From my desk, I can hear my husband playing with our kids downstairs. I’m here working, hoping to get somethings done before I head off to a conference where I’m
making an idiot out of myself in front of people
speaking, all professional and stuff. (ish)
I hear them laughing. I hear the faint sound of the TV. I hear a lot of loud wrestling.
I remember Saturday mornings as a child in Houston. Memories of cartoons, bike riding, running around with our neighbor friends.
I grew up on a regular suburbia street in which every fourth house was the same floor plan. There were wood fences separating lives in the back and a long cement sidewalk connecting us in the front. Nearly every house had children and we all knew each other.
I remember playing with the kids out front, running in and out of each-other’s house grabbing Kool-aid or Little Debbie snacks. It was always sunny. Hot, sticky. Sunny.
We played like this every weekend and every day after school. We knew Paul was the annoying little boy and Beth and Anne were the cool kids on the corner. We’d climb fenses defying boundries and sneak in to each other’s backyards. We’d “forage” in the woods behind our neighborhood, trees that would get cut down only ten years later for new developments.
It’s so very different now.
Now we live in a townhouse connected to a million other people but we know none of them. We share walls, not just fences, and still we do not know them. They do not smile at us. There are very few kids, and the kids that are here are kept inside. We’re isolated in a vast community where we all live so close you can see what they’re watching on TV but you do not know their name.
In some ways I very much miss the Saturday mornings of my youth. I miss the freedom to send the children out to play. I miss the constant presents of the sun. Growing up in Seattle in 2009 will be a wildly different childhood for my daughter and son.
It seems to me that the children haven’t changed as much since the seventies: the people have.
Maybe it’s time to remember our own childhoods. To step out from the fence and shake a hand.
And ride your bike in the sun.
*My sister and her friend from across the street, 1988.