Sunday, May 13, 2001

My brother and his garage band, Ed, were playing at a hockey team year-end party this evening. The place they were playing was an acreage of one of the team members, way the hell (now there's a Canadian redneck expression) out southwest of Calgary. I haven't seen my brother play recently (perhaps due to the fact that his band does two, maybe three gigs a year) and so I decided to go take in the event. I talked to his wife about where the gig was being held. After telling where it was, she remarked that she and their 11 year old daughter were going out there. I thought it would be a good idea to take my kids too (Jenn is out of town).

It turned out to be a great idea. The kids that live on the acreage have a swingset, waterguns, a trampoline, bicycles, go karts, dogs, cats, a huge back yard and very, very little parental supervision. Being out on an acreage that is twenty minutes from the secondary highway down a gravel road, you get a sense of seclusion and a feeling of being the only one around for miles. For this reason, I felt free to let my kids run loose with the others, play in the woods, leave my sight for a hour at a time and just wear themselves out in the fresh air.

Kids need the freedom to be kids, and often the paranoia that has crept into parent's lives (which sometimes is justifiable) can throw a wet blanket on the kids' need to be independant and hamper the development of their ability to amuse themselves. In the search for safety for our little charges, parents carefully schedule them into instructor-led activities in controlled, risk-limited environments. Children are handed things, told how to act, where to go, what to use, what not to touch, how to behave, when to speak, and on and on. This can't be good for a child's natural creativity. Having the freedom to run wild for a while probably did them a world of good. I notice that my daughters do get owly if they do not get enough free space and time.

So, when my kids immediately bounded out of the car and headed straight for the gang of kids (all but one they had never met before), it made me wonder if I shouldn't be living in a place just like this. I also wonder how long it would take for them to miss their badminton lessons if they just had the racquets and shuttlecocks in a shed somewhere and could play when they felt they wanted to learn.

Probably be really, really poor high-speed Internet access out there, though, and one looooong commute.

No comments: