Tonight when I took Jake outside one last time before bed, I was amazed by the lightening bugs in my backyard. I don't remember seeing this many since I was a kid. All of a sudden, I was ten years old again. I could smell fresh cut grass, Mercurochrome, lemonade and Off mosquito spray!
It was wonderful to relive memories long forgotten had it not been for the lightening bugs. Now I know most people refer to them as fireflies and that may be correct, but growing up in the small town of McKinney, I never heard anyone refer to them as anything else. They were lightening bugs made to be caught by small children and kept in a mason jar with a tin lid punched full of tiny air holes.
Growing up in a small town as I did, summer was a magical time. We played outside from can till can't, coming inside only during the real heat of the day for an afternoon nap, then back outside in the evening. All the parents on our street would sit on their front porches (backyards were for clothesline, not visiting) or on the grass in aluminum lawn chairs watching the kids play and visiting back and forth. Occasionally, one of the dads would pitch a whiffle ball game for us or act as the umpire while a mother would drag out and crank an ice cream freezer full of bananas, nuts, vanilla and cream.
It was a time of dirty, bare feet toughened over summer until we could walk on glass and never feel a thing. Shoes were only for church or special occasions. We were allowed absolute freedom in our kingdom of one city block. We knew no fear. Knees were made for skinning, trees for climbing and ditches for catching crawdads after a summer rain.
I feel sorry for children today. Parents want to wrap their children in saran wrap, sanitize everything and protect them from the world. It's sad that the world is no longer safe for children and even sadder that children don't have the same carefree childhood we did. They stay in an air conditioned home, watching endless TV or playing video games when they need to be outside. Their activities are organized by parents who enroll them in summer camps for everything from swimming to science. They aren't encouraged to use their own imaginations or allowed to just be. But tomorrow night when my granddaughter comes over, I think I will spray her down with Off and we'll sit outside, count stars and wait for the lightening bugs.
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