Play Dates

 An Oldie, but Goodie. Originally posted in July 2016….

Like most Baby Boomers, from the time school let out at the beginning of summer until I trudged the seven blocks back to school after Labor Day with my shiny new school supplies and my book bag left over from the previous year or handed down from my sister, I played outside.

After a breakfast of Frosted Flakes with bananas on top (as a wink and a nod towards actual nutrition), I put on my pedal pushers and my sleeveless plaid blouse, considered – then rejected – my flip-flops (then called thongs), and ran outside barefoot to my back patio.

“Eee-ah-kee, Kathy,” I yelled at the top of my lungs. This was my way of contacting my best neighborhood friend and inviting her to come out and play.

“Eee-ah-kee,” she would respond, and be over at my house in a heartbeat.

I don’t know what eee-ah-kee means or from whence it originated. We are not American Indian. It just became our cry for fellowship. There was, by the way, no need to holler, as my childhood friend was just a quick scamper past our garage and through Mrs. Benda’s garden. But holler, we did.

And play, we did. Games that called for imagination. Riding our bikes. Playing tag. Spying on the neighbors to the south. Playing with our Barbie dolls. Writing and performing plays in front of our patient mothers and neighbors. Occasionally stopping for a glass of Kool-Aid that was toxically loaded with red dye. Taking a break for a salami sandwich and milk. Finishing up quickly as I heard in the distance, “Eee-ah-kee, Kris.”

More call to play.

Baby Boomers everywhere recall these days with joyful nostalgia. Metal playground equipment that was scalding to the touch which didn’t stop us from using them. Merry-go-rounds that you took turns pushing as hard as you could. Mostly we stayed on, but sometimes someone fell off and required Mercurochrome and a band-aid. See? It wasn’t all sunshine and roses. We actually hurt ourselves. We had scabs to prove it. Mercurochrome, by the way, was banned by the FDA in 1998. It’s a wonder we’re still alive.

I often see postings on social media from fellow Baby Boomers recalling these simpler days. I know that our kids are safer now than we were. I don’t purport that we return to the days of riding bikes without helmets. But still, I don’t see scores of Baby Boomers wearing head gear caused by falling off a merry-go-round.

A friend of mine recently posted on Facebook a link to an article from the reputable publication Psychology Today. This article, written by a smartypants as indicated by the fact that he has a Ph.D., reports that rates of depression and anxiety among young people are on the rise, and have been for several decades. He goes on to say that this psychological phenomenon appears to have nothing to do with the idea that our world is inherently more dangerous. During the Great Depression of the 1930s, World War II, and the ensuing years when we all thought we were going to be blasted to Kingdom Come by a nuclear bomb coming straight out of the Soviet Union, we were all still happy campers.

And the reason for the increase according to Dr. Peter Gray? Kids no longer have a sense of personal control over what is going to happen to them. The reason, he goes on to say, is that kids no longer play outside unwatched by any sort of parental figure. Instead, they have Play Dates. As a result, kids no longer solve their own problems. They don’t figure out how to fight their own battles. Instead, parents help their kids make decisions (when they’re not actually making the decisions for them). Parents are choosing their kids’ friends. Kids aren’t able to choose their own interests. Instead, they are put on soccer teams and into gymnastic classes. They must study, study, study because they have to get into the best schools and for heaven’s sake, they MUST go to college. As a result, they are spending more time than ever in school, and less time in free play with their friends.

I don’t know if Dr. Smartypants is right or not. My grandkids seem perfectly happy with their lives. But it does make me sort of sad that they haven’t the opportunity to experience summer in the same way that I did.

And, by the way, kids still drink red Kool-Aid, though I’m certain it’s made with safer coloring.

Here is a photo courtesy of a fellow grade school classmate who somehow had access to this permanent reminder of our youth. I am pretty sure I am the little girl with my back to the camera in the middle row, third from the right, uncharacteristically wearing my glasses. The top row features the women who served us every day at cafeteria. While they look wholly unpleasant (except for the woman on the far right who didn’t get the memo that she shouldn’t smile), I recall them actually being quite pleasant. Ah, sweet youth….

cafeteria line circa 1960 (2)

 

Remember That?

