I used to think that if I had the power to go back in time, I would spend it changing my mistakes. I no longer think that.
If I could go back in time, I would pull up a front row seat and watch any summer of my childhood.
The best memories are from those days.
My brother and I grew up in an apartment building in Queens, New York. There were many other kids that were the same ages as us or around that range. Summers were for fun activities, friends, and no homework.
Every morning, our parents would send us out. It was understood that we were only to go back inside for meals.
We didn’t have a pool or a sprinkler. We never got lucky with a broken hydrant spraying out water. We definitely didn’t have the access to electronics like that we do now. One kid owned a Nintendo and his parents were not up for the whole neighborhood visiting. We had to make do with what we had outside.
Riding our bikes around the neighborhood and going to the local candy store for ices was the good life. We would also set up games of baseball on a big field that was in front of the buildings. We played every day while adults nearby wondered which one of us would grow up to be in the major leagues. (For the record, none but we can still challenge you to a game any day!)
Placing crabapples on a stick and throwing them as far as you can became a sport. Thank you crazy Sydney for teaching us that. I never could throw it as well as her. She had to be at least 100 years older than me. (Very big exaggeration but that is what it felt like when you were a kid and yes, she was slightly crazy at times.)
Sometimes we got lucky and went to the movies. Bonus points to the mom who called just to make sure her kids were there. ( My friend is still traumatized from this.) This was a time when summer movies were actually worth the money. We may have seen Spaceballs more than once…
One of the ultimate treats came at the end of the day when we heard the music from this truck:
Worth all of the money from our allowances.
We would handle any disagreements ourselves. They were not always pleasant but we found ways to work it out. It probably taught us to be adults who problem solved. The worries we had were nothing compared to the challenges that would come later in life to all of us. Here is the part where I could put in, if only we knew how good we had it but honestly, I think most of the time we did know and appreciated it.
I am sure there were days that we were bored and not entertained. Our parents probably recall more of that but I can’t seem to remember it so much. The magic of memories!
When it was dark, we would come out after dinner for a classic game of Ninja. This was just us dividing into teams and playing hide and seek. There was nothing like a group of kids laughing, playing, and determined to be the winning team.
Other times, we just caught fireflies and hung out.
They were moments that seemed to go on forever until one summer, they weren’t there anymore.
We grew up. We moved on. We didn’t have the technology we do now, so there really aren’t any group pictures but I can still clearly see it all. The majority of us keep in touch through social media or seeing each other around the neighborhood. A couple of my best friends from then and I have really reconnected over the past couple of years thanks to parenthood and the ways of life. I am beyond thankful for this.
On hot summer nights when the bugs are singing and the fireflies light up the sky, I see my kids playing with friends. It makes me smile. I wish with all my heart that these moments will someday mean so much to them.