Freedom - Too Much or Too Little? x
In my new book, A Sea of Stars, 12 year-old Maya's had hardly any freedom in her life because her mum is so panicked about her safety, whereas her newly adopted sister, Cat, has had too much. Maya is two years older than Cat and thinks it's really unfair. She feels like a baby because her mum won't even let her go on a bus on her own, she panics when Maya wants to go down to the bay to surf. Cat's independent because she had to be. Her mum's problems meant she had to start taking take care of herself and her little brother when she was far too young. when she still needed taking care of herself.
When I was growing up my mum constantly panicked about my safety but because she had so many of her own traumas going on I was allowed to do what I liked. I had to let her know where I was going but that never felt like a problem because I was free, free, free as a bird. I used to play out with my friends, go swimming, cycling and off to the cinema and one of my favourite things was to break into derelict buildings (please don't do this... it's VERY dangerous!) and play house. I loved spending time in the empty rooms making up stories about who might have lived there, imagining how I could turn it into a dream house of my very own.
I loved rummaging on bits of wasteland too. Once I found a dead bird, dug a grave, laid beautiful flowers on it and sung sad funerally songs for hours.
I only went to school if I felt like it, which meant I didn't go very often and my mum was fine with that too. One of the strange things about this is that my mum was a brain box full of knowledge. She loved history and literature and classical music; she was brilliant at general knowledge and knew evereything there was to know about flowers. You'd think she would have been more keen to get me off to school but I think she was wise and obviously knew that school wasn't the only place for learning. She obviously knew but that knowledge is absorbed by finding a passion and following your dream. And it's only by writing this now that I can see how much she influenced me. If it weren't for her viewing me and my life through the eyes of possibility I may have given up my dream of becoming an author years ago!
When my own children were growing-up I gave them lots of freedom too but not so much as my mum gave me. I always supported them in following their dreams but I made sure they did stuff like homework and music practice as well. I was really relaxed about where they went but they had to keep in touch and let me know roughly where they were. I was fine about parties and boyfriends and girlfriends and how many children they invited home so long as they ate their green vegetables. And as we lived in a big old tumbly down house that had loads of space it was always full to the brim with kids. There was a mountain of trainers by our front door and I was never sure quite how many teenagers I'd wake up to on a Sunday morning because stray kids would drift in at all hours of the night. And this was fine, so long as they said "hello" to me and let me hug them goodbye when they left bleary eyed in the morning.
I suppose you could say I was more like Cat as I had freedom with hardly any boundaries. My own children had freedom with boundaries and some children, like Maya, have no freedom at all.
So I'm interested to know about you...
How much freedom do you have? Are you allowed to do what you like or do you have loads of rules?
And what's the right amount of freedom anyway? Should it be to do with age or maturity or something else entirely?