Do you remember what it was like to be a kid? I’m talking between the ages of, let’s say, 8 and 13.
I remember a pretty good childhood. It wasn’t perfect. Most of it is blurry now that I’m 41. But what I do remember was mostly good. We had an Old English Sheepdog named Dixie’s Little Patches (not sure why she had long name like that) but we called her Patches for short. She played soccer and football with us in the back yard. We had a pretty big back yard. Mom and Dad’s house sat on an acre lot so we had tons of room to play. Patches got plenty of exercise. She’s pull kids around the block on skateboards or she’d run along side our bikes. She was a great dog until her hips went. She was probably about 9 or 10. I remember coming home from school one day and she was gone, the leather collar I had made her was hanging on a hook in the living room. And it’s still there today.
I remember playing all over the neighborhood until sunset. We had to be in the house when the sun went down. That was the rule. Except on school nights, we had to be in and ready for bed by 9pm. We played in our yard or down at the the corner in Jim’s yard. Baseball, soccer, football, tag, ghost in the graveyard, kick the can … and so many others. We rode our bikes around the neighborhood, without worrying about anything! No helmets, no sexual predators, nothing to really worry about. If there was, we (the kids) didn’t know.
I had a paper route, the Journal Herald. It was the morning paper and was to be delivered by 7am. So I got up, rode my bike to the paper pickup, loaded up and did my route. If it was raining really hard mom would drive me to the pickup and drop me off at my first house then somehow knew right when I’d be delivering the last paper and would show up to pick me up. But most of the time I rode my bike. In the winter I just walked. That meant I got up 30 minutes earlier .. 15 minutes to walk to the paper pickup and 15 back to my route. And this was done without fear and worry on my part or my parents’ part.
Today you have to worry about all kinds of things .. teenage drivers racing up and down streets .. sexual predators (we have 3 in our village) .. helmet laws .. my kids are more aware of the world around them than I was at there age. My world was the neighborhood, school, Boy Scouts and CCD. Rarely did I ever watch the news or read the newspaper .. well I read the comics pages and looked at the ads … and maybe read the Parade. Once in a while I read Readers Digest too … but nothing like what is out there now. My kids know all the details of 9/11 … they know the details of Columbine. They practice lock-downs at their school. They have police officers in the halls. My girls have fear … fear that I didn’t have. And to be honest with you, I think every kid has this fear drilled into them. At school, at home, on the internet … It’s almost like they are being conditioned to expect the worst. And it bothers me.
How I wish they could have grown up with the things I grew up with.