Today I had to take some supplies down for my parents who are most definitely locked down. I took Junior with me to get him out of the house for a while for something other than a short walk. After we’d dropped off the food and things and had a chat through the window he asked if we could drive the long way home. I decided to show him the areas where I grew up and talk came around to how I used to play out. I told him how you’d be up, fed, dressed and out and you’d try not to come home until you could hear your dad shouting. You’d roam for miles and there was “Red Rock” (a large sand cliff), the water treatment plant, abandoned WWII buildings and motorcycle scrambling course we’d taken over for BMX. He loved hearing it but I noticed he was thinking and it’s clear what about.
In this day and age would I want my son getting to do what I did? No, probably not. The world, I have convinced myself, has changed for the worse and it’s just not as safe. Whilst I try to avoid overprotecting or being too much of a helicopter parent as he gets to an age where he’s testing his independence (he’s eight) I still worry. We’re programmed to. I suppose my parents did but I can’t think they worried quite as much. Perhaps they would have worried more if they knew what I was getting up to from around age 11?
But for my son he’s locked down. He can’t go out and play with his friends, he can’t go round to their houses. He can’t go to the playing fields around the corner without an accompanying parent. The only contact he has with his friends is when they’re all on the XBox and while that might sound like heaven to any millenials or whatever reading this I think it’s torture for a kid who, weather (and folks) allowing would rather be outside until it was too dark to see in front of his face.
I’ve spoken to other parents and they’ve told me their kids are struggling. Some are keeping school timetables which whilst admirable in theory sounds like torture to me. The kids are missing out on the most important part of childhood. Not school, not routine, but socialising. Playing, arguing, laughing, fighting, getting into trouble. All the things that actually make us the people we are.
He asked when all of this might be over. Sadly I had to tell him I didn’t know. So for now my bright, adorably cheeky eight year old is stuck in playing Fortnite or lingering in the garden probably trying to imagine the fences aren’t there. I suppose we have to be allowing for a touch more moodiness and I wish I was an uber parent like almost everyone you seem to read online but the only solution for me is to keep them as happy as possible. That’s why we’re binge watching Bottom tonight!