CPS, Sesame Street and Six-year-olds Outside

Folks, when I posted the letter from the dad whose 6-year-old was picked up by the police — and DETAINED — for walking solo in her neighborhood, one of you said that stories like this make you worried to let your kids go outside. Which is exactly the opposite reaction I was hoping for.

I wrote back to say that I”m here because I want us all to  band together and fight for our children’s RIGHT to go outside without us.  And it is our right to LET THEM GO! To let them play and be part of the world!

Moreover, I do think these CPS stories are rare.  I don’t want my site to exaggerate their frequency, I just want to make sure they don’t become more frequent. My m.o. has been to bring them to public attention, hoping that awareness of overprotection overkill will keep it from spreading. Sort of the way the recent spate of over-the-top Zero Tolerance stories seems to have pushed that policy to its tipping point, and now the public is ready to see rigid, one-size-fits-even-all rules for what they are: ridiculous.

In the meantime, we have to remember that the more we repopulate the streets with LIFE, the less odd an independent child will look.

So I was thinking about all that when someone else sent in this vintage Sesame Street video. Remember: Sesame Street was not devised by clever predators to lure kids into their clutches. The collective brain trust of the last century wanted to show kids doing normal, healthy, developmentally appropriate things — like helping their moms by going to the store, even at a young age. In this charming little video, please note that the girl does not appear to be older than a first grader. – L.

So there

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62 Responses to CPS, Sesame Street and Six-year-olds Outside

  1. mollie March 14, 2013 at 1:11 am #

    I totally get it that you are not trying to usurp one hysterical fear for another by letting us know about these CPS stories. Personally, I enjoy them, because I know that the dialogue is what will give us a chance to be activists on a grander scale. We can all send our individual kids out, and Lord knows I do, but when these stories occur, our community here online can actually make a difference by writing and calling and commenting and getting the message of common sense out there and into the ears of the “authorities.”

    I like thinking that if ever I end up in a CPS nightmare scenario, I have some FRKers out there who have my back.

    I still hear the refrain from this Sesame Street clip in my head all the time, forty years later: “A loaf of bread, a container of milk, and a stick of butter.” (Buttah) I’m pretty sure my mom would have sent me to the store on an errand like this one, had we lived within reasonable, pedestrian-friendly distance from a store that carried items like that. Nothing on Sesame Street in the 1970s was anything but encouraging to me. I show this stuff to my kid on youtube all the time.

  2. Imrational March 14, 2013 at 7:06 am #

    If I might offer up an idea. Considering your stated goals, how about when you print such stories, you provide an email or mailing address where activists can write, like the police department’s address in the last story.

    I know it would be more work for you, but I think providing such a call to action would really help your cause.

  3. Taradlion March 14, 2013 at 8:03 am #

    Love the video, but I will say I really love the old sesame street “live action” segments (with real kids)…you know the ones in DVDs now marked “not for kids.” I think it was here that an “old school” sesame street and it’s remake we’re compared. In the early version a girl (maybe 9) and her little brother made a lost dog poster, went to the library and asked the librarian to make copies, and went store to store asking shop owners to post in the window. The “updated” version had the mom helping make the poster on the home computer and accompanying the kids to the shops….

    I think seeing live kids (versus animation) is important. Lots of cartoon characters are still independent (Arthur, Dora, and, as people often say “where the heck are Max and Ruby’s parents?”). My son loved Home Alone, my daughter loved Harry Potter (books and movies), and I let my kids watch the old sesamee street (apparently now rated PG-13).

  4. Taradlion March 14, 2013 at 8:04 am #

    *its remake (auto correct)

  5. Andy March 14, 2013 at 8:36 am #

    I was going to mention the early Sesame Street dvds are marked “not for kids” but Taradion beat me to it. Never the less, I’ll let my kids watch the old ones just the same.

  6. TaraK March 14, 2013 at 8:56 am #

    I have never forgotten that list! As soon as I saw the frozen frame waiting to press play I knew exactly what that grocery list was going to be!

