we made his daughter work for us.
Harvest the rice patties.


Trevor was always best at tuning out the crying
Babysit the neighbors'kid


Me emptying the hair filter
Clean out the pool.


Me taking measurements for drywall
Remodel the bathroom


Me biting Trevor's fingernails
since I wasn't allowed to use scissors.
When younger, having to take care of little brothers.


Dad and Me
Bring Dad his beer after a long day of fishing.


Me and Kyle
And finally fix dinner, so we could clean up, get to bed, and start again in the morning.


By the time the bell rang signaling the end of class, I had the kids convinced. It took the entire class period and I didn't cover any of the material that their regular teacher had left in the instruction book, but I think I taught them a valuable lesson that day. I have had 40 years to work on my sob story. I do it so much better than them.

48 comments:

  1. I love this story... Thanks for the good read and lots of smiles.

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  2. I spent a significant amount of my youth believing that the only reason my parents had children, was to have somebody to get up off the couch and go change the TV channel or adjust the volume.

    ......and my dad liked to channel surf! All 3 of them. :)

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    1. I had a similar experience. I would be upstairs and Dad would call for me to come down. I would run down the stairs to see what he wanted and he would say, "Turn it to channel 4."

      The remote control is one of this generations best inventions.

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  3. Wow, I love this post...my pictures would mirror yours in many ways as a child of the 70s/80s. From now on, you just need to look at them and say, 'First world problem'. Gah. I don't have a lot of tolerance for the entitlement mentality.

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    1. There seems to be more and more of it. I hope I was never that way.

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  4. With five of us, we each had a dinnertime chore. Set the table, clear the table, rinse the dishes, load the dishwasher, wash the pots&pans. We rotated, usually. Everything else was divvied out as it came up.

    I distinctly remember helping Mom with the ironing when my older sibs were in school and I was too young to go. She would set up her ironing board in the family room, turn the TV on to Price is Right, and I would help by quietly sitting on the floor in front of the ironing board devoutly watching TPIR where she could see me.

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    1. We had the same rotation for dishes, except there were only the three of us. One washed, one dried, the other put away.

      I don't know that we ever sat quietly.

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  5. hahaha! Loved it! After hearing my dad's stories of his life growing up on a working farm, I pretty much never complained about having it rough.

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    1. We had a pseudo-farm at times. Never very big, but saw our fair share of farm animals over the years.

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  6. We had that same TV and sat just as close.

    I loved your room. At least you had some liquor as well! Your parents were raising you right.

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    1. My parents did a marvelous job. I had a great childhood. I hope everyone realizes that nothing about this post is true.

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  7. This might have looked like a sob story to your students, but for someone my age, it was a nostalgic trip to a simpler time when things meant so much more. By the way, did the TV ever get turned on? It's much more interesting when turned on.

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    1. I believe the TV was actually on when the picture was taken, but it didn't show in the finished picture.

      It was good times then.

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  8. My grandparents had a TV a lot like that until about five or six years ago. They used to use me as the remote control, but then they realized I had no idea what I was doing because it was so weird to me.

    I know I complain about ridiculous stuff and I'll admit to it, but the stuff those teenagers were saying is just horrible. I've never said anything that bad and I'd probably laugh at anyone who did.

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    1. Every now and then, I will come across one of those old console TVs. I just don't see them much anymore.

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  9. Replies
    1. He was a good dog. I remember how ugly he was every summer after getting shaved.

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  10. And there was lead in our gas too!

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    1. YES! I don't remember what the difference was, but we had to select leaded or unleaded at the pumps.

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  11. Hahaha these pictures are hilarious. Is that bedroom of yours a cupboard? Can I call you Harry Potter? XD

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    1. Sure. I never had problems with bugs since the pesticides were right there.

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  12. Love this! I am finally posting my award!! Better late than never:) Thanks again!!

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    1. Thank you and you are very welcome. It was well deserved.

