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School CP - November 2002


The Toronto Sun, 25 November 2002

The Perils Of Youth

It's A Wonder Any Boomer Made It

By Mark Bonokoski

Somehow, whether by fluke, design or a combo of the two, my Dear Old Mom and my Dearly Departed Dad managed to raise five kids without losing a single one to the perils of childhood or to any affliction that necessitated continued medical care.

No death by misfortune, no polio, not even a single case of asthma, the seemingly in vogue malady of today's equivalent generation.

We ate peanut butter by the barrel, as did everyone in my country school -- Lyn Public No. 7, betwixt Ballycanoe and Tincap on the road to the eastern Ontario town of Brockville; a four-room, cold water schoolhouse forever remembered for having a rather robust-smelling two-hole chemical toilet that the principal, Miss Annabelle Hudson, had to empty weekly using a dip bucket tied to a rope.

And this, by the way, was not that long ago. Some folks in Lyn actually owned televisions, albeit without plasma screens and a digital satellite feed.

Today, however, peanuts and peanut oil are universally banned in schools throughout North America due to deadly allergies, and washroom facilities, complete with privacy stalls and temperature-controlled faucets, are routinely manned by uniformed security personnel on pervert detail.

How did we ever survive?

It was Friday that my Dear Old Mom forwarded an e-mail to me, source unknown, which asked that very question while presenting a myriad of examples.


In the e-mail, the unknown writer talked of the days when children rode in cars without seat-belts or air bags, when a baby's crib was covered in brightly coloured lead-based paint, when there were no child-proof lids on medicine bottles, when water came from a garden hose not a bottle, when no one wore a helmet while riding a bike, when it was okay to hitchhike into town, when kids got cut and bones got broken without lawsuits being filed, and when playing outside for hours at a time ensured that, no matter how many cupcakes were consumed with innumerable Coca-Cola chasers, it would not end with a kid being clinically obese.

There are other things, of course, that would not be tolerated today but raised barely an eyebrow back in the days of Ozzie and Harriet.

Like the strap, for example. The aforementioned Annabelle Hudson would rise on her tiptoes to ensure the maximum strap speed, and Yours Truly can personally bear testament to the fact that she achieved her goal on each occasion. And there were three.

But no parent ever complained about the corporal punishment being levied on their child.

Today the cops would be called.

We survived, too, playing hockey without face masks or visors and, even earlier, without helmets. We also survived not being named MVP without parents taking the league to court.

Our Own Good

The Good Readership, no doubt, has a list of its own.

In his footnote, reader Tom Kelly suggested this be passed on to others who "had the luck to grow up as kids -- before lawyers and government began regulating our lives, (supposedly) for our own good."

Like protecting us, perchance, from the embarrassing political incorrectness of, say, actually calling a Christmas tree a Christmas tree?

In retrospect, it's not simply surprising we made it this far. It's an outright miracle.

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