Around the corner from our house is a neighborhood play area. It has the usual little kid climb-on things and swings, all under a shade canopy -- smart, this is sunny Arizona. The ground in the play area is that spongy rubber stuff in case someone falls.
How did we ever live through childhood with so few safety devices? Goodness, I used to climb trees; ride my bike down the hill pedaling as fast as I could, then coasting through the intersection with my hands in the air [no helmet]; jump off the garage to feel airborne -- briefly -- then climb up and do it again; disappear into the desert for hours... I never broke a bone or went to the hospital. Besides, we never mentioned small injuries, if they stopped bleeding, because someone would say, "Well, you'll be ok. Rub it, it will stop hurting. I love you. Be more careful next time." It was OUR responsibility to be careful. That is how they taught us life-lessons. Simple. Easy. Direct.
Last week, I overheard the neighborhood kids discussing the parent imposed ban on playing in neighbor's yards. Too bad, I thought. We have great hiding places in our yard. I'd rather have the kids than the people who walk their dogs and leave 'gifts' and yellow spots in our lawn. The kids are more interesting.
I went outside the other day and ran into a kid almost at our front door.
He stopped suddenly. Fearful.
I said, "Are you hiding or seeking?"
"Hiding," he whispered.
"Ok," I whispered back.
He started to breathe again and swiftly hid.
I stood at the mailbox as the other kid ran past looking for him. No one would dare hide in a yard with an adult outside, so he didn't look by our door. Heh heh, I helped the hidden kid. (But, sometimes, I point where to look.) Over by the palm tree is another good hiding place -- just I thought I'd mention.
Yesterday afternoon when I was sitting in my office writing, outside my window was the sound of two giggling girls about six years old. We have older boys, so I stopped to listen to these girly voices. They were excited sounds. I could almost imagine the girls wiggling and squirming. Suddenly they broke into high pitched screams that rattled the window. The boys (not mine) must have come out.
We have a fountain in our front yard. It is a really, really, really large 'ball' set in a bowl on top of a low pedestal. Sometimes I find rocks from our landscape in the bowl and wonder who has the record for chucking a rock into the bowl from the sidewalk. I don't ask.
No one has come forward.
It's funny how kids haven't changed much from when we were kids. It is kind of refreshing to see children still manage to have fun with nothing more than a bike and the neighbor's yard.
There is still hope for the future, I think.