Forward Living: Our kids are all right

05/17/2011 12:29 AM |

Celia Ianelli

Frank and I were dining out with friends and, as usual, the conversation was lively and varied. Unusual, however, was that the chatter bypassed our health and settled on kids: our kids, grandkids and everyone else’s kids. Several times during the meal this question was raised: “What‘s wrong with kids today?”

Although this column is titled “Forward Living,” let’s rewind to the ’50s and ’60s, when some of us were kids.

Differentiating between the sexes was easy: Gals wore skirts, dresses and jeans (at the time known as dungarees). We rolled up said jeans and paired them with our dad’s white dress shirts. Guys wore button-down shirts with cuffed jeans or white T-shirts under black leather jackets and boots.

Friday-night dances were central to our lives. Gals sported sprayed-to-death bouffant hair and wore crinolines under poodle skirts. This getup gave us a circumference of five feet and added two inches to our height. (We thought we looked chic!) My favorite guys slicked backed their hair into a DA; others had crew cuts.

We slow-danced to Connie Francis crooning “Who’s Sorry Now” and Elvis singing “Love me Tender.” At the CYO dances, the nuns patrolled the gym and strictly enforced the “no close dancing” rule. Actually, the crinolines made close dancing a moot issue.

The nuns relaxed while we jitterbugged to Bill Haley and the Comets’ “Rock around the Clock” or Chuck Berry’s “Johnny B. Goode.” However, they frowned when Jerry Lee Lewis belted out “Great Balls of Fire.” (Hmm — I did catch Sister Josephine tapping her foot.)

Gals loved Elvis; some guys didn’t get Elvis, yet they took pains to imitate him. Chubby Checker taught us two new dances: the Twist and the Pony. Alan Freed, Cousin Brucie and Murray the K were the iconic DJs that dominated the airwaves.

Television needed no parental controls. Shows like “Leave It to Beaver, “Father Knows Best” and “Happy Days” idolized the American family. TV kids were polite; the dad dressed in a shirt and tie — and always knew best. The mom, a homemaker, wore shirtwaist dresses, high heels and a perpetual smile.

Because we married young, most gals skipped over college, although some of us earned our degrees later.
Methinks we never fully outgrew the doll phase; instead, our girls were clad in frilly dresses with matching hair bows and white Mary Jane shoes. Our boys wore saddle shoes and knee socks with short pants. (Forgive me, my sons.) Shoes required white shoe polish and those shoelaces! Lest you think we were too neurotic, our kids wore sneakers and jeans for play.

Back to 2011.

Jeans, unisex clothing, girlie-girl outfits, neon hair and guys sporting earrings are some of the norms. I don’t get Lady Gaga arriving at the Grammy Awards in an Egg; nevertheless, the gal is engaging. Pink and Kesha, aka Kes$ha (not a typo), although glitzy, are entertaining. But wait! Didn’t Elvis dress in flamboyant jumpsuits? And remember his swivel hips?

Today’s TV families are more grounded in reality. (Lord knows how many cumulative hours our generation spent in therapy bemoaning the lack of a perfect family.)

Many kids send and receive 2,000 text messages a month. Yours truly had the telephone cord stretched into the basement (no cordless phones) and yakked for hours. Mom couldn’t hear me whispering, “I dig … Joe is groovy.”
Two incomes are a necessity. Most moms multi-task and don’t have time to play dress-up with their kids. (Lucky kids!)

What’s wrong with kids today? Nothing!

If you’re in doubt, check out the song “Kids” from the musical “Bye Bye Birdie.” Here’s a sampling.

Kids!
I don’t know what’s wrong with these kids today!
Who can understand anything they say?
Why can’t they be like we were.
Perfect in every way?
What’s the matter with kids today?

Incidentally, “Bye Bye Birdie” is a satire on American society in the ’50s. Wanna guess who they were singing about?

Ms. Iannelli is a resident of Jamesport.

10 Comment

  • Marriage is between two people who love each other…..Period end of sentence!

  • Here’s betting those 50 to 75 cyclists took up a lot less road than 50 to 75 cars.

  • Yeah, the overwhelming amount of shiny pickup trucks that nobody needs or the oversize Hummers that carry a family of 3 should never be inconvenienced for even a few seconds.

    Bike – runs on fat, saves you money.
    Car – makes you fat, runs on money.

  • Here’s betting that a majority of those cyclist crossed over the white line into traffic, didn’t signal when turning or coming to a stop, ran a stop sign or rode 2-4 riders wide. Biking is an excellent alternative to driving but you are a hazard on the road if you ignore the LAW and don’t ride safely. I have witness hundreds of riders ignore the rules of the road and it makes me angry every time. Please if you are a bike rider please have some common sense and beware of your surroundings as well because if you make a mistake on a busy road you can end up dead and no one wants to be a part of that.

  • @Logic,

    With all due respect, bicycles are traffic. Cyclists are bound by the rules of the road. But I have also witnessed hundreds of drivers ignore those rules.

  • Mr. McGreevy,
    You have every right to your religious beliefs as do I, but in this country, with all it’s diversity, religion should not persuade or influence the civil liberties of any citizen. Separation of church and state is alive and well in New York. The Constitution wins.
    Tom Spackman

  • Here’s one for Mr. Edelson. I guarantee he gets it’s meaning 180 degrees wrong even though it (probably accurately) predicts our future in his world. “Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded — here and there, now and then — are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty. This is known as “bad luck.”‘

  • roger_rainey
    You forgot to attribute your quote from
    Time Enough for Love http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Robert_A._Heinlein

    You accuse Edelson of being unable to understand your fantasy quote, yet you don’t seem to be able to understand his reality quotes.

  • Benja, what is the basis for stating that I don’t understand his quotes? I said absolutely nothing about his quotes in my comment. That is pure attack dog. Of course, I understand his quotes. Anyone can understand them. They are an irrelevant mishmash of stuff, but they are certainly understandable. Secondly, I didn’t say he wouldn’t understand my quote. I just said he would attribute a meaning completely different than what Heinlein meant. So, aside from your demonstrated ability to Google things, I am starting to have an idea who does not understand much in this correspondence.

  • At least I understand that I don’t understand everything. Your own mishmash is full of shtuyote and kushkushim!