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Virtual Playground

comeoutandplay.jpgSimon is away at camp this week and over the last two days I've received two calls asking if he can come on-line to play World of Warcraft. And I realized, no one ever knocks on our door and asks if Simon can come outside to play.

It's not that he never goes out to play, but it's always scheduled or people call. No one just shows up at the door and asks, "Can Simon come out and play?"

Is this the new norm?


Probably. I bet it depends on your neighborhood. Our new one is very small and well-defined, w/o a lot of traffic, so I can see, one day, having kids show up at the door. But if there were a great deal of traffic, or if I deemed it unsafe in other ways, I don't think I'd let my kids just walk to another house. Plus, a lot of us (myself included) were brought up to never just "drop in"--we were told to always call first.
Brett used to ride his bike all through the country roads of Delaware Co., all by himself, but that would scare me today--I've seen how people drive on those roads, and bike helmets are not much protection. Also, for better or worse, and probably thanks to the media, we know all of the horrible things that happen to children--all the molestations, all the abductions, all the accidents, all the psychos...and it makes us more careful (in my case, ok, paranoid). But when a 12 yr old, who should be perfectly capable of doing many things independently, can be abducted from a bus stop, or while riding a bike, why take chances?
This reminds me of an incident a few weeks ago. I have been reading the "Ramona" books to the kids, and in one of them, 5 yr old Ramona gets to walk to kindergarten all by herself. This book was written in the 60's, and I was amazed, both that parents would let such a young child do that, and that things have changed so much. That week, I was in WalMart, in the middle of checking out, and of course, Katie decided she had to go to the bathroom, "really bad." I could kind of see the bathrooms from where we were, so I let her go with her 5 yr old friend, Tori, telling them to hold hands and stay together. The second they left, I felt like I had made a huge mistake. I assumed no woman would molest them in the bathroom (would I have let my sons go--no way!), but I had not considered that someone might bother them on the way or the way back. So, I told my mom later, "Mrs. Quimby" could let her 5 yr old walk blocks to school alone, and I was afraid to let mine go to the bathroom with a friend?My mom (who works w/ child protection, then enlightened me as to how women molesters operate--so now I worry abt that, too!)) And we live in a small city--it's not Chicago.....There are lots of new norms, it seems.

At least if they play with the Wii they are moving.

When I was a kid I had to use my imagination, but most of my friends had to as well. We didn't have video games and we only had 5 tv channels.

Today, the kids who are steered toward imagination will someday rule the world.

I feel all nonstalgic for the days when Yang and I would frolic in Keene's Creek and try to "get lost" in the woods.

I feel all nostalgic for the days when Yang and I would frolic in Keene's Creek and try to "get lost" in the woods.

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