February 29, 2020

"While parents watch their kids’ games or dance classes, they strategize and share information in ways that help their kids."

"They’ll talk about how to get their children into the gifted classes and who the best math tutors are. In a nutshell, extracurriculars are 'where parents network with each other'... The downside: The kids whose parents can’t afford extracurriculars, and who don’t have the opportunity to network in these ways, might be missing out. Furthermore, the pressure parents put on kids and teens to excel may undermine their mental health.... But... should feel free to enroll our kids in activities they might benefit from and that they enjoy. But we need to let our kids be kids, too...."

From "Are Expensive Activities for Kids a Rip-Off?/Circus school?!" (NYT).

Reading between the lines, I can't help thinking the messages is: Sure, keep fighting for advantages for your own kids, and don't worry about the less privileged kids whose parents can't afford it or can't or won't spend their time networking with other parents who are supercharging their kids for success.

Somehow, reading that article made me think of this thing I was reading yesterday: "8 Fun (and Possibly Dangerous) Activities Enjoyed by Past Generations That Today's Kids Will Never Experience" by Megan Fox (PJ Media). I especially identified with #8: "Play all day with no adult supervision, roaming neighborhoods and friends' houses until dark":

When I was about seven, I was allowed to run with my sisters and the neighborhood kids all summer until the street lights came on. We would dash out the door after breakfast and not be home until dinner. My mother had no idea where we were. We would eat lunch at whoever's house was offering, drink from garden hoses, run through backyards uninvited, play at the park, walk to the White Hen for candy, visit the library, chase the ice cream truck, and ride bikes miles away from home. Nobody ever questioned us or even looked at us funny.... Now, the streets are empty and children are shuffled from one scheduled and supervised activity to the next, or to "playdates" or organized sports. There's no time or opportunity to just be wild and free from adult supervision. It's flipping depressing.
When I walk (or drive) around my neighborhood and beyond, I often think or say out loud, "Where are the children?" Are they inside looking at big and small screens? Are they chauffeured to adult-run activities? It's so sad! Even in the 80s when my sons were little, the neighborhood had kids outdoors, playing randomly with each other. But back in the 1950s, when I was little, the neighborhood was a constant festival of kid-dom. So much active, inventive play. It was endless. Nobody wanted our parents to scoop us up and take us anywhere. The place was completely alive and completely kid-scale, and none of it had anything to do — as far as we could tell — with preparing for a prestigious and remunerative career. I can't imagine any parents barging in and trying to leverage things for the advancement of their offspring. We were, to ourselves, on our own.


Fernandistein said...

MY parents took me on trips up to the mountains, but I always found my way back.

Michael K said...

The left wants kids to be indoctrinated. When my older son was applying to college he was asked to write an essay on something he had done that was really significant to him. He wrote an essay on sailing to Hawaii with me at age 16. Most people would think that an adventure for a kid. His high school counselor asked him if he really wanted to go to college, since his essay was so trivial. I'm sure the counselor would have preferred an account of a peace march.

Lincolntf said...

I was born in 1971, and grew up playing outside all day. Only one family required their kids to come in when the streetlights came on, the rest of us played until it was pitch dark. My favorite "kids playing" memory is a game of "War" that lasted an entire summer. Basically just playing "Chase" with "jails" and designated battle areas which we designated "Vietnam", a swampy patch of forest, and "Germany", a large abandoned nursing home in the neighborhood. You were allowed any weapon but rocks, we mainly used dirt clods like snowballs as our primary weapon. Good times and I still hang out with half of the people who played.

Shouting Thomas said...

First, there are a lot fewer kids, particularly in middle class or upper middle class white communities in hipster towns.

I’m trying to provide this old fashioned type of life for my grandkids. I’m the live-in grandpa. We’ve got 6 acres on top a mountain.

Three kids, which is the number of my daughter’s brood, is now a big family. My grandkids are ultra-lucky that they have this little mob of siblings for play, fighting, exploring, etc.

If only I could get them in church.

Danno said...

I was a free-range child back in the day.

Iowan2 said...

Or. Parents could do the same thing church and scouts, just to name two.

mccullough said...

