Thursday, February 26, 2009

How times have changed...

I feel old.

My wife and I were just sitting here remembering what it was like for us as kids and thinking how different it is for our kids.

This all came up because of a story ES read at school. Apparently Abraham Lincoln realized he overcharged someone 6 cents, so he chased the person down the street to repay them their 6 cents. ES just couldn't believe that he would do that for 6 measly cents. My wife explained to him the concept of inflation and the fact that 6 cents was worth a lot more back then.

That got me to thinking...

When I was in first and second grade, we used to go to the Thrifty drug store down the hill from our house to get ice cream. It was 15 cents for a single scoop, or 30 cents for a double. Nowadays, we go to Maggie Moo's and pay like $3 bucks per ice cream. I don't remember the exact price, but it seems to me we normally pay about $12 for the four of us there. Granted, at Maggie Moo's they take candy and other stuff and mix it in to the ice cream by hand, but still. If we just went down the road to the Hershey ice cream place, I'm certain it costs at least somewhere in the $1.50 to $2 price range for an ice cream cone.

When I was in third and fourth grade, we used to ride our bikes and play ALL over our neighborhood. I could have been anywhere in a 4 or 5 block radius from my house, and there were no cell phones or radios for our parents to find us.

ES likes to go over to his friend K's house to play. We have a very nice network of paved walking paths all over Ashburn. I just clicked my way around Google Earth and saw that it would be an easy 0.57 mile walk for ES to just walk on the paths over to K's house instead of my wife driving him to drop him off and then driving over to pick him up again.

I've always been grateful to my parents for their trust in me and the independence it fostered.

I went on my first unaccompanied plane trip when I was 9 years old. Granted, my mom said goodbye to me as I got on the plane in California, and my Grandpa said hello to me as I walked off the plane in Colorado, but still...

That was the same age that I became a latch-key kid. Yep, I walked unescorted 0.9 miles from my elementary school to my house (the horror!), and then let myself in the house and went to play with my friends in the neighborhood.

Since I value the independence my parents fostered in me, I've always thought that I would try to do the same for my kids.

...and yet I find I'm not entirely comfortable with the idea of ES going half a mile to his friends' house.

Is it just a sign of the times?

Are there just too many weirdos out there to make it worth the risk?

Or am I just not as trusting as my parents were?

7 comments:

Navy Blue Cougar said...

I think people are just a lot more aware of the dangers facing children today. When I was a kid, I never perceived any sort of danger, but after I grew older, my mom warned me of a few "strange guys" that I should avoid. Turns out she had been keeping a closer eye on me than I thought.

Don't worry about telling your kids how far you really walked to school. It is the prerogative of any daddy to tell his kids:

"Back when I went to school, I had to walk seven miles to get to school, in blizzards, uphill BOTH ways!!!"

JoLee said...

Average salary in 1980 was $19,000....so a cone that cost 30¢ for a "non-gourmet" ice cream was about right. You just need to hang with older people like me.... I can put things in perspective. Independence is a good thing - even if you have to hide in camo gear to watch ES walk to his friends - it would be good to have him walk. :)

Sam said...

The world we live in today is nowhere near the world we lived in when we were kids. So much of what you said brings back many memories of mine. I was just reminiscing with my cousin (10 years my senior) about walking the mile+ through the woods, crossing creeks by way of fallen logs, with no real trail or markings, just "knowing my way" to get to my Uncle (her dad)'s house most saturday morning. Or walking the half mile to the tennis courts for camp, then another half mile to the grocery store after for Gatorade and the whole mile home. And like you, I can't imagine my kids doing that for a long time to come!

The inflation stuff...well that just happens wicked fast. I can remember easily when gas was under $1.00 in Little River and last year it was pushing $5.00.

Hilary said...

I can think of at least a half dozen cringe-worthy things I did semi-regularly as a kid, which I would never have let my sons do at that same age. We're certainly more aware of the dangers of many things that we/our parents seemed blissfully ignorant of back in the day. And I'm way older than you.

Sagey said...

Maybe we should get something like this...
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B000VY4G0A/?tag=wantnot-20
:-)

Mike L said...

I'm terribly concerned about this issue, so much so that I'm running a blog about it called Playborhood.com and writing a book about it.

This is a major social problem. It's social because one parent alone can't make a better life for his or her kids by getting them to play outside more. It's not very much fun going outside to play when there's no one else there.

So, I'm working on solutions that make neighborhoods more interesting places to be. Here's one thing I'm working on. I'm writing a whole book on this stuff, so I have a lot more...

I'll make two comments about the safety concern. First, no one can find a statistic that says that kids are less safe outside today than they were when we were kids. It's absolutely, positively, not the case. Second, *perceived* safety increases when more kids and adults are outside, so a key is building a more vibrant neighborhood.

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