Thursday, July 4, 2013

This Childhood Is Supervised

I was born in a different time.  A more innocent time, some would say.  It was the middle of the sixties, and we moved often, as military families did.  I spent some of my early years on my grandparent's farm while my dad was in Viet Nam and Korea, playing with my aunt and uncle and getting into mischief once I could walk.  I threw corn cobs at the hogs.  I went swimming in the oat bin.  I wandered about in the cornfield.  I sort of had supervision, but not too much.  Everyone able-bodied was busy, just like on most farms. 

Then we moved to El Paso, and it was time for me to start public school.  First grade.  I was six, and I walked to school.  By myself.  It wasn't far, but every school day, I was left unsupervised while I walked between the school and my home.  One day I found some wild onions on my travels, and ate them. They smelled good, and I was hungry. I am not sure why, but my parents rushed me to the emergency room. Then I got a spanking for eating things not served up on a plate.  The next day, however, found me walking to school.  By myself.  

Most of my childhood was unsupervised.  My brother and I were left to our own devices for hours, especially during the summer.  Most of the time we played together, but not always.  My mom usually didn't even check up on us, except if it was lunchtime.  Then she might open the window and holler at us.  She certainly wasn't the only parent who did this; all our friends had parents who saw not a thing wrong with sending their children to play outside all day without any adult supervision. 

Consequently, there were shenanigans. Such as:

The time we all decided that a neighbor's VW Beetle made a perfect waterslide. 

The time I took the neighbor boy on walkabout and we were found a couple of miles away by the military police(and I peed in their backseat on the way home). 

The time we found a homemade marijuana pipe in the bushes next to where the helicopters landed.

The time some boys put my brother in a box and buried him in the sandbox, then went for an extended lunch. (No brothers were harmed during the making of this childhood.)

The time we all watched the local sexual predator jerk off in the basement. 

Good times.  Some days I wonder how the heck my brother and I even survived.

I don't blame my parents for not knowing what was out there, because they were adults.  They didn't know any better.  For some reason, most adults don't see the monsters out there.  Maybe they wouldn't be able to function, wouldn't be able to raise kids or work or do anything productive, if they could still see the monsters.  Maybe.  It was a different time, before children started disappearing with alarming regularity, before sexual predators joined up with Boy or Girl Scout troops, before the innocence was lost. Or maybe it was never there, and they just pretended.  It would be futile to try and go back and place blame, and I have no wish to do so.  I have to look forward.

I still let my child be independent.  I still let him explore the world, and meet new people, and be a kid.  He can get dirty, fall down, and pick himself back up.  Childhood is all about exploration, experimentation, and expanding horizons, and I want my son to be able to do that.  I will move heaven and earth, and an entire PTA,  just so he can do that.     But this boy's childhood will be supervised, in the least stalker-ish way possible.  If he is out and about, someone(me, his father, school personnel, etc.)  will have an eye on him, even if it is from a distance.  There will be someone there if he is hurt, or if someone tries to hurt him.   Or just if.   Someone will be there to see the good times, as well.  He can have the childhood I lost, somewhere along the way. 

5.) Talk about something you were allowed to do as a child that you will not allow your child to do.

Mama’s Losin’ It


  1. Loved your post! I think those of us born in the 60s were the last of a breed. I rode my bike EVERYWHERE. By myself. Miles and miles from home. Sometimes in neighborhoods, sometimes in more rural areas. My mom knew nothing else other than "I'm going for a bike ride." Let my kids do that? NOT HARDLY!

  2. We did a 5K today. We have run 11 or so, and when we do, we always scope out our meeting place when we end. We also note any friends and acquaintances that will be running as well and likely be at the finish line when we are. While I allow the kids to run 3 miles independently, there is always a plan. Today, while I was running (at a good clip, I'm thinking I would have likely had my best time) I saw a 10 year old boy who had lost his group. So I gave up my time (that is huge to do for a race) and ran/walked with him. The whole way I talked with him to ensure he was not dizzy/lightheaded. I got him water when he missed the water stations. I ensured he would drink the water. I asked, and he said his family had no plan for the end reunion. :( We did this for about 2 miles. His uncle finally came running back to us with water for him, and once he was okay I ran through the finish. And while it was my worst chronological time, it was the best time, because I am an adult and I KNOW the monsters that lay in front of us.

    Cars. Crossing BUSY streets. Navigating parade goers. And since he didn't have an official number, he could easily be lost in the sea of thousands of people.

    Independence is a great thing to foster, within reason. Maybe they did have a plan and he didn't remember. His uncle clearly was thankful that I had stayed with him. But when I spoke to the woman in the group (aunt/mom I'm not sure) there were still two of their kids (10 and 12) still missing.

    Just thought I'd share this story and say that I guess there always has to be a balance. And as adults, they are ALL our children when it comes to keeping them safe.

  3. I remember riding up front on the arm rest of my grandparents' car with no seat belt. There are things adults did back then that we would be fined for now!

  4. I was born in the same era. I lived in a rather rough area, so the sense of innocence really wasn't there. As far back as I can remember, I felt strife.

  5. We were on our own a lot as well. I wish I could trust the community like that again.


I welcome comments, but reserve the right to correct your spelling because I am OCD about it!