I read an article recently about a child playing in their fenced backyard. The neighbour saw them and called Child Protective Services (CPS) because the parent was not in sight. I read another about a 15 year old boy playing basketball in the driveway. He had returned home after school and his parents were at work so again the neighbour called CPS. In both cases the children were removed from the home for a period of a few months while investigations were conducted.
What The Fuck?
I was one of the lucky ones. I grew up in the 90’s before cell phones and tablets. There was no internet until I was teenager and that was dial-up. We played street hockey and basketball. We ran wild up and down the streets and no one worried about us being alone.
Maybe it was because I grew up in such a small town. We learned about stranger danger but their weren’t very many strangers in a town of 3,000 (or less). We used empty lots full of bushes and trails to have games of tag and man-hunter with every child on the street. Parents and other adults occasionally looked out the window for us but didn’t worry if we weren’t seen. We’d come home when we were hungry.
We walked through trails in the woods to go across town to a friend’s house and thought only of bears and cougars, not nosy neighbours. We left school grounds to walk down town for lunch. We stayed out late and never had a cellphone to call and check in.
We swam in the river and the ocean. We floated lazy days away on tubes and then walked home. We made rope swings and hoped the water was deep enough. We climbed rocks to dive from and we never worried that someone would think our parents unfit.
We didn’t travel far when I was a child but we travelled a lot. My dad played baseball and in the Spring and Summer we would go to tournaments on weekends. Sometimes we stayed in hotels. Other times we camped in the woods. We slept in the tent or in the back of the pick up. We learned to keep our selves safe from animals.
Sometimes we went on family trips with our aunts, uncles, and cousins. We had a cabin on the lake. There was a generator for the lights at night. Other than that it was off the grid. We spent our days swimming and sun tanning. We took water skied and played cards. We read books and played board games. We walked 16km to the Ice Cream store.
One summer we rented a house boat. We jumped off the side and slid down the slide. We docked for days on dry land or rented jet skis for fun.
My childhood was loving and supportive. I had freedoms that seem to be shrinking for children today. I can’t imagine being taken away from my home all because my parents let me play outside.