Saturday, October 15, 2011

Free Play

"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.


Jan Cline said...

Ah yes, I remember those carefree days. Didn't have to worry about predators. It's a shame to have lost that security.

Janet Ann Collins said...

Thanks, Jan. Maybe someday things will turn around again.

Anonymous said...

I remember playing Red Rover, Tag, Hopscotch and riding our bicycles down the dirt road. Neighbors knew each other. Adults watched out for kids. There wasn't the worry there is today.

Janet Ann Collins said...

Thanks, Susanne.

terri.forehand said...

I understand the security of today but I think it is so sad that kids don't seem to use their imaginations like we did as children. They also don't make things with their hands like we did, glue, glitter, paper and round tip scissors, buttons, yarn,... well you get the idea. I still let my grandkids make a mess with craft stuff in an attempt to show them something other then video games. Thanks for the post, it makes me realize how old I am.

Janet Ann Collins said...

I agree, Terri. But being old isn't so bad when you consider the alternative. ;-) And kids are lucky who have grandparents like you who encourage creativity.