Friday, June 12, 2009

The Good 'Ol Summer Time

Now that the kids are out of school I’ve been thinking back to my own childhood summers. Pre-Wii, pre-game computer, pre-cell phone. Ahh, so old school.  

I would spring out of bed, chow down a bowl of Cheerios sprinkled with four tablespoons of sugar and blast out the door. I showed back up for lunch and dinner and then played until the streetlight on Clifton Avenue came on.  

I dragged my feet going downhill on my Big Wheel so I could get holes in my sneakers and get a new pair. (sorry Mom)  A friend and I built a go-cart so we could run over our siblings.  We sneaked behind the house, lit drinking straws with a lifted lighter and smeared the melting plastic on the wood fence.  I threw fistfuls of pebbles into the air conditioner fan. (Sorry Dad)

All this without adult supervision. I didn’t wear a helmet, I walked to and from school and I probably ran with scissors. And I turned out fine. Sort of.

All this reminiscing made me look at how I’m raising my own hooligans. Am I too protective? Am I letting them have the freedom to explore that is the right of all kiddos? 

Sometimes I worry I may be a victim of the 24-hours-a-day-culture-of-fear-news-cycle phenomenon. Its hard not to think something horrible will happen to your child when the media reports ad nauseum about every child tragedy no matter where in the world it happens. I always joke that if anyone ever did snatch one of my kids they would give him back after 20 minutes.

I like to think I’m not totally irresponsible. I have a GPS locked on the car my 16 year old is driving. And his cell phone. Of course he doesn’t know that.  I still make Tim or Matthew accompany Christopher to public bathrooms. Matthew finally clued in to why I insist on this when they went to the bathroom at the downtown library and found a homeless man bathing in the sink. Then again the first time the older two decided they could dash off to the bathroom without me was at the baggage claim at JFK.  

So I’ve come to a decision about the summer. I will let my kids be free range. Like chickens. They should swing on the swings at Lakewood Elementary, they should walk to their friend’s houses half way across the ‘hood, they should wade in the creek. (Snakes! What an adventure!)  I’m only a cell phone call away. They will have to ask if they can change plans or locations.  They must check in every hour. 

So we’ll see how it goes.  Hopefully our air conditioner fan is tougher than the one my parents had.


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