As I look back on my parent’s job of parenting, it amazes me exactly how naive the 60’s and 70’s were. My parents did, or allowed, things that quite frankly would have their children removed by DFS if done today. We would sit in the front seat of the car, completely unrestrained except for mom’s arm which would automatically swing out whenever she had to stop suddenly. Sometimes we would be sitting on dad’s lap, helping him steer our bright red 63’ Chevy wagon down the highway. And when we weren’t in the front seat, we were often laying down in the way-back (the cargo area of a station wagon, behind the back seats) with all our camping gear floating around us, a hundred lethal projectiles surrounding us as we cruised the highways at 85 MPH.
Then there’s the summer we spent on Martha’s Vineyard. Yes, they hired a nanny to watch over the 4 of us while they were working the deal for my dad’s Calculus book. But picture a family of 6 cruising around in that 2 seater Fiat my dad is standing next to. Mom & dad in the front seat, the 4 kids (ages 3, 6, 9 and 11) sitting on the trunk with our feet, safely anchoring us to the car, in the space behind the front seats. Tell me that wouldn’t bring a social worker to your house these days. Oh, and the hitchhiking. We were allowed to hitchhike all over the island. Of course, the 3 year old was not allowed to participate, and the 6 year old could only hitchhike if accompanied by the 9 and 11 year olds. But my older brother and I had free run of the island.
Yeah, those were the 60’s. When my parents were still the up-and-coming suburbanites. Then the 70’s came, with my mother’s cancer, chemotherapy and the subsequent doctor-endorsed (for my mom at least, and quite nudge-nudge, wink-wink) marijuana use. Curfew at my house during my teen years was (actually a very strict) 9:00 on school nights and, well, “Call and let us know if you’re too drunk to drive home and going to spend the night at your friend’s house” on weekends. My friends knew this, and would call for me if I was already “asleep”. It was not unheard of at Friday dinners for me to say “We’re going camping, I’ll be home by 9:00 on Sunday.” and simply get a “Have a great weekend.” from the parents. Which leads to the whole purpose of this tirade – the prelude.
My dad was, and still is, a very prominent Professor, he was hired by the University to help build a world-class department because of his reputation and connections. This meant that he and my mom did a lot of traveling, leaving a house full of teenagers completely unattended. This is the prelude to the future post to be titled “Fun with Cops, part I”, a week during my senior year in high school where, at 17, I was the oldest one in the house.
Now, before you ask yourself “is this guy writing this from behind the bars of a state prison?”, despite all those things my parents did that would get them arrested if they were raising kids in 2010, they did a pretty damn good job. All 4 of their children graduated high school. 3 went to college. NONE of us have a criminal record or have even had any serious problems with the law. 3 of us are married with children, one with grandchildren, and all 3 who have been married have never been married to anyone but the person they are currently married to. We have all spent our lives supporting ourselves and our respective families, never expecting anyone to take care of us financially, other than during emergencies.Whatever my parents did do wrong, they must have also been doing something right.