It’s the first of the month and we aren’t allowed to do anything until the system comes back up again, maybe Wednesday soooo I have a free range mind probably in one part, because I was a free range child. A friend and I were talking about all the fun we had as kids and no one ever told us not to do anything that was within reason. Of course, that definition of “within reason” seems to have altered drastically in the past 40 years or so. Things that we took for granted we could do would get our parents arrested for negligence now. We had fun, do kids growing up now have fun? It doesn’t look like it.
When I think of the things we did like playing Hide and Go Seek after dark which in LA was around 8 and using the entire neighborhood as a playing field was considered the main event for a summer night or my dad’s gentler version of capture the flag that took place between driveways and the dads refereeing.
We went hiking all over the mountains behind our houses and met a few things like snakes and teenagers having sex in the bushes and didn’t stop what we were doing. We were on some imagined mission of high importance like seeking gold or the Holy Grail.
We used to con some parental unit into buying us blocks of ice at the local ice vendor and take a washcloth to melt into the top. It became a toboggan on the long grassed inclines at the neighborhood park on really hot days. You went sailing down the hillside if you stayed on and if you didn’t you got a fun roll down the hill sometimes beating the ice block to the bottom.
We walked to the store, we walked to the park, we walked to school. My neighborhood was really steep so biking could be a bit scary and so was skateboarding. I walked to my best friend’s house who lived a little over a mile away and took back alleys sometimes because it was just a cool way to go. Our mom walked us everywhere once and then we were expected to be able to do it ourselves. They trusted us to not be stupid and get in a car with someone we didn’t know and to run like hell if we needed to.
We walked down to the village and got ice cream or candy like big Charms suckers or sunflower seeds and cruised the 5 and Dime to see if there were any new toys like squirt guns or those rings that twirled and whistled when you blew on them.
We played on teeter-totters and slides and merry-go-rounds, good luck even find those now and it has grass underneath, most of time it had sand or asphalt under it. If you fell you got back up and did it again and then went home and got Bactine and a bandaid. Some kids were in Little League or like my sister in softball leagues. Sometimes we took swimming lessons and my dad made us go to summer school for 6 weeks but that left 6 more weeks to climb mountains or roll down hillsides. We usually had a week of camp stuck in there somewhere, music camp, church camp, Camp Fire or Girl Scouts.
We had fun, we had fun all summer long. I don’t think kids have fun anymore. They wait until someone schedules a time to play. That sounds like work to me.