August 27, 2008

What the hell is going on here?

As said by Arun the other evening. At Blockbuster. At the checkout counter. I was fairly impressed with his delivery, the checkout clerk was not. I was a bit confused. Should I sternly admonish Arun? Smother my laughter? Look embarrassed? Say a quick Hail Mary?

In the end, I just simply blamed his father. That worked for everyone involved and X was none the wiser.

So, my experiment with going off-line has been working out quite well. Except, now my Bloglines account is bellowing huge clouds of black smoke. My inbox is over-run. I am behind on my usability testing for FoodieBytes. The Rancid Raves sheep are looking a little thin and in desperate need of a fresh shearing. And good gravy, I even made a quick phone call to Goofy Girl today because it was faster than sending an email.

I am not much of a phone person these days. I prefer my conversations to not be interrupted by children or spouses. So, for my working friends, I am always at a loss when to call them. And I used to be the type to spend hours on the phone with my gal pals. Of course, I also used to be the type to finish off half a pack of cigarettes while on the phone. Some things have improved, at least.

Anyway, time off-line has meant more time spent on-line with the kids. Arun is nearly finished with his dissertation, The ABCs of the Phoenicians. And we have been working on Anjali's walking skillz. All we need to do is doctor up her passport real good and she will be ready for the 2016 Olympics.

Time off-line has also given me time to think..... In particular, Scribbit posted a link to a great article titled "Remember 'Go outside and play'?" It includes such wonderful quotes as:
All in all, "going out to play" worked out well for kids. As the American Academy of Pediatrics' Dr. Kenneth Ginsburg testified to Congress in 2006, "Play allows children to create and explore a world they can master, conquering their fears while practicing adult roles. ... Play helps children develop new competencies ... and the resiliency they will need to face future challenges." But here's the catch: Those benefits aren't realized when some helpful adult is hovering over kids the whole time.

Thirty years ago, the "going out to play" culture coexisted with other culturally sanctioned forms of independence for even very young children: Kids as young as 6 used to walk to school on their own, for instance, or take public buses or -- gulp -- subways. And if they lived on a school bus route, their mommies did not consider it necessary to escort them to the bus stop every morning and wait there with them.
........We parents have sold ourselves a bill of goods when it comes to child safety. Forget the television fear-mongering: Your child stands about the same chance of being struck by lightning as of being the victim of what the Department of Justice calls a "stereotypical kidnapping." And unless you live in Baghdad, your child stands a much, much greater chance of being killed in a car accident than of being seriously harmed while wandering unsupervised around your neighborhood.

One of the things that I really like about our house is the neighborhood. In particular, the kids across the street are outside all the time - if it is not too hot, too cold or too wet, they are outside. No joke - these kids do the following in their driveway and front yard: basketball, golf, football, soccer, rollerblades, kickball, baseball, skateboard, biking, scootering, hockey and some odd contraption that is like a skateboard except that it can "twist around" in the middle. Arun totally looks up to these boys and they are so patient with him, coming over to show him their various sports equipment. When they upgraded their basketball hoop, the older boy wanted to give Arun the old basketball hoop, which thrilled Arun to no end. I love that Arun looks up to these kids. As such, we spend a lot of time outside in our front yard.

At this point, we send Arun to the backyard quite a bit unsupervised. And I do see him going out in the front yard alone maybe as early as next summer. The saddest thing is that I am more afraid of something calling DCFS than of Arun getting hurt.

I hate that we live in this kind of world.


Scribbit said...

Heh, that cracks me up--Arun's comment that is :) Lillian's been walking around saying "What the crap?" and I'm trying to break her of it. Sounds so sophisticated coming from a 6 year-old's mouth.

Stephanie said...

We played outside, unsupervised, all the time as kids. Usually in the cul-de-sac my house was on (very little traffic, but yes... we played in the street), sometimes on the slightly busier street my friend lived on, sometimes at the park. Only twice did "bad" things happen -- once, my friend broke her nose when we were playing softball, and another time we were crossing a frozen creek (literally at most 3 feet deep) and a kid fell through (not under) and we had to pull him out.

I've already told my boyfriend that our kids will NOT be spending their afternoons watching TV or playing video games, and that I am locking them outside the house until dinner so they can play.

Monkey McWearingChaps said...

I wish people would go over and talk to the parents before they do something like call DCFS. I was baby-sitting a 9 month old baby at 12. I don't even want to tell you what went on when we lived in Northern Quebec!! I didn't see my mom from 8 in the morning to 5 at night. Occasionally we might stop by for lunch or a snack but our "gang" was communally fed by the neighbourhood moms. My mom's lunches were considered too spicy so we were usually a "snack" house.

I'm not glamourising those days and we certainly don't need to go back. But it would be patently ridiculous to call CPS on people like my parents because it's too uncomfortable to talk the parents if you have any serious concerns. I'd probably take a moment of discomfort and having the person hate me rather than call CPS and stress them out 10x more.

I was reading another site where the author posted a situation involving kids being out without supervision and I was shocked at how many people exhorted her to call CPS right away. Are you fucking kidding me? How about talking to the father and saying "hey, is everything okay?"

zoot said...

I heard the "struck by lightening" stat just this year and it BLEW MY MIND. I'm overly paranoid about Bad Things Happening in the neighborhood. BUT - in my defense - I grew up in a bad neighborhood. But I've started looking at things differently since I've learned that.

BUT - when I lived in an apartment complex with a playground? I felt comfortable letting my oldest play with his friends. I don't think it warranted a call to CPS. If someone had called? I'd have lost it. I'm sure.

Heza Hekele said...

I think I have found a pretty good balance between not allowing my kids to be unsupervised and fostering independence. I have received many a glare from other parents on the playground when I respond to one of my kids' "spills" with "Get up! Oh, good job for getting up! Now keep going, try again!" As opposed to the typical scene: child falls down and starts wailing and parent runs in to fix the not really there booboo. Don't get me wrong, if there is a real booboo, my kids come and get a million kisses and hugs, but I am stunned at how resiliant my kids are and how often then just get up and keep on going as opposed to their peers. This independence streak runs solid into their everyday life as well: if they are capable of doing it for themselves, or even "trying" they are highly offended if not given the chance and being praised for their efforts.

This is just my two cents and how I have found some balance between the world I grew up in (walking to school, roaming the neighborhood) and the world my children are being brought up in.