Three kids, a hot summer day, and a pool. They are going to make quite a splash! It’s playtime! Hey kids … Any room for grandma?
The best thing about retirement is not working. It may sound obvious, but not as much as you think. Not these days when many people either start a new career when they “retire,” or need to take some kind of crappy job to supplement social security which isn’t enough to live on.
There are plenty of other life changes that come with retirement. Not working is only one of them, but it’s my favorite. Pity it means giving up a steady paycheck, but if you can do it … not working is wonderful. It’s particularly wonderful for those of us who have hobbies and never had the time to pursue them while we worked.
After you stop working, you never know what you will be doing in the future, but you know what you won’t be doing.
You won’t be slaving long hours for an unappreciative boss.Getting up at the crack of dawn to scrape ice from the windshield. Driving 60 miles through bumper-to-bumper traffic to be restless and bored for 10 hours. Then getting back in the car and driving another sixty miles in the other direction in the dark when you’re already beat. You may well be perpetually short of money, but you won’t be fighting traffic or grinding your teeth wondering if you’re going to get dumped for a younger, cheaper worker. Discover your job’s been eliminated to improve someone’s bottom line.
You never have to call in sick again, not because you are really sick or if you need a day to take care of a child, business, or just a day off.
Ever learn you’ve lost your job by reading the headlines in the newspaper? I did. Twice. It takes the savor out of that morning brew.
Retirement is the good part of being older. It’s the payoff. You get to own your life. For most of us, it’s the first time we’ve been free.
When you’re a child, everyone owns you. Parents, teachers, strangers. You have to be clever, sneaky and lucky to get to do what you want. Then you go to college and work — often both at the same time — and your boss and professors own you. Deadlines, time clocks and ambition drive you onward to goals you believe will make you happy. Maybe they will — for a while. Then again, maybe not as much as you thought or hoped.
You marry. Have children. And find yourself treading water in an ocean of obligations and responsibility. Children are a lifelong committment. Long after your legal responsibility ends, your emotional responsibility continues. You want to be there for your kids, then your grandkids. That’s the way it should be.
If you don’t have to work while you do it? It’s better. Much better. Did you know half the kids in the U.S. are being raised by grandparents? Parents are busy with work or whatever — unable, unwilling or unfit — to raise their own. There are lots worse things that can happen to a kid than being raised by gramps and gran, but many of us find ourselves reliving the parenting years just when we though we’d finished with all that. Being retired makes parenting much less stressful. You get to stay home. You aren’t imprisoned by commuting and The Schedule. You can finally take a trip to the zoo, help with homework. Play a game, talk about life. There’s time for fun, not just work.
If you aren’t taking care of grandchildren? You have the gift of time and it’s no small thing. Be a blogger. Be a photographer. Sleep late. Stay up till the wee hours watching movies, reading, writing the novel you always wanted to write but never had time. Rediscover music. Join a choir. Retired people are busy people. I’ve been retired for quite a while and I have yet to be bored.
Do I miss work?
I miss the salary. Every once in a while, I miss the camaraderie of a good office environment. But most offices weren’t all that great. Many were thoroughly unpleasant.
I served my time. Whatever I have left, long or short, belongs to me and mine.
As we head into Major League Baseball’s post season — and the Red Sox are in it (yay) — Garry is obsessively glued to the television. And football is starting, so there is an unrelenting stream of sports playing on the big TV in the living room.
The sportscasters were talking about somebody getting stuck with an error because he couldn’t catch a ball on a bad bounce and how hard it is to catch them when they take an unpredictable bounce.
Which got me to thinking about stickball. These guys are paid gazillions to play professional baseball. They have parks with groundskeepers, bases, uniforms, baseballs and even bats! How would they do without all that fancy stuff, huh? We didn’t have any of that. No siree.
We had old broomsticks and pink rubber Spalding balls. Seriously, even our broomsticks were worn out. If it was any good, your mother was using it and it had a broom attached. You try to take that broomstick and she’ll beat you with it. And the ball? Half the time, they weren’t even balls anymore. They were lumps of old pink rubber that had sometime in the past been balls.
So, assuming you actually hit it (dubious), you had no way to predict where it would go. All the bounces were bad. Those things were crazy. Since the bases were “the red car over there” and “the big maple tree in front of Bobby’s house” and everyone agreed the manhole cover was home because it was more or less in the middle of the road … while third was the drainage grate over the sewer … that left us wide open for serious disputes about fair versus foul. The team who was most vigorous in pursuit of fairness or foulness got the call, especially since we were our own umpires.
If those expensive athletes had to play stickball, how well do you think they’d do, huh? I’d just like to see one single game of major leaguers playing stickball with an old broomstick and that pink rubber ball bouncing all over the place.
They would learn humility in a hurry. So I say — make them play stickball!! Oh, and make A-Rod the ump. That’ll show’em.
Not Los Angeles. Nor old movie stars full of Botox to make them “look younger” (really makes them look like corpses, but I digress). It could be a metaphor of that West Coast city and many of its inhabitants.
