How Did We Survive Our Childhood?


And this isn’t dangerous? Mall of Ameria.

It’s amazing my children grew up. It’s amazing I grew up. After all, my kids played with toys and had experiences that now would be considered unsafe. I grew up with toys that were much more hazardous to my health than children’s toys today and yet, here I am.

Recently I read an article that said Grandparents were a detriment to their grandchildren. In fact, there are classes for grandparents to teach us the new rules of parenting and taking care of children when we are sitting with our grandkids.

I don’t dispute we need to know the new rules for feeding and I learned no talcum powder on their little bodies. When my grandkids were born I remember having no idea what a diaper genie was, and I wondered how in the world I heard my kids without baby monitors. Some of these new gadgets are wonderful.

This week there was news which I thought was a little over-the-top. First I heard about the bus driver who always took the busload of kids to the Dairy Queen for a treat on the last day of school but this year a parent complained.

Another news item caught my attention at the same time. It was a note a teacher sent home to a mother chastising her because they didn’t approve of the packed lunch for the child. The teacher felt the treat the mother sent with the lunch was not an appropriate food choice because it was full of sugar, the offending food item is an Oreo cookie.

The final news story which caught my eye was an article about the American Academy of Pediatrics recommending no fruit juice for children under one year of age. The reason—it will cause obesity and cavities in children.

In regards to the bus driver and ice cream— apparently, the bus driver’s job and the yearly tradition of taking kids to Dairy Queen on the last day of school by the bus drivers is now in danger. Bob Collins of MPR News addressed the problem with this statement: “This might be a tradition best left to die in a changed world. Thanks to the creeps among us, school bus drivers can no longer be trusted with kids.” That is a harsh statement in my estimation. If the bus driver was known to the community and trusted the entire year to drive those kids, and he didn’t take any of the kids alone but in a group then he should be trusted to take the kids to Dairy Queen. Don’t stop the treat, just change the communication and let parents sign a release for their kids to have a treat. It was an act of kindness made into a something the kids now might think of as a scary option on the last day of school. Don’t judge all because of a few Mr. Collins. We need to not parent out of fear.

As far as packing a school lunch is concerned, notes like this seem to pop up all over the country. Since when have parents lost the right to package a lunch and include a sweet treat? I would take offense at the school deciding what I can feed my child. I would rather my child ate something for lunch instead of throwing it in the trash because they didn’t like it.

The fruit juice recommendation threw me a little. Fruit juice, cereal and more were all healthy recommendations in the “olden days” for our toddlers. Fruit juice used to be healthy and now it is a detriment to those young children’s health right up there with candy.

I may be one of those grandparents who need a grandparent class to learn how to raise kids in 2017 so I can keep my grandkids safe.  I will admit that I did get hurt growing up and so did my kids.

I will share one instance with you. I had a tin wire tower for marbles. It wasn’t fancy like they are today. I decided to see if my fingers fit in the holes of the tower. And what did I find? They fit but they wouldn’t come out. The tower had to be cut apart with tin snips so my parents could get my fingers out. Did they call the toy manufacturer because it was a dangerous toy? No! They told me I should never do that again. Were they bad parents for this accident happening? No, it was an accident made by a silly decision of a kid.

All of this news made me anxious and thankful I don’t have any more kids to raise. It would be stressful trying to remember all these rules so I wouldn’t get in trouble as a parent. It seems we have thrown out good old-fashioned common sense when raising children.

My advice is to love your children. Make sure they know you love them. And use common sense when keeping them safe and in how you take care of them. The news and recommendations will change tomorrow. What you do today will be wrong tomorrow. And you know how we all dislike being wrong?


The Mother’s Day Gift That Keeps On Giving

Something About Nothing by Julie Seedorf

Published in the Albert Lea Tribune the week of May 8, 2017

“Children are the anchors that hold a mother to life.”  — Sophocles

File May 09, 10 49 34 AMAs a mother, it is hard to let go of my children and let them lead their lives their way. I want to protect them from making the same mistakes I or others have made in the past. I pray for them every day and they are never far from my thoughts. They are always in my heart. Being a mother was the most important career I can have. 

I love to watch my grandchildren grow and see the way they mimic some of their parents’ gestures when their parents were young or how they grow to resemble another family member. I love to see them develop into their own personalities.

I think most mothers feel the same way. I have noticed when talking with other mothers on my writer’s journey there are many lonely mothers out in the world. They are not lonely because their children don’t love them; they are lonely because life for their children has become so busy a phone call or a short visit may only happen occasionally, or on Mother’s Day. But life is busy, perhaps busier than my generation when we were raising our children. Plus, there is also the distance many families now face with children living all over the United States and abroad.

Mother’s Day is next Sunday. The stores are full of flowers, and restaurants are filling the advertising spaces with ideas of gifts for that special mother. While gifts are nice, I have a feeling that what mom wants is to spend quality time with her children, especially if you are a mother whose children no longer live in the area or live at home.

Those of us who have lost our mothers will tell you that perhaps we can give you this advice because of regrets from the past of the things we never did and said while our mothers were alive.

