This afternoon I spoke at an event called ‘Taking Play Seriously’ in Melbourne, with a mixed audience of professionals, volunteers and parents. It followed my talk last week here at the Playgroup Australia conference. In the Q & A afterwards, one attendee – a local government employee and mother of three – told the audience how she had heard me speak last Thursday. Then two days later, her 10-year-old son had asked her if he could go to the local skatepark on his own.
She explained that she was all cued up to say ‘no’ – but then she recalled my talk. So after a chat with her son about being sensible, she said ‘yes’. That evening, she caught sight of her child’s status update on Facebook. The post said ‘this was the best day of my life’.
I am very clear that I am no ‘parenting guru’. Indeed I think there are too many people trying to tell parents how to bring their children up, and I do not want to join that gang. But I do not mind saying that I welled up a little as she told that story. Nor that I am welling up now as I type it. I’m proud that my work has reached people’s lives in such a direct, powerful way. I want to share that pride with everyone who reads this blog, because I suspect you too recognise that feeling you get when you see that your actions are truly making a difference.
I have one more thing to say. Yes, the anecdote was an affirmation for me, and hopefully an inspiration for others. Yet I will be honest. My dream is that these gifts of freedom are not rare gems to be treasured and celebrated, but part of the everyday currency of family life.