Sunday, April 24, 2016

Free-Range Children


My piece in the Boston Herald today concerns giving children room to be children without adults hovering over them.

(Well, there you go! Now you don't have to bother going to the Herald's website to read it, let alone buy a hard copy of the paper. Of course, buying a hard copy now and showing at the door to the party I'll throw when I win my Pulitzer  - sometime in 2035, perhaps - will gain you admittance and there will be FREE liverwurst sandwiches, so the value is obvious.)

Of course, if you want to know MY OPINION on the matter, you'll have to read the piece. But, then again, if you've been coming here for any appreciable length of time, you can probably guess my opinion, so...

Oh, what the heck. Why not go there anyway? It will make me feel good knowing I'm not just taking the Herald's money for no good reason.

Soon, with (odds are decent) more better stuff.


10 comments:

joeh said...

The good old days! I agree.
I think neighborhoods were safer then. Everyone knew everyone. Everyone looked the same had the same customs, and went to church or synagog. There was almost always one parent for each kid at home, and other neighbors including the prick that took the home run balls was watching and cared about the kids. And there were plenty of kids all on the same block all looking out for each other and older kids teaching younger kids how to be kids. All elements that have somehow disappeared from most neighborhoods today.

I think today parents should get together to secure a field or two, provide bats balls and gloves, then drop off their kids and come back to pick them up 6 hour later. The'll miss the fun of watching, but the kids will have more fun and learn more baseball.

I cringe when I think of all the parents teaching the children all the wrong things about hitting and fielding...most didn't know what the hell they were talking about. "Elbow up!" "Point your foot" "Snap your wrist!" "Squash the bug" Frigging idiots. OK, squash the bug was a good tip, the rest crap!

Suldog said...

Joe - What you suggest could be a great middle ground, allowing the kids to still define themselves without too much interference but also taking into account our changing world. And, yeah, lots of folks who try to give tips have no clue and end up ruining a natural swing!

(not necessarily your) Uncle Skip, said...

To think, that back in the day, we would actually go to the school yard (not necessarily our own) and play there... without any supervision or interference.

Today, to get on the school's grounds requires either a key or burglar tools.

Wait... I could see this comment going on and on and accomplishing nothing more than getting myself exercised to the point of apoplexy.

BTW - my mom used to buy us tripled knee jean at Sears because of the way we played ball.

Suldog said...

Skip - I know, right? My Mom used to patch my jeans constantly. I bet nobody patches anything these days...

messymimi said...

Amen and amen! We are blessed to live across the street from a field and small wooded area and a creek, and i and the other moms in the neighborhood let our kids go play out there without us being with them every minute.

Craig said...

Good piece, Jim. You nailed it.

I grew up in a smaller town than you, but it was a similar dynamic. There were anywhere from 12-20 of us, on any given day, and we'd all decide which of half-a-dozen fields we'd meet at, and go with whoever showed up. If we didn't have enough to have three outfielders, we'd just say anything hit to the opposite field was a foul ball (or out; I forget which). Or we'd play 'work-up', with nine guys in the field, and two or three hitters, who got to keep hitting until they made an out. When they did, they'd go to right field, and everyone would move up one position, and the pitcher would go in to hit. And ghost runners, who moved up as many bases as the guy behind them. Great stuff. . .

Of course, in our town of 15,000 souls, back in those days, no-one was worried about whether their kids would come home at night, or what creepers might be lurking about. We'd all just ride our bikes to the other side of town (sometimes as much as 2 miles or more), play ball, and come home for dinner. A good working definition of Heaven for a 10-12 year-old boy. . . (and we had Lake Huron, too!)

Suldog said...

Mimi - It sounds you're doing it right, Bless you and the other moms!

Craig - When we were a bit older and didn't have enough for 9 on 9, we played "doubles". The idea was you could hit to any field, but there were no singles. You had to at least reach second base and at second it was a force out same as first base in a regular game.

My one claim to fame as pitcher (which I am not) was throwing a no-hitter in a game of doubles (and I think my teammates fudged a play or two on purpose, making errors on what would have been close plays to keep me alive. Still, I enjoyed it and I appreciated their love.)

Daryl said...

i never played softball or baseball but we had a somewhat empty lot next to our apartment building (eventually the bldg owner turned it into a parking lot) it never had grass .. it was crushed cinderblock ... we played running bases ... one day i slid into base and ended up at the doctor's office - the neighborhood doctor was a drunk but a nice guy - with a horrible gash which he cleaned out fairly well .. but remind me to show you the scar which really isn't a scar just the remaining cinderblock 'ash' he didnt get out ...

Unknown said...

OK, here's my version.

Early 60's, Rayfield Rd in Marshfield. 32 houses on a dead end road, almost all with kids - one with 9 kids, a lot of others with 4 or 5. So, lots of kids.

We spent whole days/weekends playing wiffleball at Sinnot's(?) field, right in back of the Shanley's (5 kids) house. It was an old apple orchard that had a good sized clearing in one corner.

The first base line went along some woods, so any foul balls on that side had to be fished out. Luckily, we had no lefties hitting. Distances to the bases were, uh, approximate, and 90-degree angles weren't invented yet. Home plate and first base were pretty big dirt patches, second base was downhill a little from first and smaller, third base was uphill a lot with just a small dirt patch. Third to home was the shortest distance of all. Left field, like third base, was uphill, sloping down towards center. Again, there was no right field.

It was perfect.

We usually went home for lunch and then headed right out again. The games stopped at night when the dinner calls were made. Some families used a cowbell, someone had some horn. At night, we'd throw balls up in the air and watch the bats chase them.

I just looked at our old field with Google earth and saw a sad sight. The field is all grown over, no more wiffleball.

Suldog said...

Great memory! The parking lot I talked about in the piece was in the process of being built upon when last I went back to have a look. The big yard we played in other days has since had a four-family house erected in it.

(sigh)