On Letting Kids Be Kids
There is an email that circulates that details many of the hazards we children of the 70s and 80s endured, and yet we survived. I grew up in these times and rode a bike all over town without a helmet, rode without car seats or seat belts, and even went on entire family vacations riding in the bed of a pick up truck. And yes, I survived. However, wisdom, and current knowledge dictates that I do not follow the same practices with my own children.
There are some things that I did during the 80’s though, that seem to be going away in my children’s generation…and I think these things need to be preserved.
* If I wanted to get somewhere, I got there on my own two feet, by bike, or a combination of city bus or light rail (from about 6th grade on).
* I walked to school, alone, or with my peers, never with a parent (from 4th grade on).
* From 7th grade on, I walked a half mile to our city bus stop and rode public transportation to Middle and High School.
* I had nearly no boundaries when it came to exploring my community.
* I had no organized Summer schedule.
In short, my childhood was spent exploring, imagining, taking the bus to the library and checking out a gazillion books, jumping into the neighborhood pool, biking across town to visit best friends, and very occasionally vegging out in front of the TV.
This is what I want for my kids. My oldest has a fairly wide berth in town. If you see him out and about, feel free to call me with his whereabouts. If he is naughty, I want to know…and he knows that the helmet is a non-negotiable item, but I won’t be shocked to find that he is more than a block from home.
We are actually living in a SAFER time period than when I was growing up. Yes, bad things happen, but hey…half of that happens over the internet, and not to teens riding bikes. I want my boys to know how to handle themselves out in public BEFORE I turn them over to the big, wide world when they turn the magical age of eighteen.
Truly, I rode the bus with marginally creepy people, and still, I turned out OK. I’m going to trust that my boys can ride their bikes around town in relative safety.
Let’s reclaim childhood!