    You may be encountering exactly what you are trying to prevent. By sharing with us all the crazy CPS stories, you are imprinting them in our minds much like the news or Law and Order imprints horror stories in our minds. Maybe make them an “Crazy CPS Story Of The Week” feature and focus on FRK accomplishments other times???

  7. Neda March 14, 2013 at 8:57 am #

    Wait…what?? The early Seasame Street DVDs are marked “not for kids”? Seriously?!?!?
    *head* *desk* *head* *desk* *head* *desk*

  8. Silver Fang March 14, 2013 at 8:57 am #

    That was one of my favorite Sesame Street shorts as a kid!

  9. Jennifer March 14, 2013 at 9:09 am #

    Slightly off topic…. but TaraK mentioned how Law and Order episodes imprint horror on our minds…. I do watch a lot of L&O. ( And NCIS, and Criminal Minds, and Bones and all of those FICTIONAL cop shows.) I guess I’m in the minority (and I’m not indicting TaraK in any way!) in that I watch it with the full knowledge that it IS fiction… and that the writers must have a horror story every week, or there would be no dramatic tension. There is just as much reality there as in the fact that the cops can solve the whole case in an hour – less commercials.

    Sadly, since the news has become entertainment though, many people cannot tell the difference between entertainment and news.

  10. curiositykt March 14, 2013 at 9:16 am #

    I had just barely gotten this sketch out of my head around age 32, and now it’s back!

  11. Yan Seiner March 14, 2013 at 9:20 am #

    @Jennifer: There have been studies that show just how much the CGI and advanced graphics skew our view of science, physics, and the world around us. People truly believe in the sort of fictional pseudo-science that’s shown in the movies.

    A small example: Ironman would be mush even if his suit stayed intact; his internal organs would be smashed. That’s reality. But people see this in the movies and believe that they can survive if they’re protected. By extension, if you’re injured then you must not have “protected” yourself or your kids, because we *know* we can survive.

    So the constant refrain of “safety”, “predator”, “danger”, etc. really does skew our view of reality.

  12. Dave March 14, 2013 at 9:27 am #

    The more we repopulate the streets with Life, the less odd and independent child will look says it all. Take back the streets and there will be much less to be scared of.

  13. Jennifer March 14, 2013 at 9:30 am #

    @Yan: True. That brings another good point to mind….. Cartoons were “changed” because they could make children believe that if Bugs Bunny couldn’t really die, neither could they. I think *Most* kids got it though. As someone mentioned above “Live action” vs. animation…. Unfortunately, nobody ever put a check on what grown-ups were allowed to see. Would we, as a society, be so scared if Law and Order were drawn like South Park?

  14. Lisa March 14, 2013 at 9:43 am #

    Thank you for posting this! As soon as I saw the title of the video, the whole thing came back to me. As someone who grew up on “not for children” Sesame Street (come ON!), I do miss the sense of independence the kids had, in both animated and live-action shots, on the show. I think I’ll be investing in a few “not for children” DVDs for my son. :)

    “The more we repopulate the streets with Life, the less odd and independent child will look”….so true. I moved from a very guarded, no-kids-alone community in an affluent DC suburb to a kids-everywhere neighborhood in the midwest, and I *love* it! When the weather was good this weekend, I saw elementary-aged kids playing outside by themselves….riding bikes, playing ball, walking to the park to play street hockey. Our neighbor’s 10yo daughter rides her bike to a friend’s house a few blocks away all the time. I’m so relieved to live in a neighborhood where this is accepted and even encouraged…I was always nervous in our old neighborhood that my free range thinking would get us into trouble. As Lenore has said many times, the more we get outside (all of us!), the safer we actually are because we create a REAL community.

  15. carriem March 14, 2013 at 11:36 am #

    I think it actually is getting pretty common to get the police called on you. Police these days must respond to everything, they are not able to use any discretion. This has happened to me when my seven year old was on his own (near me, but down the street). I don’t say this to discourage, I still encourage the independence that I enjoyed as a kid. The public perception of acceptable childhood independence has changed, as has police policy (in responding, not necessarily the rules about unaccompanied children).

