My son doesn’t play out. There I’ve said it. I spend a lot of my professional life talking about how important it is for children to play out, away from their (possibly controlling/over anxious, almost certainly, insecure) parents but I cannot make it happen at home.Part of the reason is that I am at work and therefore not there to support it happening, partly it is because he loves the x box but mainly it is because there are no other children playing out.
I would like him to go and ‘knock’ for his mates and then for them to go to the park. That is what I used to do but the parents of his mates don’t feel safe about letting the children go by themselves.
This means that an adult must be free to facilitate the play, that they must stay at the park with a watchful eye, they will not be able to resist or will genuinely enjoy, organising games and therefore behaviours.
The ‘meetings’ for play (known as play dates) need to be set up, friends chosen, families vetted, safety kept uppermost in the minds and responsibility placed squarely on the play-dater’s shoulders.
I used to choose who I played with – my parents didn’t always like the children or their families. I didn’t care. I didn’t even consider it in my decisions. I worked it out for myself.
I was sometimes set up to play with people who my parents liked or friends they thought suitable – these weren’t the same people.
I find myself flummoxed by what is happening on a macro level in the UK right now, I have lost my confidence (if I ever had any) in those who have set themselves up to know more than the rest of us and am bewildered that the things that I value, beliefs that I have and opinions that I hold have no bearing whatsoever on what comes to pass.
I find myself returning to my experience as a young person when I couldn’t understand adults, why they did what they did or thought the things that they seemed to think and I am glad that I worked out then how to make up my own mind, consider my own decisions and live with the consequences of my actions.
We need to work out how to ensure our children and young people get the chance to develop these skills and build resilience so that they will be able to cope with what comes next. The adventure playgrounds in Islington offer this possibility but I don’t live in Islington- I need to work out how to get the parents of my son’s friends to let them out to play.
I will keep you updated. (And yes, the dog has gone).