Emilia and I went on holiday in the Canadian Rockies with Adventures By Disney. We did awesome things like raft whitewater in the Kicking Horse River, climb up to the Cosmic Ray Station on Sulphur Mountain, throw snowballs at each other on the Athabasca Glacier, and mountain-bike along the Bow River. I did none of these things when I was child, a fact that stated and restated to Emilia at least a half a dozen times a day (isn't this wonderful? I would have loved to have done this when I was your age! Did I tell you that already? It's true! We didn't have mountain bikes when I was a kid! And we didn't ride rafts, only inner tubes!)
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But as awesome as it was, it caused me to think: what things did I do as a kid that Emilia doesn't get to do? And then, because I'm a dork, I made a list:
1. Riding old-school merry-go-rounds and sliding down rickety aluminum slides
I know that you can still find these in some old, unrefurbished neighborhood playgrounds, but they're rare, having been replaced by bright, safe plastic. I haven't seen anything like them in years, and still have fond memories of clinging, dizzy, to the metal bars of the spinning merry-go-round in the park across from grandparents' house, and of searing my rear-end on the hot metal of aluminum slides. A warm bum will always remind me of summer.
2. Jumping on trampolines doused in water
Yes, I know, this is extremely dangerous. Trampolines are dangerous. All trampolines now have safety netting, and come with strict instruction that only one jumper be permitted on the mat at a time, and that water should never, under any circumstances, be put on the mat. Which means that my children will never know the glorious joy of bouncing and splashing freely in a trampoline puddle. Sure, this means that they're far less likely to break their necks, but still.
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My kids would be too young to visit arcades, were they still around, but I still regard it as something of a shame that when they hit their tweens and teens they won't spend part of their summers as I did, lurking in the cool dark of a video arcade, drinking Coke out of a bottle and playing Ms. Pacman.
4. Going to the corner store alone
Sure, I could let my daughter go to the corner store by herself and use her allowance to buy candy and then just hang out on a playground with her friends, unsupervised - many parents would - but I won't. I'm just not that free-range. Not by a long shot. I know all the stats about 'stranger danger' and I'm well aware that more harm can come to a kid in the home than on a walk to the 7-11, but I've heard too many terrible stories about terrible things happening to kids walking home alone to be comfortable with that until she's WAY older. So she'll probably be past peak candy-appreciation age before she gets the create the sweet memory of summer afternoons spent lingering by the candy racks and Slushee machines.
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5. Riding a bicycle without a helmet
I know, I know, I know: kids must wear helmets. I wouldn't dream of letting my kids not wear helmets. But that doesn't mean that I don't have sweet memories of racing down the street on my bike and feeling the wind in my hair.
6. Building your own outside fort
Sure, my kids could still do this, sort of, if we had a yard, but the kind of fort building that I'm thinking of is way more robust. It's the fort-building of summers long past, when you find some wooded area or some secluded part of a park and you pull off branches and make a cave and call it your headquarters. Because my children will not be allowed to wander off into the woods or remote areas of parks (where, in any case, odds are that the best spaces are taken up by Occupy Whatever protestors), they will not have a shot at this memory until they are too old to care about making it.
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7. Exploring and getting lost
I'm just too paranoid to let my kids wander freely. CAN'T DO IT. But I have such fond memories of roaming neighborhoods and exploring parks and having adventures and losing track of time, for hours and hours, as a child. (Also? Nobody can get lost anymore. We all have GPS. Once my kids are old enough to wander far enough away to get lost without me freaking out, they'll have iPhones, and will be able to GoogleMap their way home from anywhere.)
8. Saturday morning cartoons
Saturday morning cartoons were special because they only happened on Saturday morning. That was appointment television at its best: you sat down every weekend morning (this was even more sweet, in some ways, in the summer, when you had all the other mornings of the week and they still didn't have cartoons) with your Fruity Pebbles or Cap'n Crunch and you watched cartoons for a few hours and then you went outside and you didn't think about TV at all, because, seriously, there was nothing on. So you just played, and both the hours of cartoon-watching and the hours of play after cartoon-watching were sweet beyond measure. My kids won't have that, because, Netflix.
- By Catherine Conners
For more summer memories my children won't have, visit Babble!
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Catherine Conners is a mother, writer and recovering academic, the author of HerBadMother.com, and Director of Community and Social Good at Babble.