Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Wiffle Ball Wishes

I've been following this story about a bunch of suburban kids who created a wiffle ball court in an abandoned lot in their town since it was in The New York Times a couple of weeks ago. Today it was sad to read this update in the Stamford Advocate. The town took the wiffle ball court down. The fact that it was even attempted gave me hope that the age of free outdoor play isn’t over.

For the past couple of years my son has been longing for the freedom to ride his bike “down the hill.” Down to the North End where most of the neighborhood boys play with skateboards, bikes and basketballs. Until now I have resisted. I felt the need to hover there while he played, reading in my car, or standing around with the dog on a leash, under the pretense of taking her for a walk. Apparently, after a certain age, it’s not cool to have your mom hanging around.

It’s been difficult for me to let him go. After all, I can’t see the North End from our house, and there are at least 10 houses between Our End and that one. The hill is steep, and there’s a dangerous corner where oncoming cars can’t be seen well (he has to get off and walk his bike in between mailboxes #10 and #14.) I felt the need to call the mothers of the boys in the North End, and ask them to keep an eye out for my son, allow him to use the phone if he needs to and serve as a general parental resource in case of emergency. Of course they said yes. But still I worry. And there are lots of questions I’m still pondering like how long he should he be allowed to stay down there? Can he go inside the other kids houses? and can he also visit the Friend on the Sidestreet?

I like this blog by Leonore Skenazy – it gives me some peace of mind. I’m realizing that I’m more comfortable with and used to my daughter’s separation anxiety. I have to sort this out, but in the meantime, here's hoping that this first step allows my son and his North End friends to be the kind of kids who are out there building wiffle ball courts, not hiding in the basement playing Grand Theft Auto.


Joanne said...

I know what you mean. I recently saw a large group of kids playing a rag-tag game of good old fashioned kickball. No uniforms, no shin guards, no helmets, no adult audience. And they were having a blast! It was great to see kids just being kids.

JGH said...

I've also heard about these new adult kickball leagues that have been forming -- and of course, getting way too competitive!