1. Falling seemed to be a common thing. I fell out of trees, off bikes, off ladders, playsets…I’m amazed they didn’t just give me my own room at the local hospital. Helmets, those were for Evel Knievel, we flew over ramps or downhill sledding, hair flying in the wind. If there was a hole to another world, I would have fallen in it.
2. We were left alone, in cars, boats, strollers, houses, playgrounds. Weeknights, my brother and I were latch-key kids, similar to Cabbage Patch Kids, but with a key to our house and no parental supervision. Weekends, we were vagabonds, the world our oyster, except to get food and let our parents see we had no major injuries.
3. Playgrounds were a scene from Mad Max; they were hardcore, if you could make it there, you could survive the apocalypse. Peeling lead paint, rusted jagged pieces jutting out, 3rd degree burns from the metal slide, asphalt and dirt as far as the eye could see, sharp edges (still have a scar from the school slide, going face first; come on, I was dared, maybe even double-dared). Remember the merry-go-round, you weren’t having fun until someone flew off or threw up or both. Making it home from the playground was a badge of courage.4. My childhood was like living in a chimney and neither of my parents even smoked; everyone else smoked, or so it seemed at the time. No restricted areas, no bans, just a carcinogenic fog.
6. Toys were not for the faint of heart: Exploding Clankers, Jarts, Atomic Energy Lab (yes, with 4 types of uranium ore included), BB guns, Streaker, Ker-knockers, Ice Birds (you could make hard as rock ice balls that you definitely wouldn’t throw at anyone, like, ever).
7. And what was with catching things? Bugs, snakes, frogs, cats, dogs, balls, bikes, colds, each other…
8. We were out of touch with people all the time, our status update was, on the move.
9. Our parents didn’t watch CSI, Law & Order, Criminal Minds, etc. so they didn’t ever think we were going to be kidnapped. They did watch Dallas, Love Boat, Fantasy Island, etc. so their worst fear was we were going to be over-actors.10. None of this even takes into account what our Moms did during pregnancy back then.
Is childhood better or worse now? Probably a bit of both. Things are always different in retrospect.
The only thing I know, when children say they want to be older…be careful what you wish for and be very specific.