Does a GPS Device Give Kids Freedom?

From my inbox:

Hey Lenore!  I came across a product the other day in my Facebook feed and I was curious about your opinion and your readers’. It’s basically a wearable GPS device for tracking your kids.  My first impression was a big eye roll. But then we had a situation this weekend that would have been so much easier if we had one!  

Our 9 year old was out playing with her friends in our neighborhood. She told us she was going to bike to Friend #1’s house and they were going to bike to the school playground or the park. We said “great – have fun.”  Then about an hour later we realized that  it was almost dinner time, so we wanted her home.

It was at this point that we also realized that she doesn’t have either a watch or a cell phone.  And that we hadn’t given her any directions as to what time she should be home.  And so I had to walk down to the neighbor’s house to find her.  I know , no big deal, but I was really tired!  So, lazy me aside, this GPS device (with two-way calling) would have been awesome!  She doesn’t need a cell phone yet, and this device is way smaller and easier to carry anyway.   I particularly liked on their website that they seem to value giving children independence.  “Give your kids the freedom to be kids.”  I don’t like the “spying” aspect of it, but I do like the “I just need to find my kid quickly and conveniently” feature.  Or, you know “I skinned my knee and my bike wheel is flat, can you come get me so I don’t have to walk it home”   Your thoughts? Always a fan, Tannis

Dear Tannis: I feel the constant supervision (spying) part outweighs the positive aspects. Sure, it’s convenient and I know we’d all like (even LOVE) it at times — saves some anxious or annoying moments. BUT the overall message to kids is: You must be where I can see/reach/help you at all times, even when you feel you are ready to be on your own. This keeps the parent in control the same as when the child was truly a helpless baby. At some point, messy and sometimes worrying though it is, we have to realize that our kids can and should be part of the wider world. They can call us if they need to, or ask a stranger for help, or figure it out themselves (there’s pride in that!).

In terms of the effect on society: This ability to be technologically omnipresent is making us believe that if we AREN’T always present or connected, our kids are in danger. That is actually making society less Free-Range and less tolerant of Free-Rangers. It is also making the law insist that children always be supervised, either physically or electronically. That’s why I keep hearing from parents arrested for letting their kids wait in the car a few minutes, or walk around the neighborhood. Old-fashioned childhood — and parenting — is going from normal to negligent.

At the same time, technology is also turning moms and dads into all-seeing, all-knowing beings, a job hitherto filled by a supreme deity, or at least The Fates. (And, more recently, the NSA.)

If you liked having part of your life known only to you and perhaps your best friend, you are taking that away from your kids with this admittedly attractive option.

But that’s just my take, of course! Good luck, whatever you decide! L.

Thanks to technology, His role has been outsourced to us!

Thanks to technology, His role has been outsourced to us!

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174 Responses to Does a GPS Device Give Kids Freedom?

  1. SKL June 13, 2014 at 9:34 am #

    Freedom comes with responsibility. Both on the part of the parent and the child. In the scenario described above, the parent forgot to mention when the child should come home and didn’t make sure he had a watch to accomplish this. This is a learning experience for the parent. It’s OK, nothing bad happened, but next time the parent will know to specify a time to be home and give the child a watch. And the child can learn to take responsibility for coming home on time.

    I am not crazy about the idea of kids too young for a cell phone thinking they can go wherever, whenever, without some sort of boundary from the parents. When I was that age, we had a lot of free-range stomping ground, but we also had boundaries – do not go over that bridge (iffy neighborhood over there), be home by x time, ask before going swimming (outdoor pool / weather stuff), don’t bum food off your friends’ parents, etc. We didn’t always have a watch, by the way, but we had ways to figure out whether it was time to go home. We also had a sense of responsibility that our parents should not become frustrated or worried because we did not come home on time. I feel this is age appropriate, whereas “whatever, my parents will find me when they want me” is not.

  2. Bob June 13, 2014 at 9:38 am #

    I don’t know if this will help any, but why don’t you just get a pair of those Motorola FRS walkie-talkies? They have like a 35 mile range (probably more like 5 or 10 effective range) and come with a belt clip. Then if the kid needs help he/she can call you or if it’s time for dinner you can say “Hey kid, dinner in 20 minutes, time to come home.”

    I think that still respects the kid’s independence, but gives you some way of reaching them without resorting to a cell phone or GPS constantly tracking their location. That’s my 2 cents anyway. . .

  3. Warren June 13, 2014 at 9:39 am #

    This whole society of being in constant contact, is just so damn wrong. This mom messed up, nothing major, but having to go out and look for her kid may teach her not to forget next time.

  4. Donna June 13, 2014 at 9:45 am #

    I agree that there are times when I would love to be able to get in contact with my child while she is out and about. Times when I’ve either forgotten to say when to come home like this mom or I’ve decided I want to go do something. But a wearable GPS doesn’t seem like the right answer either.

  5. SKL June 13, 2014 at 9:48 am #

    Another thought. The Powers that Be may not agree that having a GPS is good enough “supervision” for a kid to free range beyond what would otherwise be age appropriate. The busybodies and cops can’t see who has a GPS and who doesn’t. Sending your kid far afield with a GPS may ease your mind but it doesn’t mean you won’t get a call or visit from The Authorities.

  6. Matthew June 13, 2014 at 9:55 am #

    Could also get a watch and plan a specific time to be home.

    I think the convenience aspect is a bit big brotherish. But in this case, if used purely for safety and emergencies, it’s a reasonable mitigation against real risk, depending on other factors.

    As a 12 year old, I had about a 10 mile radius I’d ride in, and my 9 year old sister got heat exhaustion, and was extremely close to heat stroke. As it happened, we were on the one of 5 routes I routinely took that was in town and I only had 1/2 mile to get her someplace cool with liquids. Most routes I would have had to leave her and it would have taken 30+ minutes to get help.

    In SC and Texas, I’ve been nearly stranded with bike flats many miles from any residence in extreme heat so heat stroke was a real possibility (I always carry 2 spare tires and more gatorade than I’d need), and been caught exposed with a sudden extreme storm coming up. In addition, out in the woods it’s easy for a fall to disable someone.

