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Neighborhood Kids

Oh, what it would be like to be a kid again in the late 1990s to early 2000s.

A friend and I recently had lunch outdoors. We went to the beach and sat at one of the picnic tables situated in the area. In front of us was a playground where a father watched his son play. Although it was just the two of them, it was a beautiful sight to see.

This had my friend and me comparing the lifestyle of the generation of kids these days to our generation when we were kids.

We both came to realize that it is becoming rarer to see kids playing on the neighborhood roads, city parks, and public playgrounds throughout the years.

Speed bumps and “slow down” signs are placed on almost every block of a neighborhood because of how common it is for kids to be seen playing on these roads.

Social life back then was rarely dull. During the weekdays, we’re surrounded by our instructors, peers, and friends. And after school and weekends, we were part of what we like to call, ‘the neighborhood kids,’ which was essentially just a bunch of us kids from a block in the neighborhood who often got together and do kids’ stuff. We’re called the neighborhood kids because we only knew each other from living within that certain strip of road in the neighborhood, but it didn’t matter to us because we always found ourselves learning new things, playing different games, and most importantly, having fun.

One of our favorite games to play was dodgeball – an informal version.

With our version, instead of the two teams running to the middle to get the balls and outing each other, one team is split up to cover both ends of the game area. The other team will be in the middle, and only one ball is in play. One side of the outer team gets the first throw to one of the opposing members of the team in the middle and before the ball makes its way to the other side, the members in the middle have to make quick moves of running, dodging, turning, and sometimes catching. If a ball is caught by the middle team, and there is someone who got out, they can use that opportunity to bring them back into the game. If there is no one out, they can use that caught ball as an extra “life,” which allows them to stay in the game for however many times they’ve caught the ball and used it as a ‘life.” One round ends when all of the players in the middle have been outed. I don’t remember how, or if, one team gets declared as the overall winner as we did not put a time limit. The main focus of each team was to simply get all of the players in the middle out. Even though I was often one of the first ones out, this game was still a lot of fun. It was hilarious seeing how some would dodge the ball, and at the end of the day, we always had smiles on our faces.

Other than dodgeball, we also played tag, hide-n-seek, catch, jump rope, hopscotch, rode our bikes, scooters, or rollerblades, and sometimes just sat on the road at night and had random conversations. Our parents obviously had total views of us, and they were usually also outside hanging out with each other.

These were the days when it was easy to make friends since it was always more fun playing if there were more people to play with. Even though we had never attended the same school or even said hi to each other before, as soon as a new kid asked to play or if we saw one watching on the sidelines, we’d always welcome them to join. It was very exciting to experience (even for an introvert like me).

These were the days when we’d get excited showing each other any new toys or gadgets we got and testing them out by playing with them.

These were the days when we’d yell out “car!” whenever we’d see one turning towards our street, and then we’d clear up the road and stand by the side of it as we’d wait for the car(s) to pass by.

These were the days when those in the households would hear sounds of laughter, loud talks, balls hitting the pavements, running, and farewells of “see you tomorrow.”

These were the days when it would be close to dinner time, and we’d hear or see our parents or siblings shout our names or walk over to tell us, “It’s time to go home. You can play tomorrow again.”

Those were the days…

It breaks my heart to see many of the neighborhood streets and yards so empty, and realize that many of the kids in this generation might not get to experience the childhood that the millennials (and previous generations) had.

In a childhood when technology was still pretty much nonexistent, the parents’ ways of keeping us entertained were to bring us outside and play, play with other kids, or go to a playground and spend our energy there.

I know I can’t speak for everyone or see where the future will take us, but I do find it worrisome that future generations might become solely dependable on technology and believe that it is their only source of entertainment, knowledge, and even communication (penpals and landline days, anyone?)

The world may not be in its best condition right now, but I do hope that one day it will be my turn to see the kids gathering their toys or equipment, moving to the side of the road, and making way for me to drive through. As I would look back at my rearview mirror, I would see them excitingly return to whatever activity they were doing, laughing, giving out commands to each other, and simply being kids.

I may not have had the most lavished childhood, but mine was filled with playing pretend, making new friends, competing in random games and sporting activities, and making memories…

…thanks to the neighborhood kids.

Let's chat!

What memories, if any, were there with you and your neighborhood kids?

Keep being inspired and take care always,


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