Things your parents wouldn’t let you do today

The other night, I was visiting with my good friends Mike & Annie, Denny & Trisch, and Roger & Helen. Denny & I got to talking about stuff we did when we were kids. He grew up near Columbus, Missouri, and one summer in high school, he and a buddy took a road trip to New York City. I said, “Your parents wouldn’t let you do that today.” We agreed that the life of the average minor seems highly organized and supervised, compared to “the good ol’ days.” I guess it’s safer, but safe is the opposite of adventure. Here’s a couple things I did as a kid that your parents wouldn’t let you do today:

(1) Ride a greyhound bus from Yuma, Arizona to Denver, Colorado alone at the age of 14. It was a 31-hour trip. I had to change busses in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico. I swear I’m not making this up.

(2) Take all your high school buddies out water-skiing on the family ski-boat every Saturday (no adult supervision). This included towing and launching the boat. We used to ski on the Colorado River above Imperial Dam north of Yuma. My high-school-senior brother was in charge; I was 14/15. We always had a good time, and we learned a lot about fending for ourselves and staying calm when things went wrong. We also developed a lot of cool tricks, like two guys riding on one pair of skis, or changing the gas line to a new tank without stopping. At one point, Sheldon (big brother) thought it would be cool to have a really long (200 feet) ski rope. You could ski from one bank to the other, but otherwise, it didn’t really add to the experience. One time, Sheldon was driving the boat, pulling a skier, and watching me change gas tanks. He drove the boat right into the tulees (riverbank vegetation). It took us a couple hours to pull the boat out of the tree and back into the river. No harm; no foul. I think it was several years before Dad heard about this.

Got any good stories in this category? Something your parents actually let you do, not just something you got away with.

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2 Replies to “Things your parents wouldn’t let you do today”

  1. My parents let me walk not only my neighborhood on Halloween night, collecting candy of course, but also friends’ neighborhoods. I always went went with at least one friend. This was at age 10 anyway, if not before.

    Okay, same deal with selling raffle tickets for school. I’d cover many large blocks, going door to door. This was by 4th grade anyway. I’d cover more area, having more days, and this was during the daytime.

    Nowadays, I wonder if a lot more raffle tickets and so forth are sold by way of parents at the office. How are the schoolkids supposed to sell stuff if not allowed to walk neighborhoods? Maybe boys and girls still do walk neighborhoods selling these kinds of items; I just don’t know about it. Probably not an option for girls anymore though.

    Not to mention spending all day in the nearby creek, or walking the 1.5 miles – occasionally slipping through other people’s yards – to the nearby shopping center area for lunch at Shakey’s Pizza. We were older then, 7th grade. That was during the energy crisis of 1973 I think it was. School was only 1/2 day.

  2. My mother taught me to walk to school by myself at the age of 6 through our neighborhood in Torrance, CA. She followed me the first couple of times and told me that I used to talk to cats along the way. One day she stopped following me and I just walked to my school by myself (about a mile away).

    After school, I would stop at this liquor store on my way home so that I could buy candy with my leftover lunch money.

    My mother raised all of us to be very independent from an early age. This has served me well (mostly) by instilling in me a sense of responsibility.

    I hadn’t really pondered the fact that children are raised largely without independence these days.

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