  16. ank March 14, 2013 at 11:37 am #

    I think it’s important to highlight not just the crazy stories but “hey! my kid went to the park, had a good time and came home safe sound and dirty!”

    My kids are 4 (almost 5) and 2 (who thinks she’s 5) and the other day we were outside and the girls were riding scooters. I told the older one she could go down to the end of the street (it curves) and come back, as long as she stays on our side of the street. I hung back with the younger one. The older one was out of my sight for more than 2 minutes! And she came back! A miracle. :/

  17. Warren March 14, 2013 at 12:06 pm #

    A loaf of bread, a container of milk and a stick of butter has now been replaced by,

    Am I being detained, what law have I broken, I want a lawyer.

  18. pentamom March 14, 2013 at 12:28 pm #

    What I like about that short is that it not only shows a young child doing something on her own, and competently, it teaches a way to master a skill like carrying out an errand on your own.

    So it’s not just “showing” or “permitting” something, it’s actually saying, “If you need to do something like go to the store by yourself, here’s how you can remember what you need to do — picture your mom telling you what she said.” It’s assuming that kids not merely can, but ought to, learn how to do things on their own, and was designed to actively assist in that process.

  19. K March 14, 2013 at 12:28 pm #

    The old-school Sesame Street episodes are “not for kids”?? What?!

    I think that whoever suggested a legal defense fund for free-range parenting may have been onto something. If it is organized, I’d buy in.

    The creeping fear is utter insanity… my kids go to a small, community private, K-8 school, in a small city (read low-crime risk area). After Sandy Hook, paranoia reached an all-time high, and I was really disappointed that the school decided to spend big bucks on a locked vestibule, key-pads on doors, and so on. Later, I found out that it was a compromise – some parents were asking for an ARMED GUARD! Wow, it is pretty hard to argue with crazy. An armed guard – that would make our warm little loving school feel just right, wouldn’t it? Nothing like a gun around to make everyone feel safe, warm and fuzzy.

    If this thinking is considered normal, and I am the extreme – it wouldn’t be a shock if I were found to be “negligent” for letting my kids play outside on their own, or go to the park alone.

  20. lollipoplover March 14, 2013 at 12:33 pm #

    “In the meantime, we have to remember that the more we repopulate the streets with LIFE, the less odd an independent child will look.”

    This is the key. And getting to know your neighbors, especially ones who may be older and watching too many CSI or L&O, and CNN and think that children are unsafe without an adult present and call the cops.

    We have older folks on our street who we help out with shoveling and other neighborly favors like mowing their lawn or pet sitting. I would hope the fear of losing their free shoveling help would be enough to stop them from calling the cops when the kids play freely or do things independently.

  21. Nicole March 14, 2013 at 1:07 pm #

    One thing you might want to look into is something called the “Popsicle index” (I think it goes by different variations, and you may have even talked about it).
    “what percentage of the people in your place believe that a child can leave their home, go to the nearest place to buy a popsicle or other snack, and return home alone safely?”

    This was thought of more around health and economics, but I can see how it can be related to the un-substantiated fears as well.

    The goal is for every child to have that opportunity. I know it’s my goal for me to convince my husband and children to go to the store and shop for me :)

  22. Donna March 14, 2013 at 1:21 pm #

    I think blaming CSI, L&O, etc. is too simplistic. I had a bizarre conversation with a couple this weekend who insist that 70-90% of children are molested. This belief is absolutely not based on TV. These people have lived on islands in the South Pacific for the last 20 or so years where there is extremely limited TV and have never seen many of these shows.

    Their belief comes from personal experience. The husband insists that 70% of his girlfriends during his life reported being molested. I have no idea how many girlfriends he has had that were serious enough that a history of child molestation would be revealed, but I can’t imagine we are talking about more than 10 women for someone who married his wife in his early 30s. The wife says that all the girls in her family were molested. This amounted to a grand total of TWO girls. So from this amazingly small number of people that they know who were “molested” (I never could get a clear picture of what this molestation entailed and they were equally incensed by someone flashing a kid as someone having sex with a kid) they insist that molestation is happening to everyone, everywhere constantly.

