I remember my childhood to a great extent in terms of riding my bike, rolling down the dunes of Lake Michigan, roller skating on Hessville sidewalks, Mom’s endless supply of Band-Aids, my falling out of trees, bee stings, and playing softball in vacant lots without helmets. We all received scrapes and gallons of Bactine over the years, but not one of my friends was ever killed or even seriously hurt. We were allowed to be inventive in creating our own worlds, like our front porch becoming a spaceship.
We were left to our own devices and imaginations to come up with entertainment that was rigorous at times but I believe also very healthy in allowing us to figure things out for ourselves much of the time. That freedom encouraged creativity, independence, and how to get along with others. We loved being outdoors. I see so many kids now glued to their cellphones or iPads, cheated out of a rich social development that will pass them by right into adulthood with too little social interaction with actual people instead of tiny, restrictive visual screens. I don’t know the answer to this problem (which is a national one), but I hope that there will be a national realization of what has been lost in our descent into becoming a nanny state. Kids do need guidance, and lots of it, but they also need freedom to err and to create their own solutions to life’s problems in actual, face-to-face social venues. JB