The Boston Diaries

The ongoing saga of a programmer who doesn't live in Boston, nor does he even like Boston, but yet named his weblog/journal “The Boston Diaries.”

Go figure.

Sunday, November 30, 2003

Childhood's End

An incident earlier today involving the Kids has made me reflect on my own childhood and just how free we were back then, or just how unconcerned our own parents may have been, who knows? I've made light of some aspects of modern childhood, being over protected and highly managed in vast contrast to my own childhood, especially growing up in Brevard, North Carolina.

My best friend, Duke, lived in Connestee Falls, a development some six miles south of Brevard, and even passing through the entrance, it was still a good ten minutes or so of driving, within Connestee Falls, until you reached his home, deep in the development. The nearest neighbor … I never saw his neighbor. His home was nestled in the forest, and I remember we spent hours playing outside in the forest, making our way through his “backyard,” filled with trees as far as the eye could see.

Of course, we always made sure to be back at 4:00 pm to watch Batman on channel 4, but once over, we would head right back outside to play. Unless Duke's mom decided to serve us milk and cookies.

But Duke's Mom pretty much left us to ourselves for the most part.

Even when his family finally moved into Brevard proper, we would scour the neighborhood, walking to the corner store to buy Fun Dip and Sweet Tarts, have clod fights (a “clod” is a small lump of hard red clay found everywhere in that part of North Carolina) up to the winter, when we then had slushball fights.

And then there's the bike riding. I remember on more than one occasion trying to skid having the bike shoot out from underneath me and ending up with some serious road rash for a kid on a bike. Then there was the time I attempted to take a sharp turn at full tilt, not quite making the cut and ending up in a ditch (that particular maneuver twice, in the same day before giving up on it).

And thinking back, I remember how I learned to ride a bike. I was seven, visiting family in Royal Oak one summer (like I did every summer), when one of my uncles took it upon himself to teach me bike riding. Training wheels? Nope. We'll have none of that. Here, sit on the bike, and shove! There I was, wobbling down the sidewalk. To one side grass. To the other, a four lane road. I learned quite fast to ride a bike, if only to keep from being killed in the process.

Why not the more quiet side street? I suspect my uncle was afraid of being liable for my scratching one of the many parked cars along the street. Much better to have me crash into ongoing traffic (ha ha, only half joking there).

So I've been reading articles about playgrounds getting rid of swings, monkey bars and straight metal slides as being way to dangerous for kids nowadays. The days of going nowhere, doing nuthin' for hours on end (but never at home) are long gone.

What happened?

Where are the empty lots?

The hot metal slides o' death? The swings of orbital injection? The monkey bars of tooth bashing?

Or is modern life just too dangerous anymore?

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