When I was Bennie’s age – actually, for quite a few years even before that – me, my sister and our various friends had the run of our city.
We moved freely all over a town of more than 100,00, sometimes by public transport, but more often by walking or bicycle.
During school holiday time that wasn’t taken up by family adventures in the countryside, we’d frequently disappear after breakfast and not return home until just before dinner.
During those wild, adventurous times – or so they seem to be in memory, although I also recall periods of utter boredom and tedium – our parents had little idea where we were, what we were up to and with whom.
But that was in another century and another country.
The environment in which my boy is on the very cusp of teenagedom and high school seems like a very different place.
Well that, to my mind, is a very interesting question, the answers to which are impossible to calculate as the issue is so very, very subjective.
Bennie is a worldly, savvy young man who is able to cope with and enjoy a wide variety of social settings and circumstances.
But for him, and pretty much every one of his mates AFAIK, out-of-school company has long been regulated by parents doing the phone rounds and delivering and picking up kids.
That seems unlikely to change even as the high school year starts and Bennie learns to get to and from using public transport.
Are the tight reigns on which parents keep their kids based on any reality at all?
I would argue that the colossal increase in road traffic, and in our area the thunderous trucks, warrant a high degree of caution.
But as for the rest – train station violence, Knifepoint, stranger danger, whatever other bogeymen you wish to name – well I just don’t know.
Hard to tell the difference between being an overly controlling parent and one who is simply being prudent.
In the meantime, Bennie’s parents are learning to deliberately, slowly loosen the binds that tie.
Walking a local friend home to his place.
Solo trips to the library.
Rudimentary shopping chores or gelati runs.
Goofing off in our local park with a school mate who is spending the day with us.
Doubtless such gestures may come to seem themselves as restrictive to our soon-to-be-teenager – just a few weeks away, really!
But at least it’s a start.