Watched this week on Netflix big enough, a thirty-year-old Japanese program that quickly jumped among the ten most watched series on the platform, where kids between the ages of 2 and 6 are given complex tasks for me too, tasks that involve crowded streets to cross, shopping lists to memorize, kilometers To go upwards carry burdens and have strong relationships with merchants and passers-by. The program is interesting, even for the glimpses it offers of small villages, large fish markets, temples or kitchens hidden behind rice paper doors. The paparazzi cautiously follow children destroying the asphalt, getting distracted by chasing stray dogs, or across hectares of orchards, usually not noticing them, but sometimes they do, and then asking them for directions or help, without noticing. Camera.
In one episode, which lasted for an average of 10 minutes, two 4-year-olds, after performing other tasks, climbed a 202-step staircase to reach a Shinto temple, while my son, at their age, still had the gates with the safety blocking Access to the spiral staircase. In another episode, a little girl under five spends thirty minutes, at nightfall, flipping cabbage roots to separate it from the ground and bring it to her sick sister, while my pre-teens, when we’re adults. They had covid, they never thought I’d say go out shopping, but not even to unplug the Switch to go meet a Gorillaz delivery boy.
In Italy, the format (now translated by Netflix with subtitles A great day) was already tried in 2007 titled Please be careful: A warning based on the protection of the fears of the mediocre parent, along with the concerns of the helicopter parent, who does not sleep peacefully if he does not update the electronic registration application for the last time.
On the other hand, the original Japanese title was inspired by a 1976 picture book about a young girl who was sent to get milk, an act popular in Italy that is not an assumption of obligation, but a vile excuse to see her lover. I said the original title had the word Otsukai, i.e. the first committee, which is experienced in Japanese culture as an initiation rite, while in Europe, where other countries have also tried to replicate the orchestration, on the one hand encountered parental concerns, on the other hand, a cynical tone of orchestras who treated the adventure only as a candid camera. Japan has a true culture of child independence, and it’s only natural to meet six-year-olds on the subway who diligently cross the city on their way to school carrying everything they need to spend the day alone. The crime rate is low, and motorists are sensitized to passing groups of young students who often, as in the show, wave yellow flags to indicate their presence on the roads. A sense of community is high in the kids themselves, who stop across the country at school after class time to clean up the classroom (certainly no exception to homework, thanks to alternate teacher regulations).
I am sure that many parents today, who confine their children between ukulele lessons and weekends of intense skiing, will find it shameful to use them to clean the house and will condemn teachers who dared put a broom in their hands. The average parent is actually a cross between the manager, the Sherpa and the hyperactive bodyguard, who interferes even in the equations assigned to the home, opens up custom conversations for any parenting experience that falls off his radar and sees the autonomy afforded to children as a guilty form of neglect that may cause fatal accidents.
In the West today we have a strange way of trusting children. For example, there is a tendency to involve them in the so-called make a decision: the ancient and annoying practice of constantly making choices, which today we import under that name from the United States and extend to emotional pedagogy. I throw stones, but I am the first guilty: I have always asked my children to agree not only to holidays, but also to choose a tablecloth. My mother once told me, when I saw someone on the tram giving way to a child: I was a child in a world that respected elders, and I was an old man in a world that worshiped children. In fact, our idea of asking our children for their opinions on the go might make them feel considered as people, but if it is not balanced by a series of responsibilities, it ends up making them tyrannical. Which is why I can’t wait to leave them alone at home, at risk of a fire.
I have worked and worked passionately for American media companies aimed at children, progressive in content and pioneering in the business model, knowing that children must be treated as citizens of the future, and that activism from an early age enhances character and makes the perception of existence clearer. The problem is, these kids, with the “future dreamer” T-shirt and mom’s cell phone always on hand, are too busy making their TikTok edits and training for regattas, and they’re so revered and unique. Take care of the house, meals, and their family members, or squalid real-life issues: companies that don’t perform well on the criteria of instant gratification. They are so spoiled by applications that they do not find their way in their neighborhood, and are too afraid of challenges to go out and urinate their dog in the evening.
Those of us who check their Google accounts in transit from under 13 feel much calmer when we know they’re sitting in the room, not on the street with the skater or the ball. Basically, we feel more in control. Then we easily give a more accurate trust than the permission to exit: that of the connection time. To tighten control over their bodily integrity, we lose control of the language they are exposed to, and the situations and ideals they internalize while keeping them locked up. Thus, children brought up in their bedrooms by street rappers, with their reverence for money, women and honor are not free to go to the supermarket, get an egg or get lost on the city streets at sunset.