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Tuesday, April 21, 2015

It's A Shame Kids Can't Just Be Kids

I am so saddened by things I see in the news. Seeing some of the events lately where someone outside of a family decided it was their right to interfere for whatever reason, has had me thinking of my own childhood....This is just a bunch of treasured memories from my childhood, things that taught me, shaped me and have always stayed with me. It's a moment in time I wish I could give every kid.

I grew up in a different time than a lot of kids today. I walked to school by myself or with my friends from the time I was in first grade. In fourth grade I got a paper route and had to get up at around 2:30 AM to roll the papers, put them in the double sided bag that I put over my shoulders. I then walked my route. I would get finished in time to get back to the house and get showered and ready for school. I did that for several years. From day one, I was responsible for collecting the money from customers, getting new customers and even meeting with my manager to give her the money due from the subscriptions. I got to keep my share and was responsible for keeping up with it, saving it and spending it. 

During the Summer, my friends and I were all over our town, without any adults tagging along. I often left our house in the morning and was gone until it was time to go home... No matter where I was, when the street lights came on, I had to get home. After that I could still play outside, but only on our street.

 We either walked or rode our bikes all over town. We played at the park, splashed in the creek that was right next to the park. Went to the convenience store and bought slushies, "suicides" (a mix of some of each kind of soft drink from the machine) and candy and novelty toys. We chased the ice cream truck, picked crab apples from the neighbor's tree and sucked on the leaves of the peppermint that grew in a friend's yard.

On May Day we made little baskets with flowers and left them for our elderly neighbors. They in turn would bake an extra pie or share some of the veggies from their garden. We knew our neighbors and they knew us. They didn't freak out if we played in their yards, but we also had enough sense to respect their property and didn't damage or destroy anything. 

We played jump rope and jacks on the sidewalk. We drew hopscotch and wrote rhymes in the street with our chalk. We used to write out the McDonald's jingle in the middle of our street:

Big Mac, Filet-o-Fish, Quarter Pounder, French Fries, Icy Coke, Thick Shakes, Sundaes and Apple Pie!

We used to jump rope and do hopscotch to that one! :) It wasn't that any of us ate there a lot, but we saw the commercials. 

Some days were spent climbing the trees in my own yard. Some days were spent acting out Grease (it was our favorite movie!). Everyone had a part. A lot of days, my mom didn't know exactly where I was and she couldn't just pick up a phone and call me. I was trusted to behave. I was trusted to be with kids who were behaving. I was trusted to walk away if someone started doing wrong and not to join in. I was trusted to use my head.

In Winter, we built igloos in each other's yards or tunneled through snow when it was deep enough. We went sledding and "tubing" up on the Rocky Mountains that we could see from the street we lived on. We "hookie-bobbed" (if you know what that is, you had an awesome childhood too! :), we had snowball fights and made thousands of snow angles. 

I'm not saying I was an angel by any means. I DID have some wild times. I did things I know that I would totally freak out if my son did now. But I had the freedom to be kid. Freedom to have fun without being burdened like kids are now. 

I knew that there were people all over who knew who I was and how to get in touch with my parents if they saw me doing anything wrong. If I did something, my parents usually knew about it before I got home. People looked out FOR us, but they didn't stop us from being kids and having fun. I certainly never had to worry that someone would call the cops or child services on my parents for not being in my shadow every second of every day. 

Today's kids (and parents!) have so many things to worry about.  They are being exposed to so much at much earlier ages. Political correctness and over-bearing laws and codes have destroyed some of the basic things that made my childhood fabulous and taught me so much. I wouldn't trade my childhood for anything. I only wish we could allow our kids to experience those wonderful, carefree days before having to be encumbered with the knowledge of adult things. Time is so precious, so fleeting. It  gets away from us and is gone in just a blink.....

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