Childhood today is much different from a generation ago and that of course was different from the one before and so on. Much has been said about my generation and how our parents couldn’t possibly parent the same way they did without people judging or possibly even calling child services on them for being negligent. We spent much of our days away from home, without our parents knowing where we were or what we were doing. Parents then were more permissive and didn’t seem to worry about everything as much. Even when we were home, we were largely unsupervised.
Though I have many fond memories of spending time with my mom, playing board games or working in jigsaw puzzles, when we had friends over, she somehow found ways to occupy herself. Of course we would check in from time to time and get permission for some things, but basically we knew the rules and she was confident we would follow them.
One of these requests was to roller skate in the basement. At the time, we lived in a split level house, with the family room on the ground floor, the living room, dining room and kitchen were up several stairs and the bedrooms up another level. We kids and our friends spent most of our time in the family room but sometimes would go to the finished basement where there was a pool table, piano and sitting area. In the late 70s, roller skating was popular, our school sponsored frequent trips to the roller rink and we would sometimes also go on weekends.
At home, we sometimes skated outside, but this wasn’t possible when the weather was bad. So we asked to skate in the basement. It was okayed. The pool table made a convenient oval to skate around and we brought a turntable down with us so that we would have music – just like at the roller rink. We blasted the tunes and took turns as DJ. Though we skated rather fast for such a small space, miraculously no one ever got hurt. Of course among the kids, this made her an ultra-cool mom. No other mom would have said yes.
This arrangement occupied many hours that summer and I guess Mom didn’t really notice the floor – I suppose it took a while for the gray marks to show up and her trips to and from the basement usually were while carrying a loaded laundry basket. When she saw the effects of our activity, the basement roller rink closed (by this point, the novelty had worn off and we weren’t as interested anyway) and she spent a couple days on her hands and knees with a bucket of soapy water and a collection of SOS pads. Amazingly, the floor looked good as new when she was done.
I’ve since asked what she was thinking allowing this and she has answered, “I really don’t know.” She may not, but I think I have an inkling. Sometimes as a parent it is worth it to say yes to something that will cause you more work, if only to bring some joy to your kids – or to get a few moments of peace.
14 of #52essays2017
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