From the editor's desk: When childhood was fun

By Sarah Nigbor
Posted 4/10/24

I don’t think it’s any secret that our kids are growing up much differently than we did. I’m sure I grew up much differently from my mom and uncles, who grew up in the 50s and 60s. …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

From the editor's desk: When childhood was fun


I don’t think it’s any secret that our kids are growing up much differently than we did. I’m sure I grew up much differently from my mom and uncles, who grew up in the 50s and 60s. But I feel sorry for kids these days. They will most likely never know many of the freedoms we had as children, to run free without worry.

In the summertime, I had two main rules: I had to be home for supper and to do the dishes, then I had to be home before dark. And believe me, I took full advantage of that. As soon as the last dish was wiped, I was out the door, running down the road to my friend Meghan’s house. We would lose ourselves for hours playing in the woods, wading in the South Fork or riding bikes up and down the country roads. When I think of all the stupid things we did and lived to tell about them, I laugh (and cringe). A few that come to mind:

  • Riding a scooter from north Saddle Club Road, whizzing across Highway 29 to south Saddle Club Road. You had to do this in between cars, of course.
  • Jumping off the bridge into the swirling waters of the snow-fed dry run in April, because we couldn’t wait for summer to swim.
  • Riding bike with no hands down “Suicide Hill,” seeing who could go the farthest before wiping out. Meghan scraped her head so badly one time that she had a bald spot. And no, we did not wear helmets.
  • Riding in the back of Uncle Ronnie’s “Coke truck” on skateboards while he drove around town. It was even more exciting because it was pitch black in the back, so you couldn’t see where you would crash next.
  • Prank calling our friends’ parents, asking them if their “refrigerator was running.” Ah, the days before caller ID.

I’m not saying I want my kids to do dangerous things, but a part of me feels a little sad when Carolina carefully straps on kneepads, elbow pads and a helmet to practice roller skating. Is it the right thing to do? Absolutely. But a part of me wishes she had a bit of the daredevil in her that her mother had as a child. Instead, my girl makes sure to cross every T and dot every I, to think of every potential dangerous scenario and plan accordingly so those things don’t happen. I don’t have to remind her to wear sunblock or drink plenty of water. In fact, it’s the other way around. She also reminds me to lock the doors at night, fasten my seat belt, sign her permission slips and wash her softball uniform.

Lincoln is the same way. He has a new injury every day, each of which requires a Band-aid, an icepack, and ointment. He shows us injuries each day that honestly, I just can’t see sometimes. I think back to Meghan’s bald spot or the time I put a rusty stake through my foot and wonder when kids became so … wimpy. Or maybe it’s just my overly cautious children. Maybe they are making up for my childhood.

When I was a kid, I lived by the seat of my pants. I wouldn’t care if I wore the same clothes for days in a row. I procrastinated shamefully and threw myself into a tizzy because I waited too long to do things. My grandpa always said if my head wasn’t attached, it would have been long gone. Surprisingly, I never broke any bones. The worst injury I ever had was from falling off the tractor seat onto the hitch ball, right on my hip. My leg was black from hip to toe. I’d never seen anything like it and I was proud. It made me look tough, though it hurt like hell.

Another thing I hated to do as a child was be near adults. Whenever I was anywhere near adults, they found chores for me to do, or told me to be quiet, or something equally unpleasant. With our kids, they stick to us like glue. If I want time to myself, I have to hide in the bathroom. They love to be around us, which don’t get me wrong, is wonderful. But sometimes I just want to breathe, to inspire them to ride a bike with no hands just once, to tie a bike to a tree and use it as a swing. Go do something fun, spontaneous, outside! Maybe I should force them to polish the paneling with Liquid Gold like my grandmother did to me. That kept me out of the house and away from her for hours.

From the editor's desk, Sarah Nigbor, childhood, spontaneity, column