    So in our area, tromping in rural areas, I will definitely get my kids one when they’re old enough (I’m not turning my preschooler loose in the mountains quite yet).

    In the suburbs, I might make a different decision. If stores and houses are fairly dense, and routes are limited, maybe there’s not a benefit. It’s about assessing real risk and mitigation cost and going from there.

  7. SKL June 13, 2014 at 10:11 am #

    But here’s another thought. :) When I was a kid, and with my kids, there have almost always been friends / siblings around. So if anything bad happened, someone could go for help. When we were kids, we’d call on some unsuspecting nearby neighbor lady (who may or may not have had kids), because people in the neighborhood were not “scary strangers.”

    Now if I had an only child and he didn’t have friends to go around with, then I could see sending him with a device he could use to send an SOS in an emergency. Better than lying in a ravine with a twisted ankle and wondering when someone would find him. Not to be all “worst first,” but who hasn’t ever twisted his ankle or the like as a free-range kid?

  8. SOA June 13, 2014 at 10:30 am #

    I would rather go with a cheap cell phone. Kids like to start texting and stuff early on nowadays. But the cell phone makes it easy to tell them to come on home or for them to call you and let you know they decided to go to Sue’s house instead of Jane’s or whatever. I think it does not hinder their independence because most kids like having a cell phone.

  9. Havva June 13, 2014 at 10:37 am #

    Things were probably not quite so free rang in the 90’s as in the 70’s and 80’s, and giving me a cell phone wasn’t an option. But my parents knew the phone numbers of my friend’s homes and insisted on knowing where I would be. If I changed plans I had to tell them. That way if they ever needed me back home for any reason they could call.
    Sure beats shelling out:
    $125 for a device with “Amber alert” it its name
    $4-10 for a way to attach it to the kid (ankle bracelet actually available)
    $20 activation fee
    bringing us to $150-$155 before we even start paying for the cell phone/3G plan it operates
    –That part will cost you $15/month.

    And for all that you are the only one who can contact the number, and the only one who the child can call if they need help. And it will raise false alarms that your kid is being kidnapped if you underestimate how fast she can go on her bike when you program it.

    That is a lot to pay if you are only using it to avoid a walk down the street. And to know 10 minutes sooner than the kid could walk home that they had a bike wreck.

    If that is really what it is about, why not just pay $20 a month and get the kid a $10 cell phone? Or pay a little extra for a kiddy cell phone with the 4 per-programed numbers and a button for 911.

  10. Jenny R. June 13, 2014 at 11:02 am #

    That web site is really creepy. Their blog has a post and graphic honoring “National Missing Children’s Day.” The whole site is about serious fear-mongering. The device has a predator alert that will tell you if your child comes within 500 of a registered sex offender’s house. It also has a “breadcrumbing” feature that will send you your child’s exact route periodically. Another feature will alert you when your child is travelling beyond a set speed limit. That thing where they have to wear it around their neck reminds me of a dog collar. Children will live up to your expectations. This sets them pretty low.

    My son rides his bike to and from school which is a mile away. One day on his way home, he noticed a problem with his front brake. If he had had this device, he would have had me come rescue him immediately. Instead, he had to walk his bike back to the school, go inside, and ask the secretary to call me at home. I came and picked him up. He told me going in to ask the secretary to call me made him uncomfortable. But I was thinking THAT’s GREAT. He was forced to problem solve and gained confidence in talking to an adult he didn’t know that well. It was definitely the most important thing he learned at school that day. If he’d had this GPS thing or even a cell phone the result would have been the same (I’d have come to pick him up), but the gain in independence would have been lost.

    Kids are more resourceful than we give them credit for. Even a kid with a sprained ankle can hobble home.

  11. Hillary J June 13, 2014 at 11:10 am #

    Isn’t there a cell phone company that makes cell phones just for kids that are old enough to for a real one, yet? I think it was called the Jitterbug or something. It had military grade durability and only 6 buttons for pre-programmed numbers. The device would only call out to those 6 numbers and could only receive calls from those 6 numbers. We plan on getting them when our kids are old enough to bike around town, but not yet old enough for a fragile and expensive phone with a plan. They can’t run up an insane bill by texting their friends all hours, but we can reach them if (not when, if) we need to. That way, they can go to a different park then originally decided if they want to and we can let them know if they can stay out later b/c our family plans got pushed back.

  12. Kimberly Herbert June 13, 2014 at 11:19 am #

    Here is my thinking. Once I was old enough to leave our street, I was required to take a small purse with a couple of dollars of quarters. If I got caught with a flat tire, or in a sudden thunder storm (common in Houston Summers), or was changing destinations I could call my parents from a pay phone and give them an update.

    For my niece and nephew – there are no payphones. For that reason I think once a kid is old enough to go off on their own, either a cell phone or one of those radios is appropriate. I prefer a cell phone because they can call 911 if they need it. This doesn’t mean setting kids loose to be consumed by tech. Niece and nephew have ipads that they can text or facetime on. Sis and BIL have to approve of all contacts because they are still young. Niece has been able to Text since being diagnosed with dyslexia in Kinder, to encourage her to use written language and associate it with fun activity.

  13. pentamom June 13, 2014 at 11:39 am #

    I think the Firefly was the one for kids; the Jitterbug is the one for older folks not interested in learning a more complicated technology or paying for frills.

    In a situation like Tannis’ which I have encountered before, my solution has been to think, “Oops, I need to remember to specify when they should be home so this doesn’t occur again.” My kids always wear watches for this reason but I’ve done the same thing — forgotten to tell them when dinner would be or if I would need them for something else by a certain time. It never occurred to me that a comprehensive, all-seeing technology was the solution for my bout of forgetfulness.

  14. Gary June 13, 2014 at 11:44 am #

    “I don’t know if this will help any, but why don’t you just get a pair of those Motorola FRS walkie-talkies? ”

    When I was a kid my dad hooked up a CB radio to my bike…

    That’s right, a CB radio, it was during the whole CB craze and I wanted one SOOOOOOO BAD…

    And yes, it was as awesome as it sounds.

