It Should be Perfectly Obvious

Some time ago, I saw a comedian talking about how going outside to play is utterly frightening once you reach adulthood.
Something along the lines of ‘Imagine how scary it would be to wake up in the morning and leave your house on foot, without keys, money, identification, or a cell phone.’
I rarely do that. And when I do, I call it gardening.

But we did that all the time as kids, didn’t we?
From about age nine to twelve, I lived in a small town, and I mean to tell you, on good weather days, I woke up, got dressed, ate breakfast, and spent the entire day outside. I knew it was time to come home when one of two things happened, either my father whistled loud enough to wake the dead >Woo-oo-ooooot!< or the street lights came on.

it's not just a meme, it's an actual warning system

it’s not just a meme, it’s an actual warning system

Sometimes we’d ride our bikes to the park, the pool, or the movies as a group, but there were plenty of times I was on my own — to the library, to the soda shop, to my father’s office, to the baby dress shop — just a little girl on a bicycle, or sometimes on foot. Many times, I left the house making one of those dotted lines all around Robin Hood’s barn just knocking on doors to see who could come out to play.

what? like my most preferred friends lived in order!

what? like my most preferred friends lived in order!

I cannot begin to explain how much fun we had in doing things that are terrifying.
We walked on train tracks for miles!
We knocked on doors and asked for odd jobs!
We sometimes did those odd jobs in exchange for sweets made by people we didn’t know
— and we ate those sweets in those strangers’ homes!
We drank from garden hoses, and not just our own!
We shared food and cans of soda with dirty fingers and mouths!
We made mud pies and got absolutely filthy!
We played in the streets and in, OMG! alleys!
We roamed abandoned buildings!
We jumped from trees, roofs, and bridges!
We picked fruits and ate them straight from the source!
We cut through cornfields and slid under barbed wire!

and we did not die

and we did not die

Adults knew of us, then. They sometimes knew our names, or who are parents were, or where we lived. In turn, we knew which adults would never give us odd jobs, wouldn’t let us cut through their yards, and would call the police if they saw us so much as sniff one of their honeysuckles.
No one stole your bike because everyone knew which bike belonged to whom.
When a horn honked, it was because the neighborhood Great Dane had stopped traffic by napping in the middle of a warm patch of asphalt. We all had to work together to push her out of the way.
No one called social services because we were unsupervised.

        Truth: Warm childhood days in a small town were idyllic.

11338_lores

Old people like me are fond of talking about how we used to go outside to play. We remember this time when adventure was only limited by daylight, when ideas and resources were pooled, and yes, when the world seemed kinder, safer, and far more generous.

My kids have all played outside, but not with the same fearless wonder we recall. I only have one child like that. She I could really benefit from a tracking device on her body, but other than that, I’m delighted.

When I played in the snow over the weekend, between the hibiscus and the fountain grass, I was building a corridor with fallen branches, when my daughter asked me, “What are you doing?!?”
They stood over me, confused.
I thought it was perfectly obvious that I was building a lair for the snow queen and her beast…

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I answered, “I’m playing!”

It’s something I just don’t do often enough — not enough of the kind of play that uses all of me — how ’bout you?

About joey

Neurotic Bitch, Mother, Wife, Writer, Word Whore, Foodie and General Go-To-Girl
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44 Responses to It Should be Perfectly Obvious

  1. Yes, we were outside terrorizing until my mother rang the bell for us to come in at dinner. Other than that, we were free as birds. Idyllic days of youth. And then when we got bikes, oh man, all bets were off. We rode miles and miles every day. No wonder we were all so darn skinny.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. That’s awesome. My youth was spent the same way, and we never knew we didn’t have video games or cell phones.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. What a great post! Brought back loads of childhood memories for me too. We always used to play out all day long. Again plating by railways jumping onto a rope swing over some stinking stagnant water that we more often than not fell in.It seemed so innocent and carefree back then. How things have changed unfortunately,

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Carrie Rubin says:

    I remember letting my kids go for a bike ride on their own for the first time. Scary feeling, and yet I couldn’t deprive them of gaining that independence. I often had to remind myself that though the world seems scarier in terms of child predators, it’s actually not. We just hear about what happens much more now than we did before the digital age.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. words4jp says:

    I used to play in the woods behind my apartment as a kid. They were thick and big….all the time. And rode my bike around the neighborhood….

    Liked by 2 people

  6. menomama3 says:

    Nope. Haven’t played in years. It would be swell to get on my bike and just roam with no particular destination or sense of duty to exercise. Speaking of fearless play, however, did you hear that the Mayor of Boston had to tell Beantown residents to stop jumping half-naked out of their windows into their enormous snowbanks? No fun in Boston!

