Fear, Freedom, Childhood
There are few things which get me so worked up as stories of parents getting reported for their child being unsupervised. I read one of a nine-year-old riding a bus and another rider reporting them, resulting in Child Protective Services auditing the parents' house regularly for months, with the threat of literally taking away their children. Or one in which an eight-year-old was walking down the street a block from home and the police showed up, presumably at the behest of some neighbor who didn't go out and talk to the kid, and asked the kid a bunch of questions. What would have happened if the eight-year-old said "I don't talk to cops" and kept walking, I wonder. What rights does an unattended minor have in this society?
On top of this I heard from a friend with kids just yesterday that recess now has "structured play". Are you fucking kidding me America? Kids can't even choose what they do during recess anymore? Fuck off.
What's going to happen as this generation grows up? There's a story about how to tame an elephant which goes like this: when the elephant is a baby, tie it to a stake in the ground. When it tries to stray, the stake will hold it back. By the time it's an adult, fully capable of pulling the stake from the ground, it won't stray, won't even test the strength of the stake to find out if it could be free. It lives on inside an invisible cage.
What else could possibly happen if kids aren't able to go anywhere without supervision?
The market for video games will grow. Woo fucking hoo. Birth rates will plummet even further in 20 years. The already frayed social fabric will disintegrate into total anonymity outside of the house and workplace. And then people will get old...
Suffice to say, I'm less than enthusiastic.
Yet here I am, making video games. Ostensibly as a window into creative liberation, a doorway into the subjective. Perhaps if more adults have space to develop an interiority they'll be able to value it in children. One can dream.
Or, perhaps, here I am: writing about interiority and subjectivity with the hope of offering the adult elephants around me the belief that they can roam where they like. How can we come to value something we've never experienced for ourselves? How would you grow up, anchored to a stake in the ground in the shape of your parents' fears? Or in the shape of the fears of every neighbor, every bus rider?
When we see unsupervised children, how do we bargain? Can we accept that some bad things might happen, just long enough to give them a childhood? Because being presented with a world full of dangers, in which every moment presents the possibility of failure or correction -- who would wish that upon a child?
May I see clearly the fears in me which lead me to control the sovereignty of others, that I might respect them despite myself, and contribute to a more liberated world.