Saturday, October 15, 2011
"Mom, can I go out to play now?"
If you're old (like me) you probably remember asking that question.
After reminding you to say "May I" in stead of "Can I," and checking to be sure you'd finished all your chores the answer was usually, "Okay" with a reminder about how to behave and when to be back home.
Then you'd rush out the front door to find your friends.
Wait a minute! Do I mean kids actually went out without adult supervision?
We sure did.
As long as the commies didn't drop an atomic bomb that day parents assumed we'd be okay.
Illegal drugs were something the papers reported were becoming a problem back in poorer sections of New York City and molestation was never mentioned in public. Only the children of rich people might get kidnapped and held for ransom and we knew to be careful not to be run over by cars.
Of course we'd often get skinned knees, someone might get a black eye in a fight and once in a while a kid might even fall out of a tree and break a bone, but nobody would get sued because of things like that. They were considered a normal part of growing up.
And we had the advantage of spending hours using our imaginations.
We might pretend to be cowboys and Indians, princesses and knights in shining armor, space explorers, detectives, horses, jungle animals, doctors, parents, or anything else we could think of. Sometimes we'd play games, but those weren't organized by adults and we could change the rules any time we agreed on new ones.
Since today's kids always have adults watching them and are usually in groups with others near the same age it's unusual for them to do pretending play after they enter grade school. For many children, electronic games are the only opportunity they have for using their imaginations.
It's a shame today's kids don't have the kind of freedom we enjoyed.