Friday Reflection: The simplicity of being a kid back then

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On my many walks around the neighbourhood while we have been housebound and in semi lockdown, I have been enjoying studying the local architecture – the various building styles and the changing nature of housing tastes. The many trees and shrubs have caught my eye, too, and now there are the beautiful autumnal colours that are splashed across the trees and onto the ground.

The other day, I began to kick the red and yellow autumn leaves in the gutter in a moment of gay abandon and a form of rebellion to my constrained adult world. It felt so good.

It cast me back to being a young child in Oakleigh. I had a best friend who lived a few doors down who shared the same first name, though only with one ‘n’ in her name – an important distinction when you are seven years old. She had a huge liquid amber tree in her front yard. As children we rummaged and searched among the leaf litter, making piles of them together. We squabbled and fought over who had found the best, the reddest and the brightest. We inspected each as if they were diamonds and then threw them away when we were summoned back home.

I remember, too, the smell of autumn leaves burning in the gutters of suburban streets. Throughout my childhood years, there were always piles of raked leaves sitting in the gutters waiting to dry out and be burnt. Of course, that practice is now banned, seen as another contributor to the world’s pollution and global warming. Not politically correct either. Sometimes, though, I still catch the scent of wood burning in an open fire from one of the surrounding houses and it casts me back to the nostalgia of childhood, of safety and warmth – hot chocolate when I arrived home, peeling off my wet school clothes when I was caught in a downpour and standing in front of the gas heater, hitching up my school tunic and burning my bum.

Somehow, as children, we have lived in the moment unconcerned about the future, unaware of what tomorrow might bring. As adults we have learnt to obsess and mull over the past and fret and worry about an, as yet, unknown future. I think we must find that childlike response and enjoy the moment. To use the modern catchcry, we need to find our own mindfulness as we did as children.

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6 Comments

Total Comments: 6
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    0

    Yes childhood was simple fun. However we make problems for ourselves with stupid restrictions like not burning leaves.

    If we don’t burn them they will rot, or be consumed by fungi worms or white ants, releasing the same CO2 as if burnt. The adult world is a stupid world today.

  2. 0
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    What memories i cherish from the 50s–70s. As a 12 year a bowie knife on hip, a billy cart at the ready, string with two bobs worth of dogs meat, a yabbying i would go. Sat morn packing salt, sugar and potatoes at local Deli for ten bob. Saved for an airgun with that money. Weekends learning to shoot and make monster size Bonfires for bonfire night. could go on and on! Now most kids arn’t even allowed to climb a tree!

  3. 0
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    My memories are mixed, starting in wartime Britain with air raid sirens and the unmistakable droning of Heinkel bombers overhead, hiding under the dining room table while they passed, finding shrapnel on the back lawn next morning. My Mickey Mouse gasmask. Remenbering my father in uniform as he walked away to the railway station after his final leave. Then peacetime seaside holidays and my sisters arrived. Snowbound winters and pleasant summers. Travel by steamtrains and steamboats. Schooldays. Mumps and measles. Visiting grandparents in Edinburgh. Korean War came and went. Got a bicycle for Christmas when I was nine and rode it all over the surrounding countryside until I turned 21. In between played cowboys and Indians with baby brother and sisters and school friends. Always carried a toy revolver – a “cap” pistol. The Suez crisis was around as I was leaving high school and was an air cadet, intending to join the RAF but that didn’t happen. Dad finally could afford a car in 1956 and holidays were taken in that. Generally happy days, but full of unpleasant history.

  4. 0
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    thank you BillW41, for those words. Life is tough at times, My brother was 9 yrs old working in bakery during WW2. i was made to leave school at 13 years of age, Finished school on a Friday and started work on the Monday. I have a saying, lock the sadness in a box and throw the key away. I try to always dwell on the bright side of life. And sadly, the cards we are dealt don’t always fall in favour. And that’s life!


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