reply to post by badgerprints
A star for your post is a lot less than it deserves.
I reckon I'm about your age. I'm a city boy, born and raised in my country's capital, although I have country cousins. The generations that
followed mine had to experience childhood against the backdrop of a civil war and an increasingly militarized and security-conscious society. The
fashion for overparenting (we follow the West in such matters, though we revile it so; both are colonial hangovers) was grafted on to a community in
which walls were going up all over the place, while suicide bombers and abduction squads were real and present dangers. It's years since you saw kids
playing in the streets in my city.
I remember what it was like before that, for my generation and those that preceded us. My memories are similar to yours, badgerprints, in several
points. Neighbourhoods were communities, people interacted socially with each other, thought nothing of marching into one another's homes to borrow a
screwdriver or pass on the latest gossip. We children were tasked to a strict routine of school, chores and social good behaviour, from which we
escaped often and successfully, because our parents - and even our teachers - couldn't be fussed to watch our every move. A little neglect, a chance
to learn to cope with the world by having a few of our rougher corners knocked off by it, was thought to be advisable.
So we played on our quiet residential streets in the afternoons when school was done, dashing about in the blazing sun while our elders kept prudently
indoors, in the shade. We climbed trees and fell out of them, played cricket on the streets, acquired luridly bloody injuries that horrified and
angered our mothers when we limped home with them, and generally had the time of our lives. We learnt all about human interaction from the best and
most appropriate tutors of all--our peers.
To this day I know the city of my birth (population about two and a half million, though it was probably about a million when I was a boy) like the
back of my hand, because as a thirteen- and fourteen-year-old I covered most of it on a bicycle with my friends. We'd also ride far into the country
to fish or explore or (for some of us, not for me) hunt. I never had a .22 rifle, though I coveted one for a while. What cured me was shooting a crow
with a friend's. We considered them pests--still do. I hit the bird. It fell to the ground in a clatter of feathers. I walked up to it. It was dead.
I realized what I had done and made a vow never to do it again. But I'm rambling.
Anyway, my point--most of our growing-up is done, not at home, but out in the world amongst our contemporaries. This is where we learn the social and
other skills we need to function successfully as adults. School supplies a lot of this, but not all of it and certainly not enough.
I had some hard knocks as a boy. We all did. We survived. Most of us made it--there was a boy two classes below me in school who drowned in a boat
accident, and the little brother of a friend who narrowly missed being struck by lightning only to be crushed to death by a tree felled by the bolt.
But that sort of thing could happen in spite of the closest parental supervision. Far worse than the physical dangers of independence was the frequent
and much-resented imposition of corporal punishment, a regular feature of childhood for boys of my generation. In this, at least, the new world is
better than the old; we no longer think it right to socialize our children by beating them.
Somebody further up the thread was talking about putting paedophile's heads on sticks. Nobody likes a paedophile, but some people can't help
themselves, and there are surely better ways to deal with that than killing them. In my youthful world, we knew all about paedophiles--at least the
poor sad single ones who tried hopelessly to entice us into their uninviting embraces; the ones who practised their paedophilia at home on their sons
and daughters were another story entirely--and thought them somewhat of a joke, though a horrifying one. The local would-be perps were well known, and
we all knew well enough not to fraternize with strangers (in my strange land it was not unkown for children to be kidnapped and sold into slavery, so
paedophiles were, if anything, a lesser danger). Knowing all about kiddy-fiddlers was part of an early and highly vernacular education in sex. We
learnt about sex from our contemporaries, and we learnt early. Not the best way, you might argue--certainly, there's much to be said for early,
institutionalized sex education--but at least it meant that we were alive to all these dangers.
I wish the world, for children, was more like the one I grew up in. The history I've lived through, however, makes it impossible for me not to
realize that the world has changed, and children can no longer be raised the same way my contemporaries and I were, because that upbringing is not
appropriate for the environment we live in today. All the same, I think it's best for children to be left to their own devices as far as possible. In
this I have the loving endorsement of the mother of five absolutely marvellous children presently ranging in age from eight to twenty, who once, in my
hearing, told an inexperienced and overprotective young matron who was running herself ragged after her toddler, 'Let them hurt themselves. It's
good for them.'
I couldn't agree more. All the same, I hope there's no 'backlash against overparenting'. A generation brought up in complete neglect will have its
own problems, of that you may be sure.
Great subject, tothetenthpower. Kudos, star and flag.