A parent’s gift of independence – ‘roots to grow and wings to fly’…
Reading my colleagues’ blog posts about their freedom and adventures, my thoughts went to my role as a parent of two children. As Katy is five years older than Jamie and so grown up it was always so much easier to say no! But what do you say when your six year old son pleads and says ‘but all my friends are..?’ That first walk home from school on their own (big sister now at another school), the watching at the window, walking to the corner… and the relief when you see that little shape coming around the bend, nipping back indoors and acting as if you are totally surprised when they walk in through the door!
Playing in the gardens that surround our house meant that for the first nine years or so of Jamie’s childhood he didn’t tend to go very far (apart from that all important walk home from school.) All his adventures were here. With his best friends (two older Jonathans) living in the neighbouring houses and with ample space to explore, they simply didn’t need to roam. However, as the teenage years approached and new friends were made at ‘big school’ it was off to the fields and woods, lighting fires and meeting friends. His skateboard and bike gave him the opportunity to disappear, coming home tired and happy if not a little dirty and smelly!
Reading Festival at 17, was a real test of our parenting, but armed with all the ‘tools’ gained from those early opportunities to roam we felt he was ready to go a little further afield – so with wellies and tent off he went (that was a very long weekend for me!) From here it was a trip to Southern France to seek fame and fortune, back after three months of spending and sunshine! Last year, he went travelling and is presently in Australia. I believe it’s the gift of independence and freedom that has resourced him, given him the confidence to travel, see the world, make new friends and work in new places. One of the greatest gifts you can give your children – freedom and independence along with great wings and roots!
Jane Hembrow is a Nature play Worker at Play England. To mark the launch of the Policy Studies Institute (PSI) research on independent mobility, Play England staff will be sharing their personal stories and thoughts on the subject on this blog, we hope you enjoy them.