Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Free Time

Bus lot behind John Muir High School

In the Pasadena Unified School District (PUSD), school starts September 14th. For the sake of the school kids, I hope it feels like a long way off. School's a great thing, but summer is, too, and kids need that block of time for disorganized activities, being lazy and having nothing to do.

It's no secret children are over-booked and over-stressed these days. My neighbors were talking yesterday about seeing eight-year-old girls in make-up and sexy outfits at summer school. Why, when I was a kid, we never...

Hmm.

Whose parents do I sound like?

Yeah. When I was a kid I swore I'd never say some of the things my parents said. But I'm right.

Change is inevitable. But I'm sorry kids have to be so organized, so supervised, so scheduled even in summertime. I wonder if my parents were sorry I had to spend my summers riding my horse to the candy shop and building forts in the forest and swinging from the rope that dangled from the willow tree over the river bend.

28 comments:

Latino Heritage said...

Ah, children don't have to be so scheduled. The ability to daydream helps adult learn to take time to reflect. Treasured abilities for child and adult.

Dina said...

You may be one of the last to have had such a great childhood.

Shell Sherree said...

Some lazy-faire sounds like a fine idea for kids in summer, Petrea.

Bellis said...

My childhood was great - just me and my puppy out all day in the woods. I feel sorry for modern-day kids who have to go to summer school to learn more algebra.

Katie said...

Lucky I didn't have to take the bus to school or this photo would have freaked me out a bit. Most of my kid summers were spent going to swim practice and swim meets (on the weekends) but I had plenty of time for kick the can and capture the flag and general messing about. I don't envy kids these days.

pasadenapio said...

When I was a kid in the 1950s (in various U.S. states) friends and I would often go far afield into remote areas. As long as my mother knew who I was with and where we would be generally, it was fine if was gone for hours.

"I'm going to the canyon with Joanna!" didn't raise an eyebrow rhen, but parents today would never think of allowing such a thing. It's such a different world.

I suppose many parents find some kind of comfort in the overscheduling.

TheChieftess said...

It's actually very sad, this over scheduling of our kid's time. Being able to go outside and explore the woods, hike the mountain trails, climb trees, etc, etc were all part of what taught us independent thinking and self confidence in handling situations...I'm afraid we're creating a very dependent society by controlling our children's every moment of every day...and a fearful one at that!

Petrea said...

I understand the fears parents may have in our urban world. I guess I'm feeling wistful for those kids. Chieftess, you make a good point about dependence. In the Pasadena area we have everything a kid could want--mountains, trails, riding stables for lessons, etc. But it seems kids have to be supervised all the time and when they're not, we worry about them.

lewi14 said...

Cool shot. What a quietness...

altadenahiker said...

I rather think all kids should grow up rural. I don't know what would have become of me if I'd grown up smack dab in the middle of a big city.

J+P said...

" … we're creating a very dependent society by controlling our children …"

Bingo.

Kim said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Shanna said...

Kids seem to begin school at too early an age too, judging from watching my neighbors. There was no pre-school or kindergarden when I was a child.
My friends and I were outside all the time, creating plays in the garage or making puppet shows for our own entertainment.

A favorite thing to do in the afternoon was to lie down on the cool grass and watch the clouds, picturing all kinds of creatures in them.

Kim said...

Your wisdom abounds, Ms. Petrea. And it's not just children who need downtime and lack of structure and immersion in the outdoors and recreation they enjoy (a good non-fiction read, cuz I know you love reading: Last Child In The Woods, by Richard Louv). Re. grown ups also needing summer break, NPR broadcast something this week about adults going camping, but the campgrounds providing wifi so laptops are now part and parcel of so called "getting away from it all." We all need a break from screen time, jobs, urban life and household chores. You are lucky to have Bo to take you outside everyday whether you really want to walk or not :-).
-Kim

Jean Spitzer said...

