Summer vacations are fast approaching and I am reminded of what it was like for me as a child….many years ago!
I lived in a town that was small enough that we could walk to where we needed to go. School, playgrounds, neighborhood parks, neighborhood stores, “downtown”, movie theaters, and skating rinks. Sidewalks were everywhere making walking safe.
We only had one TV. It was black and white, it only got a few channels, and the reception was not that great. Programming would end at midnight with the playing of the Star Spangled Banner with the flag waving in the background. It wasn’t much fun spending a lot of time in front of the small box as there was a whole big world of friends just beyond our door.
We didn’t have computers or cell phones, so if we wanted to connect with friends, we had to go outside and knock on their door, or make a phone call with the one phone that hung on the kitchen wall. WE had an extension phone in my parent’s bedroom, so if you needed some privacy you could always use that phone, and close the door. Only one person could be on the phone at one time….so if you needed to make a call, you had to wait your turn if someone else was on the phone. In a household full of teens, this could lead to some heated discussions. When the phone rang, we didn’t know who was on the other end until we picked up and said , “hello.” If our phone was in use, and someone tried to call our home, they would get a “busy” signal, and have to try again at a later time. WE didn’t have call waiting.
So out the door we would go in the morning – off to the park, up and down the blocks on our bikes or roller skates. “Play” dates were not arranged by parents, and our parents didn’t have to come along. But our dog always did. Dogs were free to be with their kids. The neighborhood felt safe and secure as everyone knew everyone else, and we all looked out for one another. “It takes a village” was very true.
WE were allowed freedom to be kids. Freedom to explore without fear. WE would manage our own games at the park, pack our own picnic lunches, and create our own circus in the backyard. Front porches were a favorite gathering spot, and parents could take a quick glance from their porch to see that all was good in the neighborhood. Babies were put in playpens in front of houses to watch the world go by. Older siblings took their babies for walks in carriages all over town (sometimes without their parent knowing which didn’t go over very well).
We were free to be, free to learn from friends and other adults and free to fall down and get back up on our own. After all……if we were never allowed to fall down, how would we learn to get back up?
Wishing you and your child a peaceful, lazy, summer of freedom and hoping you have a village.