We don’t know how our two children survived their childhoods!

They were born in the raucous days of the 70s, early 80s…you remember, bell bottoms, polyester leisure suits, long mops of hair.

Ah, ha, ha, ha, Stayin’ Alive, Stayin’ Alive…Saturday Night Fever, what a great disco movie!

The good old days…

As good parents-to-be, we absolutely swear we went to childbirth class. Or what passed for class at that time. There was a teacher, but what she might have said was a blur. Husbands and wives both attended (it was always husbands and wives then!) and we did bring a pillow. Maybe it was for sleeping in the class? Who can recall?

We flunked out of class, though! Baby #1 decided to come before we went to the last two classes. To this day, we earnestly believe there was a secret passed along that we never were told!

There was no class for what happens after the baby is born. That much is very clear. Mom had to stay in the hospital each time due to Caesarean births. At least that gave us a few extra days before we were out on our own.

There were certainly books available about infants. We think. You had to go to a small storefront bookstore to look. Big bookstores (and, of course, the internet) were not around. The book made famous by Dr. Spock (not the one with the ears from the TV show!) was still being widely used and he had many of the common sense tips new parents so often need. All the best stuff from the 40s and more…

And there were two grandmothers around. Who had lots of advice. And some of it was actually helpful!

But we were so uneducated (per today’s standards) that it is a wonder our children grew and flourished!

Here is what our children had to endure to make it through to today:

  1. Breast feeding was suggested but it was not the mandate it is today. Bottles with formula seemed to be just as good.
  2. We used glass bottles that had to be sterilized. Maybe they were boiled?
  3. We used rubber nipples that were definitely boiled to sterilize them.  And lo the unlucky new parent who forgot the nipples were on the stove. You ended up with a molten mess of rubber, ruined a pot and had a burning smell that lasted for weeks in the house. And that everyone then breathed!
  4. We had a nice new crib with drop-sides and plexiglass on the ends. And we had colorful bumpers, as well. Up-to-the minute modern!
  5. The kids were put to sleep on their stomachs, to avoid choking, should they spit up in their sleep. Seemed to make sense.
  6. Swaddling was not such a big deal at that time. We are sure we did it, but it must not have been for too long. What was the big deal?
  7. Our kids were fed solid foods at 3 months of age.  Rice cereal was big then. And soon, they were lusting for mashed up bananas. Mmmm, such delicacies for the little ones.
  8. The bottles were heated, of course. One never gave cold drinks to an infant.
  9. The food was heated, too. There were no microwave ovens, which we would have surely used if we could. We heated the food in a little food warming dish that had a gel in the base that was electrically warmed. There is probably one of these in a museum somewhere!
  10. We took our kids out in the world as soon as we could organize and manage it. It was good to expose them to germs.
  11. We had two car seats. We had a backwards facing tub for infants that used a single seat belt to hold it down in the front seat. Yes, the front seat. And later, we had a little sit-in throne that was seat-belted in the back seat. Yes, it did have a head-level strap that was attached to an anchor. That anchor had to be bolted to the back shelf of the car. The same back shelf made of thin sheet metal that would likely give way in a heartbeat during a big crash. There was no LATCH system.
  12. All the rattles and other toys were made with whatever was deemed cheap enough by the manufacturers. There were no BPA-free items..I am not sure anyone outside of a PhD chemist knew what BPA was. Or that maybe it mattered.
  13. We were ultra progressive. We had pacifiers that were shaped just right to fit in the mouth and have the tongue press against it. They were much later determined to cause orthodonture problems. So much for being progressive!
  14. We did not soothe anybody with music or other sounds while they slept. Bedtime was a cheery event..with the object of having a child-in-the-bed-sleeping.  On their own.  Like we did.
  15. We let older children ride untethered in shopping carts. We only had one of our two ever fall out. That’s not too bad, is it?
  16. We had a bike seat on the back of one of our adult bikes. It had metal support bars all around and a touch of padding on the seat and back. And it even had a strap to hold the kid in. We didn’t use it too much.  Thank goodness!

And lots more that we have thankfully forgotten!

Today everybody seems to know a lot more about infants and children than we did. And there are more sources and more ‘standards’ than ever. The best of intentions and modern science are teaming up to give kids a better than ever start in life.

And it is probably all for the better. Why not do the best you can? We agree that things do change and can be made better.

We hope, though, that after all the new books and all the new standards that parents don’t forget a couple of things..things that probably aren’t in the books.

You should love your kids.

You should pay attention to them and spend time with them.

You should include family and friends in your kid’s life for that is how memories are made.

You should otherwise make their childhoods as bright and full as you can.

These are the things that matter most and that will help your kids grow up to be warm and happy adults.

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