As we traveled around the country (Teachers from NC with the Center for International Understanding), one recurring theme of discussion was the children, their freedom, and the relationship to their parents.
At a fountain in Berlin, I sat with my roommate Holly and watched children scamper across a jumbleof large slate rocks, with a bubbling waterfall cascading over a section. Parents set around the perimeter on a low wall: reading, chatting with friends, eating a snack. On the way back from our walk, we stopped by the same area. This time, there was a man on the rock fountain, following around a boy of nine or so, arms outstretched, as if to save him from a fall that never came. After a few minutes, we realized they were the only American family there.
At dinner each night, the group would compare notes. Most babies were carried in front backs, or ensconced in raised prams, within easy reach. They were nurtured and nuzzled. As the children grow, however, a time of play and exploration began.
Berlin Child on Fountain Rocks
The children of Freiburg play in the Freiburg Bächle (runnels or rills - dtich-like, water-filled streams), running after origami boats, splashing, or making dams with their feet.
Secrets shared over Boat Races Solar Community Sign
Community Playground Sign
We asked ourselves, from where did our culture of fear originate in the United States? Why, in a generation's time have we gone from a nation of children playing in the neighborhood to one of helicopter parents? Would you care to chime in with your ideas?