Hey Readers — Here’s a query from reader that I’m curious about, too. Weigh in! — L.[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wY2mgrEqjVI]
Dear Free-Range Kids: My name is Stacey Gordon and I have noticed that I never see children doing the things that we did when we were kids. They seem to be supervised at all times and never have any “just kid” time. Nothing seems to be expected of them. It is as though they are treated as infants right up until the time that they are expected to wake up one day and magically become adults… without any practice..I caught a thread in our local neighborhood Yahoo group. Someone was asking if there were any kids that did yard work for summer as they would love to hire one. People fired back answers. One person suggested that kids were spoiled by their parents. Recently, in this same neighborhood, someone called the police when they saw some unsupervised kids IN THEIR OWN YARDS. My response to the thread was along the line of, “If the police are called if children are playing in their own front yard unsupervised, imagine what kind of trouble the parents would be in if they let the kids mow the lawn!” So my curiosity came from this neighborhood conversation..As children, we would hustle for money any chance we got. In the city of Yonkers, on those rare snow days, we’d get out and shovel and help clean off and dig out cars for the folks who had to get to work. They were always grateful and would throw us a few bucks. In summer we would go to the local grocery store (one of many we could walk to) and stand outside and help customers carry their bags to the car for tips. We would later pool our money and go to the local pizza joint and chip in for an entire pizza and a pitcher of soda. If there was money left over we went to the candy store for treats and baseball cards. Making our own money made us feel independent and grown up..It seems that in many locations that children are no longer able to be unsupervised while playing in their own yards. Do kids still do these things? There are no kids (a few infants maybe) in my current neighborhood so I have no way to judge. Does anyone still see children mowing yards for money anymore? By “children” I’m thinking anywhere from age 9 and up. I recall in years past, in the suburban neighborhoods, my cousin and other kids would go door to door soliciting yard work. Would a kid even be allowed to touch a lawn mower now, much less seek gainful employment in the neighborhood? Is it fear on the parents’ part? Is it laziness on the kids’ side? Are kids just spending too much time being scheduled, or playing on computers? What’s the story? – -Stacey, who writes the blog SouthGeek.