Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Up a Lazy River

Many childhood hours were spent on a local creek near our home. It was the site of many adventures, most conjured up in our heads.



The neighborhood kids would meet up in the morning and play out the adventures we'd read in Tom Sawyer. The next day we'd be galloping across the plains on our Palomino ponies. The creek adventures were our favorites. Odd bits of wood were gathered to cobble together rafts of all description. It's amazing that no one got hurt.

One day we were poking away at the creek bottom with sticks in an attempt to move the raft along. Up boiled great clouds of rich black mud and we ran home to tell our parents we were rich beyond our dreams. We'd discovered oil.

We were rich but not in terms of oil futures.

Do kids still do these kinds of things or has all the impromptu fun been taken out of childhood? I had to battle the problem of overscheduling my own children's lives and it's probably still a problem.

What happened to knocking on some doors to put together enough kids to get a ballgame going? Or running after fireflies on a summer evening.

Just wondering.

21 comments:

The Blue Ridge Gal said...

Oh, Suzanne, I so agree with you as I was brought up playing at the creek, Annie I Over with neighbor kids, ball in backyards, careening through the streets in our small town on our bikes. Seems all childhood activities (for many children) have moved indoors. I find it sad that they are missing out on some of the 'true' joys of childhood that you and I experienced.

Di
The Blue Ridge Gal

bv said...

good morning...that was my youth, my daughters and now my granddaughters. what she misses with tech and such she makes up for in growing their gardens, poliwog rescue,cooking etc and just plain playing. i am old fashion enough to love all this but, oh dear, i don't know if there is a big need for poliwog rescuers.
bv who raised 'hippy gypsies'

seanymph said...

I totally agree. I posted elsewhere about a little girl walking home in a storm from school today. It was a sweet story I saw on another site. But what got me about that was.....today a child wouldnt be allowed to walk home from school alone nor would she be allowed to walk in the rain. Most likely someone would call the authorities on her parents. Its sad how all the childhood things are slowly being taken away.

I remember playing in the rain puddles barefoot. And I remember walking home in storms too. You learn what to do and how to take care of yourself. Thats how you become independent. Todays kids are made into wusses and its sad.

Val said...

ah the good ole days....as for our days now, it seems a bit of a different world for many a reason.

ksarra said...

So, so true. How blessed we were with the innocent days of childhood!

Stickhorsecowgirls said...

When my son was much younger...oh, 17 years or so ago, we watched "To Kill a Mockingbird" together. He turned to me in wide-eyed wonder and said, "Mom, they just ran out the backdoor without telling anyone where they were going!" I knew then that times truly had changed. I had freedom that my son never had to run, risk, romp, and relish play outdoors. thanks for invoking those memories! C

Mary Rex said...

I am lucky to still live near the creek I played in as a kid. I was not technically allowed to go there by myself...but my mom only found out if I got a case of poison ivy, and she must have figured that was punishment enough, because I never got in trouble. Kids still play down there...I saw 2 little boys go by with fishing poles yesterday:)

Ang. said...

We struggle with this with our kids! Most kids we know are on the go, go, go! We have chosen more simplicity for our kids. Although they do play sports they aren't involved in every league for every sport. We give our kids every reason in the world to go outside to play. We don't have any gaming systems, the television isn't on all day long and we don't have a/c. Our creeks are a great source of entertainment. Our kids get to run in the hose, play with the animals, ride their bikes and make up all sorts of games. I know that while they might think they are missing out of some of the things their friends get to it will be an upbringing that they will appreciate years from now.

Jenni said...

When I think about my childhood and how I wandered all over the place with no supervision and my mom not even knowing where I was going half the time, sometimes I wonder what the heck she was thinking. Of course, she was probably just praying we'd be okay since she was a single parent working hard just to keep us fed. I have been more cautious with my kids, but I've tried not to be too overprotective. My kids have had plenty of outdoor adventures and time to roam on their own--with a little more boundaries and checking in.

One of the reasons we chose to move out to the country was so the kids could have more freedom. It would have been better if we'd have been able to do it sooner since our oldest was in high school by the time the house was finished and we'd moved out here for good.

Whether in the city or the country, we've always tried to make sure the kids weren't spending too much time watching TV or playing video games, even if we were a bit too scheduled at times. I don't think they've gotten quite as much time outdoors as I did when I was a kid, but I'd still say they've had a lot. They know how to set up a tent or make a shelter and build a fire and cook over it, and they know how to use their imaginations.

Vee said...

