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Lifestyles

May 26, 2012

A Word of Advice: Learn to appreciate what we have

"When I was a kid ... we had to walk to school, barefoot, in two feet of snow ... uphill, both ways!" How many of you have heard this line so many times your eyes automatically roll? I've heard it lots and as I get older, I realize that maybe as kids, we missed the point.

We are all so used to getting certain things throughout our childhood that we forget to appreciate them as much as we should. What we never think about is how our parents had it when they were our age. Simple things like sending email, texting, calling people and more.

One of the main things teenagers are obsessed with nowadays is using their cellphones. Now it's not so much about calling people but more about texting or surfing the Internet conveniently.

However, our parents did not have that luxury. Barely anyone had a cell phone and, if they did have one, it was only to make emergency calls. Back then, you carried change to find a telephone booth if you needed to call people. When you did make a call, you had to hope they were home to answer or else you were out of luck.

Many teenagers have the privilege of having their own car or borrowing their parents'. Usually, it's a decent car and fairly reliable. I've heard stories of when my parents were my age ... their cars were old, banged up, ripped seats, cracked dashboards, and they broke down a lot.

Sadly, their parents' cars weren't much better. From what I am told, some of them were like driving a huge rock on wet sponges.

If you didn't have nice-looking teeth as a kid, chances are you had braces. Yes they hurt; they weren't the best looking but imagine what the braces were back then. As my dad describes, they were "shiny, metallic and advertised themselves like a neon sign." They cut up your lips and you had to constantly have them adjusted.

Do you appreciate having your own TV or at least a second one in your house? Well then consider yourself lucky, because my parents had one in the entire house. You either watched what your mom and dad were watching or took a vote.

The good thing about this, though, was that it helped keep the family together.

We take advantage of so many things that no one had the pleasure of having years ago. Even what we consider small conveniences would have been modern marvels to them.

As soon as I get back from class, what do I do? I go on my laptop and check my Facebook and Twitter accounts. Could your mom or dad do that? Even if they existed back then, most people didn't own computers yet, let alone laptops. It's so convenient to have Internet around you almost all of the time; whether you are on your laptop, computer or your smartphone. Back then if you had to get information you had to go to the library or use your own encyclopedias.

With everything going on, especially the high unemployment rate, it's easy to think we have it hard. However, back then they worked for low pay, only had a few breaks and not-so-healthy work environments. Because of this, many parents could not afford to give their children money, so kids had to start working at a much younger age.

With college, many parents are helping their kids out with paying for some of it. Years ago, parents paying for college was less frequent and more kids did what my stepmom did _ worked her way through college and paid college loans.

Now ... let's get back to that old saying that most kids roll their eyes at. Hard to imagine but one day, we'll be doing the same with our own kids.

Melissa Flathmann, a 2011 graduate of Oneonta High School, is a freshman at the State University College at Plattsburgh. Would you like A Word of Advice from her? Send her an email at melissa_flath@yahoo.com or send her a letter to "Teen Talk: A Word of Advice," C/O The Daily Star, P.O. Box 250, Oneonta, NY 13820. 'Teen Talk' columns can be found at www.thedailystar.com/teentalk.

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