I knew every tree, every rock and every hiding spot in my neighborhood as a kid. I knew this because I spent my summers and weekends locked outside.
Like most kids – pre-internet boogie monsters – I was pushed out the door roughly about 9am and was told not to return until the afternoon. Around noon a sandwich would appear on the front steps and for bathroom trips a backyard tree couldn’t solve, I was allowed to knock and be let inside. Through the eyes of a modern parent this may sound like child abuse but to me – as an adult – I remember it as the best times of my childhood.
Letting anyone or anything you love leave your protection can be scary; what happens if they get hurt, what happens if they get lost or what happens if they need me and I’m not there? I say the opposite is even worse and it is what modern parenting has become. What happens if they always need me, what if they never get hurt, what happens if they never get lost or what happens if they need me and I’m ALWAYS there? The truth is someday you, as a parent, will not be around and coddled children will not be prepared for that day.
What happened the first time you were separated from your parents out in public? Did you freak out? Did you remember to stay put and wait for them to find you? Did you end up learning something about yourself and how you need to stay calm and levelheaded? Or did you just whip out your cell phone and text your parents that you’re over by the Small World ride and to not forget your double chili cheese corndog?
Parenting is TOUGH and letting kids spend their summer holiday sleeping until noon and playing video games 14 hour a days doesn’t sound like a bad deal when you picture the peace and quiet. But I’ll climb on my soap once again and declare that having child put down a two liter of MT DEW while playing the XBOX* isn’t better than locking them outside, it’s only more legal.
Instead of letting kids slowly get pre-diabetes and a larger stomach, you can let them learn climbing a tree 30 feet in the air is scary as hell. Or that climbing inside an arborvitae will leave you with a nasty rash.
The fact is that I, for numerous legal reason (and because I want to continue to be married), will not end up locking my kid out of house during the summers. The world has changed. While it has never been safer to be a kid the political and legal climate says giving children they freedom to explore and learn is wrong.
I just don’t agree.
*I love drinking MT. Dew and playing xbox and I’m not opposed to kids do it either, just in moderation.