Monday, May 19, 2008

The Much Anticipated Loosing Of Children Post

Anticipated, emancipated, argued and ... er... elated.

I am on the whole unsure of how I feel about Free Range Kids. Wait! Before you click over there, I'll tell you what it's basically about (because not very many people read me and you probably already visited that hot new blog):

Giving our kids more freedom, recognizing that the world is not more dangerous than it was when we were kids (this is her point, and I didn't do the research), dropping pre-teens off at Bloomie's for a solo subway ride home. These are the ideas of Free Range Children, or FRC, or Finally Realizing, Crap (my kids are missing and I just can't remember where I left them).

Okay, I keep saying I'm gonna get serious.

The American Prospect, a journal of "liberal intelligence" (you cannot make this stuff up) called Free Range Kids "a dust-up in the world of upper middle class parenting." Hmm... I'm not sure about the upper middle class part (don't they all have nannies to hover for them?), but here in small town America, the dust is churning. In my brain while I try to figure out what the fuss is.

The creator of Free Range Kids, Lenore Skenazy, writes for the New York Sun. After penning an article about letting her 9-year-old son free range it home from Bloomingdale's on the city subway system, she got a lot of flak. She also appeared on a bunch of TV talk shows and formed the blog of the year, controversially speaking. On the front page of that blog, she asks the questions:

"Do you ever...
..let your kid ride a bike to the library? Walk alone to school? Take a bus, solo? Or are you thinking about it? If so, you are raising a Free Range Kid! At Free Range, we believe in safe kids. We believe in helmets, car seats and safety belts. We do NOT believe that every time school age children go outside, they need a security detail. Most of us grew up Free Range and lived to tell the tale. Our kids deserve no less. This site [is] dedicated to sane parenting. "

Well, holy cup of joe! Sane parenting! Using our judgment about our child's abilities and street smarts might just have won each of us a spot on the Today Show, if we'd recognized that sane parenting was a movement and would make history and our kids would then no longer be messed up by that dang helicopter supervision garbage.

You know how car seat laws are always based on height, weight and age? If your kids fit perfectly in those parameters, go right ahead and stick to the letter of the law, that's what I say. Not that I'm qualified in any way to tell you how to buckle up your kids, but.... If your kids are smaller than average, you're prolly gonna leave 'em in the booster longer. Because you are a sane parent. If you are not, I'm just a blogger, can I recommend a therapist?

Similarly, I may (or may not, since some of y'all know where I live) occassionally let my 9-year-old and 7-year-old go play behind the church at the playground across the road. Unattended. So I can have a minute.

In an unrelated matter, "Can I have a minute?" was Grace's first sentence. Ouch.

Madeleine and Sarah LOVE LOVE LOVE the freedom of going across our deserted country road to a deserted country church to swing as high as they like without me shouting "don't do the underdog! you could break your neck!" and the like. They are both very sensible children, and I send a walkie-talkie with them when the batteries aren't dead.

I don't foresee stopping this tradition just because the other five families on our road might get wind of the FRC and send, I mean "release," their kids up there too. If they decide to catch some parental sanity, more power to them.


Ei said...

I read that article and I have to admit it made me a little sick...not because she is wrong but my son will be 9 in a few months and...umm...I'm a big ol' scardy cat. I WAS a free-range child and I have a hard time figuring out where all this fear in me comes from. But I'm going to start making some small steps and see what happens...maybe.

Misty said...

it seems really hard to teach your kids to be safe when they are doing their own thing. It is our job to protect them. While I believe this doesn't mean to: control them, shelter them, smother them, etc... It does mean to know where they are, what they are up to, how they are doing etc... and this IS a different time... Sheesh.

Chickie Momma said...

I enjoyed reading that blog - wow, I had no idea there was a MOVEMENT. I just thought it was something I always said because my neighbor freaks out whenever my kids walk home from school. She thinks I don't know that they are out "wandering" the streets and calls me to make sure I know that they are on foot. Oh brother! Her son, who is now 10, is too nervous to even walk to our house just to play or hang out unless he comes with his Mom. I couldn't imagine my kids having to live like that - always nervous and afraid.

It's why I choose to SHOVE THEM OUT THE DOOR and force them to come up with something to do. I'm not an entertainment system... but I do pay attention, and I ALWAYS go retrieve my son from the side of the road when cars honk at him. It didn't happen just today, just minutes ago, I promise. (I was in the house looking for extra keys for the car, because he took my keys AND my purse and locked them all in the suburban!) He's worse than the chickens. But free range eggs are far more valuable than caged. There's a point to all this... I'm just not there yet.

Chickie Momma said...

And just for the record, Misty is by FAR a better mother than I... at least that's my opinion *grin*