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  13. Back in my day the Internet was in black and white, and we only had your basic digital TV package.

    I enjoyed this post. Although I am still from an age of relative privilege (child of the 80's), it surprises me how many kids think that not having an iPhone 5 is synonymous with child abuse.

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    Replies
    1. The sense of entitlement is a looming monster that is growing stronger all the time.

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  14. Those are some great pictures, but 'me learning my way around a hoe' had me laughing. Hard.

    Also, "My cheapskate dad bought me a car that can't even play MP3s on the stereo."

    What a problem to have. My car has a cassette player, and it's an Audi. It's not some old 90s model, either. German engineering at its finest, folks!

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    Replies
    1. I just got my first MP3 player for my car and my daughter doesn't even have a car. I expect it will be that way for a while.

      Delete
  15. haha...life isn't fair but it beats the hell out of the alternative

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  16. Quite a walk down memory lane! If that didn't convince your kids - I don't know what will!

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    1. Hopefully it got through to some of them.

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  17. Hey Brett, This sounds a lot like my childhood also, only difference is we did have to walk to school in the snow, and it was uphill both directions.

    Seriously kids today would most likely die if they had to get up and cross the room to change the channel on the TV, and I know they would when they saw there were only three channels.

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    1. Even I look back on the fact that we only had three channels and sometimes wonder how we passed our time. If I had to go without internet now, it would be difficult.

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  18. But Brett, you don't understand! My butler called in sick today which meant I had to give MYSELF a bath!

    Anyway, the sad thing is I know a girl like this and she's in her twenties. She tries to garner sympathy by posting Facebook statuses about how her nazi parents won't get her a dog. Oh, and did I already mention she's well into her twenties?

    Awesome pictures, though. Good thing you held onto all of them. Awesome post! Hope those kids realize how great they have it.

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    1. I have met several adults like that as well. Makes me wonder how they survived to adulthood.

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  19. Great post! Was that a bottle of booze in your new sleeping arrangements?

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    1. Probably. Although, at that age I didn't know booze from cleaning materials. I drank everything.

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  20. Poor Kyle, with his box for a bed!

    Way to show those kids that they don't have it so bad at all.

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    1. Kyle would still sleep in a box if his wife would go for it.

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  21. Wow, Brett. These pictures bring back so many memories of my own childhood. For years my father used to drone on how he had to walk to school, up hill both ways - in the snow, without shoes. I never really believed him until we moved back to TN where he grew up and saw for my own eyes how far he had to walk to school. And I'll be damned if it really was uphill both ways.

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    1. If he was in Tennessee, then he may have even had to ward of bears on the way.

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  22. Kids these days! They have no idea what hard times are!

    I bet this was a fun post to do! All those pictures and memories that come with them!

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    1. It was fun. I sorted through pictures until I built a story around them. I really enjoyed it.

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  23. Hilarious pictures and story to go along with them!

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    1. Thank you. For decades as we posed for these pictures, I couldn't get the family to understand the vision I had for them. All those pictures were for this post.

      Now they see it.

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  24. Hi Brett, I’m Anne from Life on the Funny Farm (http://annesfunnyfarm.blogspot.com), and I’m visiting from Finding the Funny.

    This was so funny. How perfect that you had photos on the spot like that! My 15 y/o dtr was just complaining to me that it was "no fair" that she didn't have an iphone. I told her "you have a perfectly good phone, what do you need an iphone for?" Poor little her has to press buttons, if you can believe the atrocity, instead of tapping a screen. I'm expecting a call from DYFS any minute.

    Anyway, it’s nice to “meet” you! Hope you can pop by my blog sometime to say hi…

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    1. Thank you for visiting. I was on your blog just a couple of weeks ago. I had always gone in through Kelley's Break Room in the past, so thought I would check out the other side.

      I have my laptop with me most of the time, so I had the pictures handy. I don't know if they learned anything, but I had fun.

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