Sunday, July 07, 2013

Contrasting childhoods

I was looking for a photo of my family holiday to Wales in 1980 when I came across this old one of me at ten. It suddenly struck me how different today's childhoods are. I still have the red doll buggy on the right - they don't make toys like that any more! But it is Amaia who plays with it, both Léon and Anna have long abandoned it, as they are too old - at 5 and 7, but I was obviously happy to take it out in public at ten. The other interesting fact I can deduce from the photo is that three of us had gone alone to the park up at what is now Newton Mearns Asda. I can tell this from the three bears. The top blue one was mine, the bottom blue one Derek's and the pinkish one, if my memory serves me correctly, belonged to my good friend at the time, Karen Heenan. So two ten year olds and a seven year old were allowed to wander that far from home with their teddies in tow! I'm not saying my kids are having a terribly different childhood. I try not to wrap them in cotton wool and smother them. I let mine make coffee, and cook, chop things with knives, take buses alone, walk into school unaccompanied and so on but I am definitely in a minority. When I think back a few summers Charlotte probably did go alone to Asda once or twice at around that age, though not with a teddy, more likely with an ipod! But when I see how many parents refuse to let their kids out of their sight these days, I do fear for the generation to come, who will suddenly find themselves alone for the very first time, the day they leave home. How will they even begin to know how to make the right decisions in life if all they have known till then is trips accompanied by adults, organised play dates, class parties and after school activities such as swimming or gymnastics - all with their personal parental chauffeur?

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