Growing Up Dangerously

Guest post by Laverne H. Bardy whose humorous, often irreverent, slant on life in general, and aging in particular, draws a large readership. She has been syndicated with Senior Wire News Service since 2004. Her book, How The (Bleep) Did I Get This Old? was released in January, 2012, and is a compilation of the best of her columns.

LaverneI was four years old when I started kindergarten. My mother spent two weeks walking me back and forth to Hamilton grammar school the summer before school opened. The walk was every bit of a mile long and included crossing a busy thoroughfare. The only instructions I had, or needed, were:  look both ways when crossing the street and don’t speak to strangers. At the end of that two week rehearsal I was sent to school all by myself. I followed my mother’s directions.

Incredibly, I lived.

I remember being in the house and hearing friends outside shout, “Heeeey, Laverrrne.” I have no idea why they never used the door bell or knocked, but when I heard them call I ran outdoors to play with them. We’d leave the house early in the morning and wouldn’t return until dusk. We rode double on our bikes without helmets, precariously balanced ourselves on monkey bars, climbed trees, hid in open sewer pipes, lay down in tick infested fields, while we licked Good Humor ice cream bars and discussed boys. My mother never called the police, even though I’d been gone an entire day, without a cell phone.

Incredibly, we lived.

When I was eight and my brother was four, we traveled alone, by bus to the movies, every Saturday. We’d get off the bus in the middle of the bustling town of Elizabeth, and head straight for the bakery where I would buy us each a Charlotte Ruse. I can still taste that wonderful sponge cake piled high with fresh whipped cream. We would eat the cake as we walked through town to the Ritz Theater, where for a twenty five cent ticket each, we’d watch Perils of Pauline, a double feature, three cartoons, a newsreel, and a brief stage act. Nobody yet knew words like “abduction” or “child molestation”, so nobody worried.

Incredibly, we lived.  

Do not let Fear make your decisions for you. Risk has a price and so does security.

When my grammar school principal punished me for carving my and my boyfriend’s initials into my desk, my mother never sued the principal for hampering my creativity. She backed him up by further punishing me at home.

Incredibly, I lived.

Returning from high-school in a public bus one day, I looked to my left and  realized that an elderly neighbor of mine was exposing himself to me. When I got home I told my mother who explained that Mr. Drake was an old man who didn’t realize what he was doing and I would be wise to steer clear of him. Then she told Mrs. Drake. No police were involved. No lawsuit occurred. No psychological treatment was required.

Incredibly, I lived.

Not only didn’t my mother bleach the cutting board and knife after she cut up raw chicken, but when I was in college she regularly send me CARE packages that included fully roasted chickens she sent via regular mail. Sometimes they took three days to arrive. My three roommates and I sucked every bit of meat from the bones of those chickens.

Incredibly, we lived.

And when I became a mother I was equally as reckless. I drove three kids around in a station wagon and none of them wore seat belts. They jumped up and down, fought over whose turn it was to sit by the window, and climbed over the seat to the back of the station wagon where they stretched out on their stomachs and colored. Today I wonder how they managed to keep from flying around the car and out of windows.

Incredibly, they lived.

I sat with two of my grandchildren the other day, ages 9 and 11, and listened as they told me about all the horrors that go on today – horrors in the TV news, in the headlines, online, discussed in school, and reinforced by their parents in the names of Enlightenment and Protection. These children were worried in a way I could never have imagined when I was their age. They had lost their innocence.

I wish they could live the magical childhood that I did.

Other posts by this author

Watching Real Beauty

Hell, Not on the Map, but I Was There

Cellulite: A Rite of Passage

Camping: Not for Sissies

Don’t Count Me Out

Aging, Not All Fun and Games

Challenging My Legacy

Behind Closed Doors

Battle of the Bulge

How the Home Shopping Network Turned Me into a Zebra

About Retire Early Lifestyle

Billy and Akaisha Kaderli retired two decades ago at the age of 38 and began traveling the world. As recognized retirement experts and internationally published authors on topics of finance and world travel, they have been interviewed about retirement issues by The Wall Street Journal, Kiplinger's Personal Finance Magazine, The Motley Fool Rule Your Retirement newsletter, nationally syndicated radio talk shows and countless newspapers and TV shows nationally and worldwide. They wrote the popular books The Adventurer's Guide to Early Retirement and Your Retirement Dream IS Possible.
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