Monday, August 10, 2009

Growing Up

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.


Kempton said...

Hi Kevin,

I wish the traditional games could all come back and we can return to a simpler time where young kids can play safely on the street unsupervised. But sadly, a few really bad people changed our world for the worst.

Anonymous said...

Hi Kevin,
I always enjoy the clarity of your newsletter comments. Not everyone in the New Zealand school system has gone the paranoid PC route. At my school pupils play Bullrush (tackle - not the whimpy tag version), climb trees (supposedly to no more than twice their height!), ride unicycles, play tackle rugby, build huts, bring skateboards and skooters to school, go sailing and kayaking, camp out in tents, go skiing, swim in the local river (usually with no parents) and build things like catapults for class projects! And do they love school? You bet! We have people sending their children to our school on purpose because we are not so politically correct. Check out
You are absolutely correct about the need for children to grow up with these experiences.
Kelvin Woodley - Principal

Steve Bennett said...


I agree completely - my wife and I were discussing the same only yesterday. She is a teacher and becomes incresaingly frustrated by what she can and can't show her pupils!

I am not sure if there is a solution, but we are trying to give our kids as much and as many experiences; shared and independent as possible.

Cheers, Steve

Jean Manuel said...

I can't agree with you more. I used to play cowboys and indians with my friends in the Buttes Chaumont park in Paris near my home when I was a kid. We ran on the park's lawns chased by the park's gardiens (they were the indians), we raced on metal wheels rollers on side walks, play Dinky toys (one for several kids) on roads drawn on side walk with chalk, explore friends buildings basements with candles, we entered the garden of a "mysterious" Orthodox church in my neigbourhood pretending we had lost our ball over their wall, etc... Today I try to let my 11 years old boy enjoy some freedom too, but I have to confess that I still keep an eye on him as the news brings us bad stories too often. You're right to say that kids don't grow up behing a computer. Though Wii and other Playstation 3 are part of today's kids' experiences, they are lonely games for most and can't replace playing with kids their age.
Jean Manuel Guyader