Recently my daughter had gone to bed late, and so I decided to go ahead and let her sleep in the next day and drive her to school when she woke up.
When we arrived, I saw 8-10 kids out front enjoying a game of dodge ball. Not only that, the teacher was reclined on the grass, in the sun, taking in the game with what appeared to be a sense of amusement. A whole host of memories and thoughts raced through my mind, and it reminded me of some of the more pleasant differences between Ecuadorian culture and that of the United States.
Remember how exciting recess was when you were a kid? I remember in first grade looking forward to recess with such intense anticipation and joy because it was almost time for our exhilarating game of cops and robbers! Man, what fun! But of course, after a period of time, the school, in its infinite authoritarian wisdom, banned the game. Over the course of my ‘schooling’, many other childhood games such as red rover and dodge ball went the way of cops and robbers.
Welcome to the nanny state.
In Ecuador, kids are allowed to be kids, and for the most part people are allowed to be people. There are no expectations that everything is too dangerous and should be avoided. Things that we’ve been trained to think of as to dangerous for our kids, here are normal. Part of that is because in Ecuador there are not the same liability risks. You can’t sue people here every time there’s an outcome that isn’t to your liking.
Which means self-responsibility reigns. If you drive you car off a cliff or fall down a flight of stairs, no one’s getting sued.
You have to oversee your projects and your affairs. And the ultimate responsibility falls on you. Your children don’t live in a childproofed world. They have to understand and be able to calculate what’s dangerous and what isn’t.
Many prefer the ‘safety’ of a system that has sought to standardize everything through codes, rules, and regulations. I much prefer a freer society, where the opportunity for choice, and to experience the consequences of those choices is great, and where kids are allowed to play dodge ball.