The Growing Years

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The Growing Years

In the 1960’s, there was a popular song by Bob Dylan, “The Times, They Are a-Changing”.  This song plays over and over in my mind when I look at the differences from when I was a child growing up in the 1960’s and 1970’s and now.  I was too young to be a hippie, but I remember so much about it.  Perhaps I’ve watched too many documentaries and just think I remember.  My oldest brother was influenced the most by the music and clothing trends during this period, and unfortunately, the drug culture.  We lived in the Los Angeles area during the aftermath of the Watts riots, and I remember hearing discussions about racial tensions and the hippie movement.  I’m glad I was a small child during that time, because I have no doubt that I would have been part of the sit-ins and protests if I had been older.

I remember being in kindergarten and we had a babysitter who was more than likely a hippie.  I thought she was fun because she would sit on the carpet with my sister and I and color with us in our coloring books. Once she taught us how to faint, and another time she showed us how to slap someone else’s hand, then make it to where they could feel as if you were pulling a needle and thread through the palm of their hand.  Fun times.  I guess the last straw for my parents was when she would decide out of nowhere that she needed to take a shower and wasn’t concerned about who was around.  She would just strip down and get in the shower.  I bet my brothers didn’t mind that part too much.

Amid the turbulent headlines during this era, I was oblivious to the Civil Rights movement, the Vietnam war, and Woodstock.  My dad was in the Coast Guard, so as a child growing up, we often lived in military base housing. I liked living on base more than I liked living in civilian neighborhoods because the other kids were more like us.  They knew well how it felt to be the new kid, and their parents were often cut from the same cloth as my parents.  Living on a military base also introduced me to a more diverse group of friends. There just didn’t seem to be the same barriers, racially or financially, within our group of military brats. 

Back then, we couldn’t wait to get home, then go back outside and play.  Whether we rode bikes or went exploring, we enjoyed every moment possible.  During the summer months especially, we would leave the house in the morning and wouldn’t come back in until it was dark.  Sometimes we would pack up snacks, or we would run into whoever’s house was closest to grab lunch or use the bathroom.  Sure, some days we would come home from school and watch Gilligan’s Island or something like that, but back then, we only had three or four television stations to choose from.  TV watching was much more limited. I know on Saturdays I would wake up and watch cartoons all morning and wouldn’t go outside until American Bandstand was over.

Even with a military background my parents didn’t make us say, “Yes sir” or “No Ma’am,” but we might have received a smack on the back of our head if we spoke to another adult without saying “Yes, please” or “No, thank you.”  Respect for our elders and for any authority figure was extremely important.  We were never to call a grown-up by their first name.  They were addressed as Mr. or Mrs., and then their last name.  It wasn’t until I moved to the South where I learned it was acceptable to call an adult family friend by their first name, but only if you include the Mr. or Ms. before you say their name. 

Today, I see babies raising babies at an alarming rate.  I was in my late twenties when I gave birth to our firstborn, our daughter, and was filled with fear that I wouldn’t be able to manage the responsibility of raising another human being.  How can these ‘young girls’ possibly think they can raise little ones when they are barely able to cope with life for themselves?  I see babies being toted around in one hand, while young mothers are texting on their phones with the other.  I have watched in horror as little ones are allowed to run absolutely wild in a store, and the two people who I ‘assume’ are the parents, are looking in the other direction or laughing at how ‘cute’ their little monster is.  So many of these children who are being raised by children are not being taught to speak respectfully to others and many use language that would have resulted in my having a mouth full of Dial soap if I had used that kind of language. 

Now as I watch my grandsons growing up in this new culture, it is my strongest prayer that I can instill some values that I learned growing up.  As dysfunctional as my family was, we were taught right from wrong, and we always respected authority figures.  One thing that is taking place today that I never experienced in my entire life was the shortage of school bus drivers.  When this school year began and the dilemma came up that they may not have a stop near our home, I freaked out a little bit.  I’m a single grandma that works full time, so how was I going to get them to and from school every day?  It turned out that many of the existing drivers were having to double up on their routes, causing the kids to get picked up and dropped off later than usual.  We’ve made it through the year, but what about next year?

I had a discussion with a neighbor who happens to be a teacher at my grandsons’ school.  Understandingly, we are all experiencing shortages everywhere.  The world has shifted on its axis or something because no one wants to work, and in my opinion, much of this is due to having so many handouts from the government.  Why work when you can get what you need for free?  She and I had that conversation, but she added that many of the would-be bus drivers simply don’t want to put up with the awful behavior displayed by the children.  And I say, who can blame them?  There are times that I don’t want to put up with my own grandsons’ behavior and I love them and have a personal investment with them.  Why would a perfect stranger want to be subjected to that kind of abuse daily, multiplied by thirty?  No, I don’t blame them at all.

Just as when I was a child, my grandsons hear about the high gas prices and the shortages of materials and goods in the stores.  They hear news about the current war in Ukraine and they are only too aware of the opioid epidemic.  They see the racial tensions that almost seem worse today than they were when I was a child.  But like me, they don’t seem to internalize it to where they are worried about the world around them.  Their biggest concerns still are childlike.  They love their video games, more than I would like perhaps.  Since their poor behavior has caused those precious games to be taken away, they are playing outside more and we’re playing board games together. 

The behavior that caused the confiscation of their video games has improved, but not enough for this grandma to give them back.  I’m in no rush to make it happen either. Ironically, they may mention the return of their games now and then, but they aren’t nagging me about them either.  I’m hoping they are seeing another side to playing outside and just being kids.  I see them more willing to come to church without fussing.  They still have brotherly fights between them, but I also see them playing together more.  I can even see them talking with me more, and they actually look me in the eye while doing it! 

Summer is approaching and I have them going to the YMCA summer camp.  There was no way I was going to let them sit at home day in and day out fixed to the TV playing video games.  I hope they will have a wonderful summer, one that they will look back on with a smile.  I will let them stay home and sleep in now and then.  We have plans for an amusement park getaway in July, and they are looking forward to that.  I am thankful for these small victories.

I know God has this.  He knows what is happening in the world, and in my home.  He knew the changes in the world would happen, and He knows what the outcome will be.  He knows my story and how it will play out.  He knows the stories of my children and my grandsons, and this is where I find my comfort.  I’m sure back in the 1960’s when many were building bomb shelters and stocking up supplies in the event of a Soviet Union missile strike, there were parents and grandparents, just like me, who were wondering what was to become of us, and future generations.

Yes, times have been changing, and yet, our dreams and hopes for the future are very much the same.  Although our worries may differ, the big picture of what we’re worried about is virtually the same; “What will the future hold for the generations to follow?”  There is no way to know how the world will be in the future, but we can do all that is possible to share our faith and lead them to know there is an eternal home waiting for them in Heaven.  It is our job to instill in the generations to come that God is the Creator, and He loves us all so very much.  Times will continue to change, but our God never has changed, and He never will.

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

Hebrews 13:8

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Lisa Jo – Long Beach, CA, about 1968

Bob Dylan – The Times They Are A-Changin’ (Official Audio) – YouTube

Blessings,

Lisa Jo

Lisa Hudson
Lisa Hudson



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