Letting go bit by bit



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.

How different?

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.

10 thoughts on “Letting go bit by bit

    • Wow – thanks! It’s sometimes hard to know just what is sensible or desirable on what is ostensibly a food blog. On one hand, bloggers can easily do whatever they please on their own sites. On the other, it’s important to maintain a blog’s focus. But Bennie has been such a big part of CTS, I reckon it’s cool to address broader issues such as this! Anything else you’d like me to bang on about? 🙂


  1. I think we are doing our kids a disservice. It is in their nature to explore and take risks.
    My favourite memories as a child was getting out and exploring the world around me, often doing the same as yourself and using the “before dark” rule as to when to be home.
    Part of the change in the way we live is that it is much easier for kids to keep amused at home, I think boredom was a big driving factor for me to get out and do something. But for the rest, as you say, I am also sceptical. I have a teenage daughter and her stories from city jaunts never contains any mention of seeing or being involved in anything dangerous.I would have thought that with almost every child these days having access to a mobile phone, we would be loosening the strings a bit more.
    Each set of circumstances comes with it own problems as now we are already talking about childhood obesity and the inability to communicate in person.


    • Yes, good points, Charles! At least Bennie and I get out and about on a regular basis, as you know – although that’s not exactly what you talking about! And he’ll be getting his first phone very soon …


  2. A couple of weeks back a Facebook friend posted pictures of one of his sons climbing a tree. He was wearing a bicycle helmet! I flashed back to a childhood spent playing in tree tops where the only safety equipment, a pair of gumboots, was left at the foot of the tree. Maybe I was reading too much into the new PC of safety aware tree climbing (they may just have paused on a bicycle ride) but it brought home just how much we mollycoddle our kids these days.

    Like you Kenny, I remember having a high degree of independence as a child. Living near a beach, a lot of time was spent in the water, fishing from the wharf, jumping and diving from that same wharf, climbing cliffs and riding bicycles forever. As long as we were home for dinner and our parents knew roughly where we were and who we were likely to be with, all was cool.

    These days, bike riding has become almost enforced recreation – an attempt to drag kids out on to the local bike path just to get them to do some basic exercise. For us as kids, a bike equalled freedom and adventure. We lived on them.

    Every School Holidays I am amazed at how much less traffic there is on the roads simply because there is no need for the mass chauffeuring of kids to and from schools. My son is roughly the same age as Benny and is about to start high school too. He has walked (and in later years ridden a bike) to and from primary school since about the 3rd term of Prep. Granted, it is a distance of about two blocks. Just recently I had a conversation with a relative-in-law about how Nick would get to high school. “He’ll walk”, I stated. “But, he can’t walk that far”. “Sure he can. It’s just over the hill. It takes about 15 – 20 minutes”. “But what if it rains? You’ll have to pick him up then” was the incredulous response. “He can wear a rain coat”.

    And then they wonder why their 20-somethings don’t leave home.


  3. Love the blog and the great food tips. Re: kid tips, don’t sweat it, they are so privileged to live in this great town and community. Just keep introducing them to new tastes and diversity and they’ll grow up fine, we all do eventually… Still remember the cheese rolls from the downstairs cafe? in the Octagon,simpler times and another great town…..


  4. Nearly every time you ask an adult to remember one of their most happiest memories as a kid, that memory will include being outside whether it be playing with friends on holiday with family etc! Thanks for the post! Always love reading your blog and now with a little one, I love reading not only about food but also about the many different things us parents have to deal with and think about! Have a great 2014 and lunchies soon!!!! 😀


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