Tuesday, 2 October 2012

When did you start to play out?

I am the oldest child of three. I think it can be a bit tough being the oldest, it's almost like being the guinea-pig child. Obviously parenting doesn't come with a guidebook and you have to almost learn as you go along.

As a result I think that my two younger siblings got an easier ride thanks to me. I had to fight for a lot of independence and to push boundaries. First time I was allowed to go to a mixed sleepover, first time I was allowed to dye my hair, Pierce my ears, get a pair of doctor martens... all the things I had to fight and practically rebel for, my siblings were able to subsequently do no questions asked!

Most notably of these was being allowed to play out. I remember it so well, coming into school in the morning and my friends discussing the fun they'd had playing out the evening before. Poor little me, I wasn't allowed beyond the neighbour's gate!

One evening I sneaked out after school right up until tea time. I must have been eight years old. I have no idea how I thought I might get away with it. My parents were waiting for me on my return. As it was the very first instance where I had done something seriously naughty I wasn't smacked or yelled at. My parents must have been a bit shocked by my behaviour and a bit worried. Instead I was explained to how much I had upset my mother. I was eight years old and I'd just had loads of fun playing in ditches. I didn't care!

But now it's my turn to be a mother. I went on a buggy walk on Monday and on our estate I noticed an unkempt overgrown area where a fence had fallen down. Amoungst the overgrowth it was the perfect hideaway and hangout for kids. I imagined it would likely be the kind of place my little girl will hang out with her friends when she's a bit older. Although I'm sure it's harmless and it's exactly where my mother in law, who grew up in the house we live in, would have played in too but nevertheless the thought filled me with a little dread. What will I do when it's my turn? How old will I let my girl start to play out? I have to remember what I was like when making my mind up, eight years old seems far too young to play out but that's how old I was when I rebelled!

I asked my husband what he thought and he had a really good answer which made perfect sense. It depends on the child and how responsible they appear to be. I realised I was worrying about nothing for the time being!