Of all the things I miss about the time in which I grew up, I miss the packaging most. Yes, the packaging. In simpler times, we didn't wrestle with childproof caps, tamper proof shrink wrap, vegetables and foods sealed into bags that would withstand rocket re-entry from a moon voyage. No! Caps twisted, popped and bags zipped open with ease....sigh.
This all came to a head this morning as I struggled to open a bottle of rice vinegar. The screw off cap seemed to be quite enough protection to me. (After all, the terrorist warning codes for vinegar haven't been elevated in months.) The inner plastic block with a round rubber pull-ring seemed over the top. It is, after all, vinegar. Of course, the pull ring broke, leaving me with two options. One: find a very sharp, thin bladed knife and dig the whole thing out or, two: get dressed, get into the car and drive to one of our local football-field sized grocery stores to look for more. I opted for the first, all the while cursing the people who work overtime to come up with the impenetrable packaging that protects us all from those who would foul our vinegars.
These small aggravations always make me think how unnecessary this stuff was in my youth. I guess one might glean from todays security measures that people are more inclined to tamper with food or steal things nowadays. I've read a few stories about tampering with food and OTC drugs, and I understand the bulky, uncooperative packaging of so many items is to make theft more difficult. This wasn't something necessary to keep me on the straight and narrow when I was a kid, because I had the greatest deterrent to theft ever known to the world....a fully engaged mom.
I am not looking back at my childhood with rose colored glasses, lots of kids has "sticky fingers" back then, too. I remember some girls bragging about shop lifting; they considered it a sport. I asked one girl, sporting a freshly acquired cashmere sweater, how she accounted for a stack of things that didn't belong to her. Her response was her mom didn't pay any attention, and if she did notice the girl just said she had borrowed it from a friend. No problem.
Here is just one of the ways my life was different from those gals: boy did my mom did pay attention! If, on some sunny Monday afternoon, my mom had been filling my dresser drawer with freshly washed, Montgomery Ward cotton underwear and her fingers had struck a vein of cashmere she would have investigated immediately. Her mom-radar would have locked onto anything that had not come through our front door under her watchful eye. She knew what I owned, how much it cost, and what my babysitting money had been used for. In true Mom fashion, could also detect a lie before it crossed my stuttering lips; if she had identified a stolen item I guarantee the woman would have marched my shameful butt right back to the store to return it. It never would have crossed her mind that I might have been embarrassed and scarred for life; no excuse would have changed my fate. In addition, I'd have been grounded so long she might have missed out on grandchildren altogether!
We certainly weren't rich, but I had the luxury of a stay-at-home, dinner-on-the-table, full-time parent. She wasn't Donna Reed or Harriet Nelson....but she did her job so well I was shocked to discover how tough her career choice had been when my own kids came along. We need more fully engaged moms and dads today, an army of parents armed with love and expectations!
Next time you're struggling to open a vinegar bottle, or free a cd case from its three-foot square, shrink-wrapped block of plastic, or locate someone in the store who can open a locked case so you can buy a phone cord, remember this: When we don't have the security of enough fully engaged moms and dads, we must make up for it in other ways.
It's a different time and a different world, but the need for parents who pay attention has never been greater. Hold your kids accountable...and hold them close to your heart. Let them know you’re on the job, because it's the only way to teach your kids the things that stay with them for a lifetime.
Life is Good