How Did We Survive Super Stretch Armstrong?

Momservation: It is impossible to go through childhood without running into the back of a parked car on a bike.

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I just let my kids ride off to the neighborhood creek. With bike helmets, closed-toe footwear, a phone with GPS, strict orders to call me if they go anywhere else, check in every hour with a phone call, hand sanitizing wipes, a lunch I made for them, two gallons of sunscreen and bug repellant applied and my stomach in knots worrying if they’d be okay unsupervised three blocks from my home.

My God, who have I become?

I was the kid who grew up at the creek, walking barefoot among the broken glass bottles, my mom unaware of my whereabouts just that I was “outside” and who didn’t care as long as I was home by dark, came home to eat if I got hungry, running all the way home bleeding if I got hurt but just to get a BandAid not to tell Mom for fear she wouldn’t let me do the stupid thing again that hurt me, no bike helmets, no sunscreen, just complete and utter freedom to be a kid.

And yet, I survived to tell about it.

I’m the first to admit how ridiculously overprotective I’ve become of my kids, but I am in good company with this generation of ours. Let’s take a little look back at the raising of children then and now:



Spent all summer barefoot, dodging broken glass and hot asphalt, got new shoes when new school year started Tevas for creek walking, closed toed shoes for biking, sneakers for running around, cleats for soccer and baseball, cute flip flops to match outfits
Toys that could poison us like the goo in Super Stretch Armstrong and the lead in Marvel comic figurines, choke us with small pieces like Barbie shoes and Light Bright pegs, or maim us like the Green Machine – perfect height for coming down a hill and wedging yourself under a parked car Regular recall notices on toys because someone somewhere somehow used a toy not for which it was intended and their parents sued. The most dangerous part of toys now is their plastic packaging. Safer just to stay inside and play video games
Telling your parents where you were going meant “outside” Kids with cell phones with GPS for regular check in
Parents didn’t care what you were doing as long as you were back by dark Playdates are scheduled, friends screened, activities planned, booked every season for a sport
If you were hungry, you would come home to eat something. If you were thirsty you drank from a neighbor’s hose. Mom packs snacks, water, Gatorade, juice boxes, for fear of child feeling hungry or thirsty. Kids can’t miss a meal, must be home for breakfast, lunch and dinner representing every major food group
Wore the same “Keep on truckin’” tshirt and cut off jeans all summer Outfits from Abercrombie and Aeropostale so kids won’t feel left out, pair of shorts for every day of the week, can’t go out of the house with stains and unmatched
Got around on a hand-me-down bike or roller skates. Walked or took the bus if it was out of the neighborhood. Choice of new bike, roller blades, Razor scooter, RipStik, or electric scooter, otherwise Mom will just drive
Mom would kick you out of the house and lock the door rather than let you watch TV all day If Mom kicks you out and locks the door your neighbor will call CPS
If you were looking for someone to play with you walked down to their house and knocked on their door You call, you text, you email, you instant message, you check on Facebook, or your mom arranges playdates
Neighborhood games of kickball, Wiffle ball, red light green light, mother-may-I and hide-n-seek No one’s outside playing because everyone’s inside playing video games by themselves

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