I’m talking about My World. A small, form-fitting world populated by beautifully dressed, if slightly dusty hard plastic people. Mostly girls, a few men and boys. The girls are my favorites because they take me back in time and spirit as effectively as any wormhole in the fabric of time. When I hold one of my dolls, I’m young again …and it is a time and place when my best friends were dolls.
You must not blame the girls for their plasticity. They are not plastic by choice, after all. I wonder, had they been given their druthers, if they would have preferred living flesh. I don’t know. As it is, they have stayed young long after time would have ravaged their beauty. You never know. So many “real” people choose to emulate my plastic pals, perhaps they are the model for women of the future as the world drifts to them. They become iconic images of past and future.
I have an awful lot of dolls. When I start taking pictures of them, I inevitably find myself concentrating on those I can most easily access, the dolls on easy-to-reach shelves. Others are high above my head, often crowded together and difficult to photograph in situ.
My collection is mostly hard plastic dolls from the 1950s. Some are from the 1960s and a very few from later, the early 1970s. I also have quite a few older composition dolls. These were made of sawdust, glue and paint and typically come from the 1930s and early 1940s.
It’s interesting to see how the concept of dolls changes through the decades. It’s a reflection of how girls and childhood are viewed by society as a whole. From the grownup, almost motherly dolls of the teens and twenties, to all the pretty long-haired girl dolls who dominated the industry from the 1940s through the early 1960s — you can tell what people thought of girls by the dolls with which they played.
Suddenly, in the mid 1960s, dolls looked either as if they’d taken bad acid or became fashion dolls resembling Hollywood stars. The dolls industry has always been in love with Hollywood, of course. Shirley Temple, Margaret O’Brien, Sonja Henie were just a few of many dolls based on movie stars. Book characters have been a long time favorites too as well as historical characters. Today’s American Girl dolls come with books of their own and the tradition continues.
The trend to fashion dolls moved from Hollywood to the ubiquitous Barbie … probably the longest lasting fad in doll history. I don’t understand it having never liked Barbie. Maybe it’s an age thing. By the time Barbie appeared, my doll-playing days were over and my collecting days were long in the future.
Today’s dolls range from very weird to traditional, soft-bodied girl dolls. Despite endless attempts to turn dolls electronic, dolls have stubbornly resisted. They have remained toys requiring imagination, not batteries. Everything else appears to have fallen to some version of computerization, but dolls are still silent little plastic people to whom little girls can talk when no one else will listen.
Are they spooky, my silent friends? Not to me. To me they are merely peaceful and quiet, lacking any mechanism for speech. Yet they are also eloquent. They watch. They see. All the decades through which they have survived are captured in their oddly expressive glass eyes. Their sweet, sometimes sad smiles.
Do dolls covet and yearn? I think they want only to be cuddled by some little girl. A little girl enchanted by having finally found a friend who listens and never interrupt. And will in stillness dwell.
- Plastic Pals – Dolls of Yesteryear (teepee12.com)
- Daily Prompt: My Favorite Toy: Staying in Focus: Dolls Rule! (patcoyle53.wordpress.com)
- Bree – from The Dolls House (adollsday.wordpress.com)
- Having the Barbie Blues Today. (vandajensen.wordpress.com)
- Daily Prompt: My Favorite Toy: Staying in Focus: Dolls Rule! (patcoyle53.wordpress.com)
It can be a tough old thankless task being a devoted parent or loyal family member. You can spend your whole life raising those little ones, bouncing them up and down on your knee, taking them to the park and buying them ice-creams and sweets, showering them with gifts year after year at Christmas and on birthdays. You’ll spend time, energy and money ensuring they have a great time as you take them to theme parks and fairgrounds, teach them how to ride their bike, protect them from danger and comfort them when they hurt themselves. As they get older you’ll try to give them advice and help them with their choices in life, guiding them the best you can. You’ll have arguments with teachers, neighbours and friends in defence of your family, even when you know deep down your clan was in the wrong. And when they need you, you’ll be there. Always; without question. Then they go through the metamorphosis of puberty and things change.
When your sons, daughters, brothers and sisters, nieces, nephews and grandchildren grow up, for some, all that time and love you put in will count for nothing. You’ll find the respect you feel is due is forfeited when you call it in. And if you’re unfortunate enough to find them hurtling along a rollercoaster of decline, your love will make you reach out to stop them; but if that descent is too steep and the decline has gathered too much pace, the best you can expect is that your arm will be ripped off. At worst, if you can’t help but cling on to save them, they will drag you into a maelstrom of pain and despair and neither one of you will come out of it good. You may get your respect due at the end, but there may be too much damage done to all parties for it to make any positive difference. It is a pretty tragic and desperately sad aspect of a fractured or dysfunctional family unit. So much so it makes me think that blood and genes make you related, but only proper respect and loyalty makes you family.
I was thinking about this very thing and feeling sad. How painful to have learned so much at such a high price, yet have so have so little influence over events.
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