Monday, August 25, 2008

Go Out And Play

This piece in the LA Times struck home with me.

Reader, if you're much over 30, you probably remember what it used to be like for the typical American kid. Remember how there used to be this thing called "going out to play"?

For younger readers, I'll explain this archaic concept. It worked like this: The child or children in the house -- as long as they were over age 4 or so -- went to the door, opened it, and ... went outside. They braved the neighborhood pedophile just waiting to pounce, the rusty nails just waiting to be stepped on, the trees just waiting to be fallen out of, and they "played."

"Play," incidentally, is a mysterious activity children engage in when not compelled to spend every hour under adult supervision, taking soccer or piano lessons or practicing vocabulary words with computerized flashcards.

During the winter months my requirement was "be home before the street lights come on". Think about it--that required some responsibility on my part.

And rightly so. That's how we learn.


Anonymous said...

I wish I got to grow up like that.

Anonymous said...

It seems, however, that most households have both (or all, if only one) parent working full-time. Back in the 1980s when these parents let their kids come home to an empty house and basically take care of themselves, the parents were criticized for raising latchkey kids.

Now the kids are checked into a school aftercare program and the criticism is that the kids have too much structured time and not enough unstructured time.

I don't think the after-care programs are set up to "just let the kids go an be back when the streetlights turn on."

So, is there a way to win other than having one parent stay home (which, incidentally, is the situation at my house, but still ...)?

-Mark Roulo

Darren said...

Latchkey kids learned to fend for themselves. Not necessarily a bad thing.

There's a balance to be had. Guess there's some combination of how responsible the child is, how much time alone, and how genuinely involved the parents are.

Anonymous said...

Oh yes! Let´s go out and play or can Danny come out and play, asked at the door. And then worlds opened in the forest, under the bridge, on the baseball field, at the movies, at the bowling alley and ... Those poor kids nowadays, growing up in a false inside world of screens and microphones. Ok, where is my selfmade slingshot, let´s go out and shoot up some ???