Mae's Real Stories

Memories for Miriam, Alice, Theo, Delia, Tessa and anyone else who would like to be here

Monday, August 25, 2008


"Go outside and play"

When we were all children, one thing we often did -- even before we were old enough for kindergarten -- was to go outside and play. Both Elaine and I have written about this one way or another.

Most summer days, we went out and looked for some other neighborhood kids, and played somewhere on our street until it was time to eat. Arny played monopoly at the Rosens' house. for hours. After dinner sometimes all the kids on the block -- and there were a lot of us -- would play hide and seek, or ride bikes until dark. Our mothers would go out on the porch and yell our names if they wanted us to come home, and if we heard them, we repeated the kid's name and yelled "your mother's calling." If Arny or Elaine were indoors playing across the street, our mother would send me to get them. We knew how far we were allowed to go, and what time to come back. Later Evelyn did the same: she played with her friends Robin and Lissa.

When kids went to kindergarten, they learned to walk home alone or with friends. I walked with my friend Judy after a day or two of my mother walking me (with Elaine in a stroller). When she was five, Evelyn quickly caught on to how to walk from morning kindergarten at Burns Park School to her afternoon daycare. In cities all over the country 30 to 60 years ago, even very small children walked or took buses and subways all by themselves.

Now children don't go anywhere by themselves very much. There are a lot of reasons, and parents think it's better to drive their children to elementary school and activities. They have play dates instead of just going outside to see who's around and wants to do something.

Well, recently, a lady in New York let her 9 year old son go on the subway by himself. She gave him a pass and some money, and he got home just fine. Then she wrote an article about how well he did, and how much he enjoyed himself. But a lot of people said children should never do this any more. My adult readers should read this article about it in the L.A.Times.

In disagreement, Evelyn emailed this:
Actually, unlike I used to think, I now disagree with the blog posting. These things work if you want them to, but I think a lot of people don't want to have their kids go out to play. ...

I'm not sure such small changes, and one extra year of parental surveillance, is worth getting upset about. It's ... not so bad as they like to make it out to be. In big cities, it's different, but in suburban neighborhoods, I'm not so sure that it's such a drastic difference. Maybe I'll rethink this again in another year or two, but right now, I'm convinced that things are the same as they ever were.

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