Go to Your Room Instead of Go Out and Play
Every now and then you hear something said in a conversation that just bothers you. Something that is said with pure innocence. A young mother telling you that she can’t let her girls go out to play unless she goes with them. It isn’t safe to let a child out in the neighborhood without an adult. If you drove through the apartment complex they live in, you would see a well kept complex, flowers in the yard and decorations on the door. It seems rather peaceful.
Unfortunately it is fine in the daytime, but gets a little rowdy at night. It isn’t a slum or a ghetto, just a small apartment complex. Why does this happen?
In days gone by, when Mom had enough noise in the house, or if she needed to get things done, she would tell her child to go out and play. Now a Mom will tell her child to go to their room. The fear of the child getting abducted or hurt in their own yard is so real that she cannot let them out alone.
When you think of this and then hear some older folks complaining about children being sent to their room for punishment when everything they could possibly want to do is in the room to which they are being sent. Computers, video games and television sets are not uncommon in children’s rooms these days. Is it any wonder that they do not always behave when they are out in public or at school. That socialization that came from playing outdoors with friends doesn’t exist anymore.
Do sociologists and child psychologists notice that the lack of interaction with the neighborhood children will keep a child from socializing well in other settings? Do they realize the harm that parents are doing to their children by having them in baseball leagues instead of a game of stickball in the street outside their home? How about taking off on a pair of roller skates with their very best friend to see who could skate the fastest? A trip to the playground without an adult is pretty rare as well.
Having everything organized by the time they are seven with no need for the imagination to develop is obviously not doing children any good at all.
Once upon a time, you could go to the shoemaker and get a heel to use in a game of hopscotch. If you were lucky, someone would give you a piece of clothesline to use as a jumprope. If there was a building in the neighborhood with steps, the crowd of children would gather with their pink rubber balls and play a game of points. Hide and seek was a favorite in every neighborhood.
You don’t have to live in the past to appreciate its value. The feeling of safety as you walk along the street was rewarding. City dwellers had stoops that welcomed friends and strangers for conversation. Families lived in several apartments in the tenements along the city streets. Others lived in homes in the suburbs. There were no credit cards in most homes. Moms stayed home and took care of the home and family and dad went to work. Kids went to school and weren’t allowed to wear jeans to school. Girls couldn’t wear slacks.
It all seems radical now, but it was conducive to making friends, getting socialized and learning about other people and their way of life. You learned acceptance without prejudice. It isn’t a dream or a fantasy world, it was reality. There weren’t any computers or video games for kids to play with, so they went outside and played games with their friends. If it was a rainy day, they stayed in the house and colored or helped bake cookies with mom.
Was it like this in every town? Probably not. But it was a good life. You could go to the park and play on the swings and have a ball. You didn’t feel endangered. Yes, kids got into trouble. You may come home with a black eye or a tear in your clothing, but there weren’t bullet holes reaching into your body. Your instructions for the city dwellers were to get home before the street lights went on. That was supper time and you sat at a table with your family and ate. You cleaned your plate and helped with the dishes.