What do our kids lose out on when we “protect” them from the world? Here’s a comment on the post from a few days ago, “How dbhiahenbe
Did Your Adventures as a Kid Influence the Person You Are Now?” I would love to hear your stories of childhood’s enduring influence, too. – L
Dear Free-Range Kids: So much of who I am can be traced back to my free range childhood.
For all intents and purposes my grandmother raised me from 6.5 to 14. While I did live with my mother, my grandmother was in charge. My grandmother gave me the 1940-50’s childhood she had given her own children. I was able to walk to school with my brother who was in third grade when in first and when I was in second I could walk myself as there was a crossing guard on the corner. The crossing guard was in sixth grade.
On my seventh birthday I was given a bicycle without training wheels and I was given a four block radius. Shortly after I was given my bicycle I got my first job. I called on my grandmother’s friends and their friends to pick up groceries/prescriptions for them. I was much cheaper than the professional delivery services. I earned between .10 and .50 per delivery. It wasn’t much money, but I did earn enough to no longer get an allowance.
At nine I started doing small chores for my grandmother’s friends and some easy cooking. As I became older and my skills more refined I did even more. Almost every day after school I helped 2-3 of my grandmothers friends. While I was earning some money I also learned skills. I learned basic home repair from people who could tell me how to do things that there bodies were no longer capable of doing. I learned how to cook, crochet, and knit. I learned all about lawns, adjusting lawn mower blades, sharpening them, and even how to use a weed wacker. I attended more funerals than most and learned at a young age the heartache of loss, but the joy of having spent time with people before they past. Taking care of the elderly helped me to have compassion and learn about the real world. As an adult I have volunteered as an EMT and with the Red Cross with a special emphasis on helping the elderly.
I am the mom of a 6 year old. Because of how societal mores have changed I can’t let my daughter walk our neighbors’ dogs, take out their trash, shovel their walkways, pick up their prescriptions. She can’t even go to strangers’ houses to ask if they will buy Girl Scout cookies from her.
If we all start sharing stories like these — and the crime stats that show times are safer today than when we were kids — maybe we CAN give our kids the freedom we loved. If “the child is father of the man,” who wants a father (or mom) who grew up in the backseat of an SUV? – L