Free-Range Childhood

Moments of Truth
Moments of Truth
Free-Range Childhood

Tales of adventure from the age of latchkey kids on bikes, in the woods, and on their own.

2 thoughts on “Free-Range Childhood

  1. This is great! I wish I had heard this live, and you had a call-in segment so I could’ve ‘exposed’ how Hespos’s parents used to ‘keep track’ of him…

    Wherever we were in the neighborhood, shooting hoops in a driveway, street hockey, Tniffel ball in a yard, or up in the woods, we’d hear the loudest whistle I’ve ever heard (still, to this day), which would be Tom’s dad outside his house. Tom would then yell, at the top of his lungs, “Coming!!!!!!” and jump on his bike to head home.

    The point about supervision (or lack thereof) is well taken, I think, but what’s interesting to me is that we ‘self-regulated.’ Even without adults, we had our own ‘mores’ and ‘rules’ that constituted, in essence, a social code. While obviously not the same as the rules adults would impose, many of them did serve to tone down some of the serious injury risk certain behavior might entail.

    Examples I can think of: during ‘dirt ball’ fights at the piles of dirt at construction sites, there was a penalty for throwing a dirt clod that had a rock in it. They had to be ‘pure dirt.’ And, during winter on the somewhat Mad Max style sledding trails we used on the wooded hills to have ‘sled wars,’ plastic toboggans only were allowed; no metal-runner sleds, also known as ‘meat cleavers’ in our lexicon.

    Thanks for this; it really took me back.

    1. Thanks, Eric! I totally agree with you about self-policing. There was absolutely a set of rules we set for ourselves, lived by, and had methods of addressing should someone go outside of them. The dirt ball thing was something I lived with too. Chucking a dirt bomb with a rock was a *serious* transgression.

      Also, props to Tom for this whole episode. This one was his idea, and I’m really glad he surfaced it. This was such a fun episode.

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