  15. anonymous mom June 13, 2014 at 11:48 am #

    @SKL, off-topic, but I really appreciate seeing that your parents instilled in you not to bum food off your friends’ parents. This is one of those things I am very adamant about with my kids. If they are playing at a friends’ house and get thirsty, they may politely ask for water. That’s it. They can’t ask for food, they can’t ask for fancy drinks. If they are that hungry, they can come home and I’ll feed them.

    My least favorite thing about summer is food moochers, especially very insistent food moochers. I have three food moochers I’m forced to feed living in my home; I do not need a few more begging me for snacks every day, thanks.

  16. Maribel June 13, 2014 at 11:52 am #

    I provided my son with a cell phone when he was about ten years old. Not long after, I called him and he answered with an exasperated, “MOM, I am in A TREEEEEE!” He couldn’t believe I would have the audacity to call him when he was trying to climb a tree. I said, “Well, a monkey would know not to answer a cell phone when climbing a tree. Hang up and use both hands while you climb.”

  17. J.T. Wenting June 13, 2014 at 12:14 pm #

    “I am not crazy about the idea of kids too young for a cell phone thinking they can go wherever, whenever, without some sort of boundary from the parents.”

    Don’t blame that on the lack of a device that can be used to keep track of them 24/7, blame it on parents not raising their little pests to be little angels…

  18. MichaelF June 13, 2014 at 12:19 pm #

    Sorry, but if you can’t pre-plan with your kids then you should learn to – this is similar to a situation where I learned to specify when my son had to come home. These devices don’t really cover the times you feel a little lazy and just want to know where the kids are. I’ve also had to tell my kids to let me know when they move about, since the one time they did and did not tell me I hit three friends houses getting the Mom telling me “oh they went to so and so’s”. I got a lot of walking that day!

  19. MichaelF June 13, 2014 at 12:21 pm #

    …and by cover I mean cost. A few hours late for a dinner one time doesn’t justify, for me, paying money for these things.

  20. anonymous mom June 13, 2014 at 12:23 pm #

    @Bob, the walkie-talkie idea might be a solution to the communication problem we’ve been wrestling with. In the summer, when everybody’s home, my younger kids and I will often want to spend a few hours visiting with my neighborhood friends who have little kids (all within about a 3-block radius). My oldest is at the point where he just gets bored being dragged along, and he’s old enough that we’re comfortable leaving him home alone for a while if I’m nearby in the neighborhood, but we don’t have a landline in the house and don’t want to get him a cellphone yet (mostly because we don’t trust him not to lose it).

    A long-range walkie-talkie could be a great alternative to either sucking it up and getting him a cellphone or paying for a landline. It would also be less of a loss if he lost it and probably more fun.

  21. EricS June 13, 2014 at 12:32 pm #

    As convenient as this is, it takes away the need to be a parent. You become reliant on technology to make parenting easier for YOU. But it’s not making you a better parent. Not saying that this mother is not a good parent. Parenting is suppose to be hard, if it were easy, your doing it all wrong.

    The stress, the worry, the apprehensions, is all apart of parent-child relationship. These things help mold parent and child the right way. Worrying is natural. But giving in to your worrying isn’t. You and your child should be overcoming worries and fears. Not masking them by using technology to avoid teaching them what they need to know.

    Before the last 20 year, most didn’t have cellphones or GPS, so kids in the early 90s and earlier had to learn to fend for themselves in the real world. Just like generations before them. It worked for us, and it WILL work for this generation of kids. They have something better than a cellphone or GPS, they have brains. Now what goes in there heads is all up to the parents. It’s like the saying “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime”. Same with children, you teach them what they need to know how to traverse in life, and it’s many situations, you will never need a cellphone or GPS. Because you would have taught your children responsibility, independence, and confidence. And they will, for the most part, make the right choices for their own safety. Not because some technology gives some resemblance of security.

    Save your money. Next time, just buy your child a watch (cheaper than a gps). And tell them what time to be home. No, ifs, ands or buts. If they need they are going to be delayed or run into any issues, teach them contingencies. Like using a payphone, or going back to the friend’s house to call home. Again, generations past kids did this, and we all survived to have our own families. The world didn’t end. We went from 4 billion people to almost 5 billion. Can’t argue with the results of pre-internet days.

  22. EricS June 13, 2014 at 12:44 pm #

    @SKL “But here’s another thought. :) When I was a kid, and with my kids, there have almost always been friends / siblings around. So if anything bad happened, someone could go for help. When we were kids, we’d call on some unsuspecting nearby neighbor lady (who may or may not have had kids), because people in the neighborhood were not “scary strangers.”

    We did this too. And many were always happy to help. The community were extra pair of eyes and discipline for our parents.

    “Now if I had an only child and he didn’t have friends to go around with, then I could see sending him with a device he could use to send an SOS in an emergency. Better than lying in a ravine with a twisted ankle and wondering when someone would find him. Not to be all “worst first,” but who hasn’t ever twisted his ankle or the like as a free-range kid?”

    If we hurt ourselves, twisted an ankle, bumped our heads, we hobbled home. The only thing we were worrying about was getting in trouble because we did something we weren’t suppose to, or we got hurt. lol There were a couple of times where friends ended up breaking an arm or a leg. There would be at least 2 of us, so while bystanders looked after my injured friend, I would run/bike to his house or mine (which ever was closer), and tell the parent there what happened. And we would drive to the location. We didn’t even bother to call the ambulance, the injured would just be dumped into the car and taken to the hospital. They cried. But after the cast was put on, it was like a badge of honor. Especially when everyone signed the cast.

  23. lihtox June 13, 2014 at 12:44 pm #

    A GPS tracker might be a great idea for parents to transition into a free-range mentality, but only if they promise not to use it except in emergencies. No sitting there watching your kid wandering about during the day, no confronting your child about where they went. And it should not be a substitute for the kid wearing a watch, having a set time to come back, following the rules, etc.

    Not that this is an entirely new phenomenon; in the past kids were tracked too, only it was by nosy neighbors. :) “I saw your kid out on the railroad tracks yesterday and I thought you should know” etc etc.

  24. Emily June 13, 2014 at 12:45 pm #

    What ever happened to “come home when the street lights come on?”

