Zane has been a homebody lately. He's heavily into summer mode, which means that underpants are the dress code and the Boy Nest(a mountain of pillows on the sofa) is the preferred location. I am pretty sure that this is what I have to look forward to in the teen years.
His father and I, on the other hand, are all about enrichment. As in, what can we do with our child that will expand his horizons, teach him something new, and encourage the creation of new and better brain cells? We plan trips to museums, movies, pools, water parks, beaches, etc. Some things are hits, others are not.
But we didn't anticipate any resistance this time.
"I don't want to go." Zane was firm. I thought very hard a moment about how to respond; this parenting thing is a tricky gig.
"Okay, your father and I will go, and you can stay here." I smiled at my use of an old psychology trick.
"What? You can't do that!" Zane was horrified. It was very hard not to giggle, as he stood there, hands on hips, and glared.
"Why not?" I managed to keep a straight face. I was curious to hear what he had to say.
"I am your child! You aren't allowed to leave me alone!" The boy had a point. He was my child. I wondered about his assertion about leaving him alone, however.
When I was a kid, my parents left us alone often. We would go out to play without much discussion, and we were completely unsupervised for hours. Sometimes my parents would ask where we were going, but most of the time they had no clue. I don't even remember half of the mischief my brother and I got into, and what I do recall will not be revealed here. I am not sure about the statute of limitations for shenanigans on military bases. If I would have hollered at my parents, "I am your child!", they probably would have just laughed, patted me on the head, then sent me to my room.
My parents weren't terrible; that is what every parent did back then. Kids went out to play, and parents did whatever parents do inside the house. Kids were called in at dinner time, and if it was summer, they went back outside after dinner until dark. We had a reason for making ourselves scarce: If you didn't have anything to do, your parents would always find something for you to do that usually involved scrubbing something icky off of something else. Who wanted to do that?
Things are different now, but maybe not better. I remember doing quite a bit of problem solving out there by myself. There was no one to tell me 'that's illegal', or 'that will explode', or 'that will result in a weird stain'. My brother and I had to figure these things out for ourselves. We had to adapt and adjust. We had to figure out how to navigate the world on our own, and we did. That is something that the children growing up today won't have.
Zane has never really been unsupervised his entire life. There is always someone watching him, telling him what to do. Instead, kids have play dates, and camps, and lives that end up overscheduled. They are never alone or left to their own devices. Parents who let their children run around unsupervised, like we used to, are berated and chastised, and their children pitied as unloved. Maybe we shouldn't be so quick to judge? There has to be a happy medium between unsupervised and oversupervised, I thought.
Yet as I was contemplating this very idea, the police were circling our subdivision, helping frantic parents search for their five year old boy. He had either wandered off, or he hadn't, but he was gone. As I heard the sound of the approaching police helicopter, I decided that maybe oversupervised wasn't so bad.