    No amount of discussion would change their minds. I pointed out actual statistics (which I still think are inflated but much more reasonable than 70-90%) and they insisted that since the people they know who were molested were never polled, the statistics are wrong. I stated that I know very few people who were molested as children and they insist that I either didn’t get the real story or am very unusual. I tried to explain that molesters tend to pick certain types of kids and daters tend to pick certain types of partners and that could explain the concentration (if it really exists) in his dating history to no avail. They are simply adamant that molestation is occurring constantly and everywhere and nobody is safe.

    If you truly believe that 70-90% of girls will be molested in their childhood, every precaution we mock here is realistic. For that much of a threat, hyper-diligence would be called for and nobody should be trusted. These are highly educated, professional people too.

  23. Lola March 14, 2013 at 1:46 pm #

    @ Donna:
    Yeah, but even if you appreciate there’s a good chance of your child being molested by a stranger, there are many, many other things you can do to minimize the chance, other than constant vigilance or home arrest.
    You can make your kid aware of the danger, teach them to stick to crowded streets, rather than dark alleys, to shout out loud, or hold a safe-looking lady’s hand and call her Mummy, even if she isn’t…
    When I started to go out with my friends by night (about 14 yo), my parents taught me many ways to avoid getting mugged, or to manage to get home unhurt if it happened anyway.
    I specifically remember my mum teaching me to carry a pin in my pocket, so that if a stranger on the bus got uncomfortably, um… familiar, I could stick the pin right into his long hand. She told me that my granny used to use her hat pin, but as they had got out of fashion, a safety pin would have to do.
    My point is, my parents were perfectly aware of the dangers I could face, but their advice wasn’t to crawl under the bed an never, ever get out. They tried to teach me to be careful, and wished me good luck.

  24. Donna March 14, 2013 at 2:22 pm #

    @Lola – I disagree. If I truly believed that my child had a 70% chance of being molested, I would never let her out of my sight.

    Your mother gave you tactics in the RARE case those things happened, not in the almost certain belief that it definitely would. There is a HUGE difference. Your mother understood that dangers exist in the world and that it is best to be prepared just in case, not that damn near every single person on the planet faces these dangers.

    Look at it this way, there is a chance that when you get into a car today that you will be in a fatal car accident. That chance always exists but it is truly a very small one. Most people who use cars for transportation do so nearly every day of their lives and never get into a fatal accident. So we work to be safe drivers to lessen the small chance of death by vehicle but don’t swear off cara totally.

    Now if you had an unshakable belief that there is a 90% chance that you are going to die in a car at some point in your life, how many times would you get into a car? I’m sure as hell never getting into a car.

  25. Donna March 14, 2013 at 2:27 pm #

    And their attitude isn’t anti-stranger. It is 100% anti-male. They don’t believe that any man ever, no matter how much you like him, should be trusted because you never know his sexual interests.

  26. Warren March 14, 2013 at 3:00 pm #

    Maybe for all those adults that are caught up in fear, we could point out all the stories of the police, cps, and busybodies making issue over kids playing, or going to the store.

    Stories of kids being detained, or outright abducted by authorities for playing on their own, or going down the street on their own, or going to the library on their own seem to be more common these days, than stories of abductions.

  27. Yan Seiner March 14, 2013 at 4:31 pm #

    Can someone post a clip or pic of the “Not for kids” warning from the early Sesame Street DVDs? I keep hearing about it but have never seen it.

  28. Papilio March 14, 2013 at 4:34 pm #

    This blog and the reactions just keep surprising me. I wonder:
    Are there really people in the US who mistake crime series like L&O and CSI for news bulletins? (As if all those screenwriters are watching the news all week to pick a murder for the next episode!)
    How come they only notice the few episodes with underaged victims getting abducted/molested/raped/murdered by a stranger, and forget about the few episodes with kid victims who got raped or murdered by a parent, sibling, teacher, friend, relative or someone else they knew and trusted?
    How come they don’t notice that forementioned people usually are the first suspects, and conclude this police habit must be for a reason?
    Why are those good looking mothers in Lenore’s TV show never afraid of becoming a victim themselves, despite all crime series episodes (at least 60% I would say, if I leave out the British and Scandinavian series) about good looking women getting abducted/molested/raped/murdered?
    (The only good looking mom who does mention the possibility of getting killed is Lenore – by those helicopter moms with their hilarious threats like ‘[keeping me in the dark was unnecessary cruel,] I really wanted to throttle and kill you right where you were standing!’ So… killing Lenore would be ‘necessarily cruel’??! Or not cruel at all…? :-) )

