Jump to navigation
Adrian Crook: Very superstitious—how fact-free parenting policies rob our kids of independence
Balance needed between parent's choices and child protection
I think I was about nine when I became a "latchkey kid". I'd come home from school at lunchtime each day, let myself in with my own key, prepare and eat my lunch, watch some cartoons on TV, then go back to school. Maybe it was against the law back then too, but nobody seemed particularly concerned.
And on weekends, a friend and I would cadge 90 cents from our parents and take the city (Sarnia) bus downtown to scrounge for comic books. If we had a bit of pocket change when the comics were bought, we'd pop into Kresge's and get soup and a sandwich at the lunch counter. Then, when we were "on our way home" we'd get on the #4 bus and typically ride it two or more times around the loop, sitting in the back and reading our comics and probably talking loudly and such, but it never seemed to be a problem, even for the bus driver.
Walking to the store alone? Hell ya. This was back when you could send your kid to the variety store for cigarettes!
Also, we tied an onion to our belt, which was the style at the time.
The first week or so of kindergarten my sister took me, and after that I was on my own. Not a huge walk, but along a major city street. By 10 I was taking bus and subway downtown on my own. Never got to stay home alone only because my boring parents and elderly gran never went anywhere, but I'm sure it would have been ok. To some extent perhaps we do live in a more dangerous world, but most childhood sexual assaults still happen within the safety of one's family. I think large institutions such as CAS's have become hugely risk averse over the years. Not so much risk to the kids as much as risk of lawsuites and gov't investigations. Same with school boards.
I'm kind of reluctant to say that we were "tougher" back then, because that's the kind of cliché I don't want to be.
But we "rode double" on our flimsy bikes, we climbed the TV antenna (millenial: "what's a TV antenna??") on to the roof, we ate peanut butter without suffocating, and we drank right from the garden hose ("mmmmm... Bisphenol A goodness, warmed by the sun!!"). And please don't tell my mom this, but we didn't always wait a full hour to go swimming after eating a sandwich.
My parents were glad to be rid of me. So long as I was home for dinner.