Tuesday, May 29, 2012

sheltered kids?

I was reading another blog this morning and it occurred to me the many things I did as a kid (that were never a big deal then), that I would never let my kid do now.  Then I wonder if what we did was really as bad as it seems or are we just too protective of our kids now.  Let me name a few:

1.  I stayed home with my brother after school starting at age 10 1/2.  He was 8.  We came home on the bus and stayed there until my mom got home around 5.  I started dinner and did laundry and we watched a lot of tv. 

Just this year we have let my oldest daughter stay home after school by herself.  She was 12 in November.  It was a big deal.  She does not start dinner but will do laundry if I remind her.  There is no way in hell I would let the other two come home with her. 

2.  At age 11 ish I would ride to the store on my bike, with my dog, to get soda or whatever for my mother.  The store was 2 miles away and I had to ride down a very busy road that actually had a Route number vs. just a street name.  I have no idea how I didn't get killed or how my dog didn't get run over.  No helmet, of course.  I would also ride to school (same distance) and to a local pool to swim all day.  (with no parent and no lifeguard)

Strangely, this is the same parent who wouldn't let me ride to a different store on a safer route to watch the kids play a video game.  Go figure.

My kids would never bike to school which is about the same distance as what I used to bike.  And there aren't even any major routes to travel on, they are all roads--but people drive like jackasses and there isn't any shoulder to speak of.  Biking to school is unheard of these days.  No wonder everyone is overweight and unhealthy.....

3.  I climbed Mt. Katahdin with a friend of mine when we were sophomores in high school.  I know we were this age because she had just gotten her license and could drive.  We packed a lunch with soda and water in a back pack and off we went. 

Go ahead.  Google Mt. Katahdin and see what you come up with.  See how really crazy this actually was.  We had no cell phones, (they didn't exist), no GPS, no means of staying overnight if we got lost, no real plan--nothing.  Just hopped in the car and went.  Turns out we went up the trail you are supposed to come down and thus went down the trail you are supposed to go up.  How we didn't fall on the way down and break an ankle, I have no idea.  And a Mt. Katahdin climb is an all day affair.  Like from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.  People die up there.  No way in hell would I let my high school aged kid do that now without some adult present.  Crazy.  Yet we were fine.

4.  I played sports every season and living out in the middle of nowhere, we often had away games that were 2 hours away.  During basketball season, this would mean that we wouldn't get home until 11:00 at night sometimes.  Sometimes the bus would drive by my house and drop me off, but mostly the bus brought us all to the high school.  I would then walk home, at night, in the dark, often alone.  Granted, we lived 4 blocks from the high school, but still!  11:00 at night??  Alone?  Yet, it really was no big deal as we all were doing it unless you had a car.  Which I did not.

5.  I remember one or two times during Christmas season that my mother would drop us off at a movie (again aged 11ish) to watch while she went shopping for our presents.  An 11 and a 9 year old.  At the movies.  Alone.  Unheard of in this day.  In fact, someone would probably call the police on you.

6.  Again, around age 11 or 12 (this all happened before I moved to another school during 7th grade so I remember the age pretty well), during days off--I'm guessing a teacher service day--we would walk the mile to the bus stop, take the city bus into Bangor (which is a pretty big city in Maine), go to the Bangor Public Library, visit at the library for a couple of hours and then take the bus back home.  Again.  Alone.  C. R. A. Z. Y.

I swear, we were perfect bait for child predators.  Perfect.

Which brings me to my next question--are we too over protective of our kids these days?  Or have times really changed and we need to be this way?  It's hard to know when to let kids have freedom and when to keep them nearby.

Do you have any crazy stories from when you were a kid that you would never let your kid do now?

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Haley @ Climb Run Lift Mom said...

I lived way out in the boondocks growing up, so riding bikes to school was never an option. But I'm terrified to let my kids ride w/o me (granted they are only 4&6 but still, no idea when/if I'd ever let them). But my sisters and I would ride our rides gosh... probably at least 3 miles to the small country store for ice cream and back home in the summer all the time, there was also a lake 7 ish miles from our house we used to ride our bikes to too. Can't imagine ever letting my kids do that.

I think we are way too over-protective of our kids as a whole these days, but society has changed and it's almost a necessity now. There's way more dangers out there now. I

Bobbi said...

That's funny... I was just reminiscing with my brothers and sisters the other day and thought this very same thing. In the summertime, we used to leave the house by 9a.m. to go to the municipal pool for swim lessons, then went next door to the high school where they held 'Arts & Crafts', hit the playground and checked out board games from the rec dept.("Addie" or Mancala was a favorite :))... then back to the pool for the afternoon open swim. Then we took off to anywhere else in town....playing hide and seek at a friend's house or riding bikes down the "dump road". The only requirement was that we be home by the time the street lights came on. When was that? 8:30p??! This was 2nd thru 5th grade! I don't remember even having to be home for dinner.

And I can attest to the walking home after ball games late at night.. and Mt. Katahdin is easily a 9-10 hour hike if you are in shape :) Love the town and the era we grew up in. Great memories! But no way ever would I let my kids do the things I did!! haha

Sian L. said...

Hi Michelle!
I can relate to your post. Get this: when I was 16, my parents let me fly to Los Angeles with two of my friends (also 16) to "hang out" for a week. We stayed with my friend's grandmother but tooled around by ourselves (took the bus everywhere, went to a Dodgers game, when to UCLA/Rodeo Drive area, etc.) I'd never let my girls do that!


Kara said...

You know, I might be overprotective of my kids, but if I look back on something I did and think "THAT was stupid" I can't help but not let my kid do the same thing :)

Terzah said...

I tried to comment on this post last week, but something stupid with my work computer ate my whole comment and I was then sidetracked...

I think about this all the time, and it's really an inner battle for me. I want my kids to be able to go to the park alone, like, NEXT YEAR (when they are six). I am big believer in "free range kids." I think we ARE too protective of our kids, and all the data suggest that the world is actually SAFER than it was in terms of crime--but you'd never know it because the media is so all pervasive now and every horror story involving kids gets top billing.

So there's so much peer pressure going the other way. Just the other day my husband got in trouble with some well-meaning people because our two five-year-olds were left alone in the car at the grocery store for five measly minutes. What if they had called the police?? Geez.