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.