    If the chance of getting molested would really be 90%, a lot of those victims would have been molested at home, I mean, you don’t reach 90% by merely kidnappers or sportcoaches or piano teachers. So if home isn’t safe, then what is?
    For every possible situation, there is an example of it going wrong.
    It kind of reverses for me: if no-one can be trusted at all, then everybody is more or less equally trustable and there is no point in worrying all the time – for the only alternative would be to lock myself up in the basement. Where I would die of vitamine D deficiency. Hurray.
    I think it’s a matter of picking your battles.

  29. Havva March 14, 2013 at 5:02 pm #

    Sadly I don’t remember this Sesame Street skit. But then the “old school” disks quit before my memories start. What I do remember was the hyper protection gearing up. When I was 3-6 or so my activity books and TV shows tended to say things like “talk to your parents before starting this activity,” or “make sure you have your parent’s permission.”

    By the time I was 8-12 years old, the activity books very clearly aimed at my age group frequently said “ask a grown up to do XYZ for you” with XYZ being really simple activities like cutting paper with scissors, or putting something in the oven, or cutting up fruit. Aside from the oven, these were things that the previous books had and simply suggested you get permission or talk to a parent before starting.

    I was befuddled, and my mom was annoyed at how every page of these books advised me to have her do things for me that I was perfectly capable of doing for myself. My mom (and all my friend’s moms save one) gave permission for us to ignore those advisories, as long as we had done the activity before and felt safe. But I brought it up enough that mom eventually said that most of it was CYA for ‘small children and fools.’ It was still strange reading that all the time, because I had been doing most of the “ask a grown up” activities since before I could read. So I was left wondering how someone that foolish or young could manage to read the book, and get that far in the activity, in the first place.

    Back then I was unaware that adults weren’t “supposed” to teach a 3 year old how to use a sharp knife.

  30. pentamom March 14, 2013 at 5:09 pm #

    Yan, I couldn’t find it on YouTube, but here’s an article which directly quotes the disclaimer:


  31. pentamom March 14, 2013 at 5:13 pm #

    “By the time I was 8-12 years old, the activity books very clearly aimed at my age group frequently said “ask a grown up to do XYZ for you” with XYZ being really simple activities like cutting paper with scissors, or putting something in the oven, or cutting up fruit. ”

    The American Girls cookbooks are a great example of this. Here we have books purporting to show what nine-year-old girls actually HELPED make or made mostly by themselves, but there are all kinds of notes about “ask an adult to help you…” and some of the stuff is as silly as “turn on the stove.” Okay, depending on how young they’re expecting their audience to be, I can see suggesting supervision for removing hot things from the oven, but “turn on the stove?” They pretty much tell the kids to get an adult to do any task that involves using heat at all (i.e., all the actual cooking on the stove) or any use of an appliance or knife.

  32. Crystal March 14, 2013 at 5:17 pm #

    This is a prime reason why my 5-year-old has the following speech memorized: “Yes, I live here, and my mom knows I’m out here. It’s okay for me to be here. Thank you and have a nice day.”

  33. Michael March 14, 2013 at 6:07 pm #

    Here’s the Sesame Street Old School disclaimer:


  34. pentamom March 14, 2013 at 7:05 pm #

    As if “today’s preschool child” is somehow a different species from the preschoolers of 40 years ago.

  35. Let_Her_Eat_Dirt March 14, 2013 at 9:14 pm #

    Thank you for that great line, Crystal — I’m going to teach it to my kids.

