Common Sense; Not So Common Now

Well, it finally happened; I am now thinking and talking the way my parents used to think and talk. I even make that annoying and disparaging “tsk, tsk” sound, too. Way back when many of us crawled out of the primodial ooze (say, the 1950’s), our parents taught us the following “common sense rules”:

  • Do not speak to strangers
  • Do not take candy from someone you don’t know
  • Say “please” and “thank you”
  • Look both ways before you cross the street
  • Be respectful to your elders; they have lived a lot longer than you have, and they know a ton of stuff you don’t know
  • When given a gift, write a thank you note
  • Don’t walk down the middle of the road (are you stupid or suicidal?)
  • Never ever get into a stranger’s car
  • The whole world does not revolve around you
  • If you don’t learn how to drive a car safely, then you better get used to taking the bus
  • Do not lie to your parents; they always know when you are lying
  • If you don’t follow the rules of the house, get ready for punishment
  • Do not swear; it is rude and makes you sound ignorant
  • Pay attention in school; your teachers know more than you think
  • If you want a new bike, work for it
  • Using the telephone is a privilege, not a right
  • Do not use up all the hot water for your bath; other family members would like to take a bath, too
  • If you want a pet, learn to care for it properly and be responsible
  • If something is too good to be true, it probably isn’t
  • You are a working member of a family, so do your chores and stop whining about it
  • Remember that history can repeat itself
  • By the time you are in middle school, you should know how to do the following:
    • Wash and dry dishes
    • Take care of your clothes; washing, drying, ironing
    • Make your bed properly
    • Make simple meals
    • Try different foods; don’t go by looks alone
    • Don’t judge people unless you have walked in their shoes
    • Don’t be rude
    • Think first before you speak

Of course, there is much more. We called it “common sense” back then, and it was a part of life that kept us safe. Our parents made sure that we would be ready in every way to face the world on our own. When we did something wrong, we were called on it and were punished according to the crime. Back then, the worst thing a kid could do was something downright stupid. It not only endangered the kid, but it also reflected badly on the parents.

You see, back then parents parented. They did not want to be their childrens’ best friend, they wanted to be the right kind of parents who taught their children the ways of the world and how to survive in it.

In these days, it seems as though common sense has been kicked to the curb (along with many other things that were useful and part of a child’s growing-up years). Whenever I see a kid (old enough to know better) walking down the middle of the street, earphones on, eyes on their phones; I think ‘who raised you to be that stupid?’

These times remind me of the song from Bye, Bye Birdie about kids today:

I don’t know what’s wrong with these kids today!
Who can understand anything they say?
They are disobedient, disrespectful oafs!
Noisy, crazy, sloppy, lazy, loafers!
While we’re on the subject:
You can talk and talk till your face is blue!
But they still just do what they want to do!
Why can’t they be like we were
Perfect in every way?
What’s the matter with kids today?”

One thought on “Common Sense; Not So Common Now

  1. Inkplume says:

    When I was a kid, a dime could buy you a cup of coffee and you could make a call from a phone booth for a dime. My father had 2 sayings, both of which involved dimes:
    1) Always have a dime on you so you can call home (today kids have cell phones, which cost much more than a dime);
    2) If we did or said something dumb: That and ten cents will buy you a cup of coffee.

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