02 January 2011

Deprived childhood

Growing up on the south coast of England, we never had much in the way of proper winters. Or proper summers, for that matter, I suppose, but that's a topic for another post. We got snow sometimes, but never all that much and never for very long. My brother and I had inherited an old toboggan which had been given to us by our grandfather. We lived half-way up a smallish hill and we would jump at the chance to ride the toboggan down the pavement/sidewalk on the rare occasions when it did snow. I remember our (utterly selfish) outrage when Mr Collins, our elderly neighbour, put salt down on his part of the pavement and spoiled our fun. I suppose we were about ten and eleven at the time.

We took our toboggan elsewhere and made a new slide on a pavement of a different road, a few streets away. The road was a quiet one, mainly inhabited by elderly people, but it had a nice slope and that was all we cared about. We had a great time for an hour or two, but the major disadvantage of our new toboggan run was that it was visible from the upstairs windows of our own house. Mum saw what we were doing and was (quite rightly) horrified - what if some of the old people had slipped and fallen on what was now an absolutely lethal pathway? She came to put a stop to our fun and I remember her being furious with us, although there is a blank space in my memory as to what the consequences of our selfish hour of fun were. If I'd been her I would have made us scatter salt on the slide, but I can't remember if that's what happened.

Anyway, the point I was trying to make was that we didn't get a lot of snow and ice to play with when we were young. There was sometimes a layer of ice on a puddle to crack, but that would be about it. I'm baffled now, by my own children, who spend hardly any time at all playing outside in the winter. On the plus side, it means that they're not getting up to the mischief that my brother and I were at the same age, so I'm not having to worry about what they're doing, but I can't help feeling that they're missing out.

I, on the other hand, am still making up for lost time. The recent thaw has thinned the ice over the stream. The winter-deprived child in me takes great delight in breaking the ice and creating mini ice-bergs and ice-jams. I know my eleven-year-old self would have been out there playing for hours.

So why aren't my kids?


Shirley said...

I still like to crack the ice on puddles when I'm out walking and feel guilty that I might be depriving some child of the fun!

Maybe children used to be outside more and they just aren't used to it anymore?

Esther Montgomery said...

We used to have ice slides in the school playground but teachers won't let children at our local school play out when it's snowy. Such a loss! On the other hand, when we had enough snow to keep everyone home for a day (and this is the south coast!) the street erupted into a joyful festival. No ice-slides though. One must have ice slides.


Linda said...

I was in Aberdeen Scotland last year for the month of December...the streets were dangerously slick and yet people managed along! If we have weather like that any where in Texas the whole city shuts down! Ice/freezing cold/snow remains an infrequent visitor here....but YOU, my friend, are enjoying true WINTER!! Love your post!