Thursday, 13 September 2012
Remember how free we used to be? We were encouraged to make our own decisions. And it was ok if we made bad ones? Because if we made bad ones, we paid for them and learned to not do them again. We weren't always rewarded for doing the right things, but it made us feel good about ourselves. It worked just fine. We made our own choices.
Well... most of them.
Mom always made us play outside. If it wasn't raining, we were not to be indoors.
What, you thought I was talking about society? No, I was talking about kids. We were outside. ALL. THE. TIME. We knew when to come home. If you lived in town, it was before the street lights came on. If you lived in the country, before the sun finished setting. And did we have fun back then!
A lot of you younger kids have no idea what I'm talking about. Stop and think. What are some of your greatest childhood memories? I bet you don't have a lot of them. Why? Because your childhood was wasted with video games, TV, internet, or an overprotective parent.
We had magical childhoods. I remember every winter, running around on the road (yeah, in the country we say road, not street) watching the snow fall. Watching it cover the stones and tar. Watching it cling to what was left of the cornstalks in the fields. Chasing the snowflakes in the wind. And the first second there was enough snow, down the hill we went on our sleds.
How many folks today would let their kids take a sled onto the road these days? Or even allow their kids outside while it snows?
Or how about the summer rains? You're outside. You've been running around all day. It's hot. Real hot. No bother going inside, because there's no central air. Run into the garage or basement and grab a freezer pop to try to cool off. Then the glorious sound of thunder. The smell of rain moving in (yes, rain has a distinct smell if you ever pay attention). Then the sound of the pitter patter of those giant drops of rain. You didn't run back inside. You didn't take cover. You ran TO the rain! It felt great. It was amazing how big some raindrops could get. You would run around like the kid down the block did earlier when he got his new sprinkler. And when the grass got wet enough... oh yeah... natural Slip-n-Slide! Run across the lawn, and slide on your belly! As long as the grass was wet enough, it worked great. You would end up soaking wet, grass stained, and it felt great to do so!
But not today.
Today, parents won't let their kids out in the cold, in fear of them getting sick. Or fear of a predator stealing them away. Of course, they would have to pry them from the electronics first. I can't think of any parent I know that would allow their kids to get their clothes grass-stained. They're all new, after all.
Not us. Our clothes were beat up. They were beat up for a reason. We had our play clothes, our school clothes, and our Church clothes. Today, they're all the same.
If you're not a parent and have no idea what I'm talking about, go to a local playground and watch. Ok, you might want to borrow someone's kid so you don't look like a creeper for this experiment. But just watch. Watch how parents have to follow their kiddies around, even though instead of stones or hard dirt, they now have nice, cushy underlayments for the playgrounds. Watch how they get upset if another kid bumps into theirs while running around.
That didn't happen with us. If we fell, we fell. We would learn to hold on better next time, or that we just weren't strong enough for the monkey bars yet. If some kid bumped us, we didn't cry and our moms didn't coddle us. We usually ignored it or even used it as an opportunity to introduce ourselves to the other kid and actually make friends. Now, parents pick out friends for their kids.
You just don't see kids riding around on their bikes anymore. Even though kidnappings by strangers hasn't really gone up, just the media coverage of it has. If you do see kids riding bikes, they're usually punks heading up to the shopping center to hop curbs. But hey, at least they're outside.
So parents, set your kids free. Don't just allow them outside, but force them outside. For heaven's sake, recall those magical moments from your childhood. Give your children those same moments.