My baby’s clothes have pockets. Remy is now three months old, which does seem like an accomplishment to me, but is he really old enough for pockets? In the early morning hours when I’m feeding him (but also mostly falling asleep), I like to imagine the things that clothing manufacturers must think babies would like to carry in their pockets. Spare pacifiers, mittens, the socks that no baby seems to like carrying on his or her feet. I imagine how excited Remy must have been when he first realized that his pants had real pockets. Only to be crushed by the realization that his (also newly discovered) hands do not yet have the dexterity to pick anything up, let alone maneuver it into a pocket.
When I’m feeling particularly lucid at 3 AM, I also like to read long-form articles sent to me by http://www.nextdraft.com and http://www.longreads.com. They help me feel a bit more connected to the outside world. This week, I read a particularly interesting article from The Atlantic: The Overprotected Kid. In it, Hanna Rosin describes The Land, an adventure playground in the U.K. that lets children take risks and explore. She contrasts The Land with the regulated and standardized (read: boring) playgrounds that have become the norm since the 1980s. She discusses a lot of other interesting things, too, so if you have a few minutes over a few days, I recommend reading it. I also just finished reading (let’s be realistic, listening to) Jonah Lehrer’s book Imagine, How Creativity Works. He takes a more sciencey approach, but has the same message: kids need to take risks in unstructured settings in order to develop creative and inventive thinking.
Clearly, Remy’s pockets were made for far more interesting trinkets: rocks and matches and scraps of paper found on rambling walks through alleyways. He’s not quite ready to go on his own adventures (I suppose he needs to learn how to walk first), and leaving him unsupervised will be difficult for me (a tension both authors address). But I am glad that his tiny pockets are getting me to think about the adventures he might have in the future.
How do you encourage unstructured play for your kids? And how do you address the tension between your child’s need for unsupervised time and the pressure to always supervise him or her?