Sometimes I am shocked at the freedom my parents allowed my sister and me. I am shocked by the freedom I allowed my own children, and I mourn that my grands will not know that kind of freedom because the world has become a lot scarier place. It's just getting nuts. Who would dare to allow their children to run unsupervised these days? So the only children who know that kind of freedom are pretty tough little characters.

Leann said...

Our sons (20 & 22) loved the creek (we say crick) near our home. Tad poles, Snakes , you name it and it was brought home by 2 smiling boys:)

Thanks for the memories!
Leann

Kate said...

Oh thanks a lot, Suzanne. Now you've given me an earworm, and got me singing Up a Lazy River ... over... and over... and over again. You know, from the biopic about Bobby Darin? What fantastic musical numbers they did in that film.

My mother said her stomach turned, now, remembering sending me to the store several blocks away, in Saskatoon, when I was three years old, with my younger sister in tow. I had a very free childhood, but nowadays? I didn't let my kids walk to school alone either. It's not a risk I was willing to take with them, at least not living near Edmonton, where we were when they were small. They can have plenty of freedom in safer places -- like now, in rural Saskatchewan, where we feel like we know everyone for miles around and if someone is a weirdo or hanging around the school, we know about it pretty quick and can take precautions. In the city, I still would be taking my kids to school if they were small. Why risk it being YOUR kid who gets kidnapped and killed? They were too precious to me, so I MADE SURE they weren't in danger, and THEN gave them their freedom within that guarantee (as much as that can be guaranteed; it really can't) of safety, or that at least I'd done everything I could. I didn't send them out on the streets alone to face whatever creeps might happen to be out there, at the wrong place and time. It wasn't the same small-town freedom I had as a child, but I don't think they've suffered.

Farmchick said...

My 12 year old son spends much of his free time at the creek, on our farm. He has a friend that comes over and between them they catch fish, hunt for frogs, crayfish, and arrowheads. This is just the kind of thing we were hoping for when we moved back to our small hometown 13 years ago.

cathycan said...

It's true, our children are so sheltered and prohibited from all the roaming freedoms we enjoyed and yet are exposed readily and easily to things so inappropriate and dangerous.
I made myself, not withstanding fear and trepidation, let my children do some things that others thought were too "dangerous". I think it was good for them.

Cottage Rose said...

Hello Suzanne; I remember those days when I was young, how sad it is that today kids would rather stay in and play internet games, instead of using their own imagination. I think some parents should kick them outside to play..... love that photo.

Hugs;
Alaura

Steph said...

We had a wet weather spring that I loved to play in. But my most favorite activity was playing in dirt with my matchbox cars. I would make roads everywhere!

Karen Deborah said...

It does take a concentrated effort to give kids those experiences. It takes those of us who lived it to show it to them. My grand kids grew up swinging from trees because I encouraged it. That river is gorgeous! you forgot that when you chase the fireflies it's too catch them and put them in jars for hide and go seek lanterns in the dark!

dina said...

We're a little counter cultural at our house. We have crazy rules like - no TV, computer, electronics of any kind if the sun is shining. We require things like - this must be abuse of some sort - playing outside during daylight hours. And - gasp - my children have never been on any sports teams. I'm probably a horrible Mom. But - well, they're pretty terrific kids - so maybe it wasn't so horrible after all...

My idea of an ideal day is the one you described exactly. What a rich, beautiful memory!

Anonymous said...

Sandboxes and make-believe. And do little girls sit on blankets under the shade tree and play dolls? Or dress up? Rides in wheel barrels? Playing tag until it was so dark you really couldn't see anything anymore?

Goodness we even rode our bikes behind the mosquito spraying truck or run around in the fog it made.

Stickhorsecowgirls said...

I think we grew up in the same kind of place! "C" and I ran all over the neighborhood on our stickhorses! If I ventured too far, my mother did come after me with the switch! My kids did not have the same kind of freedom--I did let them play outdoors, but I sat out and read a book or something. We did have a scary incident where a stranger pulled up and called them to the car and they saw a pocketknife out. So maybe I was overprotective, or just cautious! Thank heavens my grandkids who were raised in the city, have recently moved onto a gated farm where they can run wild. I've noticed that they prefer the air conditioning and computer games and tv. It's what they know. Come fall, I'm going to run around with them outside! My son has taken them down to the creek at the back of the property to fish, so there is hope! Vicki

Rue said...

Hi Suzanne :)

It's still like that here in Mayberry Jr., but I think it's unusual everywhere else. I hope I'm wrong.

rue