Thursday, April 26, 2007

Scandalous Doings

I was driving home from picking up a new printer last night when a word on a commercial truck caused a memory flashback.

But first, let me tell you one little thing about the printer. I knew what printer I wanted, and it was on sale (which probably means that it's to be discontinued). And since they only had the floor model left, they also threw in an extended warranty for free. The only caveat was that they no longer had the box, but they had all of the parts and even showed me some printer cartridges. The operative word here is some.

Yes indeedy: this is a six cartridge printer, but when I examined the contents this morning, there were only four cartridges. So, in order to get this printer set up, it will be necessary for me to expend more carbon-based fuel to drive back into town today. Sigh. Maybe I should buy more offsets — which would offset the good deal on the printer. Just kidding about buying offsets, eh?

So, back to the main plot. The word on the truck caused me to start singing — an old song, a song from elementary school, a song that I doubt if I've heard since. It doesn't matter what the song was or is; it's just that I started to sing it, and I'm not sure why because I've seen that same sign any number of times without reverting to music. The point, however, is that in the odd functioning of my tiny little mind, the singing triggered yet another memory — a memory of the time my class was entered in a music festival.

Our class took a commuter train into downtown Montreal. We sang our piece and scattered. Yes, we scattered to find our own ways home. Maybe the rest of the group stuck together, I don't know; but, I do know that I and my friends went off to do our own thing. We were in grade eight — only grade eight, mind you (but we felt ever so grown up) — and yet we children scattered to the winds in the heart of a big city.

When I apply today's standards, I am almost appalled, for children being permitted to roam the city on their own simply wouldn't happen now and would be considered scandalous if it did. There would be an investigation, and teachers' heads would roll — off the chopping block!. But nobody batted an eye back then. It seemed normal and acceptable, and we managed.

I sometimes wonder if the pendulum has swung a little too wildly. Maybe we coddle the kids a little too much? Maybe we're over-protective? But now that I have a granddaughter (you just knew that I would mention her, didn't you?), I guess I will join the throngs of over-indulgent, over-protective adults. Times have changed after all.


Rhea said...

Times really have changed. I know someone who grew up in Boston (where I live now) who wandered the city as a little child and it was commonplace to do that. The only bad thing that happened is she once rode her bicycle off a dock and into the Charles River.

Heather said...

I feel a little torn about this. Yes, I agree that we've become overprotective and even somewhat paranoid. But on the other hand, my oldest daughter has to start taking city transit to school in grade 7, and then I think "why can't she take the school bus a couple more years?"

Gina said...

My dad was telling me the other day how he used to roam the wilds of Pennsylvania as a child, from abandoned mines to quarries to forestland. Most children these days will never get to experience something like that. I think it is sad.

Coll said...

Times have certainly changed.. even from when I was raising my own kids. Sad in many ways. Children need a certain amount of freedom and alone situations to learn how to problem solve and get along in this world. But most of all, I wonder how many kids today feel that same sense of adventure that we once did.