People often talk about the "good old days", and start to wax nostalgically. Me, I've never seen the point. I look back at most of my childhood and think of what doctors, dentists, computers, and so on were like; and I say: good riddance! Yet, there are some areas where I think people are right, and one is simple, old-fashion birthday fun.
One particular birthday stands out, mainly because we celebrated it in school. Now, these days, it's not politically correct to have any birthday fun at school. No, we've purged our schools of so many things. We can't let the kids draw jack-o-lanterns for Halloween, because that's demonic, or insulting to the Wicca. They can't celebrate Thanksgiving, that's an example of oppressing the Indians. Oh, excuse me, the Native Americans. And they certainly can't acknowledge the "Big C" - Christmas.
But, when I was six - a few thousand years ago, birthday fun was a staple of our school. This one day in early September, I learned about that. The day was nearly done, and Mrs. Bresnahand announced that it was Susan's birthday. This was quite an event, she was turning seven, and it called for some birthday fun. We didn't decorate or have a big cake. No, it was much simpler than that. We got out the Dixie Cups, had some juice, and each of us got a candy bar. Now, I'm not talking about those "bite-sized" itty-bitty ones they hock these days. No, these were the full-sized suckers! Yeah, now that's some major league birthday fun, in my book.
And then came the announcement of the birthday spanking. I was confused by this; why would someone get spanked? That didn't sound like birthday fun to me. Yet, Susan didn't so much as bat an eye; she just crawled over Mrs. Bresnahand's lap for her seven spanks, and one to grow on. My jaw dropped so low, I thought it was going to unhinge from my face! Spanked in front of all her friends, this was birthday fun?
It was afterwards, as we were all walking home, that I learned from my friends that this was a tradition, and Susan assured me that it hadn't been hard at all. Still, it seemed very strange, and not at all what I would consider birthday fun.
And now, looking back on it, I realize that this is yet another aspect of our lives that's changed. Today, what with political correctness, if a teacher did that to a child, they'd be accused of being a child molester!
There are many aspects to the past that should be consigned to history. But it does seem that, in some areas, we've gone too far. A little harmless birthday fun at school is not going to bring down the nation, but it can make a lot of kids smile.
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Combining the gimlet-eye, of Philip Roth, with the precisive mind of Lionel Trilling, AJ Robinson writes about what goes bump in the mind, of 21st century adults. Raised in Boston, with summers on Martha's Vineyard, AJ now lives in Florida. Most of the time he writes, but sometimes he works at Disney World to renew his fantasies and get a few dollars more. AJ writes, with insight and passion, about his family and his dog. His liberal, note the small "l," sensibilities often lead to bouts of righteous indignation, well focused and true.
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