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Ten best things I miss about childhood

Sleepovers

Beginning in first grade there were a few years when I was too scared to sleep over at a friend’s house. Crashing with a friend happens more frequently now out of necessity (due to traveling or a night of revelry) rather than a pre-planned pajama party complete with videogames and too much soda.

Summer camp

After my fear of sleepovers ended I promptly went to overnight camp for a month, returning four summers in a row to the now-defunct OMNI Camp in Maine. It met the two major requirements I was looking for — that it be co-ed and not sports-based. Nothing will ever compare to the heaven on earth I experienced at sleep-away camp, and if it still existed I wouldn’t hesitate to work there.

Building forts

Young Eric loved all kinds of forts — pillow forts, tree forts, snow forts and ground forts. With my next-door neighbor Robert as my partner in crime, I built two massive forts dug into the woods behind my house, one with three exits and insulated enough to occupy during the winter. As I grew older, my tree fort camouflaged in tank netting slowly received less attention.

Kickball

Every week I babysit two elementary-age boys, and their recent activity of choice is kickball. I remember playing in the parking lot at my school, but these days I have to be careful not to kick the ball too hard — it’s already ended up on the roof and nailed a parked car. I’ve heard tales of adults getting together for a weekly drunk kickball game in town, but haven’t seen it for myself.

No responsibility or sense of time

I’m constantly looking forward in my life, and struggle to be in the present. I don’t remember being as aware of time as a kid. The ability to live in the moment comes in part from a lack of responsibilities looming over my head, and I undoubtedly miss not paying for anything and not being in charge of much more than the order in which my toys were arranged.

Legos and trains

I was never very into trains, but my neighbor Robert’s train room was unbeatable. In an extra room of their basement, his father constructed two platforms running the entire edge of the room, and around the trains Robert and I constructed Lego cities and scenes. We could stage battles using castles, Civil War soldiers or pirates all day, and often we did.

Mom’s cooking

Readers may remember past pieces I’ve written celebrating my small successes in the kitchen, but even when I’m using my mom’s recipes it rarely compares to the original. With two children who both went vegetarian, my mom often made two separate dinners. I still long for her home cooking, and when I visit now I eagerly anticipate dishes like corn pudding.

Trampolines

My adult life has mostly been devoid of bouncing activity that filled my childhood: on a pogo stick in my grandmother’s basement, a friend’s trampoline, a jumping ball or a moon bounce. I distinctly remember the sad day when I realized it wouldn’t be socially unacceptable to partake in a free moon bounce with a bunch of elementary school kids.

Game Boy

My strongest memory of my Game Boy involves hiking through clouds up Mount Washington and arriving exhausted at a log cabin for the night. I was so worn out all I could think about was Zelda. I still play video games occasionally with friends, but the days when I buried my nose in my gray Game Boy are long gone.

The VHS

The nostalgia associated with watching a VHS is one I am most able to feed, thanks to a built-in VCR on an old television from my grandma and abundant cheap VHS collections at area thrift stores. I was still delighted to find Dunstin Checks In on Netflix instant watch, but it isn’t the same. If anyone has An American Tale or classics like Richie Rich, please contact me immediately.

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