Latch Key Kids

Bob Boyd said...

We ran wild too. Aside from the odd drowning or one us of getting run over by car, it was fine. Good times. Great days.
Oh sure, once in a while child molester would come along, but we'd just laugh, pull our pistols and gun the bastard down. For us, it was all part of the fun of being a kid.

Wilbur said...

I first noticed 25 years ago that you never saw kids just playing outside anymore in South Florida.

I would see parks or schools with great ball diamonds, open and empty. When there were kids there, they were supervised by parents. We would've killed to have a beautiful place to play baseball all day, instead of in some open field, dodging stumps and bushes.

The times change. My childhood was in some ways idyllic, some ways not so.

Ralph L said...

Until dark? Kick the Can at night is the only way to do it.

traditionalguy said...

Friends in the neighborhood also added extra parents to the mix. Interestingly, they all were different. And we also played baseball and tackle football without equipment at the local fields reachable by bicycle. Swimming at the neighborhood pool was 3 to 4 hours and Chlorine hazed over eyes told us when to go home. And we all belonged to the same Boy Scouts Troop and camped together. Sadly two later died in Viet Nam .

mockturtle said...

Fernandistein recalls: MY parents took me on trips up to the mountains, but I always found my way back.


Fernandistein said...

they strategize and share information in ways that help their kids

Is the assertion that those parental activities help their kids backed up by useful data?

"Specifically, parents’ genetics influence the environments that give children their start in life, while children’s own genetics influence their social mobility across adult life."

Lucien said...

“One of these days” I keep telling myself, I am going to look into contacting Lenore Skenazy, to see if I can help families persecuted because they raise free range kids.

gilbar said...


People all the time talk, about how people like Bill Gates and Zuckerdude
...."Never got a college degree"
sometimes, people will brag about how these guys,
...."Dropped out of college"

And, it IS true; they didn't stay to get degrees. They went to Harvard JUST LONG ENOUGH,
to obtain a network of contacts.... Which is THE WHOLE POINT of going to the ivy league

I'm SURE that there are successful Billionaires, that never went to college; at all
Could someone name me a few?

As i wrote this, i thought: Koch brothers! i'll bet THEY never went to college
" Fred Koch graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1922, where he obtained a degree in chemical engineering practice."

but there have GOT to be PLENTY of Billionaires, that never even WENT to college;

how about Warren Buffet?
In 1947, Buffett entered the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. After being rejected by Harvard Business School, Buffett enrolled at Columbia Business School of Columbia University


stevew said...

We used to do the same thing. My mother, the stay at home sort at the time, would kick us out after breakfast, welcome us in for lunch if we wanted, kick us back out until supper, and then let the eldest of us (there were 6, I am the oldest) stay out until dark.

mockturtle said...

My childhood was pretty free-range. Playing outside with neighbor kids was the norm. I did take skating lessons and was in Bluebirds/Camp Fire Girls but that's it. There was a time when I over-organized my daughters' activities but the realization that it was stressful for them made me pull back.

Childhood should really be about discovery and if children can't learn to explore independently and develop their personal skills, they will grow up to be----snowflakes.

The Minnow Wrangler said...

I remember dividing into "big kids" and "little kids" too and sometimes we would war against each other. But yeah you just went to the neighbor's house and knocked on the door and said "Can Mikey come out?"

gilbar said...

Dr K said...
something he had done that was really significant to him. He wrote an essay on sailing to Hawaii with me at age 16.

I wonder if the councilor even read it enough to realize that:
A) you two didn't go to Hawaii on a cruise ship
B) your boat was so small, that it didn't even have a swimming pool!
C) you Crazy Nuts didn't even use a motor vessel!!

Did y'all even have Loran? What DID you do in the middle of the ocean? Just hope your clock was correct?

Tom T. said...

This sounds like a very narrow subset of parents in Manhattan.

Roughcoat said...

My dad to my older brother and me, 1950s:

"Get out of the aparment, let the wind blow the stink off you! Don't come home til the street lights come on."

