As you may know, The Midlife Gals chose cats instead of kids, which has worked out REALLY well for us. We’re just not mother material. If we forget to feed the cats, they don’t cry or die … they wait. We don’t give them many rules because they’re cats…they wouldn’t follow rules anyway, that’s not what they do. They like to snuggle with us, but they’d really rather be outside. Sal found out about a book called, Free-Range Kids, and well, we want everyone to read this book! Then, take the leash off your children and let them walk around the block by themselves.
Excuse the clichés, but here they come … back in the day, when we were kids, we flew out the door after breakfast and didn’t come home until dusk. Well, we raced home to inhale a peanut butter and jelly sandwich at lunchtime, but home was not where our imagination lay … it was at the park down the street, our elementary school after classes were over, the nearby graveyard (only during the day) and the neighborhood alleys (sadly they’ve mostly gone away) … and we did it all by ourselves.
There were just as many perverts back then. They just weren’t “registered.” Our parents simply told us not to talk to strangers—period. Oh, and we didn’t have anti-bacterial soap either so we built up our immune systems through mud fights, communal chicken pox parties and going barefoot over hot street tar on a west Texas summer day.
When did parents develop the constant choke hold on their children that we see today? Do they not have anything else to do? Why, kids don’t do anything or go anywhere by themselves anymore. There’s nothing safer than a ‘pack’ of kiddos if trouble rears its ugly head. We protected each other, warning of possible attacks whether they be from the rival neighborhood group, one of the afore-mentioned perverts or someone’s irate daddy when we’d “gone too far.” Why, when I tried to run away at six years old, The Ancient One who was then known as The Stunning One, simply asked me to call her when I arrived at my destination, thus deflating my “run-away” balloon, so I just went to play in the alley instead.
Let ’em range free!
Yeah, I was watching Dr. Phil when he had this woman on his show who was trying to raise free range children. I’m pretty sure it was the author of this book. She said she let her nine-year-old son walk a quarter of a mile to the park, by himself! He wanted to. He begged to be allowed to do this terrifying thing on his own. She let him. People who lived along the route he took, saw him walking alone and called the police. The police found him at the park and he led them to his horribly abusive mother’s house. The mother was properly chastised by the judgmental cop, and the son was properly embarrassed and mortified for the rest of his life.
Oh, give me a fucking break! Are you kidding me? Enough is enough. Welcome to Big Brother.
I hurt myself a lot when I was a kid. I fell down and scraped my knees in the dirt. I got stickers in my feet from going barefooted to the Ida Jo Moore Park to play baseball. I fell on my ass in a puddle of mud because KK and I took some wax paper and wiped the metal slide with it. It worked great. You slid down that ten-foot-high slide faster than a hawk swooping down on a horny toad.
None of those things can happen to kids today. They are protected from such monumental atrocities. A scrape on the knee takes the poor child to the emergency room, the owner of the park would be sued for allowing dangerous plants to threaten the children’s health, and the ten-foot-high metal slide would be a four-foot-high red and yellow plastic slide that is as much fun as watching your grandmother brush her false teeth in the bathroom sink.
You CAN take things too far, you know. You can watch from behind a tree as you let your child play freely with other kids at the park. You don’t have to hold their hand all the time. Let them learn some stuff the hard way. Life beckons, and it will not molly-coddle them when they are left to their own devices in the first year of college. They had better know how to protect themselves by then. You won’t be there to zip up their parkas on a cold day. They will have to do it themselves, God forbid. Will they have an adventuresome spirit? Give her a roll of wax paper and tell her to ‘have at it’ while she is still young enough to bounce back from a dunk in the mud.
Originally published on TheMidLifeGals