Monday, May 24, 2010

Let your children play

We had great weather in Knoxville this weekend, perfect for spending time outside. Saturday was a little cloudy, but luckily we didn't have any rain and Sunday was a little warm, but still great weather.

Dylan and I make our usual trip to the Market Square Farmers Market on Saturday and picked up a Tennessee strawberry roll, cinnamon swirl muffin, peanut butter cookie and chocolate chip cookie all from VG's bakery. All were excellent, the strawberry roll was chewy and sweet and perfect, the cinnamon swirl muffin was similar to monkey bread and really moist, I would certainly get both again. We haven't tried the cookies yet (I keep forgetting about them b/c they are in the pantry) so we shall try and remember to eat them tonight. I also got pesto chicken salad from Ms. Cock-A-Doodles and while it was a little pricey $6.50 for a 1/2 lb. it was excellent and I can't wait to try her other flavors.

After the farmers market Dylan and I headed over to World's Fair Park for the Knox County Library's Children's Festival of Reading. There was a kids play area with bubble machines, water activities, a bounce house and free Mayfield milk. There were also tents set up with vendors selling food and children related businesses like the Concord Sailing School,, book sellers and much more. Dylan had a great time getting in the sailboat that Concord Sailing School brought and petting the dogs that were there from the Humane Society and rehab dogs from HABIT (especially the Great Pyrenees, he was so sweet!). And of course there were lots of storytellers and musicians for the kids to watch and listen to.

World's Fair Park has a huge fountain that all the kids loved to play in as well as a playground. And here is where I get to the part about let your kids play. While the playground was busy since there was an event it was made more busy by parents on the play equipment. Seriously people, if you child is over 2 years old and can't climb on the equipment by themselves don't let them go on it. Also, you don't have to stand directly behind your children while they are playing with cars under a tent. I'm sure they can figure out how to play with the cars on their own. You can stand back and let them play so other children can have room to play. I don't think anyone is going to snatch your child while you are five feet away. I also overheard a grandparent (I'm guessing) telling another person at the park that, "His mother just doesn't let him run, she always has him tethered," explaining why his grandson was running around having a great time. Hello, he's a kid, isn't that what they are supposed to be doing? Did I miss something here? We aren't talking about a dog here, we're talking about a child.

Saturday was actually Take your children to the park and leave them there day, a day thought up by Free-Range Kids parenting blogger Lenore Skenazy. She was made famous and labeled the "worst parent in America" by letting her then nine year old son ride the NYC subway by himself. Since that event she has taken in upon herself to encourage other parents to let their children bike to school, play at the park on their own, play outside in their neighborhood on their own and in general let them play like we did when were were growing up. I grew up in a very small town (Lowden, IA population: 700ish) and my summer days were spend at the park or at the pool. With no adult supervision. Yes, there were lifeguards at the pool. But, my friend Katy and I would ride our bikes or scooters to the pool and spend the afternoon there WITHOUT OUR PARENTS. We would also go to the park WITHOUT OUR PARENTS. I am sure we were out of our parents sight for hours at a time, we knew to come home before it got dark. And you know what? I survived!

I hope Dylan will be able to do the same, we do have a park with in biking distance of our house, there is one major road to cross, but I am sure he will be able handle it when he is old enough.

Statistically, kids are safer today than they were when I was growing up in the 80's and 90's. Crime is down, but you know what is up? Television viewing, every child that is abducted is plastered on the television for us to see, creating paranoia that is understandable, but unfounded.

So let your kids play on their own, let their imagination and independence grow. They will thank you for it. I know I do.

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