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Readers: Perhaps this ad is an elaborate parody of stay-in-school scare tactics. If so, bravo! If not? Yowza. Anyone who thinks the only way to influence kids is to make them think that the second they are not supervised they are in GRAVE DANGER has been watching too much media aimed at their parents.- L


I couldn’t resist this ad for Procter & Gamble. And I KNOW it seems to show moms constantly picking the kids up instead of kids out there on their own, but its meta-message (besides buy Pampers and Tide) is, “For teaching us that falling only makes us stronger, thank you, Mom.”

Let’s remember THAT part! – L

Hi Folks! Here’s my piece in today’s Wall Street Journal. It’s not straight-on Free-Range, just a little slice of life. I hope this link works! (If not, maybe this one?) Anyway, the piece begins:

A Hearty Breakfast of Google and YouTube

by Lenore Skenazy

This is a tale of two breakfasts.

Breakfast when I was 15, staring at the back of a cereal box: “Hey kids! Help the Cap’n find his way home!”

Breakfast this morning with my son, 15: “Hey mom! Let me show you this commercial I saw during the game!”

He hops online, searches YouTube for a good 10th of a second, and immediately we are watching a very clever commercial for (sigh) PlayStation 4. It features two young men singing Lou Reed’s sweet, dark song, “Perfect Day,” while smiting each other in a ridiculously violent videogame.

I love it. One of Reed’s lyrics, “You keep me hanging on,” reminds me of the Supremes song with that refrain, so it is my turn to search YouTube to play my son a clip of them.

He (being 15) has never seen the Supremes. He likes the song. It reminds him—God knows how—of an Eminem song, so we watch a clip of that, in which Eminem samples Aerosmith. Which reminds me of an article I read in the other day in the Jewish newspaper the Forward about how Aerosmith came up with its hit “Walk This Way.” I Google it and –

So on! Maybe you “Eat This Way” too! – L.


Eat this way!

Good morning!


Readers — Show us your chops!

Here’s a song I wrote last night, inspired by this AP story by Nedra Pickler about some schools, including  those in Glen Ridge, NJ, that “want to end their traditional role as polling places because of security concerns since the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.” (As one commenter once wrote about this issue, “Guess all of those Election Day Massacres finally took a toll.” )

Your job? SING THE SONG AND SEND US A LINK in the comments below! Or just send me the video via email: heylenore3@gmail.com . Do it by Sunday, Jan. 12. I’ll post some of the versions on the blog and the winner chosen by a distinguished panel of one will get an autographed copy of Free-Range Kids! Here’s the karaoke version of Strangers in the Night to sing along to:

STRANGERS IN THE SCHOOLS by Lenore Skenazy ( to the tune of “Strangers in the Night”)

Strangers in the schools, I look askance as

Strangers fill the schools, let’s take no chances

What if they have come with a grenade or two?


Something in their eyes, it’s so forboding

Look at how they smile, they say they’re “voting”

Something in my heart, tells me they’re perverts too!


Strangers in the schools!

Yes,  they’re my neighbors, but they’re strangers in the schools!

And at that moment when they walk into the gym, hope for life grows dim

Bludgeon all the kids they may, to celebrate Election Day.


So — If you want your kids avoiding dangers

Never let your kids encounter strangers

Strangers like the ghouls who go and vote in schools.


Scooby Dooby BOO!

Scooby Dooby BOO!

Readers — Here’s a story from the Star Tribune to warm you heart! Free-Range-wise, one of the things we like to remind folks is that THIS generation of kids is not suddenly the most delicate in history! They come fully equipped to handle the same challenges kids did for generations. (Though personally I am a fan of central heating.) – L

North Shore teen more than halfway to sleeping outside for a whole year

  • by: SAM COOK , Associated Press

HERMANTOWN, Minn. — It was bedtime for Rudy Hummel. He pulled on three pairs of pants and four shirts. He slipped into a pair of boots. He walked out into the starry December night and headed for his snow house.

The temperature was 8 degrees.

For Hummel, 17, this would be his 193rd night in a row sleeping outdoors. He started June 7, sleeping on an elevated platform in a copse of balsam fir in his backyard.

“Originally, it was just going to be for the summer,” he said. “I thought it would be cool to spend the whole summer sleeping outside.”

An outdoorsy kid in an outdoorsy family, he enjoyed dropping off to sleep listening to the owls. He liked waking up to the sound of birdsong and to shafts of sunlight slanting through the balsam boughs. September came, and he wasn’t ready to come inside.

“I thought, ‘I need something more fun,’ ” he told the Duluth News Tribune (http://bit.ly/JorTNC).

So, he decided to shoot for a full year of sleeping outdoors. When winter came on, he built the snow house. He piled up a mountain of snow, let it set up and then hollowed it out. He finished building his snow house on Dec. 10 and has been sleeping there every night since.

Read more here!

It's 8 degrees and Rudy Hummel is snuggling into bed...outside.

It’s 8 degrees F. and Rudy Hummel is snuggling into bed…outside.

Readers — The Onion gets it. They always do: 


As a parent, worrying is second nature. You’re constantly afraid that something could go wrong. Your child could get sick, or get in an accident, or even just not fit in at school. Sure, there’s joy and pride and fulfillment, but there’s also an unavoidable stream of dread. And all of these worries of course pale in comparison to every parent’s worst nightmare: losing your child to Gorchul, the Dark Sorcerer of Time.

It’s a terrifying thought that crosses the mind of any parent from time to time. Because Gorchul is real, he’s out there, and you never know if it’s going to be your child who will one day be abducted in their sleep by the mad chrono-wizard and dragged screaming to the nether planes of time.

That’s the hardest thing about being a parent, really: the reality that, no matter how hard you work to keep your kid safe, in the back of your mind there’s always that nagging feeling that you don’t really have control over what happens to them after they leave for school. Or even when they’re at home, standing right in front of you, as Gorchul has been known to appear anywhere, tear a rift in the fabric of space-time, and pull a child down into his primordial lair of darkness and murk before your very eyes…

Read more here.

I hate it when kids get abducted this way.

There goes another one. Sigh.

Readers — Emergency crews sped to a school in Brooklyn Wednesday after a kid sprayed Axe in room full of sixth graders. EMS transported eight students to the hospital, according to The NY Daily News (where I used to work!).

Of course, if Axe fumes were really as dangerous as all that, I should be dead. I live in an apartment with my teenage sons. – L.

Watch out! He's got an Axe!

Watch out! He’s got an Axe!