The other day, I was sitting in my car in the driveway, waiting for it to warm up. As I sat there, I noticed two kids around the age of 8 years old, walking to school. I noticed that neither one of them had their hoods on, even though it was very cold outside. As I sat and watched them, a few things occurred to me. It seems uncommon to watch children actually walk to school these days. More often than not, parents are driving their kids to school if the kids aren’t taking the bus. If you live within a certain proximity to the school, your child is assigned as a ‘walker’. Most of these ‘walkers’ get rides from their parents. As I watched these two little ones, it felt very refreshing to watch them walk to school together, on their own, without parents hovering. It made me smile to see something that took me back to my childhood. How can children learn to become independent if they aren’t even allowed to walk to school alone? It’s only a block or two away. In my mind, I find this very sad. I watch as parents indulge their children at every turn. It is not abuse to expect your child to walk to school if they are assigned as ‘walkers’. The simple act of walking to school, or to walk to their friends house seems to be disallowed. The result of this indulgence by parents will enable a child to grow up and expect even more from those around them.
It’s a bigger issue here than just allowing children to go outside by themselves. You rarely see children playing with neighborhood kids anymore. The parents take the kids over to their friends house and pick them up. God forbid, they require their children to get any physical activity whatsoever. This is creating a self indulgent society for the future and we wonder why “kids” in their 40’s are still living at home with their parents.
Anyway, as I sat watching these two children, I mentioned that they didn’t have their hoods on even though it was very cold. At that moment, I watched two 8 year olds actually think for themselves and lift their hoods on because they felt the cold. Imagine that. They were capable of making a good decision even without the parents hovering over them.
Being the observer of these kids for just a few moments, gave me great insight. First, it warmed my heart to see them doing what all kids should be doing and that is walking to school by themselves. In this society today, we live in fear of everything and we are passing that fear along to the children. Living in fear will only create hardships. I would love to see the children living in love, being open to the world around them. Instead, they are holed up in their homes, playing video games and afraid to talk to people face to face.
The second thing that I realized was that without any prompt from a parent, they instinctively put their hoods on when they felt cold. Children are smart. They know when they are cold or not. Parents have taken away these small lessons of children thinking for themselves and making their own decisions by insighting fear into everything and not allowing these children the space to evolve into full functioning adults, one step at a time.
Two small children gave me a bountiful gift that day. They gave me great joy by watching children be children. I smile when I see children playing ball in the street in my neighborhood. It’s not something you see too often anymore. It’s so sad to know that kids aren’t being kids anymore. I’m even more sad to know that it’s happening because of parents’ inability to cope with their own fears and challenges. It’s creating a cycle of sadness, dependance and self indulgence. I can only pray that there are still those families that are willing to ‘live on the edge’ and allow the kids to be kids and learn the things that life can teach them in simple daily activities.