Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Something On My Mind...



A number of years ago someone sent me an email the essence of which has stayed with me, along with some lines. I cannot remember who sent it, and I cannot remember all of it, (If you know then please remind me!)

In essence then, along with lots of my own memories, this is what it said:

~When we were kids we had friends. We went outside and found them.
We rode our bikes barefoot, and no one wore helmets. We rode those bikes in packs, and wore our coats by the hood. We left home in the morning and didn't come home until dark. And no one had mobile phones.
We drank water from the garden hose, or shared a can or bottle with four others. And no one actually died...
We built dens, and go-carts and weapons. We had fights with each other and got hurt! We had 'wars' over firewood with neighbouring estates at Halloween.
We made up games. And we played chasing and rounders and skipping and piggy-beds and hopscotch and bulldog and tip-the-can and elastics and, oh the list is endless!
We fell out of trees and off walls. We got cuts and broke limbs. And there were no law-suits.
We walked to school. We walked to friends houses. We walked to the pool. We robbed orchards, and played knick-knocks and were genuinely afraid of the owner catching us!

We learned to govern ourselves. ~



This has been on my mind. Increasingly as the children get older. It is on my mind when I drive back and forth to school. When I arrange their 'social diaries'. When I drive them to the pool. When they have to ok everything with the parents, their own and their friends.
I thought about this yesterday as we sat in the sun after a swim. I thought about the differences between my childhood and theirs. I wondered how this would affect their lives compared to mine. I know they have significant advantages over us in certain areas, but overall what does it mean to have a whole generation grow up having things done for them, to get all the 'things' they want that all their friends have?

Is it just me?


Photos from my archives.

18 comments:

Esti said...

oh, ciara, I wonder about this too. It's so easy to overprotect and it comes so naturally... But what really makes me restless is realizing that we live in fear. I wish I could change this.

Lisa said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lisa said...

i remember that email going around, i think i still have it! its so true, and yet i wonder, as nostalgia is a cyclical thing and our parents spoke of their own childhoods with the same disdain for ours, is it just that we cannot see the magic in their lives that they will see when they are our age? They will look back and remember their own childhoods as these idyllic magical moments full of squeals of "oh my god i-pods! i'd forgotten about those!!" and "Aaaaah look i found my old harry potter figures!"

At the end of the day, I remember my mom whincing and demanding that we stop watching tv, stop playing on the 64, stop wanting the latest fad, and I also remember her telling me that her own parents would chide her for listening to too much pop music!! But I also remember that we weren't allowed walk home through the short cut at night, and warnings for our safety came thick and fast as we left in the morning. It is living where we do that often puts the stoppers on our kids playing out all day, I know other children who have big greens to meet up and, as we did, stay out all summer returning only to be fed and to sleep! I just trust in myself and in them, impress on mine whats important - good table manners, good judgement (hopefully!), a sense of individuality that hopefully will abay peer pressure, courtesy (incl. being good company) and a love of life and leave the rest to them! Life is too short to sweat the small stuff! ;-)

what a long comment!

xx

mimi charmante said...

No, it is definitely not just you. Isn't it amazing how much life has changed? It comforts me to know that you, so far across the sea, have the same feelings as I do. Somehow it helps me to know that the change is more universal than just our little corner of the world.
Great post my friend,
xo

Sara said...

It's not just you. I wonder too. I wonder if we are so over protective of these children that they are missing out on some basic components of life. Living! It's just not the same... I know they don't really know the difference. But that isn't comforting to me. I want these babes to experience all that this world has to offer. To explore. To live.

Thank you for this post.

Paddy said...

I believe it is all about balance. Intuitively you will know if the kids are are growing up in an over-protective bubble. They are great levellers and will soon get the message across if/when things are amiss. Each generation adjusts to different approaches depending on environment, family life-style etc.
The kids I know are well-adjusted, 'street wise' individuals. That latter word is the key.
Protect, advise/guide and know when to let go. They will thank you for it one day.

