When my sisters and I were little we were told things like “You get things by ages” meaning bicycles and such. We also got privileges by ages. I think it is probably that way in most families. Kids need to be a certain age in order to be safe doing certain things, and going places…so we knew that was just the way it was. Naturally, whenever we became old enough for something new, it was a pretty big deal. Looking back on it now, it’s almost funny how big a deal something so small could be.
We lived on East 3rd Street, where my mom still lives to this day. It was and is a quiet, safe neighborhood. There was a gang of kids that lived on our street, and oddly, it was mostly girls, which worked out well for our family which contained 5 girls and no boys. There was a variety of ages among the girls on our street, so we usually had a friend our age. We all had pretty much the same standard of rules…I’m pretty sure our moms discussed all that and agreed on something…well ok, maybe not, but the rules did seem the same. In the summertime, you could play outside with your friends as long as you checked in regularly, stayed on our street, and came home before suppertime. After supper, we got to play outside again, until it got dark, then it was time to head home.
As some of us got older, and were allowed to venture out into the surrounding neighborhoods on our bicycles or on foot, and the ones left behind started to feel the sting of being younger. It just seemed unfair to us somehow, not that our sisters got to go somewhere that we didn’t, but that they got to be the older one. I guess we just knew that arguing the point was futile, but we sure didn’t like it much.
I will never forget how grown up I felt when I was finally allowed to leave the street in front of our house on my bicycle. My friend, Toni and I were allowed to ride our bicycles clear down to East 8th Street…wow, what a day!! We felt so grown up. We actually went just 5 blocks. Not really a very big distance, and considering that I now live on Sally Lane, two houses off of East 8th Street and I can walk to my mom’s house in about 5 minutes, it occurs to me just how small a distance that really is. Still, at that time, it was like traveling to the moon. We were free at last, and we felt that freedom clear down to our toes.