  25. EricS June 13, 2014 at 12:53 pm #

    @SKL “Another thought. The Powers that Be may not agree that having a GPS is good enough “supervision” for a kid to free range beyond what would otherwise be age appropriate. The busybodies and cops can’t see who has a GPS and who doesn’t. Sending your kid far afield with a GPS may ease your mind but it doesn’t mean you won’t get a call or visit from The Authorities.

    I am teaching mine to question authority. eg. If he was riding his bike by himself, and gets stopped by the police, or an adult, and they start asking him questions. He knows to tell them his first name only. Tell them he’s perfectly fine. And thank them for their concern. Then go off on his merry way. If they try to detain him, he’s been taught to make a scene, and say he doesn’t want to go off with people he doesn’t know, and who is making him do something he doesn’t want to. Protest. Don’t be afraid. Because we will always back him making the right choices.

    Just because it’s cop, doesn’t mean they know better. And it doesn’t make them trusty worthy, or reliable either. There are corrupt authority figures out there. Teach kids to protect themselves. And to trust their instincts and your parenting. After all, as we all know, most abuse and assaults on children are from people they know already, and think they can trust. Teachers, coaches, priests, etc…

  26. anonymous mom June 13, 2014 at 1:08 pm #

    @EricS: But, in the past (at least the past couple of generations) we had something that kids today don’t have–access to pay phones. My parents would routinely send me off into the world with a couple of quarters in my pocket, just in case I needed to get in touch with them. Pay phones were pretty ubiquitous in the town where I grew up, and I used them to call my parents about things on numerous occasions (I was going to be out later than I expected, I was ready for a ride home, I had a flat tire, I was wondering if I could go to X’s house even though that hadn’t been my original plan, etc.).

    And, we also had landlines and phone books, which mean that, if my parents knew the name of the kid I was with, even if they didn’t know the parent or their phone number, they could look them up and call their house. In the situation described by the OP, as long as she knew the kid’s last name, she probably could have, 15 or 20 years ago, looked up the phone number in the white pages, called the parents’ landline, and avoided a walk to their house.

    So it wasn’t like, when I was growing up, parents just sent their kids into the wild to fend for themselves, with no means of communication. They made use of the communication available to them, which included pay phones and landlines. Today, pay phones are a thing of the past in most places (have you tried to find a working pay phone lately?) and many homes don’t have a landline a concerned parent could look up the number for and call. I don’t think giving a child a cellphone is inappropriately relying on technology any more than giving a child a couple of quarters for a pay phone used to be.

  27. Lyle F. Bogart June 13, 2014 at 1:09 pm #

    Does a GPS give kids freedom? Of course not. It gives them a tether. Responsibility and experience give them freedom. Neither of my kids have GPS, cellphones, or anything else beyond what they’ve been taught by me and mom. They go on daily runs of 2-4 miles with instructions to “mix it up” and “don’t always run the same route” without a tether. They go off on bike rides, they go off exploring with instructions to be back “around” a certain time. . . you know, like I did when I was a kid. . .

    Cheers!

  28. Matthew June 13, 2014 at 1:14 pm #

    Like someone up above said, what payphones? I haven’t seen a working one in 10 years.

    And for those of us in rural areas, it’s a completely different set of risks.

    Overall, the logic that a safety device allows more risk is sound. As a chemical engineer, the better the safety devices, the more risks I can take, but, at the same time, frquent use of the safety devices is an issue.

    It’s potentially useful, but shouldn’t be the first line.

    Overall strategy:
    1. Plan on routes, and times and decisions and needs (for bike riding, staying hydrated and taking liquids, or ensuring liquids will be available on route).
    2. Mobile emergency equipment. I never rode my bike far without a basic first aid kit and spare tire and pump, and at least a little cash.
    3. Cell phone or GPS

    Knowing when to call for help is also a part of learning and using one’s head. 1 and 2 can handle 99.9% of what can go wrong. There’s nothing wrong with 3, so long as 1 and 2 are still treated as the preferred option. If 3 does need to be utilized, then do an after action review to see how to improve 1 and 2 to prevent needing to rely on 3. Repeat as needed.

    Besides, I consider the risk of idiots overreacting to a kid struggling or needing help and calling the cops or social services high enough to justify a higher probability of me being the contact.

  29. K June 13, 2014 at 1:18 pm #

    If something happens and the kid is 17 the parents are considered neglectful in most cases. The laws are vague and broad, even if unsupervised time is allowed by local town or county law for older kids, by CPS standards parents are still responsible for them. The laws sometimes conflict with the parents always coming out on the wrong side. For the most part judges and others just rubber stamp what the CPS social worker wants. If the kid falls off of a swing and breaks a bone and you aren’t there and a good deed doer calls the authorities CPS gets involved and guess what, that would be considered neglect by the current way that CPS and the family courts work. A small amount of bad luck of any kind, even something not related to free range can get children removed from the house. I think free range is the best parent style, but the paranoid helicopter parent is what is currently accepted. I like to think there is moderation, but I’m not sure I’ve found it. Currently, about a quarter of a million parents lose their kids every year. With time and a lot of money and frustration some get them back, but the time lost is never repaid. That’s 4,500,000 over the course of 18 years. 4,500,000 is about half the population of NYC (including all 5 boroughs). The numbers for children being removed are rising, I think because CPS keeps getting involved in more and more aspects of people’s lives.

  30. Vicki Bradley June 13, 2014 at 1:30 pm #

    I agree that the GPS device is like a tether, just an invisible one. There’s a book called “A Nation of Wimps,” and it’s all about the whole helicopter parenting phenomenon. One thing I learned from this book was how the whole cell phone craze means that people are not needing how to learn the important skill of making plans, as everyone just relies on their cell phones to do so. It also talked about how it hinders young adults from learning to problem-solve, as they simply call Mom or Dad whenever they have a problem, instead of trying to figure it out for themselves. I work with college- and university-aged young adults, and I encounter this all the time.

  31. Havva June 13, 2014 at 1:55 pm #

    I agree the payphone is dead. But on the upside, in populated areas, it is really easy to find someone who will let you borrow their phone.

    My parents still don’t have cell phones, when his travel has gotten messed up he has found it easy to get someone to lend him a phone to call me. I’ve loaned my phone to kids who’s parents forgot to pick them up. And people have made calls on my behalf when I have needed it. In populated areas it seems easier than ever to find a phone when you needed it (and it is basically free too).

