School will be out soon. What do kids these days do during the summer? Aside from family vacations, I mean; I'm talking about on an everyday basis. I know there are closely supervised organized activities and daycare, and some kids still go to camp, I presume. Things are very different from when I was a child. I think it's sad that today's children cannot be allowed the same simple freedoms I enjoyed as a child. It's a different world today, a world in which it is incumbent on parents to know where their children are at all times. It is a world of Amber Alerts and microchips and youngsters' fingerprints and DNA on file -- just in case.
When I was a kid and school was out for the summer, my two sisters and I would sleep late, then get up and eat the hot breakfast our grandmother insisted we eat every morning. Our parents worked and Grandma was our "babysitter." Our grandparents lived with us, which was a fairly common arrangement in a lot of families back then (the last Stone Age). Once we had eaten the requisite breakfast, we were free to ditch our little brother and spend the rest of the day pretty much any way we chose. Most days, we'd get on our bikes and ride off to meet up with our neighborhood friends. Most of the time, we returned home for lunch, but our only real obligation was to show up back home before dark. Some days were spent at friends' houses doing girl stuff, some days we went to the movies, some days we pedaled to the mall. A lot of afternoons were whiled away sitting at the soda fountain of the neighborhood drugstore, drinking Cokes and ice cream sodas and eating French fries.
We did take family vacations, though they don't comprise my most idyllic childhood summer memories. Road trips cooped up in a car with a high-strung mother, father with a hair-trigger temper, and three disagreeable siblings just weren't that much fun. I was much happier staying home, in familiar environs with my own friends.
We girls spent a lot of time exploring the nearby creek, cliffs, caves, and woods, unfettered by fears of crime and human predators. You certainly can't let kids go off on their own, unattended, today. There was a nice little swimming hole in the gently rippling, tea-colored creek and if we were hot, we dove in -- not from the cliffs, like the boys did. Cold creek water on a hot day felt like heaven. We didn't care that our clothes would be wet for a while afterwards. We knew we'd be dry by the time we got home and Grandma would never know the difference and, therefore, wouldn't yell at us. She did do a lot of screaming about the snakes and other wildlife we brought home.
We hated it when boys invaded our territory. Sometimes they'd descend upon us and practically declare war. They'd try -- or at least pretend -- to steal our bikes and our "stuff," throw us in the creek, dare us to scale the cliffs (and puff up and sulk when we made it to the top uninjured), and just generally make us miserable until we were able to run them off. There was one boy who accidentally caused me to have a bad bike wreck once -- bad enough to have to be carried home and hauled off to the doctor for a few stitches. A couple of years later, that same boy would be stealing kisses, freely given, on the same creek bank.
By today's standards, I guess we'd all be deemed incorrigible and deviant, maybe even sent to Juvie, and our parents arrested for not supervising us. The fields and woods are gone now, given over to new houses, and the creek meanders through a golf course.
I went to Girl Scout camp a couple of years, for a week or two at a time. I learned how to hike and how to blaze a trail (though I still have no sense of direction) and how to pee in the forest without getting poison oak on my butt. I managed to make fire as well as anyone else and figure out how to cook enough over it to avoid starvation, but I knew even at that tender age that I hated camping. Not for me were rickety cots with scratchy blankets in smelly cabins. If I'd hated my bunk mates on sight, I probably would have hitchhiked home. Luckily, it was always a fun group of girls, willing to stay up and gossip and tell tall tales long after lights out. The most fun I ever had at camp was the year we threw a beauty pageant. We made costumes and choreographed our "talent" routines and practiced for several days before the pageant on the next-to-the-last day of camp. I sang and danced my little heart out, but I didn't win the Miss Dark Hollow crown -- which, as I recall, was made out of tinfoil and had some sequins glued on it.
It was a different world, a simpler world -- innocent, enriching, educational and life-shaping, and ... safe. I know that those times and that world helped to mold me into a sturdy, self-sufficient adult. I find it ineffably sad that that world no longer exists. The children being raised today will be ... safety-conscious, I suppose. After all, every facet of their safety, every conceivable injurious element in their environments is legislated/regulated from the very day they're sent home from the hospital.
The Friday Twisted Linguistics Review
guillable - Having to do with one's ability to obtain membership in some type of guild.
interveine - A new way of shooting up.
listen, yawl - Quiet! 2-masted boat coming in.
compratriots - A gathering of people, usually from the same "publisher," who engage in group misnomers, public displays of misinformation, and other pratfalls.
figuered - You wrinkled fruit, you made a mistake.
|You Are 28% Gross|
You're a tad gross, but generally you're a clean, hygienic person.
No one can be perfectly clean all the time, and it's better to be human than a neat freak.