One day last week, I prepared a key lime pie to serve as dessert that night to friends who were coming over for dinner. I whisked the egg yolks, I added the sweetened condensed milk and the Joe & Nellie’s key lime juice. I poured the mixture into a prepared graham cracker crust and put it in the preheated 350 degree oven. I set the timer for 15 minutes.

And then I promptly forgot about the pie in the oven and left for Walmart. I remembered it some 45 minutes later as I was driving home. As I raced down our 25 mph street at about 45 mph, I was envisioning the house in flames, or maybe even already burned to the ground. Hey, it’s my nightmare. I can envision the worst if I want.

My house wasn’t burned to the ground. In fact, despite the oven being at least 20 years old, it was smart enough to have shut itself off. It was flashing the words HOT HOT HOT. You see what I’m saying? My antiquated oven that positively SCREAMS 1992 is smarter than I…..

This stove is so old I’m surprised the time isn’t in Roman numerals.

I subsequently drove to the grocery store and purchased the necessary ingredients to remake the pie. I put it in the oven and sat at the table and stared at the timer as it counted down so as to not make the same mistake twice in one day. I like to dole out my stupidity slowly.

My sister Bec had kept one of her remote controllers in a pen holder in her kitchen for a long time. At some point she decided that was a silly place to keep the remote, so she put it in a sensible place. You see where I’m going, don’t you? Yep, she hasn’t seen the remote since.

I reckon everyone over the age of 50 starts to worry about dementia any time they forget where they put their remote.  Many of us – particularly Baby Boomers – have stories like the ones I just told. When I told Jen about my key lime pie stupidity, in very sisterly fashion, she comforted me. “You just have a lot going on right now,” she said. I nodded in agreement. And then it occurred to me that I have absolutely nothing going on in my life. I’m retired, so no worries about work. At the time the event took place, all of our kids and grandkids were not even in town, so I couldn’t use that as an excuse.

I wonder, however, if we Baby Boomers overthink our situation. According to an article in the April/May issue of the AARP magazine, the risk of dementia is actually 27 percent lower today than it was a mere 18 years ago. The drop is attributed to our healthier lifestyles.

By the way, the article goes on to say that there is some evidence that being a tad overweight actually protects the brain, at least after the age of 70. Since I’m 64, my being overweight simply means I’m eating too much. But in a mere six years, I can happily announce that eating endless amounts of chips and salsa is good for my brain!

But back to overthinking. It occurs to me that there were very many times when I was a young adult that I couldn’t figure out where something went. Many years ago, my mother put together a photo album for each of her kids that featured pictures of each of us as we were growing up. What a great idea! And I loved that photo album. And then I lost it. I have never been able to imagine where I would have put it. I have many other photo albums. I have pictures of me in college. I have countless photos of Court and all of his cousins throughout their growing-up years. But I don’t have the pictures of Bec and Jen and Dave and I sitting around our Christmas tree or feeding the chipmunks while on vacation. It’s up to my siblings — all who still have their photo albums — to share photos with me. Thanks Jen…..

At the end of my life, when I am facing St. Peter, I hope he asks me if I have any questions before he tells me where I’m going to land. Yep, I will say. Where is that photo album with all of my baby pictures?

His answer? It’s with your sister Bec’s remote.

Play Dates

Like most Baby Boomers, from the time school let out at the beginning of summer until I trudged the seven blocks back to school after Labor Day with my shiny new school supplies and my book bag left over from the previous year or handed down from my sister, I played outside.

After a breakfast of Frosted Flakes with bananas on top (as a wink and a nod towards actual nutrition), I put on my pedal pushers and my sleeveless plaid blouse, considered – then rejected – my flip-flops (then called thongs), and ran outside barefoot to my back patio.

“Eee-ah-kee, Kathy,” I yelled at the top of my lungs. This was my way of contacting my best neighborhood friend and inviting her to come out and play.

“Eee-ah-kee,” she would respond, and be over at my house in a heartbeat.

I don’t know what eee-ah-kee means or from whence it originated. We are not American Indian. It just became our cry for fellowship. There was, by the way, no need to holler, as my childhood friend was just a quick scamper past our garage and through Mrs. Benda’s garden. But holler, we did.

And play, we did. Games that called for imagination. Riding our bikes. Playing tag. Spying on the neighbors to the south. Playing with our Barbie dolls. Writing and performing plays in front of our patient mothers and neighbors. Occasionally stopping for a glass of Kool-Aid that was toxically loaded with red dye. Taking a break for a salami sandwich and milk. Finishing up quickly as I heard in the distance, “Eee-ah-kee, Kris.”

