A Different Time

The rules of play were simple. Stay on my street. Come home in time for dinner. Don’t go in anyone’s house without Mom’s permission. It was easy. I played and had a wonderful time. I have the scars on my knees to prove it.

Simone and Nadia can’t do that. They don’t play in the yard or knock on a neighbor’s door and ask if the children inside can come out to play. It’s a different time.

The other night while driving home, I found myself all stressed out about what to do with the girls on the weekend. We have a series of activities we participate in as a family. Simone, though, has started asking to go to a friend’s home or to have someone come over to our house.  I feel more comfortable with someone coming to our house. Besides, whether it’s two girls or four girls or six girls, it’s all the same giggle fest to me. I understand the girls want to play with folks other than Mommy and Daddy, so I sent notes inviting two little girls to play at our house. We haven’t heard anything yet.

As I drove home, some of those anxious childhood feelings surfaced. Will the parents call? Will the parents feel comfortable coming to our home? Will the children have fun? I cannot turn back the clock to my childhood, a time when children played until dinnertime. I know I shouldn’t worry about these things. They always work out. All I can do is look over my shoulder at a time when parents didn’t have to do this, when we didn’t have to schedule play dates.

  • I wasn’t allowed to have play dates when I was a little kid, b/c my mother didn’t believe in taking an invite w/o reciprocation and she didn’t want to reciprocate b/c she wasn’t a huge fan of other people’s children. So imo, Betty is super lucky to be born into a world of playdates.

    I want to agree with you about missing the olden times, but I don’t know if I got that much out of playing with neighborhood kids. It was fun, but no more fun than say, spending time with my parents or going to daycare (which I loved). So I really don’t feel like Betty will be missing out on much.

    In fact, I think kids today are so much luckier. I didn’t get to spend near this much quality time with my parents when I was little.

  • I have no children. I may change my mind about this if/when I get some….but I remember reading a story in the Washington Post about this that basically said that, like with school shootings, the numbers of missing/abducted children have not increased over the years, our awareness of it has increased. (I hunted for the story but can’t remember enough buzz words to pull it up). I don’t want to live in a world where I am afraid. I don’t want to raise my children to be afraid. Many many kids are fat and unhealthy today because they aren’t allowed to run outside and play.

    And, I want to point out, again, that it’s interesting that you don’t trust other people enough to let your children go to their homes, but expect other people to trust you enough to send their children to yours. Think about that.

    • Yes, there is a movement afoot to let our children have more independence. The movement has a book and everything.

      We let the girls run around, but we always witness this running around. They also take swimming lessons. And yes, I know you weren’t talking about my kids.

      I also would like to point out that I am not totally averse to letting the girls stay at someone’s home. I just haven’t met a family I trust. I need to know folks pretty well to do that. There were folks in my previous neighborhood who I could trust. I just don’t have that here.

  • You’re right, it’s a very different time. I can’t imagine letting my kids have free run of the neighborhood the way I did when I was just a little older than they are now. I find their playdates have to be scheduled out weeks in advance. It makes me kind of sad.

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