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.