No organized sports for us. No organized anything. Dad was against organized activities, for the most part. Hated Little League, for example. Gave us total freedom to do what we wanted over the course of a long summer day/evening. Never asked questions about what we were up to. As long as the cops didn't bring us home, he didn't care. We loved it. Wise man, my father.

I now suspect that the principle reasons my parents had for throwing out of the apartment was to have the privacy to make more brothers and sisters for us.

They succeeded.

gilbar said...

Now, the streets are empty and children are shuffled from one scheduled and supervised activity...

So, kids sit at home, sexting with adults; and once every day, or two; their mom will drive them to the park. . .

And we Wonder why are kids are fat!
But! We're keeping them SAFE! If they're home with their iPhones, they can't get in any trouble; Right?

The Cracker Emcee Refulgent said...

Less-privi, oh fuck, affluent parents, can game this clubbiness by volunteering in their children’s school. Of course, poor kids parents usually have less free time (though sometimes a lot more) and in some instances there’s an actual language barrier. I’ve seen a first-generation Mexican immigrant become the most important parent in the private school just because he was always willing.

Howard said...

Ferdenanstein:"Specifically, parents’ genetics influence the environments that give children their start in life, while children’s own genetics influence their social mobility across adult life."

That's why you have to select the strongest, athletic, mentally balanced, talented, diligent, hard working, most intelligent beautiful female that will have you.

Roughcoat said...

One free-range Saturday day while tooling around the neighborhood on our bikes we came upon a dead man in a car. How cool was that.

You don't get that from organized activities.

Another time my best friend and I caught a huge old snapping turtle in the nearby sewage canal. With great difficulty we loaded it into a wheelbarrow and paraded it around the neighborhood showing it to our friends. It was hissing and snapping at us all the whole time. After a while we took it back to the canal and released it.

You don't get that from organized activities.

Another time we spent hours dropping big rocks on these big dead fish that had washed up on the Lake Michigan shore. The rocks would make them explode and their guts would spurt out all over. How cool was that.

You don't get that from organized activities.

And etc.

Psota said...

Not sure how it is in other places, but where I live (SF Bay Area) it is not possible to be a latchkey kid...the school bus won't drop off my daughter unless the driver sees an adult in the driveway waiting for her.

And do I take her to "enrichment activities?" Damn right I do. There is a lot of dead time at school. She's learned more math from one year of Kumon than she did in four years of elementary school.

I guess I could let her wander around the neighborhood but there's one too many homeless/lost-soul types also wandering around. Guys like that were not a major presence back in the Seventies/Eighties but it's a definite concern now.

David53 said...

I asked my Dad what he did as a kid. He said he was picking cotton when he was four, sometimes they would let him go fishing. He said slaughtering the hogs was memorable, yea bacon! He was inspired by Lindbergh's flight in 1927 to become a pilot. WWII made that a reality for him. He enjoyed flying.

Different times.

Tom said...

At age 6, the kids in my neighborhood were exploring the woods behind my house all day. By 5th-6th grade, we were building forts or riding out bikes from one end of our town to the other (about 4 miles total). In the summer, it wasn’t odd for us to play hide n seek in our neighborhood until the street lights came on. It also wasn’t odd to be left at home when my mom ran to the store or after work. It was an entire town of latchkey kids. When we learned the term latchkey kids, that just sounded like kids to us.

By junior high we were gone from morning until after dark. Since we lived a few blocks away from another rougher town, we had to do our risk assessment on where to play or risk getting into fights.

We also played a lot of pick-up sports. Football down the park was an almost constant. In the summer, it was basketball at the park or whiffle ball in the street.

There were some organized activities, like Boy Scouts and sports. But there was also a lot of time where we could make up how’s we’d play or organize ourselves.

It wasn’t a dangerous town but there we’re fights. By junior high, most boys had learned to protect themselves. There wasn’t a worry someone would pull a knife or gun - but matters were sometimes settled with fists and we learned three things. How to take a punch, how to throw one, and that it really hurts to get hit so find alternatives to fighting. I think there’s a confidence that comes from knowing you can hold your own and knowing you can de-escalate a situation.

