There’s a meme going around social media sites asking readers something like, “If you remember playing outside until the street lights came on, or, If you remember running barefoot in the yard and drinking out of the garden hose, or squishing the orange dot into the margarine that came in a bag…. then you had a great childhood. (or something like that)
We baby-boomers, we like to tell our offspring, had it good. Freedom to play outside without fearing strangers. Freedom to go to the park on our own, play on death-defying carousel thingies with metal bars without fearing we’d puke (’cause that would be so cool anyway!) or chip a tooth on the wooden teeter-totter with the metal handlebar – which I did but nobody seemed phased by the blood running out of my mouth as I ran across the cement to the swings that had metal seats and rusted chains, determined I’d finally be able to pump so hard I went all the way around over the top.
Without a parent or other adult around, there was no one around to tell me to stop — and I definitely wasn’t going to listen to my five years-older-than-me-brother who’d jumped off the teeter-totter while I was midair and precipitated my hard-landing and chipped tooth.
We baby-boomers had it good.
I wonder sometimes, where were our parents? Why did they give us so much freedom?
I don’t believe it wasn’t because they didn’t care, or thought the world was a super-safe place to be. They’d just come through WW2. How could they think that? How could they believe there weren’t dangers out there?
What I’ve come to believe is that they were war-weary. Tired-out from deprivation and rationing, tired-out by fearing would they or their loved ones get through it at all. Tired-out by wondering would it ever end.
And when it did end, they wanted to believe there was nothing to fear and so… they let their offspring, we the baby-boomers, run free as if we had not a care in the world as they continued to do what they’d always done, take care of business.
Busy building families, rebuilding towns and cities, homes and lives, busy trying to bury the past beneath the memories of all they’d seen and lost, they didn’t have time to go to the park or watch our every move or schedule our every second.
They were in survival mode. Mental health, PTSD, Trauma-informed practices weren’t yet a thing. All they could do was keep surviving.
Covid has led me to this awareness.
As the world struggles to open up again and we learn to adjust to living with its presence amongst us like a memory that refuses to fade-away, I am feeling the angst of wanting to let go of caution and run like that childhood me as if I have not a care in the world.
I am feeling the desire to pretend there is nothing to fear but fear itself.
Fact is, there is a lot in this world to fear – but…
Fear. Worry. They change nothing and, have an innate ability to grow stronger the more I give into their stealthy presence.
Running barefoot in the grass, lying on my back in the prairie grasses at the top of a hill, arms and legs spread wide simply to feel the sun and earth bathe me in glorious warmth. Singing my heart out amidst the trees or standing outside the grocery store singing a made-up song into the phone to my granddaughter simply to hear her laugh and not caring who hears. Throwing and smashing eggs on the rocks beneath the bridge as a train goes rumbling overhead and screaming at the top of my lungs…. now those things do change everything.
Because, in those things I am reminded, I am alive.
And isn’t that a beautiful gift.