It can be characterized by saying things that you swore you’d never tell your kids:
When I was your age…
Don’t wish to be a grown-up. Enjoy being a kid…
Bored? What do you mean you are bored?
Go clean your room.
We’ve added one though: We had one toy when we were kids. It was called Outside. I’m reasonably certain we stole this from a Facebook post, and it holds true.
Outside. Remember being a kid and getting kicked outside in the morning after cartoons were over (because cartoons were only on one channel. Until 9. Maybe 10. Definitely not this 24/7 stuff.) You might get lunch at 12, if you remembered to come home. Otherwise, you ate at a friend’s. Supper was mandatory, but you ran back outside as soon as the parents would let you. And stayed their until the street lights came home.
If you were daring — or willing to get in trouble — you’d stay out a little later. They might be on but it doesn’t mean you needed to go home, right? After all, the sun had barely set.
I really don’t recall all of the ways that we spent the hours. Bikes were essential. So were friends and the local park.
But I’ve also become one of those parents who doesn’t let her kids go anywhere or do anything. It’s too scary to imagine my kids riding bikes to the park. They don’t seem responsible enough to get there and back in one piece. And play dates at friends’ houses are just that: Play Dates. Dates and times are pre-set along with the activity that is going to be performed. And street lights are no longer an official babysitter. Heck, my kids are in mid-afternoon, before supper and don’t leave until the next day.
What happened? Some, I’m sure, is the differences in the town I now live in and the one that I grew up in. I’m not completely unusual in my concerns and many parents of the boys’ friends are the same way.
I can’t imagine just letting them run wild the way that I did. Yet, I feel like they are missing an essential component of childhood. As I write, they are playing some game on one of the computers, laughing and having fun just being silly. Which is sort of the point. Playing without adult supervision. Trying out new things. Running the risk of danger and getting caught.
It isn’t outside, but they’ll walk away with some great memories of time spent exploring made up virtual worlds together.