Drugs weren’t an issue for my age group. Some kids smoked pot in high school but mostly, we didn’t have drug issues while we were in school. There were drinking issues in high school. I didn’t drink until college so I was the DD a lot. Unfortunately, drugs began to pour into town a little after I left for college and it ended up wrecking this small, working class town for a while.

Sadly, school rewarded hard working conformists and not deep learning. Almost none of the valedictorians did well in college. Frankly, those that succeeded in college and then in our careers tended to be poor students at my school. If you were bright, school felt more like serving a prison sentence than a place of real learning. Fortunately, my parents, who didn’t have a lot of money, found programs at local colleges and museums for me to learn. They also saved for years so I could go to space camp. So, I did most of my learning on my own and in these sorts of programs and not in formal school. Thank goodness, college was different. But I believe I had spend years undoing the damage done by attending public school. In my 40s, I went to grad school a second time at an Ivy League school and did extremely well and that helped me realize how disastrous my pre-college schooling had been. However, I was one of the few people in my Ivy League cohort who had ever been in a fist fight.

My wife and I couldn’t have kids. But my best friend has my god son and we play a pretty active role for him. It’s amazing to me how programmed his life is and his dad had a childhood much like mine. I think he’s getting a far better education in school than I did. But I worry he’s not learning the street smarts that have proven so helpful.

So, I think there’s advantages and disadvantages that everyone gets from their upbringing. There’s no perfect.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

mccullough said...Latch Key Kids

That was me and my brother when we were kids (ages 10 and 8) until forever. Both parents worked. Sometimes different shifts where my father would be coming home after it was time for us to go to school, and my mother would be going to work before we left for school. Later the same shifts but still not in time with our school day.

We got ourselves to school on time. Were able to remember our own lunches and homework. We were trusted to not be idiots. Came home from school, unlocked the door. No one was home yet. It was usually an hour or so gap where we were alone. Made a snack. Played outside or in the house. Maybe checked in with our neighbor (if instructed)

The only rules were..1.Stay around home or play at the neighbors house with our friends, until Mom or Dad were home. 2. Don't use the stove and burn down the house. 3. Don't hurt each other. and 4 DON'T make a mess or you have to clean it up.

The rest of the time it was just like everyone else remembers. Free range kids. Be home by dark or specified time. NO adult supervision or helicopter parenting.

I feel bad for my Grandkids. Every moment of their time seems to be structured in sports or other activities. I feel bad for my daughter and SIL too. They also have to be structured every moment to make sure the kids are at their activities. They are exhausted!! They chose this, though. /shrug

Big Mike said...

It was also very normal for kids as young as seven to be sent to the store alone to shop with a list.

It's part of the family lore that my mother sent me to the local store back when I was six or seven to get a pound of lunch meat and a Hershey bar, and in the half block walk to the corner store it morphed into asking the grocer for a pound of Hershey bars. After that I was sent off with a written list.

But, yeah, we could be on our own -- we were expected to get out of the house and go play. The small town I grew up in bordered on woods and a bunch of us would get together and go fishing. Never caught anything worth catching, but that wasn't the point, was it?

Sally said...

Ball games lasted 20 or 30 innings as some kids came and some kids left.

Rick.T. said...

My childhood was exactly as described in the excerpt. We also played all sorts of sports for hours which we’d have to organized for ourselves. It’s interesting now when younger relatives with children from the big city suburbs make a pit stop for a day or so on their way to Florida. The kids love to run wild over 50 acres of hills, woods, creeks, and fields.

Freeman Hunt said...

Kids run around and play on our street. The key is to have enough kids to move the center of activity gravity and ban screentime.

Ralph L said...

We had several future criminals playing on our street. They were the kids of the Lutheran minister (who beat them), and the state attorney (who took sexual favors from defendants' women).

Shouting Thomas said...

Nobody’s taken up my assertion that the smaller size of families plays a big role in the isolation of the kids.

My siblings and I numbered four, and we grew up in the 50s and 60s. We protected one another when we explored the neighborhood. Most families that we played with had four to six kids, sometimes more.

