I Did These Things as a Kid, But My Kids Won't

Are parents as a whole more protective these days? And where is the line drawn between good protection (seat belts and not letting your kids drink bleach) and being overprotective to where it is stifling for them. I think about this sometimes.
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I think about my own childhood now that I'm a parent. Often. Of course I do, it is my primary frame of reference in all things childhoody.

There are things I did that my kids will never do.

I could talk about how they will never dial a rotary phone. Or that they won't be enjoying candy cigarettes -- remember those paper wrapped gum ones with powdered sugar inside that looked like smoke? So cool. Or how caller ID will prevent them from learning the art of prank calling.

But all of that stuff just makes me feel old. Plus, this type of comparison would be way more interesting coming from my grandparents who walked 50 miles barefoot uphill both ways in the snow and all that.

Still. Times have changed.

(The following pictures are of me as a kid. I have braids!)

#1 No Seat belts


I do not remember sitting in the car. But I do remember laying across the backseat, laying across the floor of the backseat, standing in the backseat, jumping in the backseat and possibly attempting headstands in the backseat while my mother told me to sit down.

Until 1984. Then those "Buckle Up, It's the Law!" signs went up and parents everywhere could point at them and say, "If you don't, you'll go to jail" which must have been awesome for them.

My kids? Nope, not going to be jumping around back there.

#2 No Helmets

My aunt (who is only six years older than me) used to pull me in my Radio Flyer® wagon by tying a rope to her bike. On country roads. Down hills. No helmets.

But the wagon would go too fast:

And she'd yell "put the brakes on!" which actually meant "PANIC!" because there weren't any brakes. We stopped ourselves by turning into the ditch and wiping out. It was fun.

My kids? They wear helmets at the dinner table. You know, just in case they fall off their chairs.

#3 No Childproofing


Hazardous cleaning products were left out in the open but those Mr. Yuk stickers were slapped on them so it was okay. Childproofing also involved putting chairs in front of things.

My kids? Anything even slightly yucky is stored way up high, protected by lasers and titanium padlocks at an undisclosed satellite location.

#4 Flying Attempts


I had a swing set. It was metal and green and yellow and happy. My favorite thing to do was to swing as high as I possibly could, higher than the top bar. I also liked to jump off, mid-swing. I usually landed on my feet, but not always. Sprained both wrists once.

My kids? No. They will not jump off a swing set. Not when I'm watching. I will always be watching.

#5 Playground Equipment
Remember seesaws or teeter-totters? I haven't seen on old-fashioned one in years. This is probably why:


A certain boy asked me to seesaw with him. I was thrilled! He must like me!


Oh. I guess not.

In second grade a girl got her top teeth knocked out from that little trick. It was bloody. Those things were brutal.

My kids? At least around here, seesaws are smaller and have hydraulics or something so they won't slam any butts on the ground. Which is a relief. Nothing good came of those teeth knocker outers.

#6 Sledding


We went sledding often. If you do something often enough you get bored. So then you create ways to make it exciting again. So we invented demolition derby sledding. If you got knocked off your sled you were out. We were crashing into each other on purpose. We also built ramps out of snow to launch us flying through the air. So much fun. So many bruises.

My kids? First of all, we don't have snow here. Second of all, thank goodness we don't have snow here. But if we did? No demolition sledding allowed. And they'd have to wear helmets. And not go very fast. Or ever stand up. On second thought, no sledding.

#7 Freedom


But perhaps the most striking contrast is the freedom I remember having. I'd eat breakfast and then leave.

I'd wander around. Aimlessly. Sometimes with neighborhood kids and sometimes alone. I'd cross our creek with homemade bridges:


And catch turtles without ever hearing of the word Salmonella.

I'd put roller skates on and skate down hilly sidewalks:


And stop myself by crashing into a bush, just before the street.

I don't think I even stopped to eat lunch. Because I remember being out all day long:


Only to be called in for dinner when it was getting dark.

My kids? Yeah, right. At least not until they are older. Like thirty.

How does your childhood compare? Are there things you did that your kids won't?


This is not a disclaimer. This is where I'm putting some actual parent-y discussion stuff because I don't usually talk about actual parent-y discussion stuff.

Are parents as a whole more protective these days? And where is the line drawn between good protection (seat belts and not letting your kids drink bleach) and being overprotective to where it is stifling for them. I think about this sometimes. FreeRangeKids is a fascinating read if you are interested in this sort of discussion.

Oops, this isn't meant to be a thought-provoking post so if this provokes thoughts I sincerely apologize.

Wait, that sounded like a disclaimer.

Unicorns! Sticker books! Jelly shoes!


Originally published on my crappy blog: Parenting. Illustrated with Crappy Pictures™.

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