Friday, December 3, 2010


Last night we read one of our Christmas stories, Dick and Jane: A Christmas Story. It's a charming little book. I love the illlustrations and getting a glimpse into the 50's (I wish I grew up in the 50's!) My mom gave it to Boo last Christmas, and it's so fun that she can read all the words now.

So, we were reading these pages -

Then Yaks interrupted, "But Mom, who's watching the kids?" I wasn't sure what he meant, so I said, "Well, that boy ice skating there is maybe watching them." Then he said, "But where is their mommy or daddy to watch them?" Then I realized what he meant. Kids don't play much outside anymore without a mommy or a daddy closely supervising them, much less allowing them to go alone to the local pond to go ice skating! I felt really sad that this is our reality.

Colorado winter sometime in the 80's (James, Tim & Andy).
Notice the drifts are so high, they can easily see over the neighbor's fence!

Yaks and Boo and Diddles might never know what it's like to run all around the neighborhood with their friends in the summer having water gun wars, or building a snow fort in the middle of their cul-de-sac, or having lunch at their friends' house in the summer, because they just happened to be outside that friends' house when she called, "lunch time!" Do you have similar memories, friends? I wonder if they will know what it's like to do their chores and then play outside for the entire day, with the only rule being, "be home by dark!" They probably won't be able to go to the local park or pool by themselves like I used to. Things are different now, aren't they? We have to worry about child abductions and getting hit by cars or getting hit by bullets (not in our town, but in some towns)! We worry about kids getting hurt by older, bigger kids, or being offered drugs, or getting into trouble with said friends. It's just not really done anymore - unsupervised play, unless you count your fenced backyard. Imagine if I just let my kids run around the neighborhood? I think they'd call DCFS for child neglect.

A few months ago I took Diddles to her well child checkup, and he told me that they are now recommending kids to have Vitamin D supplements. I kind of laughed and told him that Diddles drinks A LOT of Vitamin D milk, and he said that wasn't enough. "Kids just don't get outside as much as they used to. They aren't getting the vitamins from sunshine that they need." (This coupled with the fact that we live pretty far North, and the sun isn't out as long) Isn't that tragic?

I look forward to a day when we can confidently let our kids play wherever and whenever, without worrying for their safety. Until then, the least I can do is try to bake like this 50's mother. Just look at her calm smile - a dress, heels, makeup, serving cookies and hot chocolate to her pristine and well-behaved children!? Mother is probably able to get so much done because the kids are outside playing all day, and the kids are probably happily exhausted from playing outside all day. It's so lovely (sigh). Even the dog and cat get along! Ha, ha.

Happy Holidays, Mother!


Dianna said...

Oh, what a flashback! I love the Dick and Jane books. I was going to say that even the cat and the dog look perfect, but you beat me to it. Another issue of our modern times is that even if our kids spend more time outside we have to worry about sunscreen so they don't get skin cancer. Oh well . . .

Liz said...

Yes, we have lots of memories of free play in our neighborhood. Amazing how fast things can change!

Mary Jane said...

My kids love when we go to Spring City to visit, because I let them go to the playground a block away without any supervision. I do send them with my cell phone, just in case they need me. I do miss those times.

Nicole said...

we had massive neighborhood night games growing up. And we rode our bikes all over. We cut through yards, sledding on neighbors hills while they were at work, and built forts in the empty field behind our house and in the "woods". We could even walk to the busstop alone. When my kids rode the bus the only reason I got off being the only parent not at the busstop was because it was in our front yard! Everyone else had a parent there waiting to get them on and most of the time off the bus.