Annah said...

oh Ciara, your post is so close to my heart. I had a very similar conversation with my friend this morning, and was thinking of posting the guts of it this evening! Thank you, as always for your constant inspiration and for remembering the important things....

Amanda said...

I had a moment just this morning when my two-year-old asked with a glint in his sparkling blue eyes to follow the dog outside. I looked at him still in his sleep-warm pyjamas, barefooted and then looked at the dusting of snow on the grass. I heard my knee-jerk answer echo in my head. That would be, "We have to get dressed and put on our shoes first. Oh, and brush our teeth. Then you can get your coat and go outside."

Instead, I said, "Yes!" He leapt out the door and tentatively put his feet in the snow, wiggling each toe, made a few little circles running top speed, and came back in rosy cheeked and laughing.

The whole episode lasted maybe two minutes, but it made his day. And it made mine, too, since I followed him out in my barefeet!

The balance between protecting and exploring is a tough one we all struggle with.

jlg said...

I have two children and I also find myself wishing for times when things were much simpler. I guess realizing this is a step in the right direction. It might not seem like it, but there are more people in the world that think like you do. I grew up thousands of miles away from you, but we did the same things you did. I hang on to the idea that we are all more alike than we realize, and we all want the best for our kids. Cheers!

Therese Turner Himmer said...

True so true....and a bit sad....

ladybug-zen said...

no, it's not just you. my kids love to hear my childhood stories and of all the shenanigans i got up to on a daily basis. i can see they are a bit envious when i tell them about the time when i met the huge barn owl that lived across the road from my house in the abandoned barn. and all my fishin' stories really get them squealin'.
can we do it, mama? can we do it? i smile and say yes, soon, but then cringe whe ni think of all the hoops we have to jump through here to get just 1 fishing license :(
i long for a simpler life for my kids.a simple life of freedom, adventure and discovery.

i'm right there with you!

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

The childhood you describe from that old email was the childhood I had, too. Such a freedom. And so much imagination. It is quite different today, isn't it?

Ciara said...

Isn't it amazing how this resonates with all of you? But you know, we are aware of it and we can do something about it. If we can let go of the fear, as Esti said.

Lisa I do agree, where we live is the biggest influence and that some children do have something akin to what we had. And I do try to make sure that they have plenty of fodder for reminiscing in years to come! But I have to say I don't remember my parents telling me to go outside though I'm sure they did! That's reassuring isn't it!

So, like Amanda, maybe we can learn to let go in those little moments and maybe the bigger ones will follow.

And Dad, you are right. And yes, I thank you...

Chris Judge said...

Ciara all you have to do is look at all the photos of the kids on your blogs to relaise they have an amazing adventurous life! Oh boy will they thank you for it.

Great post I'm remembering all of those games out on the road! Lest we forget demolition derby in the church grounds...

Rima said...

O Ciara... how right you are!
Three cheers for mucky kids who have a bit of wild in their eyes.
And I have to say that it feels like you honour your feelings about a proper rough n tumble childhood very well in your own 4 lovely kids' upbringing. It is different now compared to back in our youth, but I think it's still possible to capture that dirty-knee'dness that all kids have inside them :)
Lots of love x

docwitch said...

Ciara, this seems to resonate with so many, and it's exactly what has been on my mind for some time. I had that freedom in childhood and want to provide it for my own child. But when the culture around us is hyper-vigilant, and there are no children playing outside without adults, it can be difficult to give them that freedom to self-govern.

We are thinking of moving out of the city in order to have things a little more relaxed, and give our girl a taste of a wild-ish childhood.

Christina said...

True!

underthebigbluesky said...

Those were my days as well. What has happened?

Every year I think more and more of how much I want to bring this back for my girls.

We have no social calendars and I wonder sometimes if my girls are lacking for that. We do however, need to have some more friends to come over and explore here at home.

I hold hope that we can reclaim this simplicity for our children...and that this would be enough for them.

I think it is.