By Lesli Nolen
Published July 2013
When I was a kid, life was simple. I didn’t always see it that way, but now that I’m grown and have children of my own, I can look back and see I had it made. I grew up during a time of morals and values; when your word meant something. I grew up in a time where I had chores after school, we had dinner together and then I was free to do what I wanted. I grew up with only four or five channels on the TV. I grew up riding my bike and having to be home when the street lights came on. I grew up knowing what was expected of me and doing it. I grew up with small town roots.
Our house was just outside the city limits on a couple of acres. We had a dog, cats and horses. I had responsibilities, but I also had fun! I got to ride my bike to friend’s house in town, or down our dirt road to the pit. I would catch snakes and dissect them. I rode horses, played in dirt and shot the B-B gun. I climbed fences and trees. I picked up rocks, pulled weeds and cut the grass around the fence post by hand with scissors. I fed the dog and swept out the garage. I washed dishes and took out the trash. When everything was done I would sit on the porch and watch the sun set. There was nothing blocking my view and I could watch the sun drop completely off the horizon. The best memories I have growing up didn’t cost much are still available today if we would only seek them out.
As I was thinking about my childhood memories I made a list of 25 things every child should do before the age of 13. Our daughter, Skylar is 12 years old and as I was making this list she could check off just about everything I had written down. I can only hope that when she is grown and has children she will look back and be able to appreciate the little things in life as I did. Society today often contradicts my old fashion values. Society tells us we need the newest and lasted gadget, we need the 60 inch flat screen and the newest X-box video game. I had to go to my Aunt’s house to play Atari and to my best friend’s house to watch cable. Granted there were times I wished I had a cell phone, but the pay phone at the local convenience store worked just fine. I’m not saying the technology world today is bad, I just think we rely on its entertainment way too much. Looking back I’m so thankful there was no social media when I was in school or college. As a kid, I didn’t depend on someone or something to entertain me; I went outside and explored. I wish more children today would do the same today.
The best part about the list I made is it doesn’t matter what kind of car you drive, it doesn’t matter the size of your home or how much money is in your bank account. Everything on the list is about what you already have and making a memory from it.
1. Make a mud pie
2. Roll down a hill
3. Swim in an ocean, lake, or river
4. Swing and touch the sky with your toes
5. Climb a tree
6. Catch a fish
7. Build a fort (inside) with blankets
and couch cushions
8. Build a snowman
9. Scrape a knee
10. Hang upside down
11. Eat dirt
12. Throw a snowball
13. Blow bubbles
14. Sell homemade lemonade or baked
goods from a stand
15. Play with a cardboard box
16. Build something from scrap wood
17. Sing out loud
18. Catch a bug in your hands
19. Build a fire; make s’mores
20. Plant something
21. Jump in a pile of leaves
22. Bury a treasure and draw a treasure map
23. Finger paint
24. Lick the beaters from cake mix
25. Drive down a country road
I hope as you read this list you, too, can smile and remember the times you did these things as well. It’s doesn’t matter what decade you grew up in, or are growing up in. It’s what you do while growing up that matters. So this summer, make your own list, get outside and explore. You never know what you might find and what memory you will make.