I was listening to this podcast today that I listen to every morning, and the couple that DJs it is about my age. They were talking about how our generation is the only one to really know what life was like before social media but also be proficient in it. And I realized that there are so many things I experienced as a child that my kids will never know.
I once locked myself out of the house when I was 11, and because we didn’t have cell phones, I was unable to call my mother. So I tried to pick the lock with an Exacto-Knife, broke it off in the deadbolt, and had to get boosted through the bathroom window after my mother broke the glass when she got home, and then unlock it from the inside. I got grounded for about a month for that crap. (And if you’re a loyal followers of this blog, you’ll know that was just the first of a dozen times I have had to break-and-enter my own home.)
I also remember having a 9″ black and white TV with rabbit ears. Ya know, the kind where you have to turn the dials and then adjust them to get reception. I watched Jaws for the first time on that thing, and it immediately became my favorite movie (which should have tipped my parents off that I was not a typical six-year old girl). I made mix tapes off the radio on my boom box. I had a Walkman that I used to listen to them.
Mine was the last generation to ride their bikes two miles to a friend’s house, alone, after dark on a summer night, and no one thought anything of it. My kids will never know that freedom, and it makes me sad. My generation became the one that was so intent on protecting our children that we took away all the possibility of adventure as well as danger. As much as I take comfort in knowing my children are only a text away at any given moment, I also wish they could know the fun of exploring the drainage ditch in the bayou without any adults knowing about it, and thinking they’d maybe found a dragon’s lair or a witch’s hideout.
There’s an innate fun that goes with a little bit of danger, and something is lost when everything becomes risk-free. Sure, my brothers and I had a few emergency room visits when we were young, but we also had more fun than I’ve had since– like playing in the giant mud puddles at the elementary school across the street from our house and then having to hose off in the driveway in our underwear before our mom would allow us inside. And riding motorized dirt bikes on the tracks, flying over jumps and berms and occasionally crashing and getting really hurt. But we recovered, and we were never scared to climb back on.
As much comfort as I take in being able to protect my children and know where they are at all times, I sometimes wish they could know that sense of fun that will be an alien concept to their children. So I hold tight to my stories and my photographs so that, someday, I can tell my grandchildren about how their grandma escaped a water moccasin while chasing her little brother across a lake, or how their great-uncle required stitches no less than ten times before he was eighteen. I will look like a wild and courageous woman in their eyes. Maybe I should look forward to that.