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Don't get me started, I have so much trouble with this issue. I had the world's most free childhood, for which I am eternally grateful, but can't let my 12 year old out of my sight without fretting myself sick. It's my Achilles Heel.

I also had a very free childhood. We lived in the 'burbs so no running thru the woods for us...but we spent plenty of time sans adult supervision, playing games, building tents and making mud pies in the the backyard. I remember hours of bike riding and no parents around till dusk arrived. We used to ride our bikes to the beach- 5miles each way on a major road- daily during the summer.

There's no way I'd allow myself to do those things nowadays if I was a parent. Too many sickos out there- and I don't think I'm being paranoid. When a child can be snatched from their bed while parents are sleeping in another room....*shudder*

But at the same time I worry that my boys don't have enough unsupervised play time. Of course I supervise them now since they are so young- but I would like them to have plenty of time running in a kidpack like I used to as a child. I think it's so important for kids to do that.

Now, just to figure out *where* and *when* that's going to happen!

My sister and I would hide in our rooms and make believe different things. As long as we didn't get hurt or end up in a fight, it was okay. Growing up in a city, I know what you mean... Where do the kids go to play - unsupervised? Not many. Maybe that's why as a kid, I used to read so much.

You mentioned the very books I'd been thinking of and you've discussed the topic so much more eloquently than me!

If the world is not actually a more dangerous place, I wonder why we are more afraid now? The obvious answer is the media... are there any other causes?

Such a challenge. I agree with you on every front, and I share your search for the place to explore.

Just last weekend when we were camping D and I were both reflecting how camp grounds were one of the first places we were given unfetted freedom and told to return at meal times.

I am thrilled beyond belief about the Arthur Ransome books - I have blogged so many times about them. I have every single book in the series and know them almost by heart. And I'm gradually reading them to our boys - a chapter per night, with occasional breaks for something else before we start the next book. We're up to 'Secret Water' right now.

I used to sail a wooden clinker-built boat just like the Swallow, so I used to imagine I was Susan or Titty, sailing away to camp on an island and have adventures.

Re our children having freedom to roam - that is partly why we moved out here. We have an acre of wilderness where the boys can build cubbies and 'bases' and get right away from us. There's also national park at the end of the road and they can explore there too. A friend said yesterday 'aren't you terrified of snakes?' to which I replied yes, but we have rules about clothing and they know what to do and I don't want to ban them from going out there all summer.

So there are urban and bush terrors to deal with ... both scary.

It's very hard when you have an only child to let them have that freedom - as all the other parents don't! Just last week another parent left a sour taste in my mouth by requesting that we not let their child go to the nearby park with our child on their own, which I *would* allow.
I also loved all the Arthur Ransome books. And today we were listening to a CD version of the Famous Five before school - even better as an audio story than the written ones.

Ddi you ever read Charley by Joan G. Robinson? That was my favourite of the kids surviving on their own books. I was unsupervised and free to roam my bush suburb from a very young age. I fret about this now, as there's such a trend to supervise, and I really like the idea of Fred and Una having access to some wild spaces. But like you, I'm not sure how this works in the inner city, or even in the suburbs, especially when other parents have much tighter controls.

I am inclined to blame media for the current trends. I think we have more of a sense (in a pop-pyschology, fictionalised kind of way) of the psychology of violence - I think there's a real belief in the 'predator' this kind of modern day boogie man that parents worry about more than kids. I think it's partly news media and partly shows like Law and Order, that create this sense of an intense geography of violence - look at how many terrible things happen in a small country town in Blue Heelers. And then of course globalisation makes us feel connected to terrible things that happen in London, New York, Istanbul...

I'd love to find a solution to this. I don't want my children to grow up supervised and scrutinised, particularly because I think kids need unstructured play and adults suck at that.

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