Wednesday, May 28, 2008

When I was a kid I was allowed to ______ but I wouldn't dream of letting my children do that!

My mom allowed us freedom, but I just don’t have the same comfort level she did. My mom felt safe letting me and my little sister, Marlo out to ride our bikes in the street in front of the house at the ages of 5 and 3. She let me walk to kindergarten by myself (as did all the parents). And I can remember being unsupervised in the house for small periods of time when I was five. I know, because I can remember doing some crazy stuff and if my mom were home…well, that would make her a horribly bad parent.

When I was six we moved to a rural area and all three of us (myself, Marlo and Marnie) (Yes all our names start with M…mom didn’t do it on purpose) played outside all day long. We played in the fields close to our house and visited friends that were measured by how many fields away they lived. We rode our bikes for miles and miles, from the time we got up until it got dark. PS we didn’t have cell phones, when mom wanted us, she had to come outside and YELL to get our attention.

One of the kids we played with the most had a yard that was reminiscent of the TV show Sanford and Son. There was the opportunity to get tetanus, be impaled or decapitated at nearly every turn. It was wonderful.

The family owned a bunch of chickens; the rooster was seriously deranged. So, we would tease it until it chased us and then we would scatter. At one point, the family strung wire across the yard for some reason, it was the perfect height, if a kid forgot to duck the wire would hit her right in the neck. I know this is true because it happened to my sister, Marlo.

One day, while exploring, we found a mattress in the dilapidated barn and dragged it out so we could jump from the barn roof onto the mattress. Not one of us was injured doing this, but now, as an adult I wonder about the cleanliness of that mattress.
When we weren’t at a neighbor’s house, it wasn’t much better. During a bike ride, my sisters and I saw a little rabbit go into a culvert. My littlest sister, Marnie, looked like she could fit through the culvert. So, our big plan- send her through while Marlo and myself waited at the other end. We would then catch the bunny when it was flushed out by the 5-year-old coming at it. All went well until she was wedged in the middle of it! To make things more interesting, Marnie is and has been deaf since she was a baby. So it’s not like we could shout ideas to her while she tried to wiggle out of the tight spot. Impressively, she didn’t panic and neither did we. She finally managed to wiggle back far enough that one of us could grab her feet and drag her out. My mom never asked why were so muddy, or if she did, we told some deft lie that didn’t include a bunny rabbit or a culvert.

As a child, I had some great experiences, learned stuff (culverts aren’t always the same diameter in the middle as they are at the ends) and have some great (terrifying) memories.
I sometimes wonder if my kids will grow up and regret the somewhat planned childhood they are experiencing. But, they are probably doing some dangerous and terrifying thing behind my back right now!

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