More call to play.

Baby Boomers everywhere recall these days with joyful nostalgia. Metal playground equipment that was scalding to the touch which didn’t stop us from using them. Merry-go-rounds that you took turns pushing as hard as you could. Mostly we stayed on, but sometimes someone fell off and required Mercurochrome and a band-aid. See? It wasn’t all sunshine and roses. We actually hurt ourselves. We had scabs to prove it. Mercurochrome, by the way, was banned by the FDA in 1998. It’s a wonder we’re still alive.

I often see postings on social media from fellow Baby Boomers recalling these simpler days. I know that our kids are safer now than we were. I don’t purport that we return to the days of riding bikes without helmets. But still, I don’t see scores of Baby Boomers wearing head gear caused by falling off a merry-go-round.

A friend of mine recently posted on Facebook a link to an article from the reputable publication Psychology Today. This article, written by a smartypants as indicated by the fact that he has a Ph.D., reports that rates of depression and anxiety among young people are on the rise, and have been for several decades. He goes on to say that this psychological phenomenon appears to have nothing to do with the idea that our world is inherently more dangerous. During the Great Depression of the 1930s, World War II, and the ensuing years when we all thought we were going to be blasted to Kingdom Come by a nuclear bomb coming straight out of the Soviet Union, we were all still happy campers.

And the reason for the increase according to Dr. Peter Gray? Kids no longer have a sense of personal control over what is going to happen to them. The reason, he goes on to say, is that kids no longer play outside unwatched by any sort of parental figure. Instead, they have Play Dates. As a result, kids no longer solve their own problems. They don’t figure out how to fight their own battles. Instead, parents help their kids make decisions (when they’re not actually making the decisions for them). Parents are choosing their kids’ friends. Kids aren’t able to choose their own interests. Instead, they are put on soccer teams and into gymnastic classes. They must study, study, study because they have to get into the best schools and for heaven’s sake, they MUST go to college. As a result, they are spending more time than ever in school, and less time in free play with their friends.

I don’t know if Dr. Smartypants is right or not. My grandkids seem perfectly happy with their lives. But it does make me sort of sad that they haven’t the opportunity to experience summer in the same way that I did.

And, by the way, kids still drink red Kool-Aid, though I’m certain it’s made with safer coloring.

Here is a photo courtesy of a fellow grade school classmate who somehow had access to this permanent reminder of our youth. I am pretty sure I am the little girl with my back to the camera in the middle row, third from the right, uncharacteristically wearing my glasses. The top row features the women who served us every day at cafeteria. While they look wholly unpleasant (except for the woman on the far right who didn’t get the memo that she shouldn’t smile), I recall them actually being quite pleasant. Ah, sweet youth….

cafeteria line circa 1960 (2)

 

No, You Hang Up First

friends-the-one-with-ross-new-girlfriend-hang-up-already-clipWhile googling something totally unrelated recently, I came across a clip from an old Friends episode that made me laugh. It was an early episode (you can tell by Jennifer Aniston’s hair style) after Ross and Rachel had broken up and Ross was on the telephone with a new girlfriend. Their telephone conversation was over but each was reluctant to be the first to hang up and they were being silly. “You hang up first,” Ross says. Pause. “No, you first,” he continues, giggling. It goes back and forth for a bit. At one point they agree to hang up at the same time, but of course neither one does. Finally Rachel, who is sitting next to Ross the entire time, has had enough. She grabs the phone and hits disconnect.

The reason I found that clip so amusing is that I find myself in that situation on a regular basis. Oh, not on the telephone. You surely know that no one talks on the telephone these days. I run into the problem when texting.

Of course, you might recall that I recently discovered that the fact that I was putting periods at the ends of my sentences when texting was offending people and I didn’t even know it. So I’m trying to be more careful about my texting etiquette.

But the problem is, how can I be sure the party with whom I’m texting knows that I received their message unless I respond? And then how can they be sure I know they know I know they received their message unless they respond back. And so it goes. It can potentially have no end.

It leads to conversations like this:

Me: What time do you want to meet?
You: Let’s say 11:30 at Village Inn. (There’s a period because it’s only with Baby Boomers that the problem exists and Baby Boomers use punctuation.)
Me: Okay, that sounds good.
You: We’ll see you at 11:30 then.
Me: Yep. See you then.
You: Ok. I’m looking forward to it.
Me: Okey dokey.
You: You betcha.

