Oct 1, 2008

Free Range Children?

The other day I first heard the term "Free Range Kids", and when I started reading more about what raising a free range child is about, the more I got it. DH and I always joke how different things were when we were children. His mom used to send him a few blocks away to play in the 3rd largest river in the US (Columbia River) where he and his buddies would shoot at each other with their BB guns (no one shot their eye out), or rode bikes down hills too steep for cars to drive up in the winter with a friend on the handlebar.

We have friends whose 10 year old has never ridden a bike out of fear. In my hometown Tag has been prohibited at the school, all because of fear of safety for the kids. Puh-lease! What ever happened to kids learning natural consequences? Why do they need full body armor to go out and play in the back yard (heaven forbid they set foot in the front yard without at least two, armed, secret service agents). Heck, when I was a kid, my parents would not even know if I had been abducted until at least 20 minutes after the street lights went on. And what the hell is up with 'play dates'?? Are parents now days so over scheduled that they have to pencil in little Johnny's play time between pee-wee soccer and his gymnastics class? That is what I love about this neighborhood, if a child wants to play with my kids... they knock on the door and ask if they can come out and play.... get this, WITHOUT their parents hovering behind them making sure their 10 year old can walk a block away without being stolen.

Now I am not saying we should air drop our children over a South American jungle with two quarters and a rubber band and expect them to MacGyver their way home, but seriously, don't you think our kids should get to share memories of skinned knees, chasing the ice cream truck, drinking from the hose, building forts in the woods, walking to the supermarket with a dollar to buy candy or soda, climbing trees, skipping rocks and wading in the creek, and snowball fights?

Now I am not criticizing anyone else, you parent your child the way you see fit, but I found letting go works for us, as long as my child shows they are mature and capable of making reasonable decisions. At the park, I have no problem watching Austin climbing a tree 10 feet in the air, or walking to the convenience store to buy treats for his brothers. When I was in labor with Sophie, I mentioned Christopher broke his arm on his scooter. He was so proud of his injury, just like he is of his appendectomy scar. When Matthew falls down we tell him to "get up and do it again". We still kiss his owies when he hurts himself, but we don't act like the world is going to end if he draws blood when he falls down.

Someday, I hope my kids can look back and tell their own kids how much fun they had when they were kids, and all the risks they took and adventures they created.

1 comment:

Allison said...

Love.It. Yeah, I was thinking about how, at 8 or 9, I'd hop on my bicycle and ride to the Circle K for whatever forbidden treat didn't happen to be in the house. Or, I'd take off into the woods behind our house and explore the collapsed barn -- there was something magical about that place!

Right now, I'm sort of primed for that kind of childhood, if we stay here. One of the perks of this particular small town is how safe it (mostly) is. Chances are, though, we'll move, and I'll have to find ways to let my kids range wherever we land!