kids having fun

The Carefree Summers Of Our Youth

you only get so many so enjoy them while you can…

kids having fun

Having fun at the beach…

Back when I was a kid the summers seemed endless. The longer days, the warm sunshine and time spent outside doing whatever it was we did back then. For some reason I was thinking about this last week when we had some rather warm and humid days. I thought about being that young again and what it was like to not have a care in the world.

When we are young we don’t fully realize we only get so many of those endless carefree summers. At the most we get 18 of them unless we start working over the summer while still in school. And then of course when we retire we have the free time once more, but do we ever truly have that carefree feeling of our youth again?

My parents took care of everything back then, the bills, the things that broke down, like cars and appliances, everything. I didn’t have a care in the world except if that cute boy was going to say hi again when I rode my bike down to the ice cream place. Speaking of which,  ice cream was even better back then. Everything was better.

“Summertime is always the best of what might be.” ~ Charles Bowden

I remember I couldn’t wait for school to be over…listening for the final bell on that warm June day. My friends and I would race home to change into our swimsuits and jump in the backyard pool. The smell of honeysuckle and Mom’s baby oil laced with a little iodine lingering in the air. We all jumped in that tiny pool and it didn’t matter in the least how small it was, we had fun. We played games and then counted as we each took turns seeing how long we could stay under the water before bursting back up taking a few breaths and doing it all over again. We did this for hours until we were starving. Then we would finally get out of the pool, wrap our towels around us and line up to drink from the hose as Mom made us hot dogs on the charcoal grill.

All of the moms would all go inside to chat and we were left to our own devises, which back then consisted of playing hide and seek in the corn field and riding our bikes as fast as earthly possible up and down the nearly carless street. We would stay out there until the sun went down and the street lights came on. That was the sign we were to come inside for the night, No one had to scream and yell for us. We just came in when the street lights came on.

The neighbors all knew each other and they knew our names and where we lived. So if someone did something wrong or misbehaved in any way our mothers found out about it pretty quickly. And even if the neighbor took care of punishing us in some fashion first, we sure heard about when we got in the house later that night. Everyone watched out for each other. We all played together, all ages, boys and girls. There was never even a thought if the new kid was accepted into the group. I can’t remember a time that a parent had to tell us to stop fighting or to stop picking on someone. And there wasn’t a bully to be found.

“We thread our way through a moving forest of ice cream cones and crimson thighs.” ~ Jean-Dominique Bauby, “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly”

Getting dark and going in the house didn’t mean the fun stopped. I remember the  summer nights my next door neighbor and I would throw our walkie talkies over to each other through the windows of our upstairs bedrooms and we would chat for what seemed like hours until our parents would yell upstairs for us to stop and get to bed. The walkie talkies weren’t real, they were actually aluminum cans with string attached. But they worked and we had a blast…talking and laughing ourselves silly many of those hot summer nights.

One thing we weren’t back then was bored and we never ever asked our parents that question…you know the one…the dreaded “what can we do now” question…for if we even would think to do that, which we never would but if we did… they would have found some ungodly work for us to do…like paint the fence or mow the grass. So we just made our own fun and used our imagination to get through the long months of summer.

Thinking back, I remember in particular one summer day laying on the grassy hill in my back yard and wishing that summer could last forever. I wished I didn’t have to go back to school and I didn’t have to grow up and work and do all the things I saw my parents doing every day. Why couldn’t things just stay the same? Why couldn’t I stay this age and enjoy life? Why did I have to grow up and be like my parents who worried about everything? My Mom and Dad seemed happy enough I guess, but I always wondered if they secretly wished they could have been like us kids… enjoying the summer and carefree.

Do you miss those endless carefree days of the summers of our youth?

“How ungenerously in later life we disclaim the virtuous moods of our youth, living in retrospect long, summer days of unreflecting dissipation.” ~ Evelyn Waugh