Tuesday, July 17, 2007

'Out of Play'

There was a great article in the Montreal Gazette yesterday. In fact, I clipped it out and have re-read it a few times. Even though it isn't anything new, or earth shattering, it is something that is constantly being discussed among parents everywhere.

It's not long. Go ahead, I'll wait...

You can read it here.

And what you just read? I am guilty. I do find that I am a Nervous Nelly when I see them climb (what I think) is too high, or run too fast (in fear of a fall = road rash). I am leaning towards driving them to school and picking them up, for many reasons, but one of those reasons is to protect my 5 year old babies from those nasty, 12 year old bullies, right? They don't need to witness any pre-teen hormonal outbreaks, our sort tempered fist fights, no sir! I am keeping them in a bubble as long as I can.

But is it right?

How else can they learn, figure things out themselves? Same going back to letting them play outside unattended. We aren't in a location that they can do so in the front, there are these things called cars that drive along the street. That is too risky. But they do play alone in the backyard. We are completely fenced in, not cause of the kids, but for the dog. It serves double purpose. They play great outside (usually). I have always been a big supporter of letting them play on their own, since they were just little wee toddlers. Good for them to learn, good for Mommy to have a chance to pee without observers watching way too close.

Last weekend they were climbing on the play structure. Well, rather climbing on top of the structure. My heart stopped at the thought of a tumble and a trip to the ER, x-rays, casts, stitches, so I kindly asked them to get down. They looked at me like I had two heads.

"Daddy lets us."

Mother looks at Father. Eyebrows raised.

Father: It's good for them.

Mother: Broken necks and months in traction is good for them?

Father: No, exploring, climbing, determining their own boundaries, and yes the occasional fall, is good for them.

Mother: (resigning, sighing, walking away) The keys are hanging at the back.

Since then, the Father has skipped town on business, gone for the week. My trusty 16 year old dog walker is also away, working at a camp. So, we buckle down knowing that there isn't someone else to rely on, and we walk the dog. Which in fact, is not a chore, we all seem to like it. Yesterday we went on one of our treks appropriately named, "The Neighbourhood Prowl" which doesn't take us through the park, but rather through the streets in the area, where we meet & greet anyone and everyone who is outside.

It's very hard to stop and visit when your 5 year old partners are running at warp speed along the sidewalk. We used to have the rule that they were only allowed to go as far as the next driveway. Well *Announcement People!* "Daddy let's us go more farther!" So, not only are they at times, like SIX driveways away, I am digging deep into my soul, asking myself to not yell at them to "Slow down! You're gonna fall and get hurt!"' Instead, I take deep breaths, bite my tongue and let them run.




They loved it. We all survived.

But I barely did.


Blogger Marisa said...


I am guilty of everything you state. Our yard is fenced in, the kids do not play alone out front without me or my hubby.

And I am on the fence about the yellow school bus this fall.

So? Do you have a solution for all of us? LOL

12:21 PM EDT  
Blogger DaniGirl said...

Great article! Yes, we're working on this too. Now Tristan rides his bike while I walk the dog, so he's allowed to go about as far up the road as I can see, maybe six or ten houses. He asks for a landmark (blue car, fire hydrant, etc) and must wait there until I arrive, then off to the next one. We've been doing this for more than a year and he still loves it.

At the playground, too, we're working on new limits. He's mastered the monkey bars, and I cringe at some of the places he climbs, but I try not to say anything unless it's truly dangerous. It's so hard!

I have so much more to say - guess I need to blog on this myself!

BTW, I replied to your comment at my place on that thread. The booster seats are at TRU and on sale this week: http://www.toysrus.ca/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/ProductDisplay?storeId=10051&catalogId=10052&langId=-1&productId=103557&N=24+&nvalue=24

1:18 PM EDT  
Blogger BeachMama said...

I will admit I am guilty too. Our yard is fenced and J is welcome to go in and out at his will, as long as he lets me know (so I can make sure the pool is closed up). This summer is really hard for me because I can't do the exploring, etc. that we usually do but I definately try.

I won't let him out front to play on his own because the street just isn't the safest. There are lots of kids but the cars are just too fast and truthfully they aren't paying attention. I have witnessed more near misses than I would like to admit since moving here. For this I really miss our old quiet street.

Thankfully J is not a climber by nature and tests the waters carefully before doing something new. As for saying "Daddy lets me" I say, "well Daddy isn't here, so we will do it my way today." Works so far.

9:43 PM EDT  
Blogger Sharon said...

OH the FEAR! I have some of these. Although I have no Problem letting Nathan go outside and PLAY. But since we don't live in the city and our front and back yard is HUGE he can do whatever he wants inside the area we have fenced for the house. (6 acres) And you've seen our yard. (although soon I'm sure he will be exploring the 100 acres behind the house.

I always panic with him on busy streets and in parking lots he doesn't seem to sense the danger.
Climbing since I wasn't a climber I hate seeing him climb but I keep my mouth shut most times.

Interesting article.

8:52 AM EDT  
Blogger Sharon said...

OH and I'm the one who lets him do more than his father will. LOL

8:53 AM EDT  
Anonymous Brenda said...

Nancy, we were just talking about this sort of thing at Sharon's yesturday! Susan was saying how much more relaxed they are in Europe. CL often went out on her own to her friends house down the street. I try really hard to give Colin freedom to explore...He can go down the road, with me not far behind, he can go in and out of the backyard on his own...for that matter, so can Logan, with the gate on the deck up! I too don't have big climbers, but when they do venture to climb, I watch and remind them to be careful. When we go camping or to Sharon's they have freedom to roam. I know that they are not far and with someone else. I probably don't want to know what they are doing with sticks or climbing trees, digging in the dirt...all I know that that they are always dirty and happy, as I was when I was left to explore as a child! I feel it is a very important part of development.

So I say, let them play!

11:50 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ah, I'm just getting to that stage with my 2-year-old. I'd rather he not go out of my sight when we're out-and-about, but I will let him run as far as he wants as long as I can see him. He was getting frustrated when I set him free at Costco and all he could do was run to the end of the aisles (not that Costco isn't huge to begin with...).

4:22 PM EDT  
Anonymous nene said...

Thanks for your post. No doubt it is a great post, since it’s a matter of every household.

3:15 AM EDT  

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