My two older brothers and I grew up in the 60s. That was a time of playing kick the can, hide and seek, and just hanging around doing constructive stuff like that with neighborhood kids. No trouble, just being kids. Every evening, we instinctively knew when the “now considered lame” version of Batman was on TV. We wore no watch, had no dinner bell, and had no parent calling out to notify us of the TV schedule, but at the same time every day we had this awareness of when it was time for Batman. It was my brothers’ favorite, and mine because I was their pesky little sister who wanted to “like everything they liked” in order to fit in and not be called the sissy sister. And, Batman was cool, y’all! And it was cool to say “cool” and “groovy”. Did you sing, “Na-na, na-na, na-na, na-na. Na-na, na-na, na-na, na-na – BATMAN?” We did. All through the neighborhood after watching the show, back out to play until dark or the dinner call (a yell from cupped hands around the mouth – just sayin’) from a parent. Then we would play out an episode of Batman, my brothers arguing over who would get to be Batman that day. Of course, no one wanted to be Robin. As if “dweebiness” had degrees, he was considered over the edge of acceptable dweebiness. We all have our standards.
Those were simple days of making our own fun by raking leaves into huge piles, then messing them up by jumping into the pile and swimming in the leaves, or raking them (or mounding snow in winter) into rows to create forts for army battles. I lived in a boy’s world when it was just the three of us and maybe an added boy or two from down the street. Sometimes I would play dolls with girls in the neighborhood, but the girl population was usually lacking in number. It wasn’t as fun to play Barbie by yourself, y’all! My brothers and their friends roamed through the neighborhood on bicycles, built scrap wood forts and said no girls were allowed. Naturally, with the sign up, I yearned even more to be accepted. We had no carpool Moms back then, either. Daily we walked the seven or eight blocks to school and back, coming home hurriedly for lunch. We endured long, rainy days stuck inside by playing board games. (My kids now call these “bored games”. Just sayin’.) We were happy, y’all!
Flash forward 20 years to the 80s. I was driving home from my first full-time job after college one fall afternoon and saw a house with a huge pile of leaves in the front yard with children jumping and swimming in them. Orange-corded lawn tools were the new thing, blowers, shrub trimmers, weed-eaters, etc. Hand raking leaves had become unpopular, and it hit me that I had not seen children raking or playing in leaves in a very long time. The fun scene ignited sudden, fresh tears and a lump in my throat as I remembered our early, simple days of growing up. I longed for those times again but knew it would never be, and I felt a deep sadness at the loss of it. It was time to say good-bye to the good ole’ days.
We each have our own set of fond memories from childhood. It makes me wonder what our kids will have as fond memories to ignite a sense of nostalgia in later years. Will they be walking through a flea market of sorts and spot that special Xbox game that consumed hours and hours of their young years, grab it and jump with glee, joyful that they have found this long-lost “friend”? Will an antique store display cell phones from “back in the day”, which are the must-haves of today? “Awe, look, Honey! Remember when we were young, and I secretly texted you in 5th grade from a phone just like this?” Weird, huh? How I’ve wished that our kids could’ve had the blessing of the glorious childhood many of us had back in the day. And let’s not even get started on the benefit of learning skills at home through CHORES that are minimal today compared to our younger years.