  32. Kimberly June 13, 2014 at 1:57 pm #

    It sounds to me that Tannis needs to sit down and have a chat with her child about what time she is expected to be home.

    My middle daughter is 9. She often goes to the park alone, which is about a mile away. We are not a cellphone family, and she often forgets her watch. She knows that 6 is when she needs to be home during the school year and 7 is appropriate for summer. The other day she goes “But Mom, how am I to know what time it is?” and I told her.. Repeat after me .. “Sir, pardon me, do you know the time?” .. “Ma’am, excuse me, my parents want me home at x time, do you know the time?”. Additionally I told her she’s welcome to walk up to the local 7-11 which is right near the park, and they have clocks abound inside. Only once has she failed to return home on time, but in that case she had ran into a friend at the park and lost track of time. Still earned her a week of being ‘grounded’.

    In regards to “If she has a flat tire and a skinned knee” Well, I am not sure about you, but when I was a kid, I had to ride my bike to school. I remember quite vividly the day I biffed it, and I biffed it bad. I managed to flip over a tree, disconnect my brakes, and my chain came undone, both knees, elbows, and a chin skinned. I walked my bike back home, about a half-mile, and my grandmother fixed my bike, put bandages on, and wrote me a note as to why I was late to school, and set me on my way to school. I remember being so upset with her for doing that, I mean surely blood, warranted a day home. But, I thank her for it now. Things happen, all of the time, Life doesn’t stop around you, and neither should you.

  33. Rachel June 13, 2014 at 2:13 pm #

    Yeah, I agree with Lenore’s response on this. While it wouldn’t be the end of the world for a kid to have a gps, a sense of real freedom and privacy may be denied them as well. Better to plan ahead a little so the kid knows when they need to be home, and ask them to call if they change plans. They’ll forget, sometimes, but we all lived through that too, didn’t we?

  34. SOA June 13, 2014 at 2:26 pm #

    Look times have changed. In my day I always had some quarters and I used pay phones to call my mom to keep her informed of my movements or if I needed her. Those do not exist anymore. I also used house phones at my friend’s house to call her. Most homes don’t even have house phones anymore. So yes, cell phones are a little more necessary now than they were before and there is nothing wrong with that.

    And this is coming from someone with no smart phone but just a 10 year old flip phone she only uses for calls.

  35. Bob June 13, 2014 at 2:27 pm #

    @Anonymous Mom: Yeah, those FRS walkie-talkies are pretty sweet. They’re relatively cheap, they use plain ol’ AA batteries, and they’re not locked into a pair, so if the kid loses one, then you buy another pair and boom, now you have 3 that work.

    They also do have a pretty good range. I’ve used those while cross-country skiing or hiking or on road trips where we caravan a few vehicles and they have worked pretty awesomely. It’s a nice tool to add to your parenting arsenal. . .

  36. Matthew June 13, 2014 at 2:51 pm #

    To paraphrase “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people”, phones and GPS don’t tether people, prevent them planning properly, or make kids unable to function.

    The failure of the college kids not knowing how to do stuff is a parental failure at home, not he fault of an inanimate object. While growing up, I was taught to cook, do laundry, hem and do other minor sewing work. If there were repairs needed on the house, my father talked me through it. Parents not introducing self sufficiency is the problem. Not the phone.

    And while 1/2 mile on a road with scrapes is reasonable, is that same distance reasonable with a broken ankle, when weight on it will cause further, more permanant damage?

    Just because we shouldn’t get overly panicked about hazards doesn’t mean we should take pride in not taking reasonable precautions, and reasonable precautions can enable greater risks. A GPS can easily mean the difference between staying in town and going 5-10 miles into the country.

    In my case, I’ll be getting one for myself. http://outdoorsafetygps.com/ I go backpacking, and am looking at a backcountry trip with no trails in Colorado. Even as someone very experienced and skilled, since I have a family, I could never justify that risk. The flip side is people without those skills not prepping properly and taxing the emergency service with their stupidity. Again….just a tool. Good use/bad use.

  37. Steve June 13, 2014 at 3:44 pm #

    Tannis:

    Forget constant contact — read Lenore’s book.

    Constant contact, to me, is helicoptering, not Free Range. Just because a parent “wants” constant contact doesn’t mean that’s best for the child.

    Free Range is about instilling resourcefulness and independence, as well as teaching children manners and kindness.

    You said:

    “Our 9 year old was out playing with her friends in our neighborhood. She told us she was going to bike to Friend #1’s house and they were going to bike to the school playground or the park. We said “great – have fun.” Then about an hour later we realized that it was almost dinner time, so we wanted her home.”

    My big question is: Was this a Special dinner? Was this a big celebration for a close relative who was going overseas for 2 years and this would be the last time your 9 year old would get to see her favorite aunt or uncle?

    Or was this about a tired Mom on auto-pilot? What’s the big deal about missing an occasional family meal? Don’t get me wrong… I’m a huge fan of having at least one family meal per day, because it helps a family be more cohesive, but missed meals every now and then during summer vacation don’t have to be viewed as a monumental loss.

    a caveat: Your daughter is now at the age when you will be seeing her less. She will be out playing away from home and with friends more often. It will seem like time rockets by and before you know it she will be in high school, college, and then who knows where in the world she will be. Treasure every day, but remember deep down you want what’s best for HER, and that doesn’t always mean what is “easiest” for you.

    Something else to consider:

    I know the majority of our society loves cellphones, (and techie gagets) but I see them as a great excuse not to plan ahead, and a great reason to assume you can invade anyone’s privacy at any minute of the day or night. Planning today means, “I’ll call you or message you when I get my head on straight. I don’t want to take the time to plan now.”

  38. lollipoplover June 13, 2014 at 4:04 pm #

    I don’t believe any device can replace responsibility and communication skills between parent and child.
    I think GPS child trackers exist to make nervous parents feel better, especially ones who need to know where their child is every minute. Makes me miss the dinner bell I had growing up.

    Whoever mentioned long range walkie-talkies as a communication method-YES! We had these when are kids were younger (we got motorola ones cheap on amazon)and they used them for games at parks and for when they went all around the neighborhood and we had to get them home for dinner (but they usually came home by 6 anyway. They also enjoyed some of the interference calls from truckers, etc. who yelled at them to get off their line. I highly recommend them.

