Childhood Lost

I grew up in the late 70’s and 80’s. Yep, I’m that old. But I had a childhood full of memories, life, horrors, successes, failures, adventures. I played with a pack of three wolves several times in the back of one of my dad’s fields he farmed, was accepted by them. We played in the brook and knew how to remove leaches from our skin. We played on playgrounds with real swings that had no less than 20 feet of chain down from the high pole and metal slides that were steep enough and high enough to be fun and monkey bars that required great skill and no fear of heights to be able to maneuver. We rode bikes all day sometimes, sometimes to meet other kids to go to the playground and take them back home. We practiced starting fires without matches and whittling sticks with or pocket knives. We talked to strangers, gave directions, took home, shared food, shared drinks, talked constantly. We had toys but limited numbers and very simple, things like jump ropes and jumping jacks and balls. Rocks were our chalk. A bucket of water and two dixie cups served as hours of entertainment on a hot day. These were my childhood memories. They were amazing. No one died on the “unsafe” playground. No one I knew was ever abducted or accosted by a stranger. It just didn’t happen. Now, our kids have a very real threat of having their childhood lost in the shuffle of high tech and low living and safety over learning and adventure. More talk is of preventing mishaps or evil than of living life. Kids stay inside, entertained by things they barely have to move at all to do. We are more concerned with bruising their psychies than developing their moral character and there is a wealth of knowledge going unlearned by the majority of kids out of fear. And even when parents are not fearful, they are too busy or too tired from working long hours to pay for all the tech (and of course other ammenities). Our society doesn’t talk much anymore. We don’t stop by the neighbor’s and visit and “sit a spell” over coffee anymore. We barely look at each other. So, the what to do about it is unclear. It is a scarier world than it was when I was a kid, no doubt. However, maybe one approach is to take a day and go together on a hike, a picnic through the week, a visit to a friend’s house, a game day, play some tennis, ride bikes, something, anything without tech and with eye contact and word formation. Perhaps one mini adventure at a time accumulates to as meaningful a childhood as we remember as parents? Just my thoughts.

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