Taking Stella to the park the other day I noticed how few kids were out there playing games. Every small kid seemed to be accompanied by their parents and all the adults were on edge checking one another out to make sure there were no pedophiles lurking. In the UK, you can’t even take pictures of kids if other kids are in the picture for fear they will be used perversely. What a tragic set of circumstances.
When I grew up I was outside every day from 8:00am until dark. Playing every ball game imaginable, climbing trees, running around, disrupting girls games of skipping and hopscotch, playing hide ‘n seek, cowboys and Indians, war, tag, jack above, etc., etc. Now all the kids seem to do is be supervised by parents, take no risks, or stay indoors watching dvd’s and video games. This isn’t the way to prepare kids for real life. Kids need to play with other kids. They need to be free without constant adult supervision. They need to express themselves, argue, disagree, compromise, laugh, and let their imaginations run wild. They need to experience adventure and freedom.
The media, government agencies and schools are all to blame. Mamby pambys one and all. They take everything to extremes. They are certainly taking all the fun out of growing up outdoors.
I wish the traditional games could all come back and kids could look after one another. And communities could look after the kids. The Cubs, the Scouts, the Brownies, the Lads Clubs were all great places where we learned about teamwork, about individuality, about decision-making, and about making mistakes. Life is imperfect and so is growing up. It all feels so blanded down to me now. I feel sorry for this generation of kids. We need to bring back exploring, tree climbing, orchard raiding, mischief, independence and the freedom to fall.