Maybe some others have seen this link about first grade readiness checklists now and back in the Jurassic Age. Well, actually, 1979 was not the Jurassic Age. The Jurassic Age was when I was a street urchin on the south side of Sault Ste. Siberia back in the early 1960s.
Anyway, I saw the link fly by on Facebook or Twitter a couple times and then my own beach urchin Lizard Breath (top photoooo, 1991, Mouse is the one with the rabbit hat, she had impetigo that day and so was not in school) emailed me the link and asked about her own childhood. And, well, yes, I did let her walk to her friend Shuggie’s house by herself at the age of six. Shuggie’s house is around one corner, just out of sight. And yes, I did expect her to call when she got there. And when she forgot (and she sometimes did), I called Shuggie’s moom to make sure she got there. She did walk to and from school (also very close to the Landfill) many days. But I (or the GG) often walked her there too. I remember once when she was nine and wanted to go to the schoolyard by herself to play. I guess I was hesitant because I still remember her saying, “Moom, I am nine.” She said it very gently, as LB does, i.e., Moom, I’ll be okay.
I often think to myself something like, “When I was a south side Sault Ste. Siberian street urchin, I was roaming all over the neighborhood by the time I was three.” When I really think about it, not so much. My moom and Laurie’s moom got us together in kindergarten but I’ll bet it was first grade before we started going back and forth to each others’ houses alone. We were about a block and a half away from each other and, for one thing, walking down my alley involved dodging the rocks the Waisenen bros threw. They were even younger than us and I don’t think they were allowed to leave their yard. At least Johnny wasn’t. He was maybe three but he was a dern good rock thrower.
Is the world more scary now than it was in the Jurassic Age (or 1979 (or 1991 (or 1600 (or…)))? I dunno. I could go on and on and on about how my childhood neighborhood was safe, yada yada yada. My parents *did* know a lot of people and those people knew me. My grandparents lived maybe 9-10 blocks away. And yet, there was that one time… I was eight and I was doing my current (rather OCD) evening routine of riding my bike around the block 20 times or whatever it was (it was a small block with approximately four houses on each side and an alley in the middle) and a stranger pulled up beside me in a car. He yelled what I now know was, “Hey kid, do you wanna go to the picture show?”. I was freaked out by him from the get-go but, to make it worse, there was a funeral home in the area with a name that sounded a lot like “picture show” but I can’t remember it for the life of me and Google isn’t turning it up. But I was thinking, “Why would I want a ride to a funeral home?!?” Anyway. I was two houses away from my house. I could run like the red queen at that age. I flung myself off my bike, grabbed it, and ran like hell with it past the Herons’ house and Green Thumb McGinnis’s house through my yard and into the garage. The guy was yelling “Hey kid, Hey kid” the whole time. What was he thinking? I got inside the house and saw his car screaming down the alley. What was he thinking? Was he actually still looking for me? I never told my parents this. I’m sure my dog Tigger was probably barking like heck, lunging at the back door, wanting to eviscerate him. (Moom, don’t be freaked out. I handled it. I lived and gave you grandchildren!)
A wonderful Haisley mafia moom who also happens to be a judge in this town once said that the thing we are all afraid of — that would be stranger abduction — *never* happens. I think she is largely right. I think that most of our country’s missing children have been taken away by relatives. Sad and scary (sometimes) as that is, they are usually not killed in those situations.
So… I think there are dangers to children in every generation. I think our job as parents is to try to educate our children about how to deal with those dangers. To be aware of our surroundings and the people in them and know how to react appropriately. I remember being told by my parents about not talking to strangers. I wasn’t always exactly sure who was a stranger or not. But the picture show guy was definitely a stranger and I was damned if was gonna go anywhere with him in his crappy old beater of a car. Say what? Fortunately, I was very close to home. And could run like the red queen…