    As for the direction of child tracking, I am placing money on the child electric fence coming as a legit way to corral kiddies. Treating kids like they are mindless cattle who have to be tracked and chipped and not as capable, independent future leaders who can actually figure out to come home when they are hungry.

  39. Peter June 13, 2014 at 4:11 pm #

    I’m somewhat amused by those who eschew technology like this. “When I was kid…” Frankly, when I was a kid in the ’70s, I’d’ve thought things like smartphones were awesome. I still do.

    In regard to this situation, there are three options:

    1. Remember to tell the kid when dinner is. This is the cheapest option. You can also have a standing, “You need to be home by 6:00 for dinner.” No need for a high-tech solution.
    2. A cellphone. Believe it or not, cellphone does not automatically mean, “I’m tracking my child.” Heck, even the police need a court order to track your cellphone. Unless you buy the kid a smartphone and have the appropriate software set up, you can’t use it for that. Don’t buy the software or sign up for the service and, instead, use it for communication. I think this is a reasonable solution. Call the kid, ask where they are, and if they’re close to the store, have ‘em pick up a pack of cigarettes or a six-pack of beer on their way home.
    3. One of these GPS systems. While I agree that the communication part is handy and they’re designed for use by kids, the tracking is also set up. To me, that’d be too much of a temptation.

  40. pentamom June 13, 2014 at 4:14 pm #

    Emily, come home when the street lights come on doesn’t work all that well in the summer time when dinner is at 6 and the family eats dinner together. It’s fine for other times of year or after dinner in the summer time if there’s nowhere else you’ve planned to be, but sometimes an agreed upon coming-home time is appropriate. But as I said above, my response to Tannis is that she should have face-palmed herself and then reminded herself not to do it again, not turned to intrusive technology so she’s always be within device-reach to prevent such a minor issue from cropping up again.

  41. pentamom June 13, 2014 at 4:19 pm #

    SOA, I don’t see why most phones not having house phones anymore (and that’s not true where I live, though it is becoming more common) should matter — presumably children are not playing at other people’s houses while those houses have no one else in them, so they could borrow a phone.

  42. SOA June 13, 2014 at 4:51 pm #

    pentamom: ha no actually. when I was a kid in the 90s as I said on another thread when I was upper elementary school I spent a ton of time staying at friend’s houses some lived near me within walking distance, some did not. My one best friend C had parents who worked. So we were alone all day at her house with her brother who was about 3 years older.

    So if no house phone, then no way to call home unless the kids had a phone too. But then you still go with kids having a phone so why not your kid?

    Or I had friends whose mom would go over to a neighbor’s or run to the store and then again, no phone if no house phone.

  43. Coccinelle June 13, 2014 at 4:56 pm #

    I find it really ironic that people keep saying that things have changed and there are no pay phones now. How about before the telephone was invented? I’m sure kids were not kept prisoners inside just because the parents would not be able to reach them otherwise.

    Technology sure makes our lives easier but that doesn’t mean that lack of technology makes our life impossible. I am for one really glad to own a washing machine and I certainly don’t wash my laundry by hand when it breaks, but I think it’s nice, one in a while, to stop thinking about stuff we take for granted that our ancestors didn’t have.

  44. Backroads June 13, 2014 at 4:59 pm #

    This is a difficult one for me. In large part, I agree with Lenore. A GPS device is way too much omniscience.

    Yet, just the other day, I was musing on just how awesome communication technology is and, indeed, how grateful I am for it. I love that in emergencies we have so many new instant ways to get a hold of one another.

    Then I go through that thought process and balk at my use of the word “emergency”.

    Yes, all that technology is great in an emergency. And I realize that emergencies spring up out of the blue. But should we treat every excursion as a potential emergency?

    Since they do spring up out of the blue whether you are free range or not, perhaps there is a tiny niche for prudent use of technology. I love the idea of cell phones to replace the payphones of yore (and yes, even the vocal call and the dinner bell.) I love that those phones could even become useful in case of actual emergency.

    My thought process really is more “be prepared” than “helicopter fear monger”, I hope. I’m sure we all love being prepared.

    GPS for everyday playing is a bit much, but perhaps there is room in Free range thinking for technology?

  45. T. Doyle June 13, 2014 at 7:50 pm #

    As for there being no pay phones (there are pay phones in my city, although not as many as there once were, but my kids know how to make a collect call in an emergency)… Even without payphones my kids are not going to be further away from a phone today than I was back in the 70s and 80s. Phones are everywhere today!! If I needed a phone I had to go to someone’s house or find a payphone, but my kids also have the option of asking pretty much anyone over the age of 16 if they can borrow a phone to make an emergency call.

  46. Andrea June 13, 2014 at 8:44 pm #

    I think the biggest problem with GPS and cell phones for kids is that they do become a crutch. Once you send your kid out with a GPS, you’ll never want them to not have it. You’ll feel out of sorts if they forget it at home. It will become a necessity in your mind, whereas before you got it they were fine without it. Annoying to track down, but fine.

    I too have a kid who makes a habit of making me wander all over the neighborhood looking for him. But I’d much rather work on his responsibility, trustworthiness, and logistics skills, than have this constant way to know exactly what he’s up to at any given moment.

  47. E June 13, 2014 at 9:22 pm #

    When I was little my mom had a bell, like the old school bells thing (wooden handle and black bell at bottom). It was loud enough that it could be heard wherever we were playing in the neighborhood. Everyone knew when it rang, it was time for me (and siblings) to go eat dinner. We had a big family and I think we kids got tired of the bell (no one else had one), but it worked! When my parents were downsizing recently, I asked for the bell and realized how I was so fond of that memory. My kids thought it was a hoot and asked that I use it for them. They were already getting old enough that it wasn’t necessary (and sadly our neighborhood didnt have the same sort of gangs of kids playing all over).

    Anyway, a very low tech but effective option.

  48. JuliaZ June 14, 2014 at 12:57 am #

    The walkie-talkies are a great convenience and let the kids wander about and provide changes of plans without bothering anyone.

