A Wonderful Essay About Afterschool TV…and Life

Loved this syitfinzkk
essay about Soupy Sales.
Maybe you will too. Note the last couple of paragraphs. And thanks to Angela Gunn for sending it in.  — Lenore

19 Responses to A Wonderful Essay About Afterschool TV…and Life

  1. Kirsten November 5, 2009 at 10:27 pm #

    The last paragraph, specifically the last sentence, is especially telling, to me, of what’s changed.

    “Looking back, it was risky, even if it was necessary. A lot of things could go wrong. Occasionally they did. But most of the time, when we reached out to the grown-up world, it reached back, gently.”

    We don’t reach back gently as much anymore, instead we look the other way. The concept of ‘it takes a village’ is dwindling. Hardly anyone wants to take responsibility of teaching or helping a child lest they be confused for one of the bad guys. If more people would do the right thing, consequences be damned, the more eyes could be opened as to the wrong direction things are heading (have headed). It’s a difficult decision to make but I think we need to – think of the children! 🙂

  2. Melissa November 5, 2009 at 10:36 pm #

    What a beautiful thought. This is the type of childhood I would love to give my children. Real experiences in real life, not shut away behind walls and doors. I want to do my part to help make the world an exciting, beautiful and yes, safe, place to exist.

  3. Aaron November 5, 2009 at 11:01 pm #

    My job has an appeal to children. I am lucky to work on fun stuff and all the time get kids calling me on my toll-free line at work. I always treat them like adults and patiently answer their questions. I send them samples, signatures, old copies of trade magazines, etc.

    I am thrilled they are interested in science, business, and more. Many are latch-key kids and call without their parent’s permission (mom comes home, they hang up quick!)

    As a child, I don’t think I ever had the confidence to make calls like that. Whether a child or adult, you never know who you are speaking with and what kind of an impact you’ll have with your answers.

    Think back to school days. What do you remember more: the day in and day out with your teacher OR those few assemblies where an outsider brought a special skill to your life (science guy, fire safety, historical reenactor, etc).

    My town is a special place and I’ve developed a reputation here as well. Kids come by the house fairly regularly with questions their parents can’t answer.

    If only one kid is inspired by my answer, works hard, and is lucky enough to improve humanity’s lot, then I will have had a successful life. That may sound a bit sappy, but it’s all any individual can hope for.

  4. Tracey R November 5, 2009 at 11:35 pm #

    I’m passing your site along to my kids, Aaron, and to some homeschooling groups. Looks like cool stuff.

    Good article. Looking back, I think my parents were maybe a little overboard on protectiveness, given that we lived in the country in a small development of about 12 houses–but then, my brother had special needs, so maybe that’s why my mom was almost always there when I got off the bus. There was one time that I was dropped off by my carpool from nursery school to find no one home, and a note on the phone telling me to call my dad at work. I had only just turned 4 and I had a brief panicky moment before I saw the note. I called the number and he explained what was going on. I wasn’t old enough to really cook anything and I was hungry, so I managed to get myself a cookie by climbing on the counter by the fridge to get to the jar. My mom got home an hour later.

  5. Jan S November 5, 2009 at 11:56 pm #

    That’s a very touching essay, thanks. I think I’ll send that one on.

  6. jim November 5, 2009 at 11:57 pm #

    Loved the story about the trip to the Indian consulate for a grade-school project; kudos to the consul who had the courtesy to treat a kid like an adult. Being treated lke an adult teaches kids how to act like adults; being treated like a kid until your 18th birthday results in 18 year old kids. I frequently find myself on Saturday afternoons walking around our inner-city neighborhood with my favorite 8 year old, whose parents trust me with “in loco parentis” (that’s Latin for “crazy substitute parent,” I think) status. I’m a Cold War submarine vet, and most of my friends are fellow vets. It has been a real eye-opener for her when we run into one of my vet buddies – who treat her with dignity and courtesy, which she returns – and see the brotherhood we share; she is also quite a bit ahead of the curve on current events and recent history for a third-grader.