And so on.

When texting with Court, the whole issue of who ends the texts rarely comes up. Our conversations are more like this…

Me: Can you have lunch today?
Court: Yes (no punctuation)
Me: Oh good. Let’s meet at Chili’s at noon.
Nothing

Me (in my mind): Hello, hello, is anyone there?

He has received my message and plans to meet me there as I indicated. He simply doesn’t feel compelled to confirm that because he assumes technology worked. It’s always a surprise to me when he’s there as planned, though by now it shouldn’t be.

By the way, those words (Hello, is anyone there?) are exactly the words my 7-year-old granddaughter Kaiya wrote when she was trying to text me recently; I didn’t answer her initial message because I was not near my iPad. Perhaps she’s going to be a chip off the ol’ grandmother block.

I’ve discovered that I have a similar issue when leaving a voice message. I am not one who likes to talk on the telephone. So it is a mystery to me why I consistently leave messages that are way too long and full of ridiculously unnecessary information.

For example: Hi Sharon. My name is Kris. I saw your ad on Craig’s List for a Kitchenaid Mixer. I’m interested in purchasing one. I only live in Arizona in the winter and I have one in Denver where I live most of the time. But since I only live here four months out of the year, I decided it would be stupid to buy a brand new Kitchenaid, especially if I can find one that is in good condition. I’m not worried about buying used because Kitchenaid mixers are made so well that they last forever. I know someone who uses their grandmother’s old Kitchenaid. It seems silly to spend a bunch of money on something that is probably in perfectly good condition. So could you please give me a call as soon as you get this message. If I don’t answer my phone, it’s probably because I’m at the gym. I don’t take my phone with me to the gym because I’m always afraid it will get stolen or I will forget to pick it up and take it with me when I go. Lordy, getting old isn’t for wimps, is it? Of course, you probably don’t know because you’re probably only in you early 30s. I hope I hear from you soon. And, by the way, I hope the Kitchenaid you’re selling isn’t pink because pink isn’t in my color wheel. Have a great day.

I’ll tell you what isn’t for wimps – being a Baby Boomer!

Ma’am, Did You Know the Earth isn’t Flat?

So, a funny thing happened in the midst of my Christmas shopping. I came face-to-face with the way I look to young people.

17147One evening, I went to our neighborhood electronics superstore, Microcenter. I went for the express purpose of finding a charging cable for my telephone that didn’t have a plug on the end; instead, it had one of those thingamajigs that plugs into a computer. It took some time to find since my cell phone is ancient in cell phone years – maybe three years old. Whaaaaaaat? With the help of a clerk, a boy of around 19 years old, I finally found one buried underneath the Betamax tapes. Baby boomers know what I’m talking about when I say Betamax tapes.

Anyhoo, I looked at the price and it was $7.99. Charging cable in hand, I went to the cashiers’ stations and waited my turn. The cashiers – every last one of them – couldn’t have been more than 20 years old. They had the pimples and greasy hair to prove it. It was finally my turn and I approached the check stand. The cashier told me the price, and I handed him my credit card. As he was ringing up the cable, I noticed a plug adaptor that would allow me to charge my cell phone and my iPad at the same time. (As an aside, POI products were made for me. I simply can’t resist them. I can’t tell you how many tubes of Chapstick I have purchased because they were sitting there as I waited in line.) But back to my adaptor. It, too, was $7.99, the same price as the charging cable.

“Is it too late for me to buy this?” I asked Mr. Pimples.

He told me he had completed my transaction, but that he could ring up the adaptor as a separate charge on my credit card.

“Let’s to that, then,” I told him.

He rang it up and told me a different amount. Not different by a lot, but different by something along the lines of 52 cents more. I gave him my credit card again, but the fact that it was a slightly different amount puzzled me since the cost of the item was the same.

“I’m just curious,” I said to the young man. “Why is this item a different price than the charging cable?”

His answer, my friends, is the honest-to-God truth. I wouldn’t even try to make this up.

“Well, Ma’am, here in the United States we have something called sales tax,” said Mr. Pimples. “In Europe, the tax is included in the price of the product, but here it is added on.”