    And pentamom, you are absolutely right about children’s books that are infused with the “we must be absolutely, 100% safe” mantra — even fictional or animal kids who can’t hop on a bike without a helmet or open an oven door or go for a walk alone. It’s really heavy-handed.

    I let my girls (age 5 and 3) help me in the kitchen all the time. The five year-old can make her own eggs, quesadillas, and other meals because she has practiced. Yes, she once burned herself on the toaster oven — but she learned from it and hasn’t done it again.

    Let Her East Dirt
    One dad’s take on raising tough, adventurous girls

  36. Taradlion March 14, 2013 at 9:55 pm #

    Warning labels are on the DVDs. I’ve seen them but you can also read about it here:

    According to NY Times 2007:


    Quote: “Just don’t bring the children. According to an earnest warning on Volumes 1 and 2, “Sesame Street: Old School” is adults-only: “These early ‘Sesame Street’ episodes are intended for grown-ups, and may not suit the needs of today’s preschool child.”

    Another quote from the article, “Snuffleupagus is visible only to Big Bird; since 1985, all the characters can see him, as Big Bird’s old protestations that he was not hallucinating came to seem a little creepy, not to mention somewhat strained. As for Cookie Monster, he can be seen in the old-school episodes in his former inglorious incarnation: a blue, googly-eyed cookievore with a signature gobble (“om nom nom nom”). Originally designed by Jim Henson for use in commercials for General Foods International and Frito-Lay, Cookie Monster was never a righteous figure. His controversial conversion to a more diverse diet wouldn’t come until 2005, and in the early seasons he comes across a Child’s First Addict.”

    Kids today are really given very little credit.

  37. Jenny Islander March 14, 2013 at 9:55 pm #

    Old School Sesame Street is a favorite at our house. The original scriptwriters were certainly much more matter-of-fact about the situations urban kids might encounter. Have you ever seen “Would You Like to Buy an O” from 1971? Ernie is approached by a shady, nervous character with hat pulled low who opens his trenchcoat to reveal a letter O. He then attempts to get Ernie to buy it while urging him to keep his voice down. As a little rural kid, I had no clue that the O was supposed to have been stolen–but you can bet the urban kids got it! (And I think Ernie got it too.)

  38. Jenny Islander March 14, 2013 at 10:01 pm #

    Oh, and remember the hairy, paint-spattered guerrilla artist who liked to sneak around painting numbers on things? Not a chance these days. Not. A. Chance.

  39. Susan2 March 14, 2013 at 10:38 pm #

    Yan Seiner – I believe there are now three discs out that have this warning. The discs are just the original shows from the early years, unsanitized. Search for “Sesame Street Old School” on Amazon, and you will find them. Our library also has them, but I guess the library staff didn’t get the memo because they cataloged them under Children’s DVDs.

  40. Emily March 14, 2013 at 10:46 pm #

    @Pentamom–You’re right; I saw a lot of “ask an adult to help with XYZ” in the activity books, etc., of my youth, but I mostly ignored it, and cut with scissors, and later knives, and eventually also used heat at my own risk. By the time I was old enough to be able to read those books, I was well old enough to use scissors independently–I began learning both around the age of three.

    @Jenny Islander–I never actually saw the “Would You Like To Buy an O” sketch, but when you described it to me, my first thought wasn’t about buying/selling stolen goods, but pedophilia/prostitution, as in, “O” for “Orgasm.”

  41. Sally March 15, 2013 at 6:41 am #

    Well, maybe we can mourn the passing of a more balanced ‘edutainment’ from the days of yore, but I have to wonder whether Sesame Street itself doesn’t have a lot to answer for regarding the hideous trend of refusing children just-for-fun television à la Bugs Bunny and replacing it with shows chock full with ‘teaching moments’, if not just plain old teaching. As in “I Can Cook!”. A cooking show for children. To name just one of many. Why not have them learn something worthwhile if they’re sitting around watching telly, after all. And yes, all those shows instruct: “Get an adult to help you do this part”. Yeech.

