Many years ago, I knew a man who claimed that all that was needed to keep young kids amused was a few tin cans and some stones and rocks. Although I laughed at the time, I am starting to agree with him.
A woman in USA (Lenore Skenazy) was labelled ‘USA’s Worst Mom’ because she let her nine-year-old child travel on the train by himself. She later wrote a book titled, ‘Free Range Kids’.
There seems to be an emerging, though small, movement of people who are concerned about the way children are continually watched over and over-protected nowadays.
I think it was Professor Paul Tranter of the University of New South Wales who coined the phrase ‘the unobserved child’. He and others claim that children who walk to school, and are exposed to nature, outdoors, weather and friendships are the lucky kids.
Nature (outdoor) play has been replaced with ‘playing’ inside, which supposedly keeps the children safe.
In fact, children who play outside, unobserved, are the kids who end up healthy, creative, happy and independent. Very rarely are they overweight, nor do they suffer from other diseases and conditions brought about by inactivity.
I consider myself most fortunate to have lived the life of an unobserved child.
Of course that was many decades ago and “things” were different then. Mothers often did not even own cars, let alone drive children to school and back each day.
We walked to school, often moaning about it during hot or rainy weather, but kept on walking. We walked to the bus stop and travelled by bus on our own or with siblings and friends.
We played outdoors in every spare moment and we mingled with other kids (and dogs!) in our neighbourhood. We even caught the train to the public swimming pool and swam and splashed around nearly all day, without a parent in sight! Would our mother be lampooned (or even arrested) today for allowing us to do this?
My life was a little different. As the second born in a family of five children, my mother did not have time to be a “helicopter parent”, to spend all her time hovering over her kids – well certainly not the older two!
And, as the middle child in our family was disabled and needed extra care, it made it even easier for me and my older sister to escape and make our own fun.
We went to the park, without an adult. We went to the shops, without an adult. We climbed trees, we explored vacant blocks of land and clambered all over half-built houses. We looked for spiders inside curled-up leaves. We rode bikes, without helmets and careered down roadways in ‘billy-carts’; all without parents around. And we survived. Sure, there was the odd broken arm and the occasional nasty bleeding knee, but nothing too serious.
I am happy to say that I think I gave my own children the experience of being ‘free range’. I hope they appreciated it!
How sad it is today for children to not have the freedom allowed previous generations of kids. What will be the consequences of this different childhood life-style?
This different childhood, with scant experience outside the home - and the constant cocooning inside the family car?
I began writing a blog in March 2012, thinking it might be a useful addition to my website, which contains pieces of my writing in other forms, such as fiction, non-fiction and children’s stories.
My blogs began as simple one sentence observations, usually accompanied by a photo. They soon branched into reports of how I was achieving – or trying to achieve – the sale of my/our house in eastern Victoria, Australia.
A year later, although our house hadn’t been sold, my blogs began to appear longer and more introspective and thoughtful as I commented on social and world issues and whinged a lot about things I disliked. I ‘got on my soap-box’ a lot and enjoyed having the chance to air my views.
Nowadays, well settled in our new home in the sub-tropical climate of south east Queensland, my blog, even though still used as a soap-box from which to whinge, has become (I hope) a vehicle for positive thought as well as self-reflection.
Surveying the statistics of how many hits this page receives daily, numbers have risen from single digits to the grand total (the other day) of 570 +.
I am not purposely writing for an audience; I thoroughly enjoy the ‘art’ of blogging for the simple pleasure of writing, but I have to admit that I do also appreciate that there is an audience out there; people who bother to read what I have written.
Unfortunately (I nearly wrote ‘sadly’!) any comments I receive are indeed few and far between and I can hardly recall the last time anyone posted a comment on my blog. I am therefore asking for you, any reader, to simply leave a comment - negative or positive, one word will suffice - (and it can be anonymous) - just to let me know that the statistical figures are not misleading, or even lying.
My confidence and my vanity are needy today, as I try to edit my memoir for the very last time.
After enduring weeks of news (here in Queensland, Australia) broadcasting little else but details of a trial concerning a ghastly murder of a young woman by her husband, I was becoming reluctant to turn on the television or read a newspaper, for fear of being bombarded with more sad and grisly information.
And then ‘News’ became even more terrible, with the downing of flight MH17.
Imaginations of ordinary, everyday people are now overloaded with grief and wondering and worrying about the suffering of the hundreds of people who were on that flight, and the families left behind - to grieve and wonder and worry – maybe forever.
It is all so incomprehensible.
We, who have no direct contact with affected families are still affected in our own way and still grieve - in our own way. But we are able to escape the horror of it all as our days are filled with daily work and recreation activities.
At the risk of seeming very selfish, VERY selfish (!) what we need now is the occasional good, happy, positive ‘News’ story. I am even prepared to take in a happy animal story or news of a royal baby who has taken his first steps.
