We often look back to when we were kids, and had those lazy days of summer, unplanned and free to ride bikes in the neighborhood, swing on swings or if we were lucky enough to have a pool (or a friend with a pool), go swimming? Our parents let us take risks (blowing up model cars with firecrackers, throwing yard darts or cap-guns for example), while keeping us safe (knowing our neighbors and everyone watching out for the neighborhood kids and coming in when the street lights came on). We were mostly outside from right after breakfast until sunset. I was filthy, and had bruises from playing football, falling out of trees or off my bike. We learned to negotiate, to fight with friends and make up, to share and take turns.
Growing up in the northeast US, in winter we got snow. Bundling up in layers to go outside, we’d play until we were soaking wet. We’d make snow angels, go sleigh riding down the hill two blocks over, build forts and have snowball fights. We’d make snowmen and snowwomen, decorating them with rocks, sticks, and (if we could sneak them out of the house) hats, mittens, scarves and boots. Sometimes we’d even get to spray them with colored water from a spray bottle. We’d go ice-skating on a pond after we shoveled off the snow. Two weeks off around Christmas and another week at Easter, we’d be outside as much as we could. Inside to warm up, we’d have tomato soup and grilled cheese at lunch or chili leftover from the night before. I remember the smell of dinner cooking in the crockpot all day long.
If the weather was bad, and mom was feeling particularly tolerant, we could build forts using sheets and clothespins. Dining room chairs, bedposts, whatever we could move would become our tentpoles and I could hide out in my fort. Or we’d have an indoor picnic, which was throwing a blanket on the floor and eating lunch sitting indian style on the blanket.
Saturday mornings were time for chores (I still hate dusting to this day) and then cartoons if you got chores done early enough. Afterwards, I’d strap my roller-skates to my shoes and skate on the paved alleys and sidewalks. Coming inside crying over a skinned knee. After a scrubbing with soapy water “to get the dirt out” and a bandaid “to keep the dirt out” it was back outside.
Now we have social media and video games; we encapsulate ourselves in buildings and at least half the things we played with are outlawed. Our children’s lives are scheduled with group activities, traveling sports leagues, competitive dance and cheer from elementary school through high school. When do our kids get to experience the risk-taking and problem-solving and conflict-resolution occurrences that were part of our daily childhood?
Is there any wonder that coloring has made such a comeback?