  42. Sorry To Say March 15, 2013 at 9:57 am #

    Honestly, I think fear of the police and CPS is more reasonable than fear of the child-molesting / abducting stranger. Not because I read about these cases all the time (though I do), or because it fits my biases (it does). It’s because I do not personally know ONE single person who was abducted or molested by a stranger (or whose child was), yet I personally know of SEVEN instances of police / CPS harassing innocent families.

    Two of those cases involved malicious people intentionally calling CPS and lying to get someone in trouble. Two involved overzealous medical personnel making completely unfounded allegations of abuse (for example, accusing a husband of domestic abuse solely on the basis that his wife — who was in the ER for a *panic attack* — did not want him to leave her alone). One involved an anti-homeschooling cop forcing his way into a home without a warrant to “check on” the homeschooled children. Two involved cops freaking out about an elementary-school-aged child playing outside alone.

    Meanwhile, I know a woman whose children should have been taken from her years ago. The poor kids have been irreparably damaged by neglect and abuse, and no one can get CPS to take notice.

  43. Shawn March 15, 2013 at 11:12 am #

    I still recite that cartoon whenever my wife sends me to the store for groceries.

  44. pentamom March 15, 2013 at 12:48 pm #

    Sure, Emily, my kids just laugh at the “ask an adult to help” parts, except when the fact that they’re small for their ages means that it really is safer for me to drain a heavy pot or put something potentially sloppy into the oven, or whatever.

    Sensible kids know better, but the point is that the non-sensible adults are writing the stuff and it does have an effect when kids are constantly bombarded with “you can’t do this safely,” especially if their parents have more or less bought into the idea as well.

  45. lollipoplover March 15, 2013 at 4:25 pm #

    Just saw this:


    Apparently, the adult had to ask the boys for help and it saved her baby’s life.
    Great confidence in these boys-and all without an adult present.

  46. Emily March 15, 2013 at 5:45 pm #

    @Pentamom–At the risk of sounding like a human billboard, have you thought of buying some kid-sized equipment for the kitchen, etc., so your kids can cook/hammer/nail/whatever independently? It’s all part of Maria Montessori’s theory that children can use “real” tools, that aren’t dumbed down, as long as they’re scaled to their size, and adults only think that small children are clumsy, because they see them struggling with things that are too big for them–so, a child trying to drink out of an adult-sized glass, for example, would be like an adult trying to drink out of a large flower vase. Anyway, here’s a website where you can find these things:


  47. babygurljrl March 15, 2013 at 10:53 pm #

    When I first read the comment for the “Would you like to buy an O” episide my first through was weed. Like an O= An “ounce”…..That makes the most sense to me.. I assume the shady looking, sketchy character is a drug dealer, hence the speaking in hushed tones.. Also because an O is common slang for and ounce of marijuana…

  48. Mara Vincent March 16, 2013 at 11:52 am #

    just wanted to add that a recently aired Special Agent Oso did an episode on two boys who go to the store by themselves as well. my girl for one loves the freedom to run a whole block ahead of me when out and about (she’ll be 3 in april) hearing range is our rule now, freedom will continue as she grows.

  49. pentamom March 16, 2013 at 12:43 pm #

    Emily, my youngest child is 12, so much of this is past tense. And the problem isn’t with the size of the handheld equipment, it’s just weight and stuff like that. If I want to make a full sized X, it’s going to be so big across and weigh so much, and my sink height doesn’t really get lowered, nor does my oven door scrunch down to get reached across more easily by someone who’s less than 4 1/2 feet tall.

    And I’m not going to scale down my recipes so my kids can use smaller pans, because if they’re cooking, they’re actually going to be doing something productive, not just “playing cook,” so the recipe needs to feed the family.

    I agree with the Montessori idea of using smaller sized tools for smaller hands and so forth, but we’re definitely beyond that point, yet my kids still aren’t quite able to manage full sized stuff of the larger kinds — big stock pots, heavy baking pans, etc, while still being able to manipulate them safely. So, now and then, I’m going to be lifting a heavy stoneware pan out of the oven or draining a pot of pasta into the sink. That’s just the way it is when you’re small people with small kids.

