Today in this online world everything is at your fingertips, literally, transportation, food, entertainment, education, and even people. Where anything and everything is yours at the push of a button. It’s awesome in so many ways, but at the same time has its downfalls making people entitled, impatient, lazy, and antisocial if abused.
I’m a 90’s kid where smartphones and the internet were non-existent and television and gaming consoles were not really appealing like they are today. Having to stay inside on a rainy day was considered punishment and nights became sleepless because of all the pent up energy that hadn’t been released from flying down the street on our bikes and skateboards. Where nothing brought more joy than being outside exploring the world.
The days of my childhood consisted of school, church, and chores, but once those were all done and out of the way the day was mine to explore the ‘big wide world’ with my big bro. The ‘big wide world’ had its boundaries which confined us to stay within the borders of the cul-de-sac street we lived on, but to a 6-year-old this world was massive! Each property on the street was, to a young lad my age, enormous! Where the back yards of each house became our hidden islands of exploration and mystery. My large back yard was filled with a number of big trees surrounding the grounds and perimeter of our property, you literally felt like you were trekking through the Amazon jungle in search of the perfect tree to build forts and treehouses, feeling like we were olden day indigenous natives.
Climbing trees, daring and betting each other who could climb higher than the other and knowing the trees thin out at the top where it could easily snap and you plunge to your imminent doom, always left me losing these fear felt challenges to my big bro and mates. Yeah, yeah, I was a little scaredy-cat.
Pretty much every house on our street had children that were either mine or my sibling’s age so even though we only had the street to explore, we had every property on it and its contents to further our intrigued minds of adventure and fascination.
There were 2 houses on the street side by side that didn’t have children, where the houses were haunted by old grumpy farts that hated children and weren’t shy to show it by expressing their thoughts and calling us little ratbags (censored version) and to stay away from their property every chance they got.
This strong dislike of children sparked our curiosity as to what they must be hiding behind their (what felt like to a 6-year-old) gigantic wall of a fence and locked gate. Letting our imaginations run wild pretending to be detectives mimicking ‘Ace Ventura’, where surveillance and planning to execute a challenging mission to scale the ‘gigantic wall’ and discover their secrets. A hidden base where all sorts of nastiness was going on became our obsession for years to come. Only ever building enough courage to peek over the fence then running away in fear squealing and giggling down the road in retreat.
When we weren’t trying to complete missions or on our boards/bikes or climbing trees, we would entertain ourselves with the best games, where the whole street and houses were inbounds and our games, ‘Go home stay home’, ‘bat down’, and ‘hide and sneak’ would last hours and often go into the night where the excitement grew due to the fear and danger the night brings. Definitely our favs and most played games amongst all us neighborhood brats.
A strong alliance was formed with all the kids on the street from our daily hangouts and missions, clocking more time together than Alfalfa and Spanky off the ‘Little Rascals’. We all became best buds and felt we owned the ‘big wide world’ due to our knowledge and whereabouts of everyone and every insignificant detail belonging in the boundary of our beloved street. Where adventure and mischief became our creed amongst our little gang of brats that we would live or die for.
In each and every house on the street, we were treated as extended family by the parents. The familiarity so dense we were often considered as family to one another where extended privileges such as treats, sleepovers, toys and the sharing of clothing among us all became part of the norm, just like you would find with siblings.
Even though technology, television, and gaming had advanced and the cell phone was born all in my early teens we were still outdoor kids. No longer exploring back yards and streets, but now exploring suburbs on our skateboards and bikes. Nothing got in our way of going further into the unknown than the previous attempt, always trying to satisfy our curiosity and thrill of adventure by pushing the boundaries.
New friendships and companions were formed from school and church where another part of the city would be unlocked and became a new map that needed to be and conquered like on the game ‘Assasins Creed’.
Losing days, weeks, months with mates exploring schools, city spots, industry areas on our skateboards tearing up their ledges and steps Often being kicked out by security because we were ‘apparently’ vandalizing the grounds with our decks. It always left us frustrated and telling them how ‘awesome’ they were (censored version) for ruining our day. But never stopping us from returning the next day to test our luck of slipping through unnoticed.
Living off a few bucks each day buying hot chips and cheap sodas, trying to make the most of the one meal for the day until we got home to eat never really knowing when that would be, even when the night would close in on us we would scour for any lightened carpark to further our progression and passion.
As we got older and moved away the childhood bonds we shared with one another stayed close and dear, something that hasn’t been lost with time. The friends and talents I developed because of the lack of technology is something that I have and will cherish for the rest of my life.
I’m doing my best to give my kids the childhood I had, to try and spark their love and passion for outdoor adventure, to give them a sense of freedom that can only be found in exploring the ‘big wide world’..