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HomeBlogFranklySteinThere’s still free-range play in our hood — FranklyStein

There’s still free-range play in our hood — FranklyStein

If you’ve read FranklyStein before, you know my family has gone a little overboard where sports are concerned but surprisingly, my kids get a lot of free-range time too.

I started thinking about this when I read the Good Parenting post this week on how children’s play has changed. I realized how lucky we are that it hasn’t changed that much in our neighborhood.

There are lots of kids of all ages in our neighborhood running around outside at any give time. They play pickup football on the larger lawn across the street or soccer at the neighbors who have a regulation sized soccer goal. They play basketball at the blue house that has two hoops on the driveway or jump on the trampoline in our yard. Games of capture the flag and hide-and-go-seek tag take place across multiple yards. When they get board of this, they all walk to 7-Eleven a few blocks away for Slurpees. The older kids make sure the younger ones make it back safely.

In the winter, they hole up in a basement down the street that has the biggest television screen and play video games or watch football. Ages 7 to 17 might be catching a Raven’s game until someone stands in front of the screen and gets sent home. When it snows, they trek down a path through the woods to a hill big enough for sledding.

At dinnertime, parents might yell out their front door or send texts to the surrounding neighbors to find their kids and have them sent home. The parents know each other. Some have been in the neighborhood for years, others have more recently moved in, but we are the type of neighbors who gather for drinks on someone’s porch or plan cookouts or chili dinners in the snow. As the kids get older, this happens less, but there’s still a bond. We look out for each other’s kids and let each other know when things are amiss.

So yes, things have changed over the years. Kids are busier. Organized sports take up way too much time. But if you’re lucky, you find a neighborhood where the kids can still roam freely and the neighbors still look out for each other. There is such a thing. We have it here.

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FranklyStein is a blog by Chesapeake Family Magazine editor Betsy Stein who lives in Catonsville with her husband, Chris, and four children, Maggie, 15, Lilly, 13, Adam, 13, and Jonah, 9.



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