This Is What I Would Give Them

I’m sure we all grew up having our parents tell us how good we have it compared to how they grew up.

Neither of my parents had a television set until they were of preteen age and then it was only 1 or 2 channels depending on the weather.

My father grew up in a house with no indoor plumbing.

My mom, well my mom actually didn’t have a lot to complain about. Her parents owned the general store in town. I often refer to my mom as Nellie Oleson (from Little House on the Prairie). My mom brought a bottle of Coca-Cola and a candy bar to school everyday for her lunch. Her Dad drove her to school and they had indoor plumbing! Still, she was born in the 1940’s and the world wasn’t equipped with the luxuries my generation had.

Soon, I too will take the right of passage of every parent, and begin to bestow unto my children the stories of how good they truly have it compared to what I had to deal with growing up.

This is me talking on our olive green rotary phone when I was 5 years old

Take for instance, the rotary phone, stuck to wall no less! I can barely have a conversation on the phone now with a cellphone. I can’t imagine being tethered to the wall! My children will have no idea how much better their teenage years will be, compared to what mine were!

Here I am typing away and proficient with a typewriter at 6 years old!

I began typing at 6 years old and used a typewriter all the way up to my senior year in high school. The horror of it all, thinking back on it now. The amount of time it took was unbelievable. I went through many bottles of white-out. My children will have no idea how much easier writing their essays for school will be, compared to what I went through.

My backyard growing up

I however had something my children may never have. This is the backyard I grew up with. This is where my parents still live. My children are growing up on a small lot in the city. From an early age I spent most of my days playing outside with the freedom to roam and run at my leisure. I had few playmates except for many pets. My sister and brother were much older than me so I was usually alone exploring and going on adventures through the woods.

The shed on our land

There was 2 1/2 acres filled with fruit trees, pine trees, a field, vegetable gardens and an old shed. My imagination was a vital element in my everyday life. I don’t remember ever being bored.

This is me at 2 1/2 years old….King of the World!

So yes, in many respects my children will have an easier life than I, due to modern conveniences and technology. However, they may never have this piece of serenity that I knew. They may never know what it’s like to wake up with an adventure everyday, just outside your door.

This is the childhood I wish I could give them.

38 responses

  1. I loved looking at the pictures you posted with this blog post. They really tell the story. This would make a neat gift for your kids sometime. If you took these pictures and put them into an album with stories about your childhood, or even made one of those photobooks on Snapfish, I bet they would love it!

  2. I remember taking that last picture of you like it was yesterday. I had gotten a polaroid camera and for awhile had a dream of being a great photographer. You were about the only thing I ever photographed. I remember thinking that if “that little king of the world” falls off the fence post that my photo sittings with you as my subject would be a thing of the past. “Mesa, you have to sit REAL still and pretend you are holding some candy”…

    • I was actually trying to figure out where that photo was taken because it looks like it would be down in the corner of the field by Steven’s but when I was 5 years old I remember climbing a tree there so the tree stump doesn’t make sense.

  3. I don’t think your kids lack for imagination, but I understand how you feel about a yard like that. I wish I could let my kids experience my yard and neighborhood, too, up in Connecticut. We had a swing set, a thick rope hanging from a huge tree, and a boulder. Boulders were something I took for granted, but just considering the creative possibilities now…and streams, too, filling up with leaves this time of year. How about wandering through woods, mere feet from home, but feeling so very adventurous! Thanks for stirring up great memories.

    • Oh, I bet that was beautiful in Connecticut! I had a tire swing too! It hung from a branch about 40 feet high. Several times the rope broke when I was swinging really high. Knocked the wind out of myself many times but it never stopped me! I always had my Dad hang it back up!!

      • Now I want to dig through all my family’s old photo albums to re-capture some of my childhood delight. My little A. got to swing on a large rope at her gymnastics class this week, and I was trying to explain to her that I had one in my backyard. I love telling them about all the fun things I did outside, and it makes me more eager to take them up north to experience “fall” and “winter” in their truer forms. We are still getting 85+ degree days on our palm trees, which is beautiful in its own right, but there’s something about crisp, colorful leaves and feet of snow…

      • Oh my 85 degrees…that would be heavenly for me!! It’s been so cold and rainy here in Wisconsin. But yes, I’m glad my kids get to experience the changing of the seasons! I absolutely love fall but after 37 years I myself am over winter!!! I THINK I could live without it!!! LOL!!

  4. The proof is in your photos. I don’t know many kids that are raised in wide open spaces. I’m sure there was something so liberating about growing up on 2 acres of land. The only thing that separates me from my neighbors is a fence. There’s not much room for exploring. Sure is a different day and age.

