I grew up on a narrow, hilly street in a quiet Oakland, Calif neighborhood behind Mills College where the clock tower on campus chimed with four bells every hour. It wasn't a perfect childhood, but it was filled with love and there was no shortage of fun. There was a lot of adventure on this street.
I still remember the day I finally learned to ride my bike on this very street. My father patiently held onto the back of the banana seat of my bike as I held onto those bike grips (complete with colorful streamers). When I yelled for my father to let go, I looked back and realized he'd let go a long time ago. Sweet freedom!
I feel so old because I find myself saying "these kids just don't have fun like we did." My cousin and I (pictured right) had a number of outside adventures: sliding down dirt hills on cardboard boxes, walks to the waterfront, hanging at the library and numerous trips to the corner store for treats. But now I have to coax my kids to leave the house. Once out, they enjoy themselves, but man, the struggle to get them away from video games and into some fresh air. Just the other day, my sister pointed out that my kids haven't even experienced the joy of climbing a tree. Sad.
I wish I could transport them back to my childhood so they feel some of the joy of my childhood.
Here are 9 old school things my kids are missing out on:
- Drinking straight out of the water hose because you are having too much fun to go inside and get a drink. Plus, if you go inside you may get stuck doing a chore.
- Rushing to the tape deck to press record when you're favorite song finally came on the radio. One of the greatest lessons in patience.
- Going to the neighborhood candy lady's house to buy penny candy...because my parents didn't keep a snack drawer like I do.
- Saturday morning cartoons. There was a small window in which to enjoy cartoons. After that, kid television was over.
- Pick up games. I don't remember organized sports being a big thing as kid. If you wanted to play you'd go outside and look for fun. The boys would join up for a pick up game of basketball while the girls would play kickball, double dutch or Chinese jump rope (made with real rubber bands-not that elastic rope junk). There was also hopscotch and hand clapping games like Miss Mary Mac.
- Freedom to explore the great outdoors. I used to love to go over one of my cousin's houses because we'd spend hours in the creek behind their house catching tadpoles and wading in the water. We grew up in a major city but we still had free reign to roam our neighborhood and even the city on our bikes, by foot or even the bus if necessary. We just had to be home by the time the street lights came on. Today our kids are free to roam the internet but not the local streets.
- Board games. I used to love a good game of Sorry or better yet Life. At family gatherings, board games were a regular thing. Now, we do have board games but they are brought out every blue moon and interest fades quickly.
- Album liner notes. I used to love to pull out my parent's vinyl albums to look at the artwork and read the liner notes as the music played. With digital music, this is now a lost pastime.
- Sunday dinners at church after service. This was a time to get to know church members and just hang out. These days, it's just a mad dash to get out of the building to rush out of the parking lot.
My children will also never know the joy of winding up a cassette tape with a pencil or putting a dime in a pay phone and closing that folding door as you sit on that little triangular bench to chat. They'll never experience the rush of meeting a loved one at the airport gate or getting lost in a sea of knowledge in an encyclopedia with its thick glossy pages and colorful pictures. They'll miss out on the frustration of being "chained" to the wall phone to chat with a friend and the reminder to "be kind and rewind" VHS tapes before they are returned to the video store.
So many great moments from my childhood. I could go on and on.
What are some childhood memories you wish your children could experience?