Much like John Mellencamp, I was born in a small town. And while I don’t necessarily share his affinity for rose-colored abodes, I did spend my formative years in a tiny cow town no bigger than your momma’s Sunday purse. My graduating class had fewer than 90 students when all was said and done.
Recently someone posted a photo from our childhood on Facebook. It included a cast of characters from the old neighborhood, rakes in hand, preparing to jump in the monster of all crunchy leaf piles we’d just crafted:
Aside from the groovy fashion statements, some viewers of this shot remarked on a couple things. One was that clearly manual labor was not unheard of back then. If your lawn needed raking, the kids got out there and did it. Of course, I’ll freely admit that when the end product included running full tilt and launching yourself into that delicious-smelling crisp pile of leaves, we were more motivated. Raking just for the sake of dragging them to the curb? Not quite so fun.
The same person also remarked that there didn’t seem to be an issue with childhood obesity back then. I never would have noticed that, but you know what? He’s right. We weren’t inside with faces glued to a screen. We were outside running, pedaling, skating, and playing games.
The thing that was most thought-provoking to me is something I think about every day with my kids. When we were young, we dashed out of the house as soon as humanly possible so we could play with the kids in the ‘hood.
We returned home for lunch and headed back out.
We scarfed down our dinner in the hopes of catching a couple more hours of fun before the porch lights began to dot the darkening street, signaling the end of that day’s final game of chase (hide and seek with no home-free).
So here’s what that’s left me to wonder:
Are there creepier people in the world today or did we just not pay them much mind back then? Was it because we were in a small town that we didn’t worry about being abducted?
I wouldn’t dream of letting my kids head out for the day. These days, even short jaunts with friends requires a “stanger danger” refresher course. So, does the Internet’s easy access to things like porn create these new boogey men? Or were they there all along?
What are your thoughts?