From a reader in Australia, older NZ readers will also relate

I watched a doctor on TV recently (Norman Swan on Australian Broadcasting Corporation) telling us that we needed children to play in the dirt with their dogs and cats and be allowed to build up some immunity! Well bugger me — who would have thought?

My mum used to cut chicken, chop eggs, and spread butter on bread on the same cutting board with the same knife and no bleach, but we didn’t seem to get food poisoning. Our school sandwiches were wrapped in wax paper in a brown paper bag, not in ice pack coolers, but I can’t remember getting E.coli. Almost all of us would have rather gone swimming in the creek, the lake or at the beach instead of a pristine chlorinated pool (talk about boring), no beach closures then either?

We all did PE at school and risked permanent injury with a pair of Dunlop sandshoes or bare feet if you couldn’t afford the runners instead of having cross-training athletic shoes with air cushion soles and built-in light reflectors that cost as much as a small car. I can’t recall any injuries, but they must have happened because they tell us how much safer we are now.

We got the cane or the strap for doing something wrong at school, they used to call it discipline yet we all grew up to accept the rules and to honour & respect those older than us. We had at least 40 kids in our class and somehow, we all learned to read and write, do maths and spell almost all the words needed to write a grammatically correct letter — funny that!

We all said prayers in school irrespective of our religion, sang the national anthem and saluted the Flag and no one got upset. Staying in detention after school netted us all sorts of negative attention, we wish we hadn’t got. And we all knew we had to accomplish something before we were allowed to be proud of ourselves. I just can’t recall how bored we were without computers, Play Station, Nintendo, X-box or 270 digital TV cable stations. We weren’t!

Don’t even mention about the rope swing into the river or climbing trees.

Oh yeah… and where were the antibiotics and sterilisation kit when I got that bee sting? I could have been killed!

We played “King of the Castle” on piles of dirt or gravel left on vacant building sites and when we got hurt, mum pulled out the 2/6d (25 cents) bottle of iodine and then we got our backsides spanked.

Now it’s a trip to the emergency room, followed by a 10-day dose of antibiotics and then mum calls the lawyer to sue the contractor for leaving a horribly vicious pile of gravel where it was such a threat.

To top it off, not a single person I knew had ever been told that they were from a dysfunctional family.  How could we possibly have known that? We never needed to get into group therapy and/or anger management classes. 

We were obviously so duped by so many societal ills, that we didn’t even notice that the entire country wasn’t taking Prozac!

How did we ever survive?