I wish today’s children could spend one summer like we did—before smartphones. Back when life was about bikes, fishing, and honeysuckles. When we did daring things kids wouldn’t dream of doing today.
Take, for instance, the tire-swing down by the creek, that thing was a death trap. Or: piling four kids onto a bicycle, and rolling down a steep hill. Or: building the world’s largest paper airplane, then riding it off a shed roof like a bobsled team.
That was summer.
Maybe this seems pathetic to you. After all, you have handheld devices capable of actuating nuclear weapons using your thumbprints.
The only devices some of us had, were phones in the kitchen with cords long enough to reach Russia. To chat with friends, we had to stop by their houses on bicycles. Often, their mamas would invite us for lunch—usually a sandwich and sweet tea. If you played your cards right, you could hit two houses in one day and get two lunches.
Which was the greatest summer blessing of all.
Years ago, I met a man in a bar who’d consumed enough liquor to fill a goldfish bowl. He wore a Rolex as big around as my head, and he spoke loud. He announced that he’d just bought a cellphone company.
“In thirty years,” he said. “Phones are gonna to take over the damn world. Your kids will be addicted to’em. No more summers outdoors. One day, children won’t even know what honeysuckles are.”
Well, I cannot imagine my childhood dog days without such things. I remember learning to suck nectar from a honeysuckle. My friend showed me how to pinch it apart and get to get the sugar.
Afterward, we’d lay back on the grass and solve mankind’s problems while looking at clouds.
“That one’s shaped like a walrus.”
“Look, there’s a marshmallow-man.”
“You think my daddy’s in heaven?”
“I wonder if he can see these same clouds from the other side.”
“Are you kidding? Of course he can.”
You can’t talk like that over smartphones.
I know it’s hard to imagine, but in those days we had complete conversations. And we looked each other in the eyes. Because we were brothers and sisters—more or less.
We often saw each others blood, built tree-houses together, or ate bugs if double-dog dared. And once we got older, we started telling sappy stories about the good old days—like I’m doing here.
Go ahead, roll your eyes, but I pray you’re fortunate enough to tell the same tales, one day.
Then again, that’ll never happen.
Unless you turn off your phone once in a while.