Friday, September 5, 2008

Go Outside and Play - And don't come home 'til dinner!

Just read a great Ed Op piece in the LA Times from May 2008 regarding the Olden Days (pre-1980's)...

You know, the days when kids went
outside to play and weren't being hovered over by adults every single waking moment?

Here are the links (
Thx to @phatmommy for tweeting):

Remember Go Outside and Play?



Growing up in sunny Southern CA in the 1970's, we ran in age/grade related
packs around the neighborhood. We climbed trees (see pic of my daughter in the same cork tree I climbed when I was a kid). We rode our bikes everywhere, without helmets! We skated & skateboarded, bounced on trampolines, played "Kick the Can" or Flag Football - barefoot. For hours!

In the summer, our mothers all but pushed out the front door & said,
"Don't come home til dinner!" We'd take the city bus to Orange County beaches and be there ALL day, without sunscreen. When we went on our marathon family road trips, we all piled in the backseat of giant American-made family cars, sans car seats or seat belts (gasp!). We swam, ran, collected tadpoles from the gutters, played in the rain, climbed on the Jungle Gyms, rarely watched television, took piano lessons, played soccer, danced, made "forts" from boxes & blankets, etc. all without constant direction or scrutiny from our parents.

There were also no rigid schedules to adhere to each day. No insane academic pressures with mounds of books & homework each night (at least not in elementary school). We were disciplined when we acted inappropriately, and not just by our parents. Our neighbors had "permission" to scold us too & would march us straight home to mom by the scruff of our necks when we did something that wasn't socially acceptable.

Don't get me wrong. I'm quite sure my mother "worried" about us (it's what mothers DO). It just wasn't the same kind of worry you see parents consumed with today... about pedophiles and car accidents, severe injuries from falling out of a tree, or stepping on a nail. About whether or not their kids will get into the "best" preschools, let alone the "best" colleges. Or worse, worrying about what other people will think if you actually dare to say "NO!" to your own child. And btw, I'm often guilty of this too, so I'm not pointing any fingers here!

It was just nice to be reminded that maybe, just maybe, it's really okay to let our kids be kids.

At the very least, they ought to go outside and play!

What do YOU remember about being a kid? How do you "let go" when it comes to your own kids going outside to play?


Deb said...

Great post! I totally remember being told to go outside and play. We lived in a small community where everyone was like an adopted aunt, uncle or grandparent. Mom never worried about where I was and when dinner time came she walked outside and yelled my name. And you knew better then not rushing home when you heard your name!

Anonymous said...

I think it's fear generated by all the information we have now. We hear about every bad thing that happens no matter where it is and I think it forces us parents to be over protective.

I doubt that the number of bad things that happens to kids has grown significantly in the last years, it's just that we hear about ALL of them!

But I'm the same way with my daughter(not so much with my son) which, of course, she says is sexist and I guess it is. Darn 15 year old girls!

I blame right-wing republicans for no real reason.

The street lights just came on, I have to go home for dinner before my mom kills me.