Back in my day, kids were tough. We went outside unsupervised all day long. We rode bicycles without helmets. When we crashed, we splinted our shattered limbs and kept right on pedaling. We climbed to dizzying heights in trees, plummeted to our dooms from net-less trampolines, and waded through creeks flush with brain-eating amoebas, pinching crawdads, and hissing serpents. And we liked it!
We caught snakes; some apparently poisonous. We riled up wasp nests and paid the price. Our swimming pools didn’t have fences around the perimeter. Our neighborhood pool had a high diving board with a treacherous ladder and the risk of a belly flop from 10 feet in the air.
We rode our bikes to the Collin Creek Mall where we would spend unsupervised hours in the arcade, the bulk candy store, and the video game store. We crossed moderately busy roads without using crosswalks, and I can’t remember anything like a close call with a car.
We didn't have safety. It wasn't invented back then. Ever seen one of those crazy Japanese obstacle course shows? That's what our playgrounds were like: hard metal edges, treacherous monkey bars, unprotected drops to an unforgiving earth, crotch-slamming seesaws, brutal merry-go-rounds fit to launch the unwary into near-Earth synchronous orbit. And we liked it!
We would play under the baking sun all summer. You see, dehydration hadn't been invented yet. A swig of hot water from a filthy garden hose was all we needed. Sunscreen? Are you kidding me? "Get outside. Kids shouldn't sit around all day in air conditioning. Turn off the Nintendo and get out!" they would tell us. So we did.
Were there casualties? Sure, not all of us made it. I was no stranger to the emergency room. We took it in stride and kept right on going with a new cast or some stitches.
Nowadays, I’ve got two little boys of my own, and I think maybe they don’t need to be as tough as I was. A little safety might be in order. Have you seen how much copays and ER visits cost these days?