We are accustomed – wrong though it may be – of hearing and viewing the constant warring between Palestine and Israel; after all, horrendous as it may be, this fighting has been going on (and off) since the mid 1800s. The latest ‘peace process’ has apparently 'collapsed' and there doesn’t seem to be anything we can do to stop the carnage.
We shouldn’t ignore it, nor should we ignore any other war and terror activities.
But, again, being selfish, can someone, somewhere, report on some good news? Any good news!
There must be happy events happening somewhere in the world. Surely we’re not now condemned to forever view ‘News’ stories of terror and death. (sigh)
My father’s name was Paul Clifford Mason. He was the third in a family of six children and was named after the title character (Paul Clifford) in the now infamous Bulwer-Lytton highwayman tale which happened to be the book my father's mother, Kate, was reading during that pregnancy. This book has the dubious notoriety of being the source of the purple prose which begins, “It was a dark and stormy night…” as its introductory sentence.
The saving grace of the writer, Edward George Bulwer-Lytton, for his long and much mocked sentence, is that he was also the author credited with first penning the truism, “the pen is mightier than the sword”).
Is that interesting – or even slightly interesting?
I love it!
At the risk of being repetitive, I am so upset by Australia’s treatment of Sri Lankan asylum seekers that I have the urge to once more offer an extract from George Orwell’s ‘1984’.
30 years after the fantasised date, it seems his words have come true.
“Do you not begin to see, then, what kind of world it is we are creating? A world of fear and treachery, a world of trampling and being trampled upon, a world that will grow not less but more merciless as it refines itself.” (George Orwell, 1984.)
But, what the heck? Now that the World Cup is over and the State of Origin (rugby) finished for a while, all many Australians can talk about right now is the courage shown by a great sportsman to ‘come out’ and declare that he is gay. Whilst not denigrating the magnificent swimmer’s position, it is amazing that this is the subject that dominates the airwaves and the office ‘water cooler’ conversations of the day.
Then there’s the Israel-Gaza horror.... Syria, anyone? Iraq crisis? 200 kidnapped girls?
Ostrich heads in the sand?
Perhaps it’s our way of coping.
Last week I was invited to complete an on-line survey on recycled water. The questions mainly related to whether or not I was comfortable with the idea of drinking recycled water.
Well, it doesn’t really worry me, and, having been to London several times, where all drinking water is purportedly recycled – and from the River Thames – and I have survived the ingesting of it, despite its lime
content affecting cups of tea – the idea sits okay with me.
Reading more on the subject it was interesting to find that a great deal of drinking water in many countries is recycled in one way or another and the source of said water is many and various.
As one wag said, “I think I may have had this cup of tea before!”
We couldn’t survive without water. Well we could survive for a short while – but three or four days would probably be the limit and we would be quite ill by then and certainly not feeling happy. So if it’s water we need to live, why should we worry about where it’s from?
Of course in some third world countries clean water is hard to come by and that’s a tragedy for those people. Fortunately there are support plans and charities that are trying to enable the supply of clean water to be available to all people in our world. Perhaps not enough to help everyone, but it’s a start.
The latest trend in our modern first world is to pontificate about the necessity to drink at least eight glasses of water daily. Is this really necessary?
From a helpful site named “HYDRATION 101” I found this statement.
“There is no evidence to support the recommendation to drink 8 glasses of water a day.”
“It may surprise you to learn that there has never been any scientific evidence to support the “eight by eight” doctrine when it comes to proper hydration.”
“..the eight cups a day recommendation typically does not account for the water content of food…”
* * * *
Attending the ballet the other night – opening night, posh do, everyone dressed in best evening wear and on their best behaviour. A woman sitting near me, wearing an expensive-looking bright pink silk outfit and pearls, clutched a bottle of water in both hands and subconsciously and repetitively twisted and untwisted the screw-top and she talked with her fellow theatre-goers before the show began.
She took a few sips between the constant top-twisting action and continued to hug the bottle like a ‘security’ toy. By the first interval the bottle was empty, but she still clutched it as if it were a life-line.
I saw a few other theatre patrons also carrying bottled water that night, but not many – thank goodness.
(Plus, there was free sparkling wine and chocolates provided, so who needed water?)
I have seen runners jogging along the street awkwardly holding bottles of water and I suppose they might need to hydrate their bodies while exercising, but I have also seen women out shopping with water bottles at the ready peeping from the top of handbags.
I have even seen people at funerals sipping at water bottles throughout the service.
Whether these bottles of water have been freshly purchased as ‘bottled water’ or whether they have been re-filled from the home tap is neither here nor there.
What puzzles me is the modern day concept that everyone should be re-hydrating from a water bottle as they go about their business – or pleasure.
Just before I retired from full-time teaching, it was becoming the accepted sight for water bottles to be on the top of each desk or table-top for children to sip on whenever they felt a need.
Are we over-doing this water ‘thing’?
I choose to comment on social issues and write creatively on a variety of subjects - for a variety of audiences.