Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Should little kids play outdoors?

The general agreement seems to be that they should not, although we did.

When I was a little kid, I played outdoors whenever I wasn't at school or asleep. I used to play in the snow until my fingers and toes turned to ice and my clothing was drenched, then come indoors, stand over the hot air register and cook myself--and then out again.

Every season had its games. There was hopscotch, jump ropes, jacks (for us girls). Both boys and girls played marbles. There were paper airplanes. Some of the more sophisticated boys made airplanes out of kits and flew them. Or we played tag, or hide and seek. Hide and seek was most fun when it was growing dark and the mothers started calling everyone in. Some of the older boys played touch football or baseball in the street. The games broke for cars.

When I had no one to play with, I would take long walks to see if other, unknown neighborhoods were more interesting than ours. They were, because I had never been to them before.

My mother used to give me money to go to the drugstore at the end of our block and have an ice cream. Sometimes she sent me on errands to the drugstore.

Downtown was exciting because forbidden. But we had a way around this. I told my parents the other kid's parents were driving us, and she did the same, and we rode the bus. I loved the bus.

When I learned to ride my bike, I rode, with friends or alone, as far as I could go.

When I became nine or ten, I became a bookworm and preferred to stay indoors and read. My grandmother had no patience with this. She thought reading during daylight hours was sinful, somehow. You should be outdoors, or go clean your room.

I am so glad I experienced this freedom. Kids nowadays are hothouse plants. I feel sorry for them.

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