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In late May, my children got out of school early for the summer, all fired up and eyeing me expectantly like I’m the designated Tour Operator at Disneyland.

Didn’t anyone tell them that laundry, shopping, and housework go on all the same whether they’re in school or not? Little did they know that, a mere 40 years ago, the very notion that Mom provided all the warm weather entertainment would have been considered an oddity.

But times have changed. Greatly. As summer camps weren’t starting for another two weeks, I bundled them into the car and went to a local playground with a track where I could closely supervise them riding their bicycles.

I couldn’t help but muse on how profoundly the wild freedoms of childhood have been curtailed since my day.

Growing up in the 60’s, the aftereffects of the Summer of Love (http://en NULL.wikipedia NULL.org/wiki/Summer_of_Love) had filtered down into our childhood like flecks of fairy dust carried thither upon the winds of change.

For the months of the summer holidays, we’d play Where The Wild Things Are (http://wherethewildthingsare NULL.warnerbros NULL.com/dvd/#/Home) for real—stomping across weed-filled fields in search of someone or some beast to menace, free of the traces of our parents, and roaming the town as far as our legs could take us.

And our parents weren’t concerned. In fact, they’d shoo us out the door on the tip of a broom and admonish us not to return until it was lunch time. Then after lunch, we weren’t to show our dusty heads and skinned elbows until the evening chow bell.

Far from fearing the lurk of a surplus population of pedophiles, our parents knew that hunger would eventually, inexorably, drive us home. So what was there to worry about?

It was an era where summer was haphazardly—no, lazily—punctuated by lemonade stands, homemade popsicles, dandelion chains, soda bottle hunts, backyard bonfires and marshmallow roasts, followed by night time crickets serenading outside a carelessly open bedroom window.

It was the Summer of Kids.

It was the summer of reckless feats of derring do. And the king of them all, was to ride your bike down our local fun park substitute, Palmer Hill, without the use of brakes. And, in some cases, hands.

The infamous Palmer Hill was a little used suburban road that dropped steeply and, at the bottom, sported a steel dead-end fender and a yellow warning sign. It was responsible for more than one broken elbow and bloody forehead.

I can still remember the day, at the age of 9, I sucked in my breath, teetering at the top of Palmer Hill, and prepared for the possibility of death. The trip down was the most hair-raising 30 seconds of my life.

I was half way down when felt the urge to cry and urinate simultaneously. Obviously, however, I lived.

But, today, I have to face it:  if I had to witness my 8-year-old boy, Alex, doing the same foolish feat, I think I really would cry and wet my pants.

And the cherry on the icing of the indigestible cake of modern parenting is that, today, we have so much more to be afraid of—the big bad everything that lurks behind every bush and park play structure.

Parents and children are bound in fear and never again to know the kind of freedom we knew back then.

Just for a moment, I wish we could bring back the Summer of Kids.

Notes for this blog:

Angel La Liberte is the founder of the website Flower Power Mom—The Truth About Motherhood After 40 (http://www NULL.achildafter40 NULL.com/) (www.flowerpowermom.com (http://www NULL.achildafter40 NULL.com/)), a regular blog featuring commentary, real mom stories and expert advice about motherhood after 40. She gave birth to her children at 41 and 44 after conceiving naturally.

She also founded A Child After 40, a new online community to empower all women on the journey of motherhood after 40—via natural conception, IVF, ART, egg/sperm donation, surrogacy, adoption and parenting.http://www.achildafter40.com/a-child-after-40-online/.

2 Responses to The Lost Summer of Kids

  1. Michelle says:

    oh my goodness! Angel you brought back wonderful memories from my childhood. We would do the craziest things, like place a plank of wood my brother found atop of the bunk beds and dresser and walk across it. It was a lot of fun.

    Today I let me children play outside for hours, and sometimes the nieghboors have told me I need to bring them in. I do for meals. But it is healthy for them to have time on their own, get sun, and exercise. Of course I keep an eye on them, and they look out for each other.

    This article was a wonderful trip back to the past!

  2. Jennifer Bingham Hull (http://www NULL.midagemom NULL.com) says:

    Great piece, Angel.

    I think one of the main reasons parenting is so much more demanding than it once was is because our children no longer roam free.

    I struggle with this all the time. How much freedom should I give the kids given that I live in a big city (Miami) that is not as safe as the town where I grew up?

    How can I get them outdoors more when homework takes up so much more of their time than it did when we went to school?

    Should I let them play at a house where I don’t know the parents that well? When I grew up, the moms in the neighborhood knew each other. Not so now.

    No simple answers here! Oh, for those relaxed summer days of our youth. . .

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