Tag Archives: children

When Should Children Be Left Alone?

My wife asked me a question today that I wasn’t sure about.  She asked what age children are allowed to stay at home alone, go out to play alone, or walk to school alone in Canada.  A quick search revealed that there is no law about this.

When I was a kid, I was able to walk to school alone when I was about 7 years old.  I also went out to play with my friend around that age by myself.  I’d walk or ride my bike to his house or to a park, and there was no problem.

Here in Japan, children are often seen walking alone or riding the train alone to go to school when they’re as young as 6.  And you know what?  No one cares.  In fact, the kids seem quite intent on going to their destination.  It is very common for children to be by themselves or with friends without any kind of adult supervision at early elementary school ages.

I’ve seen on the internet that some parents won’t let their children walk to school alone or go to their friends’ house alone until they’re older than 12.  Seems pretty old to me.  Even one said that they weren’t allowed to walk to school alone when she was a kid until she was 14.  Her parents walked her to school at 13 years old, and she was very embarrassed about it.

I’ve also seen a story where a couple kids were playing outside in their front yard, aged 9 and 6, and their mother was watching from the front porch.  A neighbour called the police and they arrested the mother for leaving the kids unsupervised.  But they weren’t unsupervised.  She was there watching them.  This is really going too far, in my opinion.  At that age, I was outside by myself riding my bike without any supervision at all.  It’s unhealthy for kids to be constantly supervised, if you ask me.  They don’t learn independence.  Their parents are always interfering with their play.  Some of these are the same parents that accompany their children to job fairs at university and do all the talking to companies.  Those companies always tell the parents they will not hire them because the parents are there. Too much parenting is bad parenting.

Why do parents do this?  Is it because they’re afraid their kids will get hurt?  Teach them safety rules and what to do in dangerous situations, and they should be fine.  Are they afraid someone will kidnap their kids?  Children are more likely to be kidnapped and abused by family friends or even relatives, not strangers.  Are they afraid of their kids failing?  Failure is one of the best ways to learn.  If kids don’t fail, they won’t learn the wrong ways to do things.  They won’t learn that failure isn’t the end of the world, but a way to learn a lesson and do better next time.

So, I want to ask you this:  What age should children be allowed to walk to school, play in the park, and stay at home alone?

Daily Flash Fiction #4 – Mittens

Patrick stumbled in the snow and put his hands in front of himself to stop his fall.  He got back up and shook his hands to get the snow off.  He looked around the playground to see if anyone noticed his gracefulness.  No one looked his way.

He pulled out his mittens and ducked behind the steps leading up to his school.  The red mittens matched the red toque on his head, but he wore a green winter coat with matching snow pants.  He hesitated to put on his mittens, looked around, and sighed.  The cold ate at his fingers.

A shout caught his attention, and he looked in the direction it came from.  A bigger boy, maybe in grade three, pushed down another boy.  His eyes widened as he noticed who the younger boy was.  “Gavin,” he whispered.  “I have to save him.”

Patrick put on his mittens and felt the energy pouring into him.  He looked at his mitten-covered hands and touched his thumbs and forefingers together.  They transformed into powerful claws.  Power pumped through his veins.  He was ready.  He stood up and shouted, “Stop!”

The bigger boy looked at him and paused.  His mouth opened, but he didn’t say anything.  He looked stunned.

“Don’t hurt Gavin.  He’s my friend,” said Patrick.  “I will stop you.  I am Lobsterman.  You can’t beat Lobsterman!”

He sprinted toward the boy and tripped on a baseball buried under the snow.  He recovered by using his powerful lobster claws to break his fall and stand up again.  He continued his charge and jumped at the bully.  The bigger boy sidestepped Lobsterman and the hero fell face-first into the snow.

“Stupid kid,” said the third grader.  “Lucky for you the teacher is coming.”

Lobsterman watched the boy retreat.  I coulda beat him up with these claws, he thought.  No one can beat Lobsterman!

Children are Storytellers

Remember when you were a child and you spent hours pretending to be someone you weren’t? I do. I’ve been a robotic cop, a dinosaur, I turned life into a first person point of view video game long before virtual reality came out, and I was a superhero called Lobsterman. Really. Lobsterman. My mittens were lobster claws.

Well, today, my family went to a fun park with a great playground and pond with rivers to okay in. This is the playground.

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Playground set in Ryodan Park, Ayase City, Kanagawa, Japan.

If you played on it, what kind of story would you have created?

What Having a Sick Child Does to My Writing

Today, my daughter’s nursery called me while I was at work.  They also called my wife.  She had a fever.  It’s now late evening, and she still has a fever.

Back in late April, she had her worst fever.  39.8 degrees.  She had a febrile seizure that night.  Two taxi rides and an ambulance ride (it’s a long story), a three hour wait in the emergency room, a spinal tap, a chest X-ray, and a CT scan later, we discovered it was pneumonia.  She stayed in the hospital for a week.  Well, I got no writing done that week other than blog posts related to her condition.

But now, she has a fever and is crying.  She won’t sleep.  I can’t concentrate on writing.  I’m not sure how well I’ll sleep, either.  I have to go to work in the morning.

On the other hand, she often does sleep when she has a fever.  I get more quiet times and more time to write.  When she’s awake, she’s usually active, but sometimes irritable.  Not much I can do during those times except try to entertain her.

It’s after 11 pm, and she needs to sleep.  She’s crying in her bed.  She won’t stay in our bed.  She tried getting out of our bed to come and see me.  It’s too late for her to be up, so I put her in her bed.  While she cries, I write this.  But her crying is becoming less.  Maybe she’ll sleep.  Or maybe I’ll hear another wave of crying.  She does that sometimes, crying on and off.

No writing tonight, except for this blog post.  I need to go to bed soon, anyway.

She’s quiet now.  Oh.  Sorry.  She just cried a little.  But I think she’ll fall asleep soon.  I hope.

Are you a parent of young children?  How do you balance your time between writing and your children’s demands for attention?

When Writing Becomes Difficult

I’m sure most writers have writer’s block.  Well, sometimes, the writing just won’t come out for other reasons.

In my life, I tend to have problems writing because I can’t concentrate on anything at home at times, mostly due to my daughter.  It’s difficult to write when she’s around.  When she sees me on my computer, it’s her cue to come over, point at my computer, and shout, “Anpanman!”  It’s her favourite TV show and she loves dancing to one of the songs.  I can write after she’s gone to bed or while she’s napping, though.

But another thing that makes it difficult is when someone you’ve known for a long time passes away.  I learned this morning that an old high school classmate of mine passed away from skin cancer.  She’s a mother of two young children, so I’m also thinking about them.  Robin, you were too young.

We weren’t close, but it still makes me stop and think.  I may write another post tonight, if I have the time.  I’ll probably work on Journey to Ariadne during my break at work, though.