I was conceived and born in the late ‘60’s. You know the time. Hippies and free love. Woodstock (I secretly harbor some resentment toward my parents for not having the desire to attend) and Mama Cass.
I was a child in the 70’s which meant our parents weren’t neurotic. Or overprotective.
A bike ride didn’t come complete with a helmet and a mom following behind in her car. Half the time we didn’t even wear shoes, running the risk of scraping the tops of our feet on asphalt, practically exposing bone. Somehow, that injury never deterred us from continuing the practice.
If we wanted to go to a friend’s house that wasn’t within biking distance, we had to figure out how to get there. Like the remote control, “Mom’s Taxi” had yet to be discovered.
My mother had no idea where we were half the time. The general rule was to head home when the street lights came on. I mostly stuck to that rule although I do recall once breaking it. I never did that again because punishments were of the corporal kind and were not taken lightly.
Last week my daughter had the distinct pleasure of encountering a mother who actually apologized to her young child for embarrassing her by scolding her in public for looking under my daughter’s dressing room curtain.
And when I say “scold” I don’t mean a smack on the butt like I would have received had I done that. I mean a “oh honey you shouldn’t do that” kind of scolding.
Sorry, I’m veering off-topic.
Just going to the playground could have meant a death sentence.
Playgrounds came equipped with merry-go-rounds. If you didn’t hang on for dear life, you could be catapulted to a concussion. There was always a “Who Can Spin The Merry-Go-Round Faster?” competition. Extra points for every kid who got flung off.
Teeter-totters were based on the honor system. You relied on your partner to not jump ship. And if they did, it always resulted in a teeth-rattling landing.
Let’s not forget about the steel slides that could potentially give all exposed body parts — from your behind down — third degree burns.
We played on arsenic-treated wood and for sure did not have anything soft to land on when we fell. And falling was almost always certain. We went home with more bumps and bruises than Mohamed Ali after twelve rounds in the ring.
Even with the introduction of Atari and Pac-Man, we didn’t stay inside. Our mothers preferred us out-of-doors regardless of the weather. We were thrown out to the wolves, potential child abductors, and dangerous playground equipment. Left to our own devices to make good decisions.
We were surrounded by danger. And it was the best time ever. I wouldn’t trade my childhood for anything. I feel a little sad for these kids today with their helicopter parents (guilty as charged) and cushioned playgrounds. They’ll never know what it’s like to live life on the edge.
Unless you count the times a storm knocked out their WiFi. In that case, never mind.