    Liked by 3 people

  7. This post sounded a lot like the neighbourhood I grew up in, only we were on the ocean so beach combing was a pretty routine event. A gaggle of kids ranging from 6 – 12 running rampant through the neighbourhood, building sand castles, dragging home buckets of beach wonders (sand, shells, rocks, live crabs you name it). Sadly free-range kids are a thing of the past. Now-a-days even if we were willing to let our kids roam, and play and get into all kinds of delightful trouble some-one would assuredly call social services. I truly think its a shame.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. LindaGHill says:

    Catching crayfish in the local stream…
    Going on safaris in the woods…
    Sitting on a concrete block with my feet dangling over the river, eating an ice cream cone…
    All of which my mother would still kill me if she knew I did them. 😛
    And no, I don’t play enough anymore either. I think it’s mostly due to physical constraints though.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. cardamone5 says:

    I remember those days. Most of it was without incident. Fun and so in the present. Lights coming on was my cue too. Great post.

    Fondly,
    E

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Sherry says:

    gosh did we all grow up with the street lights as our signal to head home? We were the same, gone from just after breakfast until dark, with just pit stops to pee and eat. Nobody was the least concerned with us. We stole sour apples from the guy two blocks away, and built little towns in the swept out area from the dog chain.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Luanne says:

    I LOVED this. It’s so true! If I forget my cell phone I feel all weird and can’t wait until I get to my phone. But that feeling of having all day with nothing with me was so freeing. What do we DO to ourselves as we grow up?!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think we forget what real fun it is to put our imaginations to use with our bodies. I think our physical focus is turned toward duty of exercise, manual labor or housekeeping and childcare, and then I think ultimately, we’re TIRED!
      I’m glad you loved this post. I sure enjoyed remembering 🙂

      Like

      • Luanne says:

        Every night I think I’m going to read and then I fall asleep–just from work. But I used to go on these playing outside binges where all I wanted to do was be outside pursuing the same line of playing that had been going on. then after a couple weeks I’d stay home for a couple days,. Then it would start all over again!

        Liked by 1 person

  12. Norm 2.0 says:

    Great post that brought back wonderful memories of my fearless younger self.
    Nowadays parents are being arrested for letting their kids do half of the things on your list.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Was the world really any less dangerous when we were growing up ? Or have we just been inundated with so much negativity that fear is second nature. And yes, they report free-range kids to social services, and even arrest their parents. It’s all just so sad. Wondering when/if it will all turn around? Nice post. Van

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Oh the memories you make me think of…those were the days…

    Liked by 1 person

  15. rgemom says:

    I remember days like those. How I miss them, and wish my kids could enjoy the same experiences. Thanks for bringing back those memories!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Sammy D. says:

    Awesome post – tripping down memory lane 😊

    It is weird because my childhood was like yours – out in the morning; in when the street lights came on and whichever Mom was nearest when the noon horn sounded made us a sandwich. I wouldn’t have wanted any other childhood. But I couldn’t imagine letting kids out of my sight today. Have we given in to fearmongers or has the world changed that much? Probably some of both!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. suzjones says:

    The Garden Gnome grew up in a tiny country town. He tells stories about his group of friends “The John Street gang” who were nothing like the ‘gangs’ of today. This ‘gang’ would go down to the river and split into teams. One side would swim across and then they would have cow pat wars. Or they would ride their bikes 20 kilometres out to one of the dams and their parents would drive out later with a picnic lunch, pile the bikes in the cars and bring them home. They went everywhere barefoot.
    When I was younger, I lived in cities but we still wandered. We walked along bush tracks (probably all cleared now for housing estates), rode our bikes to our friend’s homes, explored homes that were in the process of being demolished (got a scar on my leg from that one) and still had lots of fun. It’s sad that we can’t allow our children to enjoy the same experiences.

    Like

  18. Ahhh . . . the memories . . . love this post. We must have grown up in the same neighborhood. I still play. I ride bicycles with my girlfriends and it’s a blast.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. First of all what a lovely photo love it. Secondly I used to play like you but sadly times change and the dangers for some things are very real. I grew up in a sleepy village but now live in London so that greatly influenced play but having said that I do take them to outside green spaces as much as I can and one of my sons is like a rat up a drainpipe when it comes to trees hehe x

    Liked by 1 person

  20. I personally still love to jump in big water puddles 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Dan Antion says:

    This was such a fun read. I can tell that I am older because we were allowed to play after the treet lights came on and we had such fun times playing games in the dark. Our daughter was mainly in the confines of our yard, but she did enjoy “unsupervised” play and I think she’s better for it. I love the expression on your dog’s face. Our dog is forcing us to play in the heaps and mountains of snow. I think it’s a good thing (sometimes).

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Jewels says:

    Loved this one Joey… 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  23. My husband and I have a joke about this. We say…how are we still alive? 🙂

    We both had a lot of freedom growing up—him in the Wisconsin country, me in the LA suburbs with a single dad (aka home alone all the time). But, we turned out okay. I think.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Definitely the carefree and fun days. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  25. foguth says:

    LOL – I even take the phone with me when I garden.

    Liked by 1 person

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