“Safety In Numbers”

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4th Grade

As I reflect back on my summers as a kid and talk with other friends my age, I am struck by a common theme. We all spent a lot of time outside without any parental supervision with a lot of other kids. I was thinking about my fourth grade photo above and realized that I don’t think any of my classmates was an only child. Families in my grade ranged from two to seven children, with four being the average. That meant that at least one sibling and usually more were around at all times.

We all walked to school, so we were used to the distances around the neighborhood and how to get to each others’ houses. When we wanted to play, we would get together at the school or at someone’s house. We walked or bicycled there. Our mothers were busy at home and we didn’t expect rides.

That means that at all times mothers were home and kids were roaming the streets. When people say that kids don’t have the same freedom today, I think that is because so many homes are vacant during the day and there are fewer kids in the neighborhood. On my street, however, there is still one vestige of my kind of childhood. We live two blocks from a city pool and during the summer groups of kids walk and bike together, without parents, to go swimming. At the pool itself many children swim happily for hours under the lifeguards’ watchful eyes.

And sometimes, in the dead of winter, a small group of kids materializing from who knows where, arrives at our door offering to shovel our walks.

11 thoughts on ““Safety In Numbers”

  1. We had one family across the street that had 15 children, and we only had two in our house. The mid-range seemed about the same as yours other than that though. We certainly all stayed out til dinner time in various yards or the local schoolyard and field, and maybe after dinner too.

    1. My great grandfather was one of 15 also. You can tell that my great great grandmother had a baby every 18 months. “Natural family planning.” You sound as if you were surrounded by kids too.

  2. Yes, we were exactly the same here in Australia in my childhood days! Always outside playing & having fun!
    I love these reminisces with you Elizabeth, you take me back to a very happy childhood. 😀
    Jennifer

        1. When I would ask my students what was their worst time, they would almost always say sixth grade. Beginning of adolescence, I guess.

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