Where is the Children's Wilderness? Somervell County Salon-Glen Rose, Rainbow, Nemo, Glass....Texas


 

Where is the Children's Wilderness?
 


25 June 2009 at 6:22:30 PM
salon

I really like this editorial from NY Review of Books

But the Wilderness of Childhood, as any kid could attest who grew up, like my father, on the streets of Flatbush in the Forties, had nothing to do with trees or nature. I could lose myself on vacant lots and playgrounds, in the alleyway behind the Wawa, in the neighbors' yards, on the sidewalks. Anywhere, in short, I could reach on my bicycle, a 1970 Schwinn Typhoon, Coke-can red with a banana seat, a sissy bar, and ape-hanger handlebars. On it I covered the neighborhood in a regular route for half a mile in every direction. I knew the locations of all my classmates' houses, the number of pets and siblings they had, the brand of popsicle they served, the potential dangerousness of their fathers.

I was thinking about this the other day. My mother is making a memory book about my father, who readers know passed away fairly recently. In it, she plans to put in photographs of the homes we lived in. I was looking via Street View at the addresses, and noticed that one of the houses I lived in is now right by a huge mall. When I was little we spent hours exploring the fields and woods which later became a shopping center. I remember seeing my first blackberries growing wild and a snake crossing across a path. I also didn't have scheduled time when I was doing this or that, we simply were out exploring and spending time outdoors.

This is the kind of door-to-door, all-encompassing escort service that we adults have contrived to provide for our children. We schedule their encounters for them, driving them to and from one another's houses so they never get a chance to discover the unexplored lands between. If they are lucky, we send them out to play in the backyard, where they can be safely fenced in and even, in extreme cases, monitored with security cameras. When my family and I moved onto our street in Berkeley, the family next door included a nine-year-old girl; in the house two doors down the other way, there was a nine-year-old boy, her exact contemporary and, like her, a lifelong resident of the street. They had never met.

The sandlots and creek beds, the alleys and woodlands have been aban- doned in favor of a system of reservations—Chuck E. Cheese, the Jungle, the Discovery Zone: jolly internment centers mapped and planned by adults with no blank spots aside from doors marked staff only. When children roller-skate or ride their bikes, they go forth armored as for battle, and their parents typically stand nearby.

Do you agree with this? Think this is so nowadays?


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Comments

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