    We bought them for a cruise… much cheaper than paying for cruise-activated cell phones and hundreds of dollars cheaper than our own cell phones (bought for grown-ups on the cruise).

  49. hineata June 14, 2014 at 1:33 am #

    Oh makes me nostalgic for my little town at the edge of a valley. Didn’t need bells etc , my little brother was such a fog horn that Mum just needed to send him outside on the deck and we could hear him halfway across town :-) .

    On the original, personally I don’t think GPS is such a great idea, but maybe that’s just because I am nosey and I could see myself checking it regularly. This mum might be better lol! :-)

  50. rhodykat June 14, 2014 at 5:39 am #

    I’ve told this story several times. My daughter’s bus had a new driver. There are only a few kids on the bus. My daughter and her friend (they were 4th grade) my son (he was 2nd) and a K girl. Maybe one or two others. The bus driver was crazy. He stopped the bus at a busy intersection in a city away from the K kids stop, and yelled at her to get off the bus. My kids stood up and told K kid not to get off the bus – there was no adult, and they knew it was the wrong stop. The bus moved on, finally stopped somewhere else and he told all of the kids to get off. They refused, and managed to direct the bus to where it was supposed to go. Everyone got off at the correct place. They were really shaken when they got off the bus, but my fourth grader looked at me and said “if I had a cell phone, that never would have happened.” I constantly go back to that even, I remind her that if she had a cell phone, she would have called me to deal with it, and she was perfectly capable. She did an amazing job in a very difficult situation. In the end, dealing with that day has given her unsurmountable confidence in her abilities. At fifth grade graduation this week, the teacher had one word she associated with each child – my child’s word was “independence.”

  51. Richard June 14, 2014 at 6:45 am #

    @Matthew:

    You tell an interesting story of having to deal with your sister’s heat exhaustion, kudos to you for handling it well. However, you then say:

    “In SC and Texas, I’ve been nearly stranded with bike flats many miles from any residence in extreme heat so heat stroke was a real possibility (I always carry 2 spare tires and more gatorade than I’d need).”

    Isn’t it possible that your early difficult times helped to give you those habits? If you both hadn’t experienced (and overcome) the mild adversity when you were younger, would you have simply ended up being able to get yourself into a far worse mess now that you were older?

  52. SOA June 14, 2014 at 10:52 am #

    Personally I do not like having to make my kids “Beggars” in the sense of they will always have to ask to borrow a phone. Some people have limited minutes and even if they are willing to let my kid borrow their phone that is taking away their precious minutes. So I would rather just get them their own cheap little one or even let them borrow mine for when they are going to be out roaming or away from home. We still have a home phone. It is not everyone else’s job to be constantly letting my kid borrow their phone.

    Which that has not changed much. Back when my mom used to drop me at the movie theater or the mall I could borrow a phone from one of the stores, but she told me to take quarters and use the pay phone or even call collect over bothering those people. She instilled in me a sense of personal responsibility to plan ahead and not expect other people to rescue me in a sense.

  53. Lola June 14, 2014 at 11:04 am #

    I agree with SKL. We have this trial-and-error approach every time our eldest asks to do something new. I find I’m really exercising parenting when we get together and go over the plan, trying to anticipate what could go wrong…
    In case of doubt, we turn to friends who’ve got older kids and ask for their wisdom in the matter. They’re usually better sources than CSI, the news, or the internet.
    And, of course, we have our share of mishappens (like the one in the post), most of them due to lack of foresight on the parents’ part. But hey, this makes the eldest an expert at improvising, and her younger siblings have wiser parents, right?

  54. Jill June 14, 2014 at 1:25 pm #

    The “predator alert” feature is what got to me. The sex offender registry is full of people who did things like download porn on the internet or have a girlfriend who was 17 when they were 21. The damn thing would be going off all the time.

  55. pentamom June 14, 2014 at 1:51 pm #

    SOA, in that situation, in any sane family, the older brother would have been in charge and would have had a phone. Any parent today who left a sibling in charge of another would not have left them somewhere with no access to a phone. But that doesn’t necessarily mean they would have given a phone to a younger child, or to a child who was never in charge of a household where there was no fixed phone.

  56. pentamom June 14, 2014 at 1:59 pm #

    Since we live in a cul de sac and the kids only play by themselves with other kids within the cul de sac, we used a whistle for “get home now.” But if we let them go farther afield, which sometimes happen, that wouldn’t work. That’s why we always pre-arrange a time, and they wear watches. The younger ones always wanted to wear watches anyway.

  57. Jim McGraw June 14, 2014 at 4:41 pm #

    Lenore you are right.

    Letting kids free range without the equivalent of an prisoner ankle bracelet makes stronger and more self reliant kids. Traits they will need in life.

    GPS is not 100% reliable so putting faith into GPS tracking could lead to bad outcomes.

    Kids do not need GPS, Cell phones or walkie talkies. They all can fail. besides your well informed children can always find an adult with a cell phone no days. They can go into a business for help should they need it.

  58. Donna June 14, 2014 at 5:32 pm #

    Everyone is talking about the kids reaching the parents. I want my child to be reachable for ME. Not to helicopter, but because I sometimes get bored hanging out at hone and want to go do something spontaneously. Even if she isn’t going to come, I like to tell her that I am going. She’s not ready for a phone, but walkie talkies are a good idea.

  59. SOA June 14, 2014 at 8:06 pm #

    I mean it is all in how you use the phone to me. If you are calling your kid every hour bugging them = helicoptering.

    If you use it for your own convenience like calling to tell your child you are going to the store is there anything they need? or telling them its time to come home = useful

    I don’t see the big deal. I don’t know what age I will get my kids a phone. Our neighborhood is pretty small so it would only take me 5 minutes or less to drive through it and find them if I needed them. So they probably will not need it till they are teenagers and start going out a lot and wanting to talk and text their friends. But at that point I am definitely getting them one so they will stay the heck off my phone for that mess.

  60. pentamom June 14, 2014 at 10:35 pm #

    “Everyone is talking about the kids reaching the parents. I want my child to be reachable for ME.”

    Yes. Not because they won’t be safe without my being able to reach them, but sometimes I have a reason to want them home. Plans change for moms, too. Or sometimes plans were already existing, but mom forgot to remind the kid about them, which brings us back to the OP.

