As many of you may know, or can have guessed, we're big into the Free Range Kid movement. Haven't heard of it before? Check out Lenore Skenazy's blog by clicking this link Free Range Kids. We were already free ranging things before I read her book (which had be laughing out loud in the library), and her book & blog have made us more confirmed in the things we're doing .. and sometimes not doing.
What is so very cool about this, to me, is that it is basically an adamant stance on the issue that, generally speaking, the way kids have been raised throughout history was with freedoms we no longer allow our kids, with trust we no longer allow our children to earn, and with faith, which we no longer have in our fellow human beings. Of course there have been horrible instances of child labor and etc throughout history as well, but in general ... don't be Debbie Downer here, ok?
For example, we live within shouting distance of three playgrounds/small parks. We also live in a neighborhood filled with children. Yet rarely do we see children filling up these playgrounds on beautiful days nor do we see them riding their bikes on the sidewalks, playing games with other kids, and etc. Sure, we see adults walking, but not as many kids playing.
When most of us were growing up however the scene was quite different. On pretty days I remember spending afternoons up in the maple tree with my best friend, or in forts we had built among the pine trees in the back yard. Our forts were especially cool because they had furniture in them: old car seats that we found on the curb and drug back to the fort ourselves. At night we played "Night Games" a form of tag at night with flashlights that was played through the neighborhood, with borders being designated by so&so's house to so&so's house. Heck, I even remember spending my Summers walking a half mile or so (ironically enough, it actually was an uphill walk too!) to the neighborhood pool, where we'd check in and spend the day - with no adults shuttling us to and fro and sitting there while we swam. By the way, I was about in fifth grade at that time. Now, of course, that would never happen!
So what has happened? Have kids just gotten a lot dumber? Are we SO scared of every little scrape and boo-boo that every imaginable (not necessarily real) danger needs to be safeguarded against? Forgive me please, but I thought scrapes and boo-boos were part of childhood. Yes, I had my very large share of them too. Yes, I was in situations that no parents want for their kids - nothing so horribly bad as where your mind likely just went, more specifically I had several close calls with cars while riding my bike. Yet, I survived. And, more importantly, I learned from them! I learned not to go flying around blind corners where a car may be coming down the hill. Heck, I learned what a blind corner was!! I learned that kids will be on bikes, so when I am driving, I better watch out for them doing the same stupid things I did when I was little.
As a parent now, I expect my kids to learn from their own stupid mistakes. I expect that they will have those stupid mistakes. I also expect that they can do a lot to help out around the house, other than watching TV and playing video games. One of our family mottoes is "Everyone Helps" simply because we know that there is always something someone can do to pitch in and help out.
In that vein, and in the vein of children being able to actually do things rather than having them done for them, I write this blog. Today, while I balanced my checkbook and went about other tasks that needed my attention, this was happening in the kitchen:
His younger brother, Tristan who is 5, was busy cleaning the walls while Shannon folded laundry. Both had gotten in trouble today and had to draw from the "Bag of Death" (I'll blog about that soon enough, fear not) and Tristan drew "Clean the Walls." So, he did. It started at with groans but ended with pride as he decided that this also needed cleaning, and so did this, and so on.
My walls are now clean(er) and laundry has been folded. I've had my cup of coffee and my kids know that they're capable of being valuable and contributing members of our family.
Hoorah for Lazy Moms!!