Freedom

The children have been given more freedom this past week to be able to stretch their wings a bit more. We are quite lucky to back up to a good size community field, but until now the access was blocked, by us.

[Side blurb: Luckily for us, the original owner of the house had access to the field, or else we would have to walk around the block to gain access. (Which is why we don’t go!) They have a strange love affair here in England with fencing off property and controlling access to open areas, even if they are public areas. When we realized I was pregnant with Hazel we decided to let the upper parts of the hedge grow over the old gate door, but never let the hedge expand-so that we could keep the original gate posts to prove access was previously established. The funny part is-if I cut down our hedge, we would have to sign a waiver denying us direct access to the field-strange, isn’t it?]

Anyway-we have had a small opening through the hedge they could get through to get any balls, etc… that went over the hedge for the past year or so. Mind you-our two would never go into the field without asking, so it was only used with our permission, and with us outside. It was also a small gap so as not to let anyone with ill-intent in the field know there was an access point. We have a huge hedge at the boundary point, and there are lots of hedges in front of that, blocking our gate entrances from view-so it is a secluded corner. But as they’ve gotten bigger, we decided it was time to expand their playing area. It was also an attempt to get their ‘fence friend’ Jenna to be able to come round more. Jenna’s garden backs onto the same field, but part of her garden fence is along our garden, where the kids swing set is.

The children finally ‘met’ each other last year and have had a ‘fence’ friendship. Basically-they chat through the slats in the fence. Think how prisoners in isolation would chat through the walls to each other-and that’ll give you a good idea of the friendship. Funny thing is-they were all fairly content. As we didn’t have an access point in the back-her parents were against her walking around the block to our road-especially as the one we are on can be busy. So while we were doing some gardening on Monday-Michael took out the old gate panels, and voila-freedom!

It was amazing-within seconds Jenna’s parents opened their gate-and the real friendship began. I had a chat with her mom about what restrictions she had-so we agreed they could go anywhere in the field, as long as they went with a partner and didn’t leave anyone out there on their own. I have no way of seeing into the field, and she has a huge fence and hedge as well-so it will be on a trust basis. I know Hazel & Kieran won’t do anything wrong-just hope they don’t fall prey to anything. It was really weird having them gone for ages at a time, and fun to have the kids popping in and out of each others gardens. Though it has been half-term, Jenna was in day camp most days, so my two were out exploring on their own. They are getting to know the dog walkers, and have met a few of the other kids (2 were actually in Hazel’s ballet class) whose gardens back along the field-though there isn’t access from their houses, it’s just around the corner for them. So in the short span of time-I’ve heard about all sorts of people, have learned about their dogs-and have been a bit nervous-but enjoying their new freedom. They are all looking forward to the re-opening of the play park which has been completely overhauled. My one dilemma with that-is it’s on the far end of the field! The section right behind our hedge is a ball playing area for football (soccer) and cricket, etc…, and then there is a large meadow, and then the playground. It’s not in shouting distance-so I wouldn’t hear them if something went wrong. Odd bit is-when they ride their bikes to the play park I have no problem with them going that far-because they are on a ‘vehicle’ moving all the time, it feels safer.

I have had to devise one ‘safety’ measure, to give me peace of mind. Whenever they are riding the circuit-every time they come back to our corner-they each have to ring the bells on their bikes. I know-a bit silly, and when ‘we’ were kids we all got up and left the house till the next meal time, etc… Yes-logically I know that-but that fear factor is hard to get round when it’s ‘my kid’.

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2 Responses to Freedom

  1. Jax says:

    We were at the little local park today and a horde of children came in on bikes. Some of them came into the playing area, and some just continued to ride bikes around the paths as well as the football pitch and grass. I was looked at very oddly by the other children, who didn’t interact with my two at all – but there is no way that I’ll be letting my two go there for a while without me, Small is only just six and there are three roads to cross as well as a fair walk in between it all.

    As we walked back I saw one bike and scooter on the driveway of a house perhaps five or six down the road from the park entrance, and it made me think that while we talk about the freedom we had as children, I seem to remember being mainly limited to our road, until my last year or so of primary school, when I did used to be allowed to go up on the moors with a large group of other children. So not until I was 11, a good bit older than Big is yet.

    • Elizabeth says:

      As the field is right up against our backgarden there are no roads to deal with–or else they wouldn’t go yet. The field is a ‘community’ park–and has a row of houses either side overlooking the field. There aren’t that many people that actually use it–which I think is part of what makes me nervous. As soon as the other neighbourhood kids come home-I feel a bit more relieved as there are more of them out there. Then again–I’m not sure if I like them all! There is always going to be a hard side to all of this, isn’t there? Though the kids are 7.5 & 6.5–I trust they won’t go anywhere they shouldn’t–they are both very responsible kids, especially Hazel. So though I’m sure they won’t do anything daft–I have no reassurances as to how they’ll react to danger. We’ve gone over what they can/should do if approached, etc..–just hope they never need to use it.

      Growing up we had the same ‘road’ restrictions as you–but we lived in an area where there were two main roads near our house. These two roads, a train track and a school created the boundries of where we could go–as we couldn’t cross those roads, only occasionally were we dumb enough to go near the tracks, and we couldn’t go beyond the school. Our road was the shape of a ‘U’, and we could get to the two neighbouring streets through backgardens–so that gave us quite a bit of room and lots of kids to play with. There was also a small wooded area just behind some of the houses at the end of our street that we could explore. I think the main two differences at the time were 1) we always went in a group and 2) there were far more parents and neighbours out and about watching everyone, and we all knew each other.

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