And as for me, the mom in the suburbs: Sometimes I just don't feel like driving over to Starbucks to meet a friend for coffee. I yearn for the way it was when I grew up, in that three-story apartment in West Rogers Park, where our French windows stayed open all the time, and my mom could yell up to her friend on the second floor, to come have an iced tea. It's not just that I'm a mother who wants it to be like it was "back in my day." I wish for my kids to experience some of the kind of childhood and independence I gained from living in the city.Never mind that if she does encourage her kids to walk to the store or the park or ride their bikes somewhere or organize a pickup football game in the street the Enforcers of Conformity will call in social services or the police or the park rangers.
It's not just helicopter parenting, structured play dates and social media that have made their lives seemingly easier, or perhaps if not easier, lazier. It's living in the 'burbs. I want my boys to experience how the little things in everyday life don't always come so easy. I remember my mom searching for a parking spot on the street, carrying groceries way farther than across a porch, of trusting me to walk alone every day, make friends with the drugstore owner and actually talk to strangers.
I'm not saying that I wish I was a mom carrying groceries for blocks and blocks. I think that's what I wanted to avoid when we first moved to the suburbs. I wanted the ease and convenience of a driveway, a front porch. But now all I feel is an anemic lifestyle. Car to gym to home to school to home to work to office to store to home again. Then the evening carpools start. For the kids, and I guess, for me, there's no grit, no problem-solving necessary to get from Point A to Point B. And that's what I'm afraid my children aren't learning by living in this supposed utopia - a way of life that fosters self-reliance and problem-solving.
IMPOSSIBLE TO RAISE FREE-RANGE KIDS.
I grew up in Chicago, and the suburbs are all wrong for my kids.