Now, most people have one or two kids. In these circumstances, few kids can provide a protective posse for their siblings.

All the moms are out working, too, so there’s no place to run for help when needed.

Freeman Hunt said...

As for the article, the kind and quality of that networking depends on the activity.

Michael K said...

Did y'all even have Loran? What DID you do in the middle of the ocean? Just hope your clock was correct?

Loran did not work offshore. It was no help with coming in to Hawaii as it must have been directed to the west. I never figured that out.

As far as the middle of the ocean, We raced hard. My son was the guy in the white tee shirt in the middle.

I used a sextant and a Texas Instruments digital watch as chronometer. We hit Makapuu Point right on and finished at 6 AM.

gilbar said...

Loran did not work offshore

That's for sure! That's why i asked about your clock : )
I'd be VERY Confident of my navigational skills for getting from Hawaii, back to the Mainland,
But Hawaii seems a little too small for me : )

I still think the Counselor had NO CLUE what was involved

jim said...

College billionaires:

Mike Bloomberg went to my school, Hopkins, a few years before me, electrical engineering I think.

Made his billions, and is giving billions to Hopkins; especially the Public Health school, which is now at the forefront of the current plot to get Trump. All a coincidence? I think NOT!

JAORE said...

"...don't worry about the less privileged kids whose parents can't afford it or can't or won't spend their time networking with other parents who are supercharging their kids for success."

And for frick's sake don't let them have a chance to go to a charter school.

Michael K said...

I'd be VERY Confident of my navigational skills for getting from Hawaii, back to the Mainland,
But Hawaii seems a little too small for me : )

Hard to miss but people miss Hawaii every few years. There was a story a few years ago about a typical couple who knew nothing and were found 500 miles west of Hawaii by a fishing boat.

h said...

People keep rediscovering the fact that rich people have advantages that poor people don't have. This fact annoys them, and they want government to adopt rules and regulations to reduce or eliminate these advantages. I don't really understand this point of view.

JAORE said...

Our youngest is 29. We picked our (final?) home because the neighborhood reminded me of the way I grew up. Sure enough, turn 'em loose, there were seven in a two block area within a year of each other. More importantly there were nine or ten mothers and grandmothers willing and able to rat them out if things went way too far.

As my neighbor put it, If Joe (her child) acts up, the instructions are printed on the bottom".

BUMBLE BEE said...

Kick the can at sunset and later was the greatest! It was also the time the bats came out to get their skeeters. Perks with monkey bars and high up slides, whew! Learning how to fight and defend yourself was very important in the big city. Open fields and houses under construction were great for the imagination. My grandfather took us up to his hunting cam a couple times in summer. He gave us each a pocket knife and a compass, showed us around the woods for orientation, (poison ivy training etc.), and we were let loose! Best times of all.
ST.... show the grandkids the world!

BUMBLE BEE said...

Parks were perks! Fields were better.

Lucien said...

@Gilbar: Kylie Jenner? Roger Federer? Oprah? Howard Hughes?

Yancey Ward said...

My family had three channels of television until my father bought a 13 foot satellite dish in the Summer of 1982 when I turned 16. During the morning and day, those channels only had the three morning news programs (Did CBS even have such a show the morning?), game shows, then the soaps on the afternoons. Only at 4 p.m. did they have anything a kid would want to watch, and even then the pickings were slim and mostly uninteresting. Needless to say, there were no smartphones or internet. If you were in the house, the only interesting thing was reading a book or magazine, and we didn't have magazines until I was a teenager either. Only on Saturday morning would I or any kid I knew watch actual television during the daytime. I spent most days I wasn't in school outside doing something, even if I was by myself, and I had lots of cousins and friends my age that lived within a half mile in a very rural area. There was always basketball, base/soft-ball, swimming holes, etc. Lots of things to do that I look back on with fondness and a sort of loss.

My oldest sister had her two children in 2002 and 2004, and they were really the first children I had any real interaction with after my own childhood had ended. I noticed that neither of them spent much time outside their parents' home, and their parents didn't let them watch a lot of television, so I couldn't blame that- it was mostly all indoor play, then later internet/smart phone involvement. There is a pretty good childrens playground/ park not far from where I live, and I never see children in it unless it is a very small child (under 4 years of age) with an accompanying parent, and few of those. Had I had a playground like that near home, we would have been there every single day for hours at a time.

gilbar said...

