I read this article last week and showed it to Leo for his opinion. We spoke about the different areas we lived in and our favourite childhood memories.
My favourite memories were of playing with the neighbourhood kids. After school we'd check in with our Mums at home, then we'd gather at the top of the street and make our way to the 'woods' past our block. We'd play until it was either almost dark, too cold, or it had started raining. I remember walking with these kids to the local park, town centre, youth centre and swimming pool - on our own, unsupervised. Using Google maps I checked out my childhood street and I couldn't believe my Mother would've allowed me to go these distances.
Even Leo agreed that he and his younger brother would take off with their friends after school and even in the middle of the night. What?! I said. One school holiday he remembered his Father had his family play Treasure Hunt all the way from their street to the Auckland Harbour Bridge. After his Father's funeral in 2010, we joined Leo's brother and a friend from the neighbourhood who brought up crazy but true stories from when they were all kids.
Last year, after much debate with Aries, I decided that he would be allowed to walk to and from School alone. His first argument was, he's now seven and kids younger than he were already walking to/from School alone. His second point was, one of his classmates lived fifteen minutes away and walked with his siblings every day. He also pointed out that we only lived five houses away from the School gate. I realised, stupidly, that he was right. It also meant that I didn't have to wake Tauren who always liked to sleep in.
It's not that I don't trust my own son, I don't trust the people. When my Mother saw Aries walking home alone from School one day, she was on the attack about stranger-danger, crazy drivers, kid's crossing the street etc. I realised this must be how I looked and sounded to Aries when he first asked me. Every week it got easier (for me) and I saw a change in Aries that was both promising and saddening. I saw our son enjoying the one responsibility he had asked for and I also saw Aries, no longer my baby but my little man.
The above image is of Aries playing in the driver's seat, aged 3. Next Thursday, is his 8th birthday. He will then be half-way to sitting his Learner (driver) Licence, which he has already asked about.