A couple of weeks ago, a local radio personality who has a column in the local paper wrote about a topic I truly could relate to – collecting baseball cards.
Though my collecting in recent years has slowed, I still enjoy it. He touched upon collecting as a kid and how things are now changed, especially with the cost and value of cards. Back in those days, he noted, you traded away good cards to get ones you wanted. As for those players you didn’t like? You attached them to your bike tires to make the flipping noise.
I’ve covered my baseball card collecting here before, so that’s not what this is about. Instead, it got me thinking a bit more about growing up when I did and how things have drastically changed since then, and not always for the better.
Some things are definitely better – such as knowing where criminals or predators are located, if they’ve been convicted before. Or kids are, usually, a little more on guard. They know what to look for and how to react in certain situations. When I was younger, you reacted to the situation. You knew what was right and what was wrong. And you knew things you should or should not do.
Now that is true, but also in a much bigger way.
When I grew up, we handled bullies the only way we knew how – we teamed up to overcome it. Maybe it was a schoolyard brawl. Maybe it was getting even. Now, it gets more drastic as it seems more and more common for kids to respond to bullying with suicide.
That baffles me.
Technology can be a wonderful tool. The issue truly is that it can be used as a weapon, too. Bullying – or cyber bullying – is more rampant. It’s easier for people to be anonymous on the Internet and say nasty things or bully others. It happens more and more. I don’t know how many times I’ve seen Facebook groups created specifically to attack a person or people. And it’s not always easy to get Facebook to take them down.
And maybe it’s things like technology that make growing up completely different.
When I was a kid, we were outside. During the summers, we were out the door in the morning, came home briefly (sometimes) for lunch, again for dinner and then when the street lights went on. We played baseball, explored woods, went swimming, rode our bikes, and played. We built forts, dams in creeks, and used fake guns (imagine that?) such as cap guns and others to play “war.”
We’d play tackle football, full-contact basketball and made dangerous jumps for our bikes. We stole cigarettes from our parents to act cool (remember the first time you inhaled? Yikes!), we made mini fires in open parking lots (see, we knew better than to try and light these things in the house), threw “snappers” at each other’s feet and climbed trees.
Our Wiffle Ball games were played with the rules that the only way you got out was if your ball was caught by a fielder in the air or if somebody threw the ball at you and you got hit before you got to the base. And don’t let anybody say anything about throwing like a girl – we had two in our neighborhood who threw as hard, if not harder, than most boys.
On days that it rained, we’d be inside bored as can be. Maybe then we’d play some video games, but back then we are talking an Atari 2600, original Nintendo or something along those lines. A friend of mine had a Colecovision.
On the nights we were allowed to stay out a bit past the street lights – like when we got a little older – we were heard throughout the neighborhood playing kick the can, ghost in the graveyard or a game like that. When’s the last time you ever heard of a kid playing kick the can? If you have, imagine me at the can noting “Tap, tap, tap on you reading my blog!”
That was in the warm months. In the winter months, our parents would make sure we were dressed warmly and out we went. Snow forts, snowball fights, or sledding down hills were usually the choices of the day. We’d come home to some hot cocoa and then curl up to read a book (imagine that!) we had gotten at the library (!) or watch some good cartoons.
We never dreamed of cell phones, video games, computers or anything along those lines. And, believe me, I love technology. I have gadgets and love as things advance. And it’s not as though things were always easy. There were moments we were sheltered slightly, but parents looked out for each other’s kids and made sure we were safe. And wherever I went, my father always knew where I was. He was the chief of police back then and he made sure during his patrols (he worked days) — he always knew where area kids were and what they were up to.
But I also miss the days gone by because it’s scary to think how many kids will never get to enjoy a carefree existence, even if just for a few years.
Kids don’t seem to get the chance to be kids anymore, and that’s a shame. Part of it is society, that’s for sure. Another part is definitely parents being way protective of kids, and that’s fine. But some of these new parents grew up in a time when more freedom was giving to kids.
Will we ever get those days again? Probably not. In the end, it makes me happy I grew up in the era that I did.
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