Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Looking for rabbits and other things children aren't allowed to do

Last night I took the much delayed tube to a station I haven't walked from before. It's fair way away but I fancied a toddle. It's made me all reflective and serious....

As a child, the music school that I now teach at was based at a high school near the station and I was a student. My parents would drop me off at 8am on a Saturday and pick me up at 12ish. With a couple of pounds for the tuck shop and my french horn I was expected to get myself to lessons and behave. The site wasn't closed and behind the school was open land that led down to the canal. The fields were very bumpy as huge rabbit warrens lay beneath and, if we had a sufficient gap between lessons, fellow french horn player John and I, along with various others, would go running across the field, walk along the canal to race sticks in the weir, and look for bunnies. If it was sunny we would just lie in the grass and chat, giggle and hope that theory was cancelled.

Adults kind of knew where we were, we were trusted to not do anything silly, and, as it was before mobile phones, we had no one breathing down our necks in a technological manner.

The music school is now based at a new site, another high school. The site is more secure and closed. The children I teach are, in the main, not even allowed to walk down the stairs and meet their parents in the canteen after lessons and must be met at the door. This includes the ones nearing 10 years old. One child, from the age of four or five was allowed to do this. His father let me know and explained that he was hoping to teach his child independence. He was told where his father would be waiting and, if he wasn't there, he was to return to the classroom. Nervous at first, he soon adjusted to the routine and is far more outgoing than before this arrangement.

Other parents noticed the child leaving without an adult. I explained and I actually heard a tut. When I gaily described what was the norm when I was a student there were looks of horror.

Walking across that field last night I felt like I was eight again. A bunny hopped across the path and I walked down to the canal and along it to my current home. I giggled as I remembered some of the things we got up to and the fun we had. And I wondered how many of the children I teach with experience that same rush of remembered joy when they think back to their time at music school.


  1. Speaking as a mother, it is very hard to let go and let children take risks. You want so much for them not to get hurt. I caught Arthur with his reins on Monday when we were out for a walk to save him from a possible grazed knee. Then I felt bad because I sort of felt like he is entitled to his own grazed knees. Still, his time will come and you will keep reminding me to give him space I'm sure :-)

  2. Ha! You guys are some of the most relaxed and responsible parents I know, and Arthur is one of the happiest children I know. Coincidence? I think not.