Thursday, January 22, 2015

Problem? I don't see no problems.


I see opportunities. I see fun. I see a hosing down when I get home. I was what you might call a "free-range" child. As long as my homework and chores were done, I was free. As long as I came home before the street lamps came on, I was free. If I pushed it until Poppy whistled for us to come home (I swear, you could hear his whistle miles away), I was screwed. Never push the whistle. 

Didn't matter how filthy we were when we got home, we knew the drill. Hose off in the backyard, strip on the screen porch, dry off with the old clean towels Mom kept back there, and if you did a good enough job, you could skip bathtime. I never got to skip baths, my hair was a mud magnet. 
You knew you had your good school and church clothes and your get filthy play clothes. Woe be unto you if you didn't change before going out to play. That was a punishable offense. We didn't have "play shoes", shoes were expensive and you didn't fuck 'em up. So I was barefoot from March to November. I had shoe leather grade callouses. I could walk untouched through a field of goat heads. I was badass. I'm still barefoot more often than not; even though I went a bit crazy making up for having 2 pairs of shoes every year for my entire childhood, I currently have around 50-60 pairs, I still prefer no shoes.

My girls were raised free range. Even though I'm acutely aware of the dangers that come with their extremely high pain threshold (another quirk of autism), I don't hover. I've bought most if not all of their clothes from resale boutiques, so I don't freak out if they get torn or dirty. I remember being down in Palo Duro Canyon with the chicks when they were younger, watching them play in the red muddy waters of the Tierra Blanca creek. They were having a blast. And watching other kids whose moms were constantly yelling at them to "put that down!", "get away from the water, it's dirty!" and "don't sit there, you'll get dirty!", I just wanted to free them. "Run, little children, be free! Go forth and explore and play and get fucking filthy! You'll wash off and clothes can be replaced, but your childhood can't!" It must have shown on my face, because I was handed a beer and told to stand down.

The point of my ramblings is this: remember your childhood, and your kids' childhoods, bring free range childrearing back. Kids will scrub clean, clothes can be replaced, missed opportunities are gone forever. 

11 comments:

Cederq said...

We as kids had the same arraignment, what was it with parents back then? Did they get together and decide the rules about clothes, street lamps and the whistle? The whistle, it was my mom who had the whistle to be heard 4 b;locks away.... lo, the mom bad came out if ya didn't heed the whistle...

North Texan said...

About the only irritation with clean and our kids comes with dinner time. My 10 yr old would wander around with a sandwich if we would let him. Which would be ok, but he will not get all the mess picked up. He somehow got grape jelly from his toast in his hair and on his back yesterday. Definitely not the end of the world but I'm still like" dang son, can we be just a little neater right before school?"

eatgrueldog said...

There is nothing like teaching a 3 yr. old little girl how to squish mud between her toes.

Bonnie Gadsden said...

Same rules here. My sister and I used to play the "Who can stand barefoot in the street the longest" game. Great summer fun :)

Anonymous said...

Home before dark, or else... Else being the leather strap/oak paddle, your choice. We have a tank out back that the kids and now the grandkids celebrate birthdays in. All invitations include the phrase,"Please send an old set of clothes with your child as this bday party includes mud, fun, and more mud". Yes, we are the cool grandparents....LOL love your blog, the good, the bad, and the real life things included

Anonymous said...

Yup! Had to come home when the street lights came on and bath before climbing into the bed. Other then that...have at it! Raised my three the same way, except, out here we don't have street lights. The rule was dinner is around six...if you want to eat, be here...after that go run, don't cross the "big road", a mile down the mountain, and don't go beyond "blueberry heaven" about two miles up to the top of the mountain. Be home near to dark or become bear food. Wish I was closer to my Grandkids so I could teach them the same....

Cruachan!

Highlander

dan said...

boy heaven...when it got hot we'd
bike down to The Lake ,which was usually too cool to stay in so they'd dig and build in the sand. If we stayed past dark ,each had to have his own fire . Goin' home always meant dealing with a hundred foot clay bluff...and getting home meant removing some of that mud in the cow-tank before bed,lol.

Wraith said...

Did today's parents even HAVE a childhood?

Corey 1 said...

When I was 7 grandpa put me in charge of a burn pile while he plowed his garden. He gave me a shovel and said don't let the field burn. No telling what they would do to gramps today

Anonymous said...

Our kids were supposed to get dirty while playing. That's what we had hoses, washing machines and showers for. They're grown and gone but the same rules apply to the 5 dogs on the farm now!

Mark Jewell said...

Agreed, I think kids these days are too coddled by hovering parents.