Oh, how times have changed.
I was rabbit holing around the internet this week when I happened across an image of a baby in a cage, hanging out the window of a high-rise building.
It intrigued me. It must be a wind-up, I thought. Parents didn’t really put their babies in cages attached to their window, did they?
Feelin like a baby in a cage. pic.twitter.com/OaXEYd9xCY
— Chris (@codetwerk) December 28, 2016
I had to know: was this ever really a thing? And if so, why?
So, I did a little more research, and it turns out babies actually were willingly placed in precarious cages to play. By their parents. So their children could enjoy the benefits of fresh air, but moreso for the baby to be exposed to cooler air and therefore build up their imunity.
Thankfully, the practice died out decades and decades ago. But it did get me thinking of how far the pendulum has swung.
We’ve gone from times where would literally let our babies hang out in a cage from our kitchen window to toughen them up, to a time where we are so safety conscious about our children, we’re still cutting their sandwiches up into eighths (crusts off!) when they’re 4 years old.
And it doesn’t stop when the child gets older.
Just this week, I was having a discussion with a friend about her teenager. Her daughter, who just recently celebrated her 13th birthday, wanted to go to the Dreamworld waterpark with a group of friends. My friend baulked at the idea of five girls and no adults at a water park all day and said no.
This lead to us having an interesting discussion about how young is too young to spend a day with friends, unsupervised.
I remember spending the day at Dreamworld with my friends when I was 13 or 14. I remember my mum dropping me off with a packed lunch and a bottle of water at 10am, and by the time we were picked up at 5pm, we were sunburnt, full of soft drink sneakily purchased by pooling our meager resources, and completely exhausted after a full, fun day.
I have wonderful memories of those days. And I can’t help but wonder: Are we robbing our kids of building great memories and of learning to cope for themselves without us, by being too cautious?
I’m not saying it’s time to bring back the baby cage. But perhaps we could benefit from loosening the apron strings a little.