    As a comment on the above “it takes a village” comment (PJ O’Rouke once remarked that the “it takes a village” quote origninated in the ancient African kindgom of Hallmarkia) I’m reminded of an interview I heard several years ago on NPR with a very insightful psychologist/ author. He had the unusual notion that while girls are fairly easy to raise (mainly, teach them not to get pregnant or drop out of school and they’ll be fine) but it takes a tribe to raise boys. By which he meant a group of parents who have same-aged boys, and in all homes the standards, rewards, and punishments are the same. When I heard that I said “Oh, you mean like growing up in small-town Missouri in the 60s” where my friends’ parents were expected to make sure I behaved the way I would at home, and if I didn’t my folks would have heard from Gary’s or Steve’s mom before my Schwin Buzz Bike turned into the garage.

  7. Mae Mae November 6, 2009 at 2:18 am #

    I am loving all these positive posts! What a great essay. I, too, remember being allowed to do things like the writer and it taught me so much more than an encyclopedia ever could have. Then again, when I was in grade school (in the 80’s) the teachers encouraged this type of interaction with the community.

  8. Alexicographer November 6, 2009 at 2:29 am #

    This is a great essay.

    Jim, your quip ““Oh, you mean like growing up in small-town Missouri in the 60s” where my friends’ parents were expected to make sure I behaved the way I would at home, and if I didn’t my folks would have heard from Gary’s or Steve’s mom before my Schwin Buzz Bike turned into the garage,” reminded me of a story told by an aunt-in-law, though about (obviously) a girl. As a teen growing up in WV, she knew how to drive and wanted her license. But the DMV was two towns away and only open on Tues. and Thurs. afternoons; her parents worked and couldn’t take her. Fed up, she drove herself (illegally, obviously) to the DMV where she asked an officer where to park. Having parked and gone in, she then found the SAME officer behind the desk. He gave her her test, which she passed, and her license, but by the time she drove home, the officer had reached her mom, who said, “OK, give me that license,” when she walked through the door. I’m not sure at what point she was allowed to have it back!

  9. Birdsong November 6, 2009 at 5:21 am #

    Thanks for sharing this story; I remember Soupy Sales from my own childhood, but hadn’t heard elsewhere that he had died. That approach of speaking directly to his audience was a large part of his appeal.

  10. lunzy November 6, 2009 at 10:01 am #

    I once called into the local music video show and was mentioned on air. woo hoo! total celebrity at Jr. High the next day. I also remember calling local radio shows and hearing our requests mentioned. No one helped me, my cousin and I just thought it would be cool.

    total side note about coming home to an empty house… I stay home, but realized my son needs to know what to do if something happened and I wasn’t home to greet him after getting off the bus. We made a phone list, with photos of the people on the list and he’s been practicing how to dial and what to say. I can see how proud he his when he calls his grandparents and says “I called you all by myself!” I know he will be armed with information if ever needed.

  11. Otto Henderson November 6, 2009 at 10:04 am #

    Laughed out loud at your line:
    “”it takes a village” originated in the ancient African kingdom of Hallmarkia)”
    Will be using that one whenever I hear the terrible treacle I am exposed to on a daily basis at work.
    “Ancient African kingdom of Hallmarkia” … I’m still giggling.
    And thanks from another cold war vet, land-missile type. I was posted at JFK’s “Ace in the Hole”.

  12. DJ November 6, 2009 at 11:44 am #

    Did you notice the part where he gave Soupy Sales his address for the autographed picture to be mailed to? Horrors!–giving out a child’s address to a stranger! (dripping with sarcasm here)

  13. Marion November 6, 2009 at 8:33 pm #

    About that ‘it takes a village thing’… The problem is that nowadays parents would love it if only Other People would prevent kids from harm and take a bit of their responsibilities, but God help the Other Person who would dare to – even gently – reprimand their Little Precious!

    Yes, that sounds harsh, but, grumpy old woman that I am, I’m seriously fed up with the My Child Is A Unique Snowflake attitude that seems to prevail nowadays.

    A friend of mine is a high school teacher. She teaches hulking 15 and 16 year olds, who generally adore her because she is strict and no-nonsense and fair. She occasionally has reason to give on of her ‘little darlings’ detention for this, that or the other, and when she does, she can count on the parents to call her (at home! At night!) to scream abuse (I’m not kidding) at her and to even threaten to ‘put her face in’, etc.
    Are these parents yobbos from the wrong side of the tracks? No, these are all middleclass people, who wouldn’t dream of phoning their co-workers or their boss at home and screaming abuse at them. But then their co-workers or their boss never gave their precious offspring detention.