  50. Emily March 16, 2013 at 5:33 pm #

    @Donna–My bad, I thought your kids were younger. As for reaching things, my brother and I used to get around that when we were kids, by standing on chairs or step stools.

  51. Emily March 16, 2013 at 8:55 pm #

    Here’s a really good video that I remember from watching old-school Sesame Street when I was a kid:


  52. pentamom March 16, 2013 at 9:00 pm #

    Emily, really, I understand about things like step stools and stuff. Really. But sometimes you have to give a hand here and there. I mean, that IS why they’re not adults yet, because they can’t do EVERYTHING 100% unassisted all the time. Perhaps when you have kids of your own you’ll realize that some things are a matter of using judgment for what works in your own situation.

  53. Warren March 16, 2013 at 11:17 pm #

    Just watched Mary Poppins, for like the hundredth time, still love Julie and Dick’s performances.

    But we have to get this film pulled or filled with warnings.

    The children at one point were sent off by Mary Poppins to go to the fair, while she had tea with her chimney sweep.

    The kids helping the chimney sweep, dancing on the rooftops, with males they didn’t know.

    This film is just too dangerous for anyone under the age of 21 to view.

  54. Donna March 17, 2013 at 3:03 am #

    Huh? I assume you mean pentamom. But my kid is much younger than hers.

  55. Emily March 17, 2013 at 11:17 am #

    @Pentamom–You’re right, I’m sorry. I’m not a parent, so I don’t know everything. Actually, funny story–I remember when I was three or so, I was helping my mom cut out Christmas cookies with cookie cutters one day, and I was wearing a turtleneck and jumper with footed tights, but no shoes. Naturally, because I couldn’t reach the counter, I was standing on a chair. Anyway, I fell from that chair pretty spectacularly, only to get right back up on the chair and keep on helping with the cookies. Since this was 1987, my mom didn’t freak out and forbid me from ever standing on another chair, or rush me to the ER, or try to sue the company that made our kitchen furniture–instead, she just made sure I was okay, and we finished making the cookies, and life moved on as normal.

    @Warren–I love your “bubble wrap” analysis of Mary Poppins. How would the song go now? “A spoonful of crazy helps the lawsuit go down?”

  56. Emily March 17, 2013 at 11:17 am #

    @Donna–I’m sorry, I got you and Pentamom mixed up.

  57. daSnark March 17, 2013 at 12:21 pm #

    Ah, Sesame Street, a show highlighting independent children interacting safely with neighbors, monsters, grouches, and others.

    A delightful show for free rangers that illustrate that there are not child predators everywhere.

    I’d love to thank the puppeteers, especially Elmo’s Kevin Clash…. oh wait! Damn.

  58. Emily March 17, 2013 at 3:08 pm #

    This is what children’s television has been reduced to these days:


    Basically, the whole episode revolves around Sid and his friends getting flu shots, and the importance of washing hands, using hand sanitizer, and keeping your house clean, so as not to spread the flu virus. It’s PC propaganda in a colourful cartoon wrapper.

  59. pentamom March 17, 2013 at 9:02 pm #

    No worries, Emily.

  60. Jenny Islander March 17, 2013 at 11:26 pm #

    @Emily: There’s nothing politically correct about trying to make sure that kids don’t get dog-sick with the flu, and Sid the Science Kid is a science show. And helping kids be less scared of shots is a worthy goal. But MAN ALIVE, Sid is a screechy little monkey, and his bald buddy is even worse!

  61. mdsshop March 18, 2013 at 10:39 am #

    I was going to mention the early Sesame Street dvds are marked “not for kids” but Taradion beat me to it. Never the less, I’ll let my kids watch the old ones just the same.!!

  62. Warren March 19, 2013 at 3:59 pm #


    Actually it is politically correct to encourage the flu shot. No kids show, or any show should be endorsing a vaccine. The only one a family should listen to including the kids, is their family doctor. As we do. He does not see the need for me, my wife or our kids to get the flu shot. Our kids have not been given the vaccine for chicken pox either, on his advice. Doctors and parents make medical choices for kids, not a kids show.