My summers weren't as rural as yours, Petrea; they were definitely city-based. But I had something many of today's kids miss, which was free run of the city. There really is an awful lot of micro-managing if many of our kids.

Speedway said...

When I was a kid, I lived in a city. We didn't have money, but somehow I learned to swim during the summer @ classes sponsored by the Red Cross. 4H was brought into the cities one year and, over time, in my 4H club, I learned to sew, follow a recipe and to bake from scratch; with my dad's help I learned to use tools and he helped me make a birdhouse one year and an electrical extension cord the next. My mom would sometimes make me a cheese sandwich and I'd walk to the park by myself where I'd play all day in the woods and wade in the creek. I got my first library card when I was 5 and my first project was to read books to earn enough stickers to go to a party at the end of the season.

Now, I go downtown and see kids hanging out, seemingly directionless, with "nothing to do." Kids drown every year because they can't swim; boys and girls alike cannot even sew on a button, nor can they cook. They don't know how to use hand tools to make simple repairs.

Something happened, I not sure exactly what, but between the "over-scheduling" for some kids, there seems to be nothing for so many more who grow up wild and lost.

Bellis said...

Annandale landfill in the northern San Rafaels.

Petrea said...

I don't have any answers, just questions. I loved my rural upbringing but as Jean and Speedway demonstrate, a city can be just as good. It's a good thing I learned to take care of myself, though.

TheChieftess said...

What's an interesting side note to the micro-managing of kids today is that even with all the freedom we had in the '50's, we all knew that every parent on the block was "watching us" and that it wasn't just our own parents who took ownership of our safety, well-being, and trouble shooting!!! Our parents also backed our teachers...they listened to us, but when push came to shove, the teachers usually won. More moms were at home then, and there was more "family" time, ie dinner at home (home cooked). Maybe it's the generation gap rearing it's ugly head...but I'm glad I grew up in the 50's, and I'm sad for my step kids and grand kids who grew up in such a different world than I....

GreensboroDailyPhoto said...

School in Greensboro (NC) starts at the end of August, so mid-September seems like a great gift! The busses are a BIG reminder!!!

Melanie Neslo said...

No amount of scheduled activity can replace the value of imagination.

Petrea said...

Chieftess, J. tells stories like that of his neighborhood when he was a kid--all the moms looking out for the kids. Our block is like that now. Lucky us!

Hi Greensboro! Nice to see you. September 14th does seem late, doesn't it? I hope these kids take advantage.

Hi Melanie! You know how to let your imagination work, and I'll bet your kids are learning to use theirs to the hilt.

Pasadena Adjacent said...

Oh, I like this photo very much.

Sarah said...

So you had a colorful childhood Petrea! mine was not as well as you but not as worse as todays kids!
So happy that I can see your photos again. I bought a VPN account :))

Gina said...

@Latino Heritage is right. Children don't *have* to be so scheduled. It is a choice.

I want to make sure our kids enjoy being kids (and we get to enjoy being their parents - I don't particularly enjoy being a chauffeur). This past year I started letting our 3 year old hang out in our (fenced and gated) back yard by himself if he wanted to (while I was cooking or dealing with the baby). He has a blast out there by himself. I hear him "fighting" with monsters and building "nests" out of branches. One of the best moments was when I went out to ask him if he wanted a snack; he pointed at our blackberries and said, "I already had one!" Sort of a "free-range" philosophy to raising kids.

Petrea said...

Thank you, PA.

Hi Sarah! Good for you. I'm glad you can surf the web again, the way you want to.

That's a sweet story, Gina, and it shows how kids will use their imaginations to explore their world if we allow them the space.

TheChieftess said...

My hat's off to you Gina!!! You're a rarity these days!!!

Susan Campisi said...

What a wonderful image - riding your horse to the candy store. I grew up in the suburbs so I didn't experience all the rural gifts. Still, summer was spent at the beach and riding my bicycle and playing tag into the evening with fireflies keeping us company. I heard fireflies are dying off. It really is a different world.