who live just around the corner from us. Both of them are still in the primary school. They are having what we would once have considered to be a "normal" childhood. They spend most of their non-school daylight hours out of doors. They walk or ride to school on their own. They are not required to attend "after-school" activities each afternoon but entertain themselves instead.
They know how to climb a tree. They know how to make a swing by slinging ropes over a branch of a tree. They can ride their bikes with great skill up and down the gutters and in out of their driveway and those of all the neighbours. They go to the playground at the end of the street on their own and perform acrobatics on the climbing frame. They know at least a dozen ways to come sliding down.
Walking along the street they know how to scrunch the most leaves and avoid the cracks. They drag sticks along fences. They know where the dogs and cats live and have on occasion returned straying dogs to their owners. They have a cat of their own which, contrary to the expectations of one of the neighbours, they do not terrorise. When it went missing they were devastated. It was micro-chipped however and when it escaped from custody it was returned and they now watch over it anxiously and keep it firmly indoors at night.
Both these boys are doing very well at school. They have lively imaginations. They are physically fit and healthy. They watch very little television and rarely use the computer. They like to read.
We were discussing them at knitting group yesterday and someone remarked,
"Their mother must have worked hard to get them to be like that and fancy trusting them so much."
Their mother would laugh at this. She once told me that she just expects them to be like this. She does not say they cannot watch television. If they wanted to go to some after school activity then she and her husband would be prepared to listen and support them.
Their mother also knows that she is criticised for allowing them so much freedom but it is her belief that you have to take risks. I remember telling her about the young Norwegian boy I mentioned a couple of posts back. She thought it was an entirely reasonable thing to do. Risks? Of course there were risks.
Pedalling home yesterday I saw the two of them on their way home from school. They were walking yesterday.
When they saw me the older one called out,
"Race you to the end Cat but you have to wait until we cross the road."
They are taking risks but they are learning. I was happy to let them have a head start on me because they are getting a head start on life.