Sunday, February 14, 2010

where are your kids?

okay, so its the middle of winter, no matter what time the sun sets in your neighborhood... but this is something I've been wondering a lot about lately because my kid is growing up in a lower middle class/working class urban neighborhood but goes to school in an upper middle class suburban neighborhood and these differences are sort of self-defined but I think they hold true. The yards near his school are bigger, the houses are bigger and less likely to hold apartments, etc... although his school is actually closer to the 'big city', its more suburban in feel there, i think. although i am probably wrong. whatever.
anyhow. my whole point and reason for query is this: my kid, my four and a half year old, wants to play outside with the kids in the neighborhood... without his mother, on streets of traffic, in apartment buildings that I have never been inside. We have a rule that he cannot cross the street by himself and he cannot go inside any house except 'beth's or tony's or juju's... okay.
When I was a kid (idealized past following here...) we played outside every day until it was dark. every day. all year. unless it was raining or freezing. in the woods, behind the houses... totally out of sight and sound of my house... we had friends and enemies in the neighborhood and we had fun and battles all around the four streets that made up our world.
The kids at my kids school don't play with their neighbors, they play at parks. I don't know if its really cuz they don't have neighbors, maybe the neighbors are all too old or ..... but they don't. Our situation/neighborhood takes me out of being able to converse with the other moms about it. what to do? here i am.
And while we have lots and lots of kids on this street, they are NOT ALL playing outside... not all of them.. so where are they? where are they playing? are they on the computer? at a playdate? afterschool things? Do their moms have different, better rules? more safe? more exploratory? what?
what do your kids do? where are they, when the weather allows?

oh lord. HAPPY VALENTINE's DAY! if you love, love it wildly... if not, soon it will be monday!!

EDIT: please go read Nancy's tribute to her love ... i love it.


Mama Mama Quite Contrary said...

We play everywhere. I think I am fairly unique in letting Vivi play outside in our yard or ride her trike in front of the house alone. We have two kids across the street from us and she loves visiting our neighbors, all of whom keep an eye on her. I don't want to raise her to be afraid of the world, which is statistically safer now than it was when we were children.

I think, on the whole, parents are afraid to have their children out of their sight. Why wouldn't they be? We are bombarded with news about abductions and neighborhood crack dealers. Our worldview is consequently distorted and we end up depriving our kids of independence and the opportunity to learn about the world in an honest, exploratory way. I think this is what makes the conversation so hard. (I had several moms look at me like I was crazy for letting my kid out the door without me.) I think it has very little to do with the neighborhood or the size of one's yard.

Jen said...

We live in a neighborhood with sidewalks and kid's and people we like. The kids ride their bikes back and forth to their friend's homes. It's as "ideal" as can be. We live at the far end so often the kids want to ride to the other end. I do insist that they call once they have arrived. Often they forget and I admit I panic a bit. But I believe you have to give them some independence. They have to be trusted. If they go out with the understanding "don't talk to strangers, yada, yada, yada" you have to trust that they will follow your lead.
Now remember you little guy is only 4 1/2, he's still little. With time you will feel more comfortable (never totally comfortable!) with every step he takes away from your front door. Trust yourself. You're smart just for posing this question.

urban craft said...

what I also wonder about is, sometimes I see too many kids playing all the time. On school days. I don't remember ever having that many days off when I was in school. Then again, we didn't have "no child left behind" either.

But, sorry, off topic. As a kid that grew up in a big city, we went everywhere we shouldn't have and still turned out ok. And so will yours.

thisnewplace said...

my rules are that my kids do not walk to school alone, they dont play on the playground without me (or supervising adult) and they dont go on the sidewalk in front of our house alone (condo, no yard). No sleepovers as of yet, there is no way. I just discovered my youngest daughter's friend has a father who loves guns, owns guns and shoots guns. I will not let my little one go to their house, even if they are locked up. A 16 year old just washed up on shore here the other day, after eating mushrooms and smoking pot, he was hallucinating obviously and fell in or went swimming and drowned. The dad was in the house and had no idea the kid and friends were doing this, nor did he know his son had left the house in the middle of the night. It's horrendous to think about, but even though there are rules or we think our kids are safe in our own homes even, things can happen. We can only teach our kids to make wise decisions, to be decision makers, so that when they are set free in little bits, they can be safe.