Playing out and about We asked a mother and daughter to share their feelings about the first time Maisie was allowed to go to the local park without an adult for the first time. I’m Maisie, I’m 10 years old and I’m going to tell you about my play experiences when I go out with my friends without an adult. I usually go out with my friends on a Saturday. I prefer to go out with them rather than an adult because you have a lot more freedom when you’re out. Over the summer holidays I’ve been enjoying cycling round the village and going to the two parks (neither of which are very good). Sometimes my Mum’s a little bit overprotective and doesn’t let me have as much freedom as I want to, to go out round the village, but that’s understandable in some ways. The first time I went to the park by myself I felt excited, nervous and self-conscious. When I go out with my friends, the things I think about are: me or one of my friends getting run over, breaking a bone or hurting myself, falling off my bike or out of a tree, ‘stranger danger’ or even getting lost in my own village! So, I’m extra careful when I’m on my own. I went out with my friends the other day and some older boys were really unkind to us, calling us rude mean names, chasing us on their bikes and throwing things at us. So now I’m more conscious of not hanging out near older teenagers, and making sure my friends don’t give loads of backchat if we do see them. Now I’d like to go to some other places further away from home, like town or Mumbles, so I’m going to keep nagging my Mum until she lets me! And here is Mum, Katie’s perspective ... I always thought that when Maisie first started going out with her friends by herself that I would really worry about her, but actually when it came to it I didn’t. I have fond memories of being about 11 years old and going out around the village on our bikes, playing mob on the village green, and just hanging around. I think I recognised that she was ready for that independence. Maisie walked to school by herself and with friends fairly regularly last year (she was 10 and in year 5 at school) and, one Saturday at the beginning of the summer holidays she asked if she could go and hang out at the park with her friends. Her iPod proceeded to beep all morning as her and her friends organised where and when they were meeting. My only concern on this occasion (other than traffic, which is always a concern) was that I was also going out and what would she do if there were a problem as Maisie hasn’t got her own phone…yet! She was entirely un-phased and reeled off a whole list of friends and relatives’ homes she could go to if there were any problems (an argument, which I have since used, much to Maisie’s horror, to justify not giving her a phone). Maisie obviously relished the freedom, bought who knows how many sweets and fizzy drinks from the local shop and loved her newfound sense of independence. Since then she has been out frequently to the park and around our village. She is always 15 minutes late coming home, so I adjust the time I’d like her home by accordingly and despite her and her friends having an unpleasant encounter with some unkind 14 year old boys recently, continues to relish her freedom to go out and play with no adult supervision.