May 27, 2008

A Different Sort of Childhood

While I was traversing the fine state of Texas I took a moment to give G a shout to try and catch up. I met the old man on the first day of kindergarten, way back in the fuzzy days of 1974.

Every now and then big, tall and lanky and I pull out the old photos and thank the powers that be that we weren't responsible for the incredibly ugly clothes that represent the '70s. Gosh, some of the crap that our parents made us wear is beyond hideous. Can't wait to see what happens when the children get a hold of those photos. I am ready to take a bit of abuse.

Anyway, the bastage didn't bother to pick up the phone. This means one of two things.

1) Those exceptionally old ears can't hear the soft ring of a cellphone.
2) The parents of the new woman were busy interrogating him.

On a side note he and I always refer to each other in the loving manner which you have just read. I don't know when it started, but it is just how we do it.

All of this brings me to the point of the post in which I expound upon how different childhood is for my children. I could rail on about technology, but that is not the big distinction.

The biggest change is that when I was a kid we played outside all year round. During the school year you came home changed and then ran outside. If you listened to your mom you usually heard a reminder to be home by dinner time, but you still went on your merry little way.

In my neighborhood we were outside and running around at a very young age. Older siblings usually kept half an eye upon you. That didn't mean that you couldn't get into a heap of trouble, you could. And typically those same older siblings helped encourage you to do the very thing that got you into hot water.

But things are different now. With the proliferation of news about pedophiles, rapists, murderers and bad guys in general parents are hesitant to let their children run around without careful supervision.

It used to be that mom was happy to do her chores indoors and give the occasional look out the window. Not anymore. Parents want to be outside with their kids where they can keep a close eye on things.

I really do not believe that things are worse now than when I was young. IMO the difference is the amount of information. With all the stories about the terrible things that happen to children it is hard let your kids do anything that you can't see.

And with our busy lives it can be really hard to work all day, come home and find time to let the kids run around outside, especially during the shorter days of the year.

FWIW, in my neighborhood I do see a lot of kids playing outside, but they tend to be older than my children. So maybe it is something that will happen, just at a later age than when I began. But something tells me that even if it does happen it will be with more reservations from the parents than when we were young.

The end of the innocence is not limited to the youth.


V-Grrrl said...

In the summer, my mother sent us outside and we were not permitted back inside the house until dinner time. She handed sandwiches out the kitchen window at lunch time.

My dad and two of his brothers all built their houses, one next to the other on our street. I had three yards to roam. The houses were on big lots (ours was three acres).

benning said...

Yeah, I remember dashing in, dashing out, and playing until it got dark or Mom called us in for dinner.

I think you're right about the amount of information available changing the way kids are allowed off the leash. I think that holds true for a lot of things, like cancer rates, corruption, and so on. "The more you know ..." my arse.

Because my sister and I grew to be voracious readers my mother's constant refrain was, "It's a beautiful day outside! Go out and play!"

And we would, or I would, but the lure of the other worlds in the books would call us back again.


I miss that innocence. The newness of nearly everything, when the Parents knew so much, and we had so much to learn and experience.

Of course, now I have beer!

Good post, Jack!

Jack said...

I had three yards to roam. The houses were on big lots (ours was three acres).

That must have been great.

Of course, now I have beer!

A good beer is worth a lot.