31 Dec 2007


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The word key evoked a souvenir in me, the Schl├╝sselkinder, or "Latchkey kids" in English. The official definition says : "A usually school-age child who regularly spends part of the day unsupervised at home while the parents are at work".

There were many of them when I was a child, just after the second world war. The schools, as still today in Germany finished at 1 pm and from there on the children were of their own. There was nothing organized for children after school.

This was a big problem for the parents. A lot of women at that time were alone because they were widows, or their husbands were still war prisonners. They had to work if they wanted to feed their children.

This didn't fit at all in the society scheme because officially it was not usual that women worked. But the after war situation had special rules. Women had no choice, or they had to work to support their family or they suddenly lost their work and had to stay home because the war was over and the men back. For this reason, I had never been a latchkey kid. My mother stayed home and was bored the whole day. I was running and playing around with those who wore a key on a string around their necks.

I found this very interesting and was rather envious because they had a key and could go home whenever they wanted to without ringing the doorbell. Nobody cared either if the child was feeling lonesome or not or had other problems.

Of course this situation was very much critizised from all of those who had a normal life and everything was done to give the working mother a bad conscience, but nobody organized something to help them officially. Of course help between neighbors existed and most of the latchkey kids had a neigbor's address where it could go in case of a problem.

Long after this time a study was made about these children to find out if there were more criminality amongst them then the other children with no key around their necks. The result was amazing, the latchkey kids had become responsible adults much more then the others because they had to learn very early to take care of themselves. Of course some choose the way of criminality, but not more then the "nomally" brought up children.

A sculpture in honor of a latchkey kid.

I wish you all a very

Mr. Linky doesn't work, please use this.


Ian said...

I was a latchkey kid for awhile. My mom worked out of town three days a week and my dad would go with her, so it was just me and my sister for some weekends. We were mostly good. Mostly.


eastcoastlife said...

I was a latchkey kid and so was my son. :(

Getting help is not easy as everybody has to work for a living, even grandparents.

I hope to help look after my son's kids and not have them become latchkey kids.

Wishing you Gattina a new year.....
lit up with good times, bursting with fun and sparkling with a whole lot of joy!

Anonymous said...

I've not been around for quite some time and today, I chanced upon your site through an old post of mine so I am here to greet you a fun-filled new year celebration.

May your life be blessed as you see God bring forth new things in the coming year.

Cheers to 2008!!!

Unknown said...

Come on by and see if you can find the KEY to my blog! I have an advice question on my blog to! Enjoyed your blog!



Tossing Pebbles in the Stream said...

Thanks for the little history lesson on the difficult family times after the war. On this side of the Atlantic, women who had won a place for themselves in the work force, (My elegant aunt ran a machine lathe in an aircraft factory.) found themselves tossed out to make way for men returning from the war in Europe. Many were happy to as they had pent up expectations of marraige, children, house with white picket fence. They brought us the baby boomers. It took 20 years for women to once gain entry into the workforce in large numbers. The consumer economy made them essential once again.

I was always pleased my son was never a latch key kid. I organized my life so I was able to be there for him when I was needed,
usually through self employment. When he was 2 and his mother went to find a life of her own, this was a commitment I made and am glad I was able to do it for Parker.

Children are very resilient and quite often turn out well, in spite of us and our parenting skills.

All the best in the New Year. I hope you have some interesting travel plans.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this wonderful year with your cruises you've shared with us so generously!

I'm looking forward to another hilarious year together with you my dear friend :-D

Cheers to a new year filled with laughter!

Julie said...

Good job for the word "KEY". Such an important thing to be concerned about.

Happy New Year!

Sandee said...

Yep, I remember this. I wasn't a latchkey kid, but knew a lot of them. Have a great MM and a very Happy New Year Gattina. :)

Anonymous said...

Happy New Year to you and your husband and the cats -- and especially Arthur! ;-}

Anonymous said...

I didn't have anyone to look after me during the daytime after school. After school we had to sit outside and wait for someone to show up when they got off work. I wish we could have had a key. That is an amazing sculpture! Happy New Year!! :)

Rachel said...

Wonderful Key post! I was never a latchkey kid. Back in my youth we didn't lock the doors. No need like there is now. It's a shame too.

Happy New Year to you!!!

frizzyeatworld said...

Happy New Year, Gattina! A blessed, prosperous, healthy 2008 to one and all!!!