When it comes to my children, I'm way overprotective. My eldest is 14, and she just took her siblings walking to K-Mart, which is essentially one block away. Curiously, I believe this is the first time they have walked by themselves to a store...ever. Well, this can be easily explained by the fact that when we lived in Los Angeles, our house was on the hills, and the nearest store, a Whole Foods, would be literally a couple of miles downhill, on a winding, one lane road without sidewalks. Obviously we never allowed our children to go walking to the store by themselves.
Here in Central Florida, everything is flat. There are no hills, dips, valleys. You can see for miles, it feels like. Since we live near a major street, there are lots of shops and markets around us. As a matter of fact, a couple of weeks after moving here, I recall taking one of my children and we walked to the local Publix supermarket. It was muggy and hot, but fun as well.
And so here we are, I'm sitting on my desk and my children are wandering the streets. It feels strange, and yet I look back to my own childhood, and I realize that when I was as young as 6 years old, my parents would allow me to wander our neighborhood for hours by myself. I would walk everywhere, visit toystores, bookstores, the local park, etc. I remember this particular toystore where I would stare at the action figures on the window and imagine a whole world of adventure. And yet, I would not allow my own seven year old son the same liberty. There is no way we would let him even try to cross a street on his own.
So I wonder. Are we too overprotective of our children? Have all the news of child abduction, random acts of violence, traffic, etc., scared us into trying to cocoon our children? Won't that stunt their own independent spirit, the need that children have to explore their surroundings? I remember spending so much time playing on the streets, either by myself or with friends, playing tag, hide and go seek, and many other games. My children never do that. I wonder.