Wednesday, March 9, 2016

The Magic Of Childhood Will Live On.

I started the day by telling the Reasons a story.  A story of being a kid in the 80's.

Master 13 pipes up "Yeah, we know - you had to make your own fun - no devices or phones...we know mum - you played with sticks!"  He rolled his eyes and I laughed.  I am sure I had this same conversation with my parents about them growing up in the 60's.

For half of my childhood I grew up in a quiet north west Brisbane suburb.  A newly booming suburb.  "Nappy Village" it was affectionately called.  Brand new houses filled with new families that included children my age in every house.  A period in time when it was rare to move houses.  You were born in a neighbourhood and you left when you were grown up.  It's rare these days for people to live in a house for more than 5 years.  Well, it is in our area.  

We were the middle house in the last street.  Next door we had a very long steep driveway that lead to 2 houses behind us.  The only building of that kind in the neighbourhood.   And the long driveway was the "Hub".  In our 4 houses there was a total of 14-16 kids - the family next door was a "large" awesome family.

And we were tight.   Our parents were friends.  All the kids were friends.  We spent all weekend together.  It was awesome.

From my point of view, there was no "stranger danger".  My mother tells a different story, however I don't remember her knowing where we were at all times of the day.  I mean, she probably did, but I don't remember feeling my parents presence.  We explored the street, went in and out of the neighbourhood houses, walked up the adjoining cut-de-sac to find more friends and just rode our bikes aimlessly around.

When I was 10 years old we moved from one end of the city to the other.  New school, new neighbourhood to explore and new friends.  We, yet again, lived in a quiet street, this time with not as many children.  There was a small "bush creek" behind the houses across the road and that became our home away from home.  We were gone from sun up, to sun down.  Bikes were our main source of transportation and were well loved.

I remember the day my next door neighbour and I found a baby possum.  About the size of a rat.  We couldn't find it's mother anywhere and we feared she had been eaten by cats.  We took the possum home and made an "enclosure" out of a shoe box and one of her dad socks.  My friends mum called the RSPCA who came and collected it later, but not before we had fun playing "mum" to the tiny creature feeding it a sugar mix the RSPCA had advised her mum to feed it.

"Boundary's" were an unwritten rule -  they were probably set but I don't remember my parents sitting me down to tell me.  We just knew the creek, the bottom of our street and the street at the top of the hill were the "boundary line" of our existence.   It was actually quiet frightening to think about going any further.  We just didn't do it.

I remember venturing out a little further one day - finding a storm water tunnel and playing chicken with the neighbourhood kids as to who would go in the furtherest.  It was full of spider webs so I didn't get far.

The cyclone fences separating the backyards were only about a metre high, so "fence hopping" was a normal way to find your friends.   Bikes and fence hopping was a normal part of our day.  I have the scares on my legs as proof.  Skinned knees were a nonchalant event.  We just got up and soldiered on.  Ice packs and bandaids didn't exist.

These days, my kids are a lot more sheltered.  We know where the Reasons are at all times.  We even go as far as tracking their mobile devices.  They don't leave our property and never go exploring.

This week, however, Brett and I made a promise.  We were going to encourage each other and the Reasons to take more risks.  To stop saying "no, don't go too far away.".

So the conversation went...
  • The boundaries are....
  • The rules are...
  • You are not allowed to....
  • You can do...
  • You are expected to...
The world has changed.  There are more dangers for our children now, more than ever.  I get that.  I understand and respect the direction the world has gone.  With that in mind, we need to stop being so fearful.  Yes, there are very public cases of horrible things happening to our children, but it isn't the norm.  And I refuse to be frightened into an existence of not letting my children grow and explore the way I did as a child.

The Reasons had the most wonderful day.  Bikes got enthusiastically dirty and shoes disgracefully trashed.  The neighbourhood was explored.   Adventurous dreams were conceived and clubs were founded.  They protected each other and generally played extremely well.  No devices.

The magic of childhood lives on...

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I am a Mama of Five. A wife to one. I believe in documenting life using stories. I love telling you mine and would love to hear yours.

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