I was just chatting with Nate, my son, who will be ten next month, and is… alright by my standards, but would like it if there were more kids playing outside than there seem to be. One of the things I most wanted him to experience was playing in the neighborhood with other kids, and having friends and enemies, and coming in at dark, and that sweet summer smell. ..You know?
I was telling him about how when I was a kid we played capture the flag, and other games in the neighborhood, and how it wasn’t always fun, but yet, it’s such formative experience. I’m still in touch with those kids today. Even though I’ve moved from that neighborhood in 7th grade.
It was a meaningful experience outside in a social situation where we play a fun game, we pick on each other, and get picked on, and sometimes go home crying. We stand up for each other and ride bikes. We draw on the road with chalk, or spray paint and play basketball on our friend’s new hoop. We go to the corner store for penny candy.
Our parents don’t decide all of this. These are things we, as kids, decide to do. We decide how to spend our evening, without parents hovering, trying to sign us up for some scheduled activity. Our parents were doing THEIR thing, whatever it was. And it was fine.
Our kids should not be sitting inside. And we parents don’t need to go watch them while they are outside and every minute doesn’t need to be in a structured and supervised environment. How are we going to have movies like “My Girl” if our kids can’t have any experience without our presence?
It makes me sad that my son wants and loves to play around outside, but why would he when there are literally no other kids playing outside right now on Saturday at 6pm on this beautiful day?! It’s heartbreaking, frankly.
So, I’ve decided to seek out other parents in the neighborhood who feel like I do, and see what their kids are up to and if they wanna come out and play.
Even now I can’t post this as an event on NextDoor without having to name the date and time. As if it’s MY decision. As if we need to know so far in advance that our kids might go outside and kick a ball around! Then when I try to post as an “interest”, I have to figure out what box the idea of kids playing outside fits into!
Let us know if you feel this too. Thanks!