Ladies and Gentlemen, I PROMISE you he didn’t say this in a snotty way. He wasn’t being sarcastic. He apparently misunderstood my question and thought I was asking why the final price was different than the sticker price. He simply thought the little old lady standing in front of him didn’t understand the notion of sales tax. Because at age 125 (which is likely how old he thought I was), I had never before purchased anything in a store.

I’m sure my mouth dropped open. I was stunned. So stunned that I was speechless. But I took my card and my purchases and went to my car. When I got home, I checked the receipt and saw that the cable, though priced at $7.99, actually rang up at $7.49, which accounted for the difference.

And I’m sure I was the customer that he told his family about when he went home that night.

Sigh.

This post linked to the GRAND Social

Baby Boomer Heaven

Austin and Lilly joined me for a picnic and enjoyed the beautiful weather.

Austin and Lilly joined me for a picnic and enjoyed the beautiful weather.

I spend more time than I should complaining about getting behind a snow bird going 30 miles per hour when the speed limit is 45 or how snow birds double park their grocery carts in the middle of the aisle or that snow birds ram their carts into the back of your ankle at Costco.

All of the above are true.

However, yesterday I had a full appreciation for those of us who make up a large part of the population of the Valley of the Sun from December through May. For these past few days, the weather in the Phoenix area has been nothing short of spectacular, and you can feel the appreciation from everyone. But I must say I am noticing that Mesa area Baby Boomers – who largely come from Minnesota or Iowa or Illinois or North Dakota or Alberta or, ahem, Colorado – all currently facing snowfalls of anywhere from inches to feet – are the happiest of all.

Bill, who was making one of his many trips to Home Depot yesterday morning, dropped me off at nearby Red Mountain Park so that I could walk a couple of miles instead of following him around Home Depot and twiddling my thumbs while he decides which screws he needs from the 75,860 screw choices.

The walking path goes around the perimeter of the park, a total of nearly a mile each time around. During my three loops around the park, I passed Baby Boomers walking their mostly fat dogs, I saw husbands and wives holding hands as they strolled along. I saw men sitting in canvas folding chairs down by the lake, fishing for crappies that they toss back into the water after reeling them in.

But down to the very last one, they all smiled and greeted me as I passed them. And greeted me once again as I passed them again. Always commenting on the lovely weather. Stopping to talk to total strangers. “Where you from?” “Do you have family around here?” “Do you have a house here?”

And always, “Isn’t the weather simply glorious?”

I saw a group of six or seven men, all around the age of 70, happily riding their bicycles, and it occurred to me that these folks have worked hard for 50 years or so to reach this goal of enjoying sunshine instead of scraping ice off of their car windows or shoveling snow until there is nowhere else to shovel it. And now they simply enjoy it.

I went to the grocery store yesterday afternoon, and the man who bagged my groceries was older, likely retired but still looking for an income of sorts which he gets by bagging groceries.

With a big grin, he asked me if I ever fill out the Kroger surveys.

I admitted that I didn’t. “Oh my, he said, “you need to start doing that. You get 50 fuel points each time you fill out a survey, and you can fill out a survey every 7 days. That adds up to something like $250 a year in gas savings.”

I loved that he had my back.

“And if you mention me, I can get a sticker that I put on my name tag,” he added. “The name’s Dave, and I’m from the south side of Chicago.”

After we determined that he grew up not far from my husband, I went on my way, pledging to fill out the survey.

As I neared my car, pushing one of those coveted small carts, an older couple spotted the cart. “You can get it from her,” I heard the woman whisper to her husband.

In the thickest Scottish brogue, the man walked over to me and said (and I’m not making this up), “Ah, Lassie, if I load the groceries into your car, can I take the cart?”

I told him that would be fine, and said, “You’re from Scotland, aren’t you?”

“Aye,” he said. “How did ye know?”

Well, it doesn’t really take a rocket scientist, I thought. But I said, “My last name’s McLain.” But, as their faces lit up, I felt compelled to provide truth in advertising. “But I’m afraid I married the name. I’m Swiss and Polish.”

They forgave me because I gave them my cart.

By the way, while others are picnicking or bicycle riding or taking romantic strolls in the park, Bill is working on yet another home project, this one involving cutting stone….

bill in mask 2015To each his own.

It’s been good to be a resident of the Valley of the Sun these past few days. Now I have to go fill out a survey. I promised Dave.