Lucien said...
@Gilbar: Kylie Jenner? Roger Federer?
Not sure that these two are Billionaires,
and with Kylie, she already HAD the network connections

transferred to the affluent suburban Nicolet High School, which secured her a full scholarship to Tennessee State University,
Howard Hughes?
Hughes withdrew from Rice University shortly after his father's death.

Yancey Ward said...

"Until dark?"

Same here. If there was no school the next morning, dark wasn't the limit for us, either. We often had massive games of hide and seek (10 or more participants) at night, definitely the best time for the game- you could literally hide by laying down in the back yard.

MayBee said...

But yeah you just went to the neighbor's house and knocked on the door and said "Can Mikey come out?"

We grew up going to the neighbors' doors and doing this sing-songy thing to get the kids out: "JU-uu-LIE, JER-eeer-RRIE"
Did anyone else do that?
How funny that is to me now.

gilbar said...

Dr K said...
Hard to miss but people miss Hawaii every few years.

I SUPPOSE if i was going to Hawaii i'd do it the old fashioned way, listening to
KGU(760 AM)

Yancey Ward said...

I did play Little League baseball, and it was a bit of an effort for my parents, both of whom had to work since the games were played 13+ miles from where we lived. That is the only organized activity I ever participated in that required my parents' involvement.

rhhardin said...

It's soap opera force. It's no fun for kids but the news is really entertaining. Sell eyeballs to advertisers.

In particular, child sexual abuse was discovered in the 70s, as sure-fire clickbait. The rest is history.

You never heard of it before that.

Michael K said...

I SUPPOSE if i was going to Hawaii i'd do it the old fashioned way, listening to
KGU(760 AM)

We used to go to Catalina listening to KBIG which had its transmitter at Long Point. We had an RDF long before Loran.

wildswan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
wildswan said...

I now have cluster of related young adults - New Directions in Life. One went to MIT and became a nun teaching in a girls school; one went to Ohio State for an MA in chemistry and is a seminarian; one went Iraq and one to Afghanistan twice, both ran for office afterward as anti-war Democrats (but lost) - they then became a pollster and a town planner; one went to an Ivy league former-womens-college of the kind the striving parents above are working to get their kids in and when she found Tarzan and Japanese comics were the literary curriculum, she left after three months for a real college; one went into programming; one went into 3D printing; one is an EMT; one into Global Health; one into psychological counseling; one into osteopathy with an MD; one into drugs, the gateway being marijuana. I asked one of them what happened to the COEXIST bumper stickers and she said: "we are so far beyond that." Another told me that fighting the racist IQ theories made me a racist for noticing the conflict while two others said my opposition to Charles Murray was based on ignorance of science. Two of them reproached me for serving juice instead of water when baby-sitting. One told me that if she stayed home with her kids she just be a nanny whereas if she worked in day care center she would be a professional. They all are the kindest people in the world and very nice to me, generally ignoring my opinions and decayed faculties. So I'm a lucky woman in a brave new world

madison mike said...

I've spent forty years looking out my house's side windows at a large park near West Town mall on Madison's westside. I've never seen a pickup game of baseball/football, just organized soccer. In my day........it's all been said above except my parents put us to work around fifth grade doing lawns, newspaper routes, collecting for monthly refuse service (no public garbage available): later came the gas station/caddying, janitor and the best summer job of all, carrying mail, delivering parcel post 80 hours a week at 2.5 times minimum wage.

I do volunteer medical rides for RSVP. One of my regular ones was a guy who grew up near the Proviso RR yards in suburban Chicago. In high school, he and his buddies would hop freights to see how far they could get by mid afternoon and then catch a freight going back.

Ralph L said...

Rockefeller began working as a bookkeeper at 16, Carnegie as a bobbin boy in a cotton mill at 13.

Jim at said...

