“Something’s going on, change is taking place
Children smiling in the street have gone without a trace
This street used to be full, it used to make me smile
And now it seems that everyone is walking single file
And many bow their heads in shame
That used to hold them high
And those that used to say hello
Simply pass you by
Think for a minute, Stop for a minute”
The Housemartins “Think for a minute”
I’m showing my age here, but I used to play in the street when I was a child. When did kids stop doing that? Is it because we believe that the streets are now full of drug dealers and paedophiles? Or is TV and Playstation to blame? If you read Ray Bradbury’s classic short story “The Playground”, you’d be inclined to believe that, rather than facing some external, adult threat, “hell is other children”. Children are idolised and childhood is fetishised to such an extent these days that it’s refreshing to read such an anti-nostalgic view of the slings and arrows of youth, or to see a vision of children’s strength and resilience in the face of challenging circumstances. Otherwise how are they going to develop the tools to deal with difficult situations later in life?
One way to feel safer about letting your children step beyond the safety of the family home is to feel better yourself about your immediate environment. I mean, how many of your neighbours – people in your building or street, do you know? After participating in/organising this event for two years running, a friend noted that he now has “five new smiles” from people as he walks down our street on his way to work in the morning.