I just finished reading a “make-you-think” article in the March issue of The Atlantic Monthly , The Overprotected Kid by Hanna Rosin. It’s about today’s preoccupation with safety, stripping away the opportunities for our children to be more independent, take some risks and make discoveries on their own.
The author writes about how much childhood norms have changed in just one generation. Many of our present day parents’ most delightful memories of their own childhood are not options any longer for their own kids.
The children of just a generation ago were able to enjoy more freedom, more independence, create more adventures without supervision than those of today. Now children are seldom without adult observance, without adults organizing and directing their activities. Missing is the chance for these kids to invent their own play, to make the rules, be daring in their own right, to zoom around on their bikes, to jump off swings, to build huts and climb trees.
Rosin says it’s while facing these reasonable challenges and recognizing one’s ability and readiness to handle them on one’s own, that a sense of competence and confidence develops.
This is food for thought for sure.
On Thursday evening, my husband and I sat at the La Crosse airport around 8:30 PM waiting for an incoming flight to arrive. We got there early and the Terminal was absolutely empty with the exception of a mom and her two children, and an occasional passing by of a cleaning person.
The family was on the second floor, the mom watching the sky for any sight of the incoming plane. The two children, a boy around ten and a girl around seven were entertaining themselves playing on the escalators.
Now I know there are many legitimate warnings out there to be careful on the escalators. And I have to admit my initial reaction to seeing these children scampering around on them gave me pause. But as I watched, I could sense their ability, their fascination, their concentration, and their confidence.
They sprinted down them and up them. They crouched low going down, stood on one foot, they sat backwards, they sat sideways, they went up three steps and jumped off.
As I said, all was completely quiet in the terminal. There was no one to view this show. For the children were not performing for anybody. They were lost in their own concentration, their own exhilaration, their own body prowess, and their own success.
Now I don’t believe we should let our children loose to perform daring antics on escalators across the country. This was a particular time, however, that worked for these energetic , competent, well-coordinated youngsters, who took this long wait they had, and made it into something for themselves – that I’m sure will be a memory that they won’t forget.
“Remember the night we went to pick up Dad at the airport and got to play on the escalators?” will probably be repeated many times over the years.
Think back – what escapade do you remember doing as a child that you will never forget?