Friday, April 11, 2014

Childhood Managed

Today's post is inspired by this article: The Overprotected Kid. It is a long read, but I found it fascinating. I am mostly referring to the first section of it today anyway, but do yourself a favor and look through all the photos of The Land all the way through.

The article made me kind of sad... a bit reminiscent... and maybe even a little hopeful that perhaps I can still salvage some free childhood for my kids! We most definitely roamed free when I was a kid. In my dad's neighborhood, the rule for our house was that when the sunset touched a particular building, it was time to be home! No watches, no mobile phones, no checking in - and often no one home to check in with anyway! We had our packs. We even built our own tree house on a piece of land my dad owned... but that was several blocks away from our home. We also had a clubhouse of sorts in the woods and a back route to get to the local convenience store. We roamed. And never did any of us wind up in the ER for it. or abducted. Are things so much more risky now? Statistics say that they're really not. What changed? Fear mongering. The news. I am quite prone to worry and have a "heal the world" issue so I don't watch the news. At all. And yet...

I'm terrified of losing my children and we've moved quite a bit since my littles were born... so I'm not comfortable with letting them freely explore the neighborhood alone (at 4 and 2yo). But... I love the idea of "The Land" in this article. I want to find a way to make risks available to my daughter (and my son)... in a safe enough way to comfort Dad's worry (and mine, though mine doesn't seem to be as strong).

I find myself wondering what sort of "junk" I might be able to find for free on Craigslist or Freecycle.. tires? pallets? We have some boards back there... When I was a kid we rode our bikes down to a carpet place in the neighborhood and raided their dumpster for scraps. We had a carpeted tree-house! What random stuff could you imagine stocking in your yard for more exploratory play?

I will say (and almost "in my defense," as if such a thing is necessary) that since we moved Sasha gets SO much more outdoor time. We have a fenced back yard now so she is allowed to go out there and explore and play to her heart's content. I prefer to keep a door open where I can hear her, especially since the door is stiff and she can't open it herself. I've relaxed more and more, though, and don't feel the need to have my eyes on her at all times. I even caught my teenager telling her not to go behind the shed. Um... why? I told her to go ahead if she wanted. She's been back there before. There are no extra risks back there, its just out of sight. What have I done to my oldest? She worries over her siblings far too much.

How free do you allow your children to be? How free is too free? And I'm totally serious about suggestions for "junk" to put in our back yard! I only wonder if I can refrain from showing my children what can be done with some pallets, boards and sheets... and just let them discover on their own! I've really been wanting a mud hole for them out there, too!
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