My generation were victims of the baby boomers. Most of us grew up without a "pot to pee in" but we didn't really know it because everyone was peeing without pots! Looking back, childhood was a gamble.....one without protective gear, car seats (or even the use of seat belts) and "latch-key" kids. My memories are filled with downhill bike races in flip-flops, hands-free shenanigans, and the obvious lack of safety helmets.....some bikers even toted their buddy who was balancing on the back of the banana seat! As a mommy now, I gasp (can we get a collective parental gasp?!?) at the very thought of my kiddos careening uncontrollably downhill without (heck, I don't really want them doing this with) the use of a helmet! I wonder how any of us in my generation ever survived.Ours was a childhood full of dangers that we would never consider letting our own offspring venture into.
Recess is the escape of school-age children. Drive by any school playground and you will witness slides with elevated if not enclosed sides, the proper amount of cushioning (to protect from inevitable falls), and a grassy area for the kids to play soccer, football, and the like. Travel back in time with me for just a moment....our playground was our retreat, the favorite period of every day. But as we ran out the doors of our elementary school we were greeted with the cushioning of....pavement, black-top, asphalt! When we fell, it hurt...a lot...as you tried to scrape what was left of your knees off the surface and hobble to the cranky recess monitor for a little sympathy. Sadly, none was to be found. Our slides were about 10 feet tall with no sides to deter our tumble. And our boys didn't play football on grass. No no. They played on the blacktop. I'd like to think it gave us character........and scars! You would also be hard-pressed to find a playground, or park for that matter, that has teeter-totters. What joys we had suspending our lighter friends up in the air making them beg and plead to be let down only to suffer the blows of the unforgiving cherry-bomb! Ahhhh- childhood memories. They make me smile.
We all rode the buses- there were no mommy pick-ups. We all had to suffer through the older bully on the bus who stole our hat, gave us wedgies, and tripped us as we tried to walk through the aisle. Most of us went home to an empty house to await the arrival of our working parents. We made our own snack, did our own homework, and entertained ourselves. There were no after school programs to attend. And we did without electronics...no cell phone with GPS so our parents could track our every move (gasp!!), no computer or Wii to captivate our little minds, and at my house, we didn't even have cable. I know I was very deprived- poor me.
The very idea that we made it through our childhood is shocking! We ran around without sunscreen- heck, at the pool, "the more baby oil, the better" was our mantra. Many a summer day my siblings, friends and I traveled in the bed of the pick-up. I even have memory of riding in the scoop of a tractor driven by an older cousin. By all measures, we should be completely disfigured if alive at all! I even participated in a little drag racing with my sis as we drove the old highway home (don't tell my parents, I'm pretty sure they might still try to ground us for that one!). We were truly invincible (if only in our own minds).
Now as a parent I wonder how, as children, we grew up to be such productive citizens without all of the gadgets my children now enjoy: iPods, computers, interactive games that tailor the content to your child, books that read themselves (we called these RECORDS and CASSETTE TAPES!), and so many new "must-have" items I can't keep up. Heck, we hardly have to hang out with our children- their electronics do it all for us!
What happened to family games, playing catch, flying kites, and watching the clouds trying to guess what shape they were???? Was our childhood so horrible that now as parents we are determined to create a different reality for our own children? On the contrary, I loved my childhood. I definitely learned the limits of life. And I have great memories of drinking out of hoses (which now is not recommended), eating veggies straight from the store (which is clearly forbidden today ), "Mr. Yuck" stickers(what the heck! No child-safety caps!!!), and never having doctor checkups (now I am inundated with dental checkups and cleanings, eye appointments, orthodontic monitoring appointments....I think I'm forgetting some). The only reason my parents took me to the eye doctor was because I was continually running into walls (looking back I now see that it is truly a life pattern).
My siblings and I have fond memories of "Fast-Eddy" boxes (imagine your child sitting inside a box and then having their sibling push them....down the stairs!) and haystack races. Ours was truly a childhood full of joys. We had an absolute blast.....but I would NEVER let my kids do the things that we did.
So parents, loosen your grip, enjoy the wonders of childhood, and grab a box.