Lately I have been reflecting on how different children play than when I was growing up. I started thinking about this by watching my son playing with his toys in his room one day and the topic has just grown on me, more and more.
When I was little, I had a phase, as every child has some sort of phase or two, and I was obsessed with Pocahontas. My mom and dad bought me this Pocahontas dress-up set, with a play necklace, bracelet and some other small dress-up items. I thought I was Pocahontas.
So I would go outside, and I know this sounds crazy, but I would talk to a pine tree, like it was Grandmother Willow, from the movie. I didn’t know it wasn’t a weeping willow, of course, I was a kid. I would climb the hills and apple trees at my nanny’s house, play in the dirt and make small adventures for myself.
I was always outside, doing something exciting, or at least it was exciting for me.
When it would rain or the weather wasn’t cooperative I would stay inside, play with my barbie dolls, baby dolls or read.
Things were so different. Mom and Dad would let me play outside and they wouldn’t have to keep their eyes on me at all times. Things appeared safer, people kept their doors unlocked, children could ride their bicycles around the neighborhood or to their friends’ houses by themselves without worry.
Even my younger sister was able to walk to the neighbors house, five houses down, and there wasn’t any concern.
However now, I don’t think when my son reaches that age that I will let him, walk to a friends house alone, or even ride his bike on the street we live without being with him.
We constantly see in newspapers, television, radio, tabloids and internet crimes that make us wonder “Is anything even safe anymore?”
More and more things change with children and how they are allowed to play, I’m not sure whose fault it is anymore. I used to blame technology, but more and more, I think it is a combination of media and parents just not letting kids be kids.
I am definitely, a great example of not letting my kid be a kid. I am a little bit of a helicopter mom, in fact. I am the mom that stands beside the jungle gym at the park incase her kid gets hurt, instead of sitting on the bench, giving him some space. I am the mom that hold her kid’s hand constantly, because I am afraid of him tripping. I don’t let him run on concrete, because what if...
I am guilty of not letting him get the bumps and bruises that I got when I was a kid. The first time I remember being stung by a bee I was barefoot in the yard playing on my swing set and stepped on one. I don’t even let Emmitt outside without shoes on. So much has changed.
I worry about how my hovering and not letting him get hurt, will impact him. I know I am not the only mom who does this. I am sure it is different if you have more than one child too. I only have one and that might make me a super hoverer.
Although some ways of play has changed, with the advances of technology and so on, I know some things have stayed the same.
My kid, makes up voices for his Power Ranger and Paw Patrol action figures, he makes up little skits with them and he acts out normal life with his little characters.
He knows the differences between the good guys and the bad guys, and put the bad guys in jail.
Although he has super heros and I had Barbies, we still played the same way, and this warms my heart. It makes me happy to know that some things haven’t changed, since so many have. I love listening to his imagination, coming up with different voices and jobs for the characters and how he has them interact with each other. It truly is a blessing, to know that in all honesty, kids are still kids like we were, just the atmosphere in which we raise them has changed. They still develop and learn, imagine and play, they still sing and dance, and love and share their joy.