Posts Tagged ‘Punchball’
Childhood Then and Now
I spent my childhood in the 1940s and ‘50s half an hour from Manhattan in a neighborhood that was made famous years later by the TV character Archie Bunker.
It was certainly no one’s idea of country living, yet my life was nothing like that of a suburban child today. After school, we would throw our book bags in the house and head for the streets for games of stickball and punchball, broken up every few minutes to let a car pass by. Or we would go to the nearby woods (later to become an apartment project) for bike rides and wrestling matches. All this would end at dinner time, when our mothers would yell for us to return for a home cooked meal.
There were no computer games. Life on the streets was probably less safe than our parents thought, but no one required us to stay within sight. McDonald’s and the other fast food places didn’t exist yet, so our portions weren’t supersized and calorie laden.
One result of all that was that very few of us were overweight. It’s amazing to realize that 65% of children and teens in New Jersey today are overweight or obese .The health implications of this problem are enormous. Type 2 diabetes, which used to be called adult-onset diabetes, is now a common condition of childhood. Most people of my generation can expect to have longer lives than their parents, thanks largely to better health care. Our children and grandchildren, unfortunately, are likely to have shorter lives because they eat worse and exercise less than us.
We aren’t about to re-create the woods and open spaces of my childhood. But we can encourage our children to get away from the computer games, go outside and maybe learn how to run a bit wild, how to invent new games, how to play with their friends. That, after all, is what being a child is about. And we can prepare nutritious food for them and try to get them to actually like it.