My Facebook newsfeed has been ablaze with retro ’70s parenting nostalgia this summer, mostly sparked by this ode to the 1970s childhood summer and also this Funny or Die video, “70s Moms,” which features a bunch of women in maxidresses smoking around a kitchen table and merrily pouring alcohol into baby bottles.
“I am done . . . I am already done with summer. And by done, I mean I am done with all the forced-smile-inducing, uber-planned and supervised, over-the-top summer life experiences I am supposed to provide for my kids,” writes blogger Melissa Fenton in a post that generated 464,000 “likes” on Facebook, “Top 10 Ways to Give Your Kid a 1970s Summer.”
“You know what I want my kids to experience this summer? The same type of summer I would have experienced in the late 1970s. The exact same one. I survived it, and they will too. As a matter of fact, it must have been pretty memorable because 30 years later I can tell you exactly what it entailed. It entailed FUN. Fun we made all on our own. What. A. Concept.”
Both pieces sparked long, wistful, funny discussions with my friends (most of whom technically had ’80s and early ’90s childhoods, but hey, same idea, different hairstyles) longing for the days of drinking from hoses, playing kickball, sneaking into movie theaters, Kool-Aid, Soft-Serve, drinking from hoses (the hose-drinking contingent was a vocal, enthusiastic group) and generally roaming around the neighborhood looking for trouble.
“Being kicked outside and told not come back to my own house until dinner at 5:30!” wrote one friend.
“Oh, the days of benign neglect!” sighed another pal, only half-joking.
Red food dye and “Love Boat” reruns notwithstanding, what exactly are we all so nostalgic for in this decade many of us did not even experience firsthand?
Chevron-striped shirts, the Bee Gees and chain-smoking around the kids?
A time when a car seat looked much like a folding plastic lawn chair thrown into the back of a Datsun?
I think what we miss is freedom.
Kids miss the freedom to watch lots of TV and do stuff that wasn’t “enriching” (and yet which often managed to yield tons of life lessons). It’s about being kids in a kid-land, rather than a landscape dominated by adults and the type of 24/7 supervision that has become the norm in so many communities across the country.
For adults, the freedom to exist in a time and space other than simply as Birthday Party Chaperone or Vigilant Watcher of Soccer Practice.
Strangely, the ’70s has become Parenting Camelot, a faraway land where kids were kids, and adults were adults.
In other words, the complete antithesis of modern parenting, which has become like politics or religion, with everyone pressured and encouraged to take a side, announce their affiliation, proclaim their beliefs loudly, proudly, stridently.
Are you permissive, authoritarian, authoritative, hands-off?
Do you make all your kids’ food from scratch, gluten-free, all-organic?
No judgment, no judgment! Whatever is best for your family!
(“No judgment” is the safe word of modern parenting, the thing we repeat to assure one another, when all the while we are judging up a storm. And worrying.)
Fearful, perhaps, that some other parent holds the key to Guaranteed Parenting Success.
Anxious that we’re not doing enough to keep our kids safe: A seemingly innocent Pottery Barn ad recently appeared in my newsfeed, featuring kids’ backpacks that could be personalized with their names.
“NEVER put your child’s name on the outside of anything they wear or carry!” exclaimed one commenter, which prompted another long and heated debate.
Nothing, it seems, is safe. Not even a cheerful navy-and-white-striped Pottery Barn backpack.
A friend’s suburban online community group recently went wild after one person posted that they often saw a neighborhood child “unsupervised” in his own back yard and, as a result, were contemplating calling Child Protective Services.
The board lit up with commenters, both pro (“It takes a village!”) and con (“He’s in his own backyard, for the love of God!”).
Yes, sometimes parenting in the teens can feel more than a little fraught.
It’s easy to see why we’d have stars in our eyes for a time when parents made mistakes — Lots of them! Sometimes epically! — and carried on.
Because ultimately, I think most of us are just on Team Doing the Best We Can. Team Making It Through the Day.
Have a very ’70s summer.
Reposted Via NYPOST