    When I was a kid, our teachers were God. If I had had detention, my parents would be mad at ME for doing something to deserve detention. I would never have dared to play ball near the neighbour’s fragile rosebushes or kick a ball against the neighbour’s walls. One word of the neighbour (“don’t kick your ball in my roses!”) and we would scatter. No backtalk! Everybody knew who the kids belonged to, and one complaint to my parents would mean a serious ticking off.
    You try to tell a child today that it need to stop kicking your seat (in the cinema or airplane), stop screaming its silly head off in the library or something like that, and watch that Harpy from Hell, a.k.a. ‘The Mom’ descend on you, ready to scream at you that You Don’t Tell My Kid What To Do (and watch how the kid absorbs the knowledge that it is okay to scream rudely at strange people, since Mom does too)

    “It takes a village to raise a kid” only works if you respect the villagers and teach your kids to do so as well.

  14. NJMom November 6, 2009 at 9:52 pm #

    This is a wonderful essay. The last line says it all: “When we reached out to the grown-up world, it reached back, gently.” Thanks for posting it, Lenore! It made my day and once again gives support to my decision to raise polite, respectful Free-Range Kids. (Not that my children are always so polite and respectful; but we work hard on it!)

  15. Molly Santa Croce November 6, 2009 at 10:37 pm #

    I loved this essay! It makes me realize that I must have been born in the wrong decade….

  16. jim November 6, 2009 at 11:23 pm #

    @Otto – always good to run into another ICBM vet – we must have been out of our minds. The folks in charge certainly were. Remember, the nuclear option is just another option. This is a handy philosphy to keep in mind if you find yourself volunteering at your neighborhood middle school. Haven’t nuked the kids yet, but it is always an option….

    BTW, my favorite 8 year old 3rd grader is actually a 9 year old 4th grader; what with PTSD and radiation exposure I sometimes miss out on the details. Anyway, she’ll be marching with me with the Veterans For Peace contingent in the Veteran’s Day parade on the 11th.

  17. Andy November 7, 2009 at 12:52 pm #

    “But most of the time, when we reached out to the grown-up world, it reached back, gently.”

    How do we get the world back to that?

  18. Otto Henderson November 7, 2009 at 7:13 pm #

    Oh, not really, just gullible. After all, the president wouldn’t do anything stupid, would he? 😉
    Remember now, some of my missiles were aimed right at my home town area of Omaha because of its proximity to SAC Headquarters. Ah, the old days of Mutually Assured Destruction. Brings a tear to the eye, eh?
    In spite of it all, I’m proud of my service done in good faith (since shattered irrevocably…) and my daughter’s service as an Iraqi Vet in good faith (also shattered to bits…).
    We both work together, now, to bring our fellows back from the brink.
    Anyway, I miss those times of knowing there was a friend on the old black and white. My personal favorite was Bob Keeshan. And yes, I too was a latch-key kid, weaned on Warner Brother’s cartoons as well as the Captain.
    And oh, yeah, I didn’t dare mess around in the neighborhood, either. We weren’t in any village, but eyes were upon us and our escapades, nonetheless.

  19. jim sherman November 8, 2009 at 2:11 am #

    @ Otto – Welcome Home, Brother! Sixteen empty missile tubes and a firestorm from Berlin to Valdistock, and now it’s Miller Time! (Sorry, gals, it’s a really strange guy thing, unless one of you happens to be a USAF Minuiteman vet.)

    What i really hate about this stupid, stupid @&^# ing war is that I work with inner-city minority teens and I told them for years that if they couldn’t afford college to join the military. Four years in a blue or green bag, and be a 22-year old freshman on the matching-funds GI Bill. Can’t recommend that any more; I’ve spent too much time with kids who have done a tour or three in Sandland. I hate this war. Our military is a mess because of it. Never go to a war started by draft dodgers seems to be the lesson,

    God Bless your daughter; give her a hug and a “welcome home” from me.

    Jim (one each)
    Qualified in Submarines