  61. Warren June 14, 2014 at 10:36 pm #

    Moochers? Really?

    How completely ignorant and rude. Kids are over playing with your kid, they get thirsty and or hungry, and you want them to go home? Utter selfish crap. It is groceries. They aren’t asking to borrow from your retirement plan. Sheesh.

  62. SKL June 14, 2014 at 10:43 pm #

    It’s not like kids need to frequently contact their parents during their free time. When I was young, nobody had a cell phone (or voice mail) and my parents didn’t give us money for pay phones. My parents both worked; my dad was not to be bothered at work except for a dire emergency, while my mom didn’t have a car, so we got ourselves home in every situation (with the help of friends / siblings).

    I can’t remember one single incident where I called my parents. A few times other people called my parents to inform them of unwise choices I made, though. Were there a couple times I should have called if it were easy, sure. Like the times I decided to take my toddler brother shopping and, due to issues unforeseen by me, ended up coming home quite late. Or the time my sister lied and told me she & I had permission to go to a friend’s house (in another city) after school – it would have been nice to be able to call my mom and check before hopping on the friend’s school bus. :P But generally there was no need for a cell phone call. If a call was necessary it was usually done on our land line after we got home from school and before we took off for free-range destinations.

    Nor do I recall many kids asking me to use my cell phone. I think this did happen one time (I offered because a kid had been dropped off at school though it was a snow day), but it was not irritating to me. I was happy to be able to do the community thing for a change.

    Point being, it’s not like sending a kid out without a cell phone is going to mean our kids constantly begging to make calls from annoyed people’s phones.

  63. SKL June 14, 2014 at 10:52 pm #

    I think kids should go home to eat because that way their parents can be sure to see them at least a couple times a day. And also parents like to have some influence over what their kids eat.

    Some of my neighbor kids were in poor families. It would have been wrong to ask them to feed us. (And we were on a very tight budget ourselves.) And then there were some people who would give and then resent (and let you know it). Or worse yet, they might think my parents now needed to be friends with them, which my parents did not always desire. (There is a specific example I’m thinking of – it’s hard to shake some people, especially when they live right down the block.) Rather than give a specific reason to avoid eating at houses x, y, and z, it seems better to just tell kids they need to come home for meals.

  64. anonymous mom June 14, 2014 at 11:36 pm #

    Warren, it must be nice to not have to worry about a grocery budget.

    In the summer–when we tend to have kids over a lot–I don’t teach and our grocery budget is about $100/week for a family of five. There isn’t a ton of wiggle room. My kids don’t get to graze at will all day; the kids who come by to play in our yard don’t, either. When I had fewer kids who ate less food, I used to be less strict about it, and had numerous times where, by opening up the fruit basket to the kids playing in the yard, ended up with all fhe fruit I’d bought for the week eaten in an afternoon, or by opening up the pantry, had a week’s worth of snacks eaten in a couple of hours. Or the juice that was supposed to last us a week drank up in thirty minutes.

    If I happen to have enough of something on hand that I can share it with whatever kids are over and not run out of food before the week is over, I’ll do so. I made two dozen cookies last weekend, and gave half a dozen for my kids to bring over to their friends who live next door. And certainly if it’s arranged in advance that a friend will be spending the day, I’ll provide them with food when my kids get it.

    But, no, you can’t come by my house, ask if my kids can come outside to play, and then start asking for stuff. I don’t know if you’ve dealt with very pushy neighborhood kids, but I’ve been doing it for years, and I’ve had to learn to set boundaries. If you live three houses over and get hungry, it’s time to go home, at least for a bit, to have a snack. If you need to use the bathroom, go use it at your house (which I learned to do after I’ve had kids end up in all rooms in our house–including mine–going through stuff, coming outside with toys that are not outdoor toys, and in the case of one kid trying to sneak off with stuff). If it’s hot, I’ll bring out a big jug of water and a bunch of cups, but that’s it.

    Unfortunately, there are both parents who don’t teach their kids appropriate boundaries when being a guest, and lots of kids who haven’t yet learned those lessons when their parents are trying to teach them. I certainly wouldn’t want my son to walk over to a neighbor’s house and, ten minutes later, start bugging them for juice and cookies. He knows that’s not appropriate. My own kids aren’t allowed to do that–they can snack at snack times, and between that they can drink water. I’ve become much stricter about enforcing my house rules even with guests, simply because otherwise things become extremely chaotic very fast (especially since it’s not super uncommon, on a summer day, for us to have 4-8 neighbor kids end up playing with the kids in front of our house either all at once or at various times).

    I used to try to be the “nice mom” who would give visiting kids anything they asked for. I was miserable. I’d spend hours each day fetching food and drinks and various items for visitors and trying to track them down as they went in and out of my house at will, and I’d end up counting the hours until they would finally go home (and the days until they’d be back at school). It was a silly on my part, and was not helping these kids learn appropriate boundaries (the same way I hope my neighbors and friends help my kids learn appropriate boundaries when they are guests).

  65. anonymous mom June 14, 2014 at 11:52 pm #

    Plus, as SKL said, parents do like to have some control over what their kids eat, and kids manipulate that. I have one friend who I know does not let her kids drink juice whose oldest will routinely start begging me for juice the minute she comes over. I’ve had kids who I later learned were gluten-free start asking for gluten-laden snacks after about 10 minutes of playing. Whether I agree with a family’s food restrictions or not, many parents have them for their kids (sometimes for extremely good reasons, sometimes for ones I might find less good), and that’s their right as a parent. I’m not going to facilitate the child going behind their parents’ back and sneaking food they are not allowed to have.

    And, no, I don’t think it’s “ignorant and rude” to either 1) send a hungry child home for a snack or meal, rather than providing it myself (assuming I didn’t have an earlier agreement with the parent that the child would be at my house for a while, in which case of course I’ll provide food) or 2) insist that my own children, if they decide to just show up on a neighbor’s doorstep to play, walk/bike themselves home if they happen to get hungry, instead of asking the neighbor to feed them.

    It seems ignorant and rude to me to assume that everybody has an unlimited grocery budget and unlimited groