The Little Things
By Jason Marshall
Each time we add a candle to a birthday cake, it doesn’t make us smarter. It only guarantees light-headedness from trying to blow them all out at once.
Life experience comes with age. That translates to knowledge.
You almost pass out from blowing out candles this year. So, next year you buy the two number candles that show your age. Make your wish. Little puff of air. Both are out. No CPR required.
Live and learn.
That’s how baby boomers and Generation Xers were brought up.
You want to learn how to drive a stick shift, son? Here, grab the wheel. That pedal is the clutch. The brake. The gas. It’s easy.
Swimming lessons? Pfft. Into the deep end you go.
Now kids ask Siri for a video on how to swim. Or ask Alexa, “What is a stick shift?”
Growing up in the 50s, 60s or 70s, it was purely science fiction to imagine a hand-held device that was a telephone and a camera. Ask it any question and you have an immediate answer. You can play games. Read books and magazines. Watch any movie you want any time, day or night. And video chat with family or friends. All through a screen no bigger than a deck of playing cards.
Siri, “What are playing cards?”
The world continues to evolve and technology brings with it advantages. And drawbacks.
How different would your life be today if fresh air and person-to-person contact took a back seat to screen time while you were growing up? And much of your social interaction required a keyboard.
Be thankful this wasn’t the case.
You’d have missed out on opening the weekly newspaper to find a picture of your team. Then cutting it out to put it on the fridge door.
You learned investigative skills by finding library books using the Dewey Decimal System, and by writing a book report using solely the Encyclopedia Britannica. And you built muscle mass by lugging the volumes home from the library in your gym bag.
Not one kid today gets exercise by walking to the TV to change the channel. Nor do they know the joy of having only four channels. Five on a crisp, cold night.
You didn’t find out about Canada by googling. You learned about our country through the Hinterland Who’s Who vignettes.
There were no video games to test your reflexes. You worked on your coordination by removing the funny bone with a pair of tweezers.
Your cardio health got a boost by running to the kitchen on a winter morning and listening for the snow-day list of schools on the radio. And you improved your fine motor skills by trying to tune in the local radio station manually, while adjusting the antenna just so.
Think about the other treasures today’s young people will miss out on.
Finding a dime in a pay phone coin slot. And being able to buy something with it. Then getting change.
Or finding a prize in the bottom of a cereal box.
Remember the joy of spending only a penny and getting a dozen 8-tracks or cassettes in the mail from Columbia House? Or knowing what a penny is.
And what kid’s life today will ever be complete without the Sears Christmas Wish Book?
Then there was the unbridled excitement of walking into a classroom to find a substitute teacher. Or even better: a substitute teacher with a filmstrip projector set up. Or one of those big television sets wheeled to the front of the class.
The thrill of the unknown when you went to the drugstore to pick up your photos, after dropping off a roll of film from your camera. And you had zero idea what was on it.
Don’t forget at the end of Romper Room, when Miss Nancy looked through the Magic Mirror, said “Romper, bomper, stomper boo. Tell me, tell me, tell me do.” And then you heard your name. Or didn’t. Either uplifting or disappointing. But then again, life wasn’t about getting a ribbon for everything. We didn’t always win. It was called building character.
Talk about being disheartened. Try saving your allowance for a month and ordering Sea Monkeys from an offer in an Archie comic. Then realizing they looked nothing like the drawing in the ad. Not. Even. Close.
You learned about life through living it. Not reading about it.
That’s how, all these years later, you’re wise enough to know the little things in life make all the difference.
Jason Marshall has been a writer and journalist for more than 30 years, and is an on-air host and station manager at Valley Heritage Radio just outside of Renfrew, Ontario. And he’s truly a big kid at heart. You can email him anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org