Summer is officially underway. The sun is shining it’s glorious rays on my white wintery skin, the hours of daylight have wonderfully increased, and my grass is finally turning the color Zamzow’s has promised me it would if I bought their fertilizer.
As I sit on my patio and watch my children play on these warm, beautiful summer days, I can’t help but reflect back on my own childhood. When I reflect, I have to laugh at how different the times are now, but more importantly, I am amazed at how I made it out alive and unscathed.
As a child growing up in the early 80’s, those long, green, slithery things known as garden hoses were lifesavers on a hot summer day. My friends and I would screw the old rusty sprinkler onto the end of the hose and enjoy hours of fun. And when we were finished with our sprinkler runs, one of us would pull out the bright yellow slip-and-slide. As we’d stake down the edges of that bad boy, we couldn’t wait to see who’d slide the farthest. If we weren’t quick enough to remove the bright plastic tarp from the lawn when we were finished, inevitably the brown “strip of death” gleamed its ugly face down on the grass for days, if not weeks. After our fun was through, we’d run through our house in search of a towel, meanwhile, my mother yelling at me to get outside…there’s now water everywhere! After drying off, we’d grab a quick snack (usually cookies my mom had baked), take a gulp of ice cold water from the hose, and head on over to the local park, me on my Huffy bike with pink streamers, pig tails blowing in the wind, where we’d stay the remainder of the afternoon till it was time to come home for supper. After supper was over and the kitchen was cleaned up, I’d head back out to finish up the rest of the sunlight the day had to offer. I wouldn’t come home any sooner than I had to, unless the streetlights came on, then that was my signal to head on in for the night. After my bath, I would gaze into the mirror and see glowing red skin glaring back at me…dang it…sunburned again!
That there readers was a very typical day for me as a child. Today, my kids have it much differently than I did.
First of all, do slip-and-slides still exist? Let alone rusty sprinklers attached to them? No! Today, my kids have glorified water features that have chlorinated water spewing from them. Or the other water option is a heated neighborhood pool accompanied by outdoor showers. I don’t allow my kids to even dare drink from the garden hose; they could get giardia for goodness sakes! Instead, I offer them water from a bottle that is touted as natural spring water from the glaciers of Switzerland. When my kids get onto their bikes, I make sure they have a helmet securely fastened. Who cares if the helmet makes their head too hot and sweat drips down into their eyes, at least their brain is protected. Before they depart from the driveway, I always give them instructions on where they are allowed to play, whose houses they are allowed to go into, and to never cross the street. And every five to ten minutes, I glance out my front door to see if I can catch a glimpse of them. If by some chance I can’t, they are immediately scolded and warned they will lose their outside privileges if they ride any farther than the designated area. After supper, they are allowed to head back outside, but not without more “rules.” As the sun is starting to settle into the horizon, I gather my crew into the house for a bath. As I drain the tub, I see the grimy “sunscreen ring” that is left over.
There’s clearly a difference in these two generations. I’d like to say we had more fun. But who knows? I’ll wait till they’re parents themselves, they may say differently. Here’s hoping the rest of your summer is fantastic trying to do the right things for your kids. Hey, let’s give our parents a break okay? They tried the best they could…probably, maybe.
*Article first appeared in Idaho Family Magazine*