In the 1940s, Latchkey kids could be as young as six when they came home from school to an empty house. Primarily due to soldier fathers and working mothers, the eldest Latchkey was often the family cook and babysitter as well. It was common for Latchkey kids to wear their house-keys on a string around their neck, and no one worried about safety. Or did they?
The 70s and 80s saw a dramatic increase in Latchkey safety concerns as crime increased. Experts declared the “lonely life of a Latchkey” a national disgrace, and finally, someone thought to ask the kids how they felt about it. While a few kids felt anxious, even neglected, most had no idea what the fuss was all about. Most enjoyed the freedom, as well as the confidence-building responsibility that came with getting yourself a snack and having homework done before going outside to play each day.
Experts were also concerned about long-term effects. Were Latchkey kids scarred for life? Most survivors think not. In contrast, experts point out non-latchkey, highly-educated intellectuals who can’t make a decision for themselves without first consulting a parent.
With a name like Laughing Gas, it’s no surprise that in the late 1700s, Humphrey Davy’s experiments with nitrous oxide would eventually be used for recreational purposes for its euphoric effect. Laughing Gas parties were all the rage in circles of British upper-class. By 1863, the gas was commonly being used by dentists for its analgesic qualities. One of the earliest US commercial producers of nitrous oxide was George Poe, cousin to poet Edgar Allen Poe. These days, use of the product is restricted (in varying degrees) in nearly every state of the United States.
So, what do you think? Were you a Latchkey kid? Are you a Latchkey or Helicopter parent? Have you ever tried Laughing gas (at the dentist’s office, of course)?