  5. Loved the photos. Your backyard looks amazing! How things have changed, our ‘youngens’ not knowing the times or the era that we lived in. They as they grow will expect more, want more, have more..whereas we did without and were still happy. Thank you for sharing.

    • Thank you!!! Sometime I’ll post more current photos of the backyard now!! It’s even more amazing! The trees my Dad planted when I was little are full grown now and my mom added a lot of flower gardens. It’s absolutely beautiful!!

  6. i always laugh when my kids ask me what things like typewriters and rotary phones are. We have an antique car museum that also showcases some of these items like they were from hundreds of years ago instead of 30-40! It cracks me up! Although I love the modern conveniences of today, sometimes I wish we could go back to a simpler time when people were more thoughtful and less selfish and we didn’t require so much to just be happy! It’s nice that you can share that with your kids, even if they can’t quite experience the full picture for themselves! 🙂

  7. My sister, who is on again/off again pondering (agonizing) about leaving town and moving her family to the country, most recently came to this conclusion: bloom where you’re planted. They are happy and are making the most of what their town life has to offer.

    While I’m completely all for heading to the country (that’s what we did), I totally agree with her. Loving parents who are devoted to their children, giving them all of the support they need to eventually become independent beings…that is the best you can do. If your children are loved and their needs are met, the rest is just details.

    And at the same time I say that, I completely understand your desire to have your kids growing up in the country like you did…an unfulfilled longing…

    • You are most definitely right! I remember growing up in the country I did at times get jealous of my “town” friends that they lived by parks or got to ride their bikes on the sidewalk. There is pluses to both ways of life and you just have to make the most of what you have!! Maybe someday though…just like you…I’ll scoop them all up and plant them in the country!!! LOL!! Thanks for your response…it made me think clearer on it!!

  8. Ah…rotary phones and typewriters. Thaks for the memories. I too am a country girl raising kids in town but I figured out along the way that childhood is adventurous and special because you are connected to your kids – not because of where you live. Now that they are older my kids enjoy visiting “Grandpa’s Farm” but really appreciate that we live within short distances of their friends and the mall. The fact that I grew up in the country makes me a “hero” in their eyes. Work it! 😉

  9. Awesome trip down memory lane! Just yesterday I was telling my 8 year old about the curly-fry phone cord attached to the wall…I got to show him your photo of it…he rolled his eyes a little less at the photo than he did at my story. Ha!

    • haha!!! Oh god, I hated those cords. They were always twisting up and getting all tangled. I was always getting yelled at because I would stretch it out too far trying to get some privacy talking to my friends!!! Great memories!!

  10. I had a childhood more like the 40’s than the 80’s (lack of indoor plumbing, coal furnace, no TV at all) so sometimes I wonder just what my kids are getting. We have a modern house with modern heat and water. We have a TV, but NO channels. And a 1/2 acre of garden and fruit trees. They probably do have it harder than other kids, they have to walk to the bus stop (1/4 mile each way) and know all about putting food up for the winter and how to take care of chickens. But I figure they also have an advantage because of their “hard” life, they know that it is possible to get by without electronics, that their feet can transport them, that they can always grow something to eat. But it will be funny to hear what they think in a few more years…. as they say, I’m a Mean Mom…

  11. Oh I like this. And while you are not able to give your children acres to let their imaginations run wild, I am quite sure you are giving them other places in which to flex their imagination muscles. I love the picture of the olive green phone and the typewriter. Hehehe – it takes me back to my childhood (although our rotary phone was a nasty cream color, not the cool green yours was!)

    Husband and I talk quite often of moving into a city so we can have the bustle, city events, and culture. I miss living in a large city, where I spend all of my 20’s. My childhood, however, was on 3.5 acres with farm land all around that. For now I am not quite willing to give up our small 1 acre of forest that our boys so love to play in for the city. We grumble about the time it takes to maintain the land we live on and think how a nice postage size chunk of lawn would be, but I am not sure I believe that when we have the option of staying where we are for a while longer. Plus a huge bonus is that we have forest in the front of our property so all the toys and childhood chaos spewed across our front lawn is not visible from the road. 🙂

    • Oh, you are so lucky!!! What a perfect place for your boys! But yes I understand the desire to move to the city. Part of me as an adult loves living in town for the fact that everything is close by. If I don’t have an ingredient for supper, the grocery store is only 2 minutes away! But for a child, growing up in the country teaches you so much!!!

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