Missing Out on the Joys of Childhood

I was inspired by today’s daily prompt “childhood“.

I feel sad for today’s youth, they are missing out on so much of the fun and innocence we had as kids growing up. Well it seemed fun and innocent.

What are they missing out on you might ask. After all they have all these cool little electronic gadgets starting with their smartphones, iPads, iPods, tablets, and gaming systems like PS4 and XBOX.  They have hundreds, if not thousands, of channels on TV to surf through. They have Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, on-demand, and whatever else streaming video. So what could they possibly be missing out on?

It’s not things they are missing out on so much but the ability to use their imaginations to entertain themselves. Or how about learning the life lesson of waiting patiently (or even impatiently) for something instead of instant gratification.


Me with my brothers and sister.

Was my childhood better than theirs? Maybe, maybe not, maybe just different. But I do see them missing out on just being a child. They can’t play outside without supervision otherwise a “caring” neighbor or passerby will call the cops. I remember disappearing for hours running through the fields and woods. I knew what time I needed to be home and made sure I was back by then. I remember my children running around the neighborhood with their friends for hours, I never knew who’s house they were at, but they too knew what time to be home. I felt secure knowing someone was watching out for them no matter where they were, just like I kept an eye on the kids running around my house and yard when they ended up there.

What happened to the adage “it takes a village to raise a child”. Instead of calling the cops on a 12 year old boy who has been playing basketball in his own yard for the past hour, why not ask him if he’s thirsty, does he want a cookie? Or even just ask him where mom and dad are. No let’s just call the cops on his parents because they left him alone. Let’s take this young man away from his parents for a month until they are fully investigated. Yeah, that’s the childhood I want for my grandchildren, NOT!

I remember using my imagination to put on “shows” for family. We hung blankets for theatre curtains and then acted out something pretty stupid. Hey I didn’t say we were talented, just imaginative. We would play house with our Barbies and GI Joes and Tonka trucks. We played in the sandbox with matchbox cars and made entire cities. My kids did the same things.


My kids with their cousins presenting a 4th of July show.

Now kids use their imagination to figure out a cool name for their favorite character in one of their on-line games. Not a one of them will have decent posture because they have spent their entire childhood hunched over a phone or game controller. Parents are also too afraid to let their kids run around by themselves with the thought that every other person is a child molester or sex trafficker.

I remember reading the TV Guide every Christmas looking for my favorite Christmas cartoons like Rudolph, Frosty, Santa Claus is Coming to Town, etc, you know all of those cheesy claymation cartoons. They only came on once during the year and if you didn’t watch it that night you weren’t going to see it that year. So we memorized the TV Guide and made sure we were home that night and hopefully Dad wasn’t so we could watch our favorite cartoon. We only had the one TV and that only had about 10 channels. We couldn’t tape the show for later either, VCRs weren’t around yet.

Now everything is easily accessible with one click. There is no anticipation. No build-up. They don’t have to wait for anything and can watch it whenever they want. Half the fun of the shows was the anticipation. Something special is lost when you click a button and stream a Christmas movie in the middle of July.

You know what I'm talking about.

You know what I’m talking about.

Part of childhood is falling off your bike and scraping your knees and elbows. Cool scabs to show off to your friends. It teaches you to get right back up on the bike and pedal home because there is no cell phone to call mommy to come pick you up.

Making the environment safer for our kids doesn’t seem to be the best thing to do. Childhood teaches you to toughen up and prepares you for the real world. It teaches you to not be afraid to introduce yourself to new experiences and people. Yes, yes, I know, we do need to teach them that not everyone is a friend, but we don’t need to teach them that everyone is potentially evil either. Stranger danger has been around for a very long time and seemed to work just fine.

Unless you wrap your child in bubble wrap and never, ever let them out of the house there is always the potential for them to get hurt. But if you do that you are depriving them of so much that they just can’t get playing games on the computer and truthfully it’s a heck of a lot harder to monitor their friends when you don’t ever see their faces.