My family wasn’t a hugging family, so I can probably count on my two hands the number of times my mother and I grabbed each other tightly and gave a hug. When we did it always felt awkward because that was not our relationship. But now, I wish I had one more awkward hug I could give her. I wish I listened when she talked about her past. I wish I made it a habit of asking about her day more often.

In conversations with other mothers I have heard the reasons why kids, adult kids, don’t call their moms at least once a week, or if they live close, stop in for a visit. And because we are moms and we love our kids, we accept what is happening with their life because we don’t want to put more pressure on them. We always want to make our kids’ lives easier. We have all heard these words in conversation: “The kids are busy. They run from morning until night between work, household chores and getting their kids to their activities. They say they just get busy and forget to call.”

Every person needs someone in their life to ask them about their day. Every person needs someone to care about how they are feeling. It might take a few minutes for a phone call, but those few minutes may make a difference in the life of a mother, especially if mom is older and less mobile.

I watch as everyone sits in restaurants on their cell phones; I do too. And I wonder if we put away our texting for a few minutes — if we turned off the television or took a five-minute break from the hectic schedule if there would be time for one five-minute phone call to mom.

I am blessed as I already have a Mother’s Day invitation this year. My kids live within two hours, and I visit with them on a regular basis. I hope that continues as I grow older and am less mobile.

Near or far, take the time to give your mother a Mother’s Day gift that lasts all year. Give her a gift certificate with a promise to call her once a week, or if you are close by, stop in occasionally and have a cup of coffee, give her a hug and ask about her day. Let her know that no matter where you are, she is a priority when it comes to keeping in touch. After all, you were a priority of hers from the minute you were born, and she would have it no other way.

Wells resident Julie Seedorf’s column appears every Monday. Send email to her at

Ask The Youngsters The Meaning of Labor Day!

labor dayLabor Day is celebrated the first Monday in September to honor American workers. It is a tribute to the contribution workers make to the strength and well-being of our country.  The first Labor Day was celebrated Tuesday, Sept. 5, 1882, in New York City, planned by the Central Labor Union. In 1884 the first Monday of September was selected as the holiday. It is referred to as the “the workingmen’s holiday.”

There is dispute as to who the father of Labor Day is: Peter McGuire, general secretary of the Carpenters Union of the Brother of Carpenters and Joiners and also co-founder of the American Federation of Labor, or Matthew McGuire, a machinist and secretary of Local 344 of the International Associations of Machinists.

As with so many traditions that we celebrate, the reason these holidays are celebrated is lost in translation. I wondered how many young people understood the reason for the Labor Day holiday. Many do not. To the younger generation Labor Day is the last hurrah before school starts, fall sets in and people get back into schedules after the summer. Many do not know why the holiday is called Labor Day.

Over the years there has been a big shift in our nation. Unions are not so prominent anymore. Factories and factory worker jobs have disappeared and moved overseas. Factories used to be part of the backbone of labor and provided good incomes for families. Factory workers were proud of their work.

My uncle worked for Douglas Aircraft Company starting somewhere in the 1940s. The company merged and became McDonnell Douglas in 1967. They were an aerospace company. My uncle and his co-workers were proud of their work and liked where they worked. He liked the working environment and felt the employees were treated fairly by the company. His pay was very good. He worked there from the time he was a young man until his retirement at the age of 55. The company had very good retirement benefits letting him retire early, a benefit for the hard work he had put in with the company.

We need to remember the reason for the Labor Day holiday. We need to teach our children the history of the holiday. We need to embrace the workers of America and that includes jobs that are not glamorous and sometimes are downright dirty.  We need to honor those who pick up our trash, clean our bathrooms, work in factories for low pay, take care of our children and our elderly, work at home-based businesses and work as CEOs of companies. We need to honor the police, the medical doctors, the teachers and whoever works to put food on their table, whether it is those who are wealthy or those workers who scrape to put food on their table. They all make up our great country of America.

Laborers today, whether they are a clerk in a store, a waitress or a company person, need to feel appreciated. I had a problem with book piracy on Amazon. I was impressed by the fast help I got from one of their employees by the name of Selene. I have never had a better experience anywhere, and it was because of Selene. I asked her if she liked her job. I knew the answer before she told me — it was yes. I already knew the answer because of her helpful and cheerful attitude. I could feel her smiling through the telephone. She is happy working for this company. It followed through to the service she gave me. She felt appreciated.

In talking to other workers at other companies, many were just happy to have a job. Some had a problem coping with the stress of their job because of bad management, a difficult boss and rude customers. Yes, folks, we as consumers can be a rude bunch, and we as bosses can be more concerned about the bottom line than our employees. We need to keep that in mind when we celebrate Labor Day. Being in the labor force is not always easy but people stick with it to put food on their table. Without the labor force our country would be at a standstill.

My uncle worked for McDonnell Douglas his entire working career. That doesn’t happen too often now. Companies aren’t always loyal to their workers, and workers aren’t always loyal to their company so the workforce is constantly changing.

On this Labor Day talk to your children about the value of the American worker and what they contribute to the strength of America. If you don’t know the history of the holiday, use your handy-dandy search engine on the computer for a quick history lesson. We can’t go forward with success unless we visit the past and know our foundation and what kept it strong. Thank you to everyone in the workforce today. You are a valuable asset to our country.