My parents turned us loose in Wapato Park. A huge park - with a lake - inside the Tacoma city limits.

We'd be gone all day. Building forts after a big windstorm. Damming up one of the small creeks that fed into the lake. Maybe a pick-up softball game at one of the fields.

Parents wouldn't dream of doing that now.

Ann Althouse said...

If we had to go in at dark, how would we have caught lightning bugs?

Meade said...

“In particular, child sexual abuse was discovered in the 70s, as sure-fire clickbait. The rest is history.

You never heard of it before that.”

Except for the case of Sylvia Likens, who, when I was 10, many of us heard of by picking up the Indianapolis Star.

Andrew said...

I remember when playground swings could get you two stories off the ground. Took my nieces kids to the local park, the swing sets were for pussies. ;-)

eddie willers said...

How to take a punch, how to throw one, and that it really hurts to get hit so find alternatives to fighting.

I had two fights as a kid. I won the first one.

Don't have to tell me twice!

Freeman Hunt said...

Here's a secret no one talks about: the most intense parent networking is not money-based, though that helps. It's IQ-based. There are several orgs, some of them free, for families with profoundly gifted (That's an actual term.) children. It's a different level of parent networking.

eddie willers said...

Except for the case of Sylvia Likens,

I had not heard of her so I went to Wikipedia. Holy BeJesus. Just when you think you've heard of the worst depravity you can imagine, you discover again that truth is stranger than fiction.

I so wish all had gone to Old Sparky.

Freeman Hunt said...

I went to Wikipedia too. Yow! Didn't read all of it. And they eventually let the killer out! Unbelievable. That's a good reason for the death penalty right there.

J said...

Jim- I don’t even go to Wapato Park WITH my kids. There are so many beautiful parks in the area, but it’s getting harder to find places to take the kids that feel safe—even with a group of moms and kids. Sure, I’d love to send my kids out in the world to play, but there are so many homeless people living at the parks that it would be reckless.

Narr said...

Child sexual abuse? Like Nabokov noticed going on in the world, and was damned for?

In 1960 we moved out east to the then city limits. Farms, scrub, woods, gravel pits, creek bottoms, all turning into suburbs over the next ten years. We could ride our bikes miles out on a Saturday, and not return until dark; we could travel blocks underground in the storm-sewer system; we often stayed out well past dark in the summers, and the streets were full of kids of all ages and combinations (albeit all white back then).

Some of my friends did organized stuff, but the most I did was 1 year of Boy Scouts. I'm not sure I was even aware of organized activities beyond that and Little League baseball, which my older brother was made to play by our father, and interested me not at all. My widowed ma certainly had no time or money to invest in getting us places, and only my next brother (I was 2 of 4) ever went out for a team.

My wife had four brothers herself but we've only got the one son. We got him into theater camp one summer, and he went to space camp in Huntsville (both his ideas, not ours) but otherwise, and with some real differences due to location and neighborhood demographics, he had nearly as much free-range time as we did, on a smaller range.

Most of our friends went whole-hog on the organized, play-date, what's the best preschool treadmill. But then our friends could afford it.

It's hard to know what difference any of it made

Kirk Parker said...


We used to have our big annual extended family picnic at Wapato Park. I

Caligula said...

"Are Expensive Activities for Kids a Rip-Off?" is not so hard to answser, is it? Of course it's a ripoff. In the same way those costly SAT-prep courses are a ripoff.

They're a ripoff in the sense that although the costly prep courses work, they don't work any better than buying and using that $15. Barron's paperback prep-book. And so, too, for those costly activities: technically they "work," but, there are so many far less costly ways to obtain the same benefit that the word "ripoff" seems appropriate.

In any case, a good deal of New York's Upper West Side politics can be seen in a single image: a view one can see on any day of any of the dozens of those ancient Robert Moses era playgrounds. The old playgrounds have soft surfaces now, and the old jungle-gyms and other hazardous equipment are long, long gone. But it's what they don't have that one notices: what they don't have is children.

Doug said...

Don't dare do anything for your own children until underprivileged kids everywhere have the same opportunities, no matter the poor choices their parent(s) made.