Childhood Summers Past VS Kids Lack Of Independence Now
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In Today’s World… Letting Kids Roam Like we Used to Isn’t Possible. Or is It?
When I was a kid we hopped on our bikes and rode all over our tiny Napoleon Dynamite town. We totally owned that village, all 16 city blocks! Summertime meant freedom in the full sense of the word as far as a ten year old is concerned. We made lunches and rode our bikes up the hill where ‘Dead Man’s Cave’ was rumored to exist.
We never found THAT cave?
But not for lack of trying.
Hours and hours flew by each day. Often only our hunger pains managed to drag us home.
And then as soon as the twilight hours set in, we ran off dedicating whole blocks to night games. We delayed and waylaid late into those cool Idaho nights until our fingers were too numb to function!
The next day we woke early and repeated the school vacation ritual. Riding our bikes around in mobs of kids. Digging for change to buy penny candy –Red Raspberries and Swedish Fish were my favorites. Can you still buy red raspberry candies I wonder? Or Slush Puppies? Oh how I loved blue raspberry slushies. As a child of the 80s I remember standing around watching friends play Pac-Man or Donkey-Kong or whichever video game we were mastering… only one game console showed up at a time and we took turns obsessing over it at the Soda Shoppe until the next delivery.
Early in the summer we signed up for swimming lessons at Lava Hot Springs. It was a 20 minute drive over the mountain to get there. A school bus was hired to transport all the local kids. My parents didn’t drop us off and wait patiently. NO. We got up early in the mountain wet-dew mornings and froze our naked legs off walking over to the bus stop with nothing but a towel wrapped around our swimsuited body.
We waited for the bus and then rode over the hill, exhausting ourselves learning to swim and then managed to find the right bus back home. We returned triumphant and starving for lunch; eating anything in our path. My first years an older sister rode with me. Later years I was the older sister in charge. But every year we were on our own, sans parental guidance for several hours.
Oh how different it is for my kids?
Partly I’m mourning the fact that this carefree, freedom filled, go where you want type of summer will never exist for my kids.
First we don’t live in a small town. Second I simply cannot allow my kids to run off without creating a 12 step game plan. Who? Where? What? When?
Taking off on their bikes for destination unknown with no way for me to locate them at all times? NEVER. GOING. TO. HAPPEN.
And he would really like to ride his bike over to the next neighborhood. PLEASE MOM? It’s right there. You can practically still see me…
- But how will I know where you are?
- When will you be back?
- Who will be with you?
- What if there’s a problem?
I can’t give him the freedom he craves because I’m worried about any number of crazy things.
The traffic at the top of the street where he would need to pass to get to the next neighborhood is a STUPID kind of dangerous. There isn’t really a shoulder, and that alone stresses a mother to the level of 911! I don’t know the moms and the kids in that other neighborhood very well. In my current world there isn’t a way to get to know everyone in the area… it’s too big for one thing and everyone drives directly into their perfectly safe garage closing the door down on the world. And what if I needed him home earlier because you know… dad comes home and surprises us with baseball tickets? (It could happen…)
We don’t know our neighbors well enough to expect them to watch out for our kids.
And that’s sad… but it just is.
He’s ten. I’m not about to give him a cell phone!! But it’s beginning to seem like the one thing that would give him a chance to prove himself and give me the peace of mind. Geez. The cost of another phone line? The fear of him losing the phone? Not to mention worrying about any other abuses that might go on with a cell phone? All good reasons why I have no intention of handing him his own phone yet.
How to give my Kid the Summers I Remember?
I really want him to enjoy night games on a late summer night.
He deserves to ride around the neighborhoods in a gaggle of pre-teen bikers.
Every kid needs to test the waters of independence and learn how to negotiate friend relationships when there is so little drama in their lives to cause problem.
Amber Alert GPS to the Rescue!
I just learned about a product called AmbertAlertGPS.com. It’s the perfect solution to give him a few extra levels of independence while keeping my mom-sanity! The Alert Device is $125 and it looks like an old-school beeper. When they carry it with them mom or dad can track them via a phone app GPS locater. Plus it has a 2-way calling system. Just him calling my phone and me calling him.
There are several other really interesting features to the Alert Locator:
- A Speed Alert! (Maybe I can use this with my new teen driver?!)
- It will text you the GPS location of the device as often as you ask for it
- Zone tracking—letting you know when your kid has entered or exited predetermined areas
- And several more options you can read about on their website
Disclosure: I am participating in a VolunteerSpot campaign. This is a sponsored post. My story is my own and my fears about my 10 year old riding off alone are definitely my own. I will be sharing my opinion about the Amber Alert GPS system. I will be testing out the device over the summer and I’ll let you know what I think.