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Crow's-Feet Chronicles: The times they are a-changin'
By Cindy Baker Burnett
Mar 6, 2017
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When I received a bad test score in school, I had until my mother got home from work to devise a plan to tap into her sympathetic heart. This always softened the blow. Today, teacher-to-parent emails ruin valuable scheming time for school kids. Mama knows the test score before a child has a chance to pick a scab ‘til it bleeds.  

Even if my teacher had called my mama, she couldn’t have scolded me on the phone until our yacking next-door neighbor got off the party line so the call could be completed. 

These days the parental text message scolding begins before the end-of-school bell rings.  

Mother: “Lucy! 60! Seriously?” 

Lucy: “SUP?” 

Elementary kiddos have their own iPads, email addresses, and cell phones. Moms and dads create their kids’ email addresses, like pickupyourdirtysocks@yada-yada.com or mymomiswatchingeverymoveImake@gumption.com.

One of my granddaughters is in the second grade, and it just dawned on me that she never had to use a fat pencil. How does a child learn to write without wrapping his chubby fingers around a tree-trunk-sized pencil and pressing it into the Big Chief pulpy paper? Today’s students complete assignments electronically, often not even using real paper. At least they can use “cyber gremlins” as an excuse for the teacher not receiving the work. My best excuses in high school were pathetic: “I couldn’t do the homework because my typewriter doesn’t have Roman numerals on it.”

And how do little girls avoid sleeping on brush rollers the night before school pictures are made? Never mind the airbrushing that corrects the gap in the front of the hair when the scissors tempt a youngster into home barbering.

Dress codes weren’t up for discussion back in my day. On the coldest of cold days (snow on the ground and ice crystals in the indoor dog’s bowl), girls miiiight could get away with wearing jeans underneath a dress. One spring day we had a city park outing and two girls showed up at school wearing Bermuda shorts. We envied them. They were sent home to change, and we envied them for getting to go home. 

While our wardrobes weren’t extensive, we had three sets of clothes: church clothes, school clothes and play clothes. Today, anything worn is appropriate for all occasions. My poor brother was a victim of static cling one winter when he was in grade school. The teacher found my mother’s panties stuffed in the back of his desk. Think of the embarrassment when he pulled them from the sleeve of his cardigan sweater.

We weren’t required to bring permission slips to school for field trips when I was a child. Things changed by the time I had kids of my own. As a working mother, I was always rushed to get three children ready for school. On one occasion, my son had a field trip, but I couldn’t find the permission slip anywhere. Finally, I wrote a note to the teacher explaining I had lost the form but granted permission for him to go on the trip. Later I got a call from the teacher saying the note I had sent was scribbled on the back of the “lost” permission slip.

Maybe the times they aren’t a-changin’ that much.

 cindybaker@cableone.net