Sunday, June 30, 2013

Walk In My Shoes

For the last few months I have been walking in the evenings.  Our neighborhood has sidewalks.  It is a good way to burn up some calories, get some exercise per the doctor's orders, spend time outside, and truly become familiar with my new surroundings.  Truly a win all the way around.  Each time I try and walk a slightly different route, so that I see something new.  Of course, there are plenty of houses that I walk by all of the time.

We have a cable guy in our neighborhood.  Even though he parks in his driveway he still uses the traffic cones to block his truck front and back, like he would if he parked it on the street at a service call.  Does anyone else think that is odd?  He also has a television in his garage.  Every time I have gone by it is on.  I am beginning to think the garage must be his Man Cave.  All I know is this: if so, the Man Cave is hot.  We live in Florida.  I would rather live in the house.

There is one house on our street that is loaded with squirrels.  I have never seen so many squirrels in one place... ever.  I think a notice must have gone out on the Squirrel Hotline that there were a lot of nuts there or something and they came from all over to settle down.  Now, it is one huge squirrel settlement.  I am so glad that we don't live there.  My dog thinks that squirrels are meant to be hunted down like prey and killed.  Having that many squirrels run past our windows shaking their little tails at her would drive her insane.  That said, I always enjoy walking past that house and watching all of the busy little squirrels run to and fro. 

It occurred to me about a week ago, after having a lovely conversation with an older couple who was out taking care of their garden, that I never see children playing.  I see older people tending their lawns or gardens on a regular basis.  I know that there are plenty of children in my neighborhood.  I see them going from house to car occasionally.  Sometimes I see evidence of their existence in the garage (aka a scooter or bike), but I never see the kids themselves out playing with other kids in the yard or even the street.  We don't live on a busy street. 

In fact, we live on a street very much like the one I grew up on.  The street  at the end of the road is rather busy, but the street traffic is fairly restricted to the people who actually live here.  If I had children tween age and older, I wouldn't have any problems playing in the front yard or with other kids who lived on the street.  I would probably employ the same rules my parents did.  If you are going to play with a friend who doesn't live on the street, I want to know about it.  If you are on the street, have at it.  You cannot go off the street.  Have fun.  Be home for dinner.  My mom had a whistle.  She would stand outside and blow it at dinner time.  If we didn't hear it, a call would go down the street, from kid to kid, or parent to kid, that me or my brother was being called home for dinner.  Very effective system. 

In fact, when I was growing up, all the kids played outside.  There was always activity in the street.  If there wasn't a kickball game going, there were kids playing with chalk.  Or jump rope.  Or skating.  There was a short skateboarding phase until one of the kids fell and broke her arm.  That ended that one.  All of the cars on our street knew to go slow because there were ALWAYS kids playing in the street. 

I wondered why I was having such a difficult time relating to C-Man and H-Girl, who are now teenagers.  I was saying things to myself like, "I was a kid once, I should be able to find some common ground here."  But there isn't any.  My childhood and their childhood don't look remotely the same.  I can see it clearly now.

image found at


  1. If you relate to teenagers, you are in trouble!

  2. Where are all the kids? They are inside - on the computer, playing a video game, watching television, talking to a friend on their cell phone... Kids just don't go outside to play anymore. (And we wonder why childhood obesity has skyrocketed.) I was never an outdoors kind of person, but even I played outside all the time as a kid.
    And yes, the cable guy and the cones is just a bit odd.

  3. Sadly, the kids are more than likely inside on a computer, or cell phone, or a game or some other electronic contraption. It's very sad kids live like this nowadays...

  4. Good evening, Robin...

    JJ nails the 'relating to kids' issue quite well and Alex has indeed answered the whereabouts of the kids.I've noticed that utility trucks around here in the Flatlands use their cones as well. It must either be an insurance issue, or is required by their employers.


  5. I loved your descriptions of the people and their homes in your neighborhood. I could just 'see' what you have seen. Although I do a fair amount of walking with the new dog and all I can honestly say I haven't done nearly as much detailed looking into the lives of those in my neighborhood. You've made me curious... ;)

    Your observation on the fact that kids are never outside anymore is so correct. I noticed this back when I was a nanny and I worried most about how kids will ever learn creativity or problem solving without having been out on their own in a safe manner in the neighborhood. The obesity issue that Alex brought up was so shockingly bad that I just could not believe it! I've noticed that the only kids that are always out in their cul-de-sac around here are the eastern European kids. I wonder why they know that it's still good for the kids to be outside and we don't.
    Oh my dear, so many things that I notice about America today. And I am caught between the feelings of 'fight, fight, fight' and save what we have to feelings of nothing I can do will really matter and I can't win this battle alone. I'm still fighting and not giving up. I don't ever want to lose sight of what's important. I know my nephew does get to play outside in a couple block radius and I am so proud of his Dad for getting this and so many other things right. We're taking care of our own in the best way we know how...

  6. I absolutely loved your description of the people and their homes in your neighborhood. I walk quite a bit with the new dog and all and I feel like I should pay more attention. You have me curious... ;)
    I too noticed that kids don't play outside much anymore back when I was working as a nanny. I remember wondering how today's kids will ever learn to problem solve or be creative if they never get out starting within the safety of their own neighborhood. And the obesity issue: I couldn't agree more with Alex. It was amazing to see how fast those kids packed on the pounds!
    I am happy and proud of my nephew and his Dad for keeping up the American tradition of getting kids outside, exploring and learning on their own within safe boundaries. It seems like that is the way today. You may never win the war overall, but you can fight the battle for the American way at home. We do what we can to take care of our own- that's all I know to do anymore. Society may learn and change over time, I hope.

  7. JJ ~ I get what you are saying. It is very difficult not connecting with these precious people whom you love so much. Knowing that there all you have is more YEARS of this is rather lousy. Just sayin'.

    Alex ~ I know you're right. I have seen this graphic that says that children of the 80s were the last generation to play in the streets. What is left unsaid is that video games came on the scene and pulled all of the kids indoors. So, you're absolutely correct. They are all inside plugged into something.

    Yvonne ~ It is sad. Summertime should be about playing. Getting out of the house and simply playing.

    Shoes ~ You must be right about the insurance if utility folk also do it in MS. It just looks ~strange~.

    Jasmine ~ I published both of your comments because they were slightly different. I liked the information in the first one about the kids on your cul de sac. It is very interesting that eastern European parents are smart enough to throw their kids out of the house and tell them to "play outside." I wish more parents did that universally (with rules and boundaries, of course). It is good that your nephew is playing outside thanks to his Dad. And, yes, you can't save everyone. All you can do is make changes where you live. As you say, Society may learn and change over time. Thanks for your thoughts!

    1. It was one of those moments where blogger got all funky and I thought my comment was lost. Instead of being mad I took it as an opportunity to try and refine my comment. I'm trying hard to stay positive and yet be honest. Sometimes that's hard. Especially hard in today's world where everyone is always looking to be offended...

    2. I was amazed at how similar the two comments were. You have an excellent memory. You would be hard-pressed to offend me!

  8. We were always in the street too. Playing tip the can, usually. Our mother had a bell to call us home and each bell sounded different and each kid knew everybody's bell.
    People are afraid now. Afraid to let kids play outside because of the weird snatching of children. Also there is the lure of TV and video games in the house. We never had that.
    Walking is a great exercise.

  9. I think it depends on the neighborhood. When our kids were younger they were constantly outside playing at one house or another. The wiffleball and kickball fields were in our front yard and the football field across the street. Flashlight tag was half a dozen houses and the pools were at our house or across the street. They were exhausted at night. Of yeah, tennis in the street. Parents need to encourage that outside play.

  10. When I turn on my street, I have to go 5 mph. Kids are out doing all kinds of stuff. My kids love to ride bikes and be outside with the neighborhood kids. However, there are a couple families that don't allow their children to step outside their houses.

    It's a combination of technology and helicopter parenting.

  11. We always played outside too and so did my kids. The kids in our neighborhood are outside every day. So, around here at least, they're still playing outside. Most of them anyway. Oh, the cable guy is required to put those cones out whether he's at home or work. It keeps them very aware of their surroundings so they don't hit a little kid or something. Of course, if the kids aren't out in your area, the point is moot. :)

  12. We were out from the time we woke up until it was time for dinner, coming home for lunch if we wanted. Like you've noted, that's not even remotely the case with my children.

    Interesting how fast and how thoroughly things change, isn't it?

  13. Just the other day, I had a conversation with someone who was saying to me that kids no longer play outside. They spend so much time before computers screens and hand-held games that they have no time to do fun stuff outdoors.

  14. Manzanita ~ Kick The Can was a game we played almost every night around dusk until we all were called in. I think our parents grew tired of hearing that can being kicked. It was always set up in my driveway. Soooo much fun!

    Susan ~ I am glad that some kids somewhere are playing outside!

    Jay ~ I know that there are going to be some kids who aren't allowed out/don't go out, but it is nice to know that there are still some streets that are filled with kids playing in the summer:)

    Empty Nester ~ Your girls are very adventurous. I am not at all surprised that they played outdoors. Good to know that they are still playing in your neighborhood... it warms my heart!

    mail4rosey ~ I know. Times have changed.

    J.L. ~ Yes, it is like that in many places:(

  15. It's partly the video games keeping kids indoors but it's also an overabundance of organized activities. Most kids I know spend much of their summer in one sort of camp or another. One of my granddaughters just finished STEM camp (academic day camp for a week). My other granddaughter and her brother had swim team practice every morning then she attended a two week afternoon theater "camp" while he did a week of wrestling followed by a week of lacrosse. My oldest grandson was away at church camp for a week, came home and left the next day for Scout camp. It may not be that the kids are inside, they may not even be home.

  16. Interesting-I always thought that the "no kids" phenomena was an Arizona thing due to the heat. I can say in the Philly suburbs, at least as late as 1995, kids were still playing outside. But once I hit AZ in July of that year-no kids to be seen.

    Well, I believe our leaders WANT people inside glued mindlessly to televisions, and our children are being trained quite well.


  17. Some of my best times as a kid involved neighborhood frisbee, baseball, flag football, water balloon fights, etc. in the middle of the street. The only thing that broke us up temporarily (besides an occasional car driving thru) was the ice-cream truck. We'd all run in for change. Those WERE the days!


  18. My sister and I played outside, too. In the neighborhood we lived in before we moved here, no one played outside. Here, our streets are filled with kids, walkers, runners, people walking dogs and pushing babies. I love it!

  19. We used to live where there were so many squirrels that they started destroying many things. If the door was left open with a screen, they would chew through the screen. They got into our attic and chewed through the wiring.

  20. L.D. ~ I didn't take into account planned activities. That is an idea.

    LC ~ I do think our youth spend way too much playing video games and watching TV. And if they aren't doing that they are texting or talking on their phones. I forgot computers. It doesn't leave much time for actual playing.

    Robyn ~ Yeah. I don't think people truly appreciate childhood when they have it. I know I always wanted to be older so I could "Do Stuff." What was I thinking????

    Carol ~ I think it depends on the parents and the area.... clearly.

    MJWC ~ Little devils!

  21. Like everyone else here, I spent a lot of time outdoors as a kid, too. But I also lived in a row house located in a huge development of other row homes, so there were a bazillion kids around. Getting enough kids together to play a game or sport of any kind was never a problem. It was also considered safe to walk, ride a bicycle, or skate for miles and miles away from home base. (That, and um, both of my parents worked, so technically, they didn't always KNOW how far from home I was.)

    My dad whistled for me, too. Put two fingers in his mouth and whistled for me like I was a dog. Nobody else's parents did that, so it was pretty humiliating.

    Our kids played outside, too, but not as much as we did. Our grandchildren in Florida love to play outside, but don't get to do it as much as they'd like. Their yard isn't amenable to play, their neighborhood streets aren't safe, and their mom always says it's too hot for them. Our Alabama grands have a huge yard, so they play outside as much as their little hearts desire.

    Our neighborhood has changed a lot over the years, and as it's gotten more diverse, we see more children outside, mostly playing soccer or riding their bicycles.

  22. I live in a highly walkable area. I walk to the grocery store, the bookstore, to get frozen yogurt, the bread store, to my dog's vet, etc. It's great, helps save on gas and is excellent exercise. Plus you notice so much more about your area when you walk versus drive. And when we lived in NC there were a million squirrels everywhere. Walking the dog was insane.

  23. Susan ~ Your comment is an interesting one. It really shows how the times have changed. I can appreciate the whistle. I wasn't all that fond of it at the time, but I totally get it now. My mom used it because it WORKED. And that was what mattered at the time. I do think that outside play has decreased over the years. I think that as more indoor technology has come along, combined with modern conveniences like air conditioning, it is simply more comfortable to be inside. So, while kids do spend some time playing outside it is either "as much as they desire" or as much as they are allowed (the fear factor).

    Steven ~ Wow. You do walk a lot. My area is not walkable in that sense. It would be a very long walk to the grocery store. There isn't a book store even reasonably close. The vet is about 15 minutes by car. So, I can't imagine that walk. We have a lot of squirrels here, too. So far they have escaped the jaws of my terrier. She is very fast, so they better not land in our back yard!

  24. Hi Robin,

    I'm very sorry it has taken this long to get to your posting. Ah the life of a multitasking um celebrity :)

    A stroll through your neighbourhood. A different walk each time and with that, a new experience. Where have all the children gone? Where have they gone in any neighbourhood. They have been brought into a world where the parents worry about the outside world. The children stay inside and hide away in their room, gaming, or talking to their friends via technology. I bet they would love to go outside and play on the swings with their friends. Maybe they will again, someday.

    I have worn your shoes. In a virtual sense, of course. I have been with the people who wore moccasins. A three day , one hundred mile walk from Vancouver to the aptly named town of Hope, British Columbia. "Moccasin Miles", a walk with the indigenous tribes that shaped what I am today. Better than gaming.

    Thank you for an articulate, thoughtful post, Robin. And thank you for fighting the good fight.

    With respect and goodwill,


    1. Gary,

      I think you are largely correct about gaming and technology and the effect it has taken on our children. I, too, hope that things will change and they will play again. Time is a fluid thing, so one never knows.

  25. I imagine the cable guy has to put the cones around the truck as part of company insurance policy! Enough said about the kids, we esp loved to play football on the snowy streets and king of the mountain on the plowed mountain of snow. We don't even get that kind of snow anymore!


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