Saturday, March 22, 2014

Headline Poem 3/21/14 -- a day without armor

The Land in North Wales (Photo credit The Atlantic)
I read this article today -- "The Overprotected Kid" by Hanna Rosin, and could not pass it up. It was published two days ago, but because it was re-posted yesterday by NPR, and still being talked about today, I'm counting it as today's headline. Plenty of us say, "there is no way my kids will ever have as much freedom as I had growing up." Ain't that the truth! This piece talks about so much related to playground dangers, parenthood cultural shifts and norms, and childhood freedom. It even introduces us to a playground called The Land in North Wales, which is made to have dangers and unpredictable territory for kids to navigate through on their own.

a day without armor 

kids are not free to
find dangers on their own
no concept of navigating
through unsafe terrain
or climbing fences and
getting bruised

a manufactured playground
is created because
they do not have the chance
to explore,
sheltered from real adventures,
those times are no more

grownups once given space
raise babies who will never know
what it's like to be
gone all day
alone with friends
in woodlands and hills
snacks packed, 
unspoken rules
kids being kids

they raise kids
whose lives are planned out
all routes mapped
The Land has fires and mattresses
and places to climb
without much interference
from the adults in their life

it's still a park
because kids today
are afraid
of strangers and dangers
and ice cream vans
of being taken or falling
or unfamiliar land

walking to school 
through alleys no more
they don't hunt for dinner 
or run out the door
injuries on the playground made parents sue
baby brothers and 
broken noses 
led to mandatory
rubber armor 
that must be in use

gone are the days when
a girl of six can
ride her bike 
to school a mile each way,
past a bar, a state beach, and a liquor store,
where she stops once a week
to buy a Twix 
crossing the freeway bridge
to play after class
with a friend from school
whose parents her parents 
have never met

street friends do not congregate
on a Saturday
without a call or text 
ahead of time

waking with the light,
eating cereal, and heading out
to Alpha Beta for a pack of gum
and then back home with
an adorable puppy, 
found and named, 
from three blocks away
stuffed gently in the bike basket
at the ripe age of eight
no parents around 
to keep them safe 

a day without armor