Dear Free-Range Kids: I wanted to share this experience, because it was eye-opening for me.
I agreed to participate in a Field Trip today with my 2 and 1/2 year old’s Day Care. We loaded about 45 toddlers into a bus and headed off to one of these indoor play-centres that are all the rage these days in Montreal, were the super-long winters put a premium on indoor play space.
As soon as we got there, I realized right away we’d come to Worst First Play Centre of Gloom. The very first thing the dour, cheerless playcentre staff did was make our 45 toddlers sit down and go through a long, excitement-sapping safety briefing explaining all the fun things they wouldn’t be allowed to do inside: no running, no throwing balls at each other, no excitement. You could feel the cheer just drain out of the room.
But I noticed one thing: our Day Care staff were shooting sly glances at one another the whole time. Glances that said “shaaa right!” Our kid goes to a wonderful, play-centered Day Care that was certainly not about to let this arbitrary rule-making get in the way of everyone’s fun. To my enormous relief, I realized what their game-plan was: the second the kids were let in, the Day Care staff let the kids go wild!
And that’s when it hit me: if your values are in the right place and you’re confident enough to follow them through, you can just flout the dumb rules and stand up for kids’ right to play.
Our kid had a blast. Everyone did! Nobody got hurt. Nobody was going to get hurt! And faced with the overwhelming facts-on-the-ground of 45 kids and 12 adults running riot through their playground, the Soviet-style staff sort of slunk off into a corner and didn’t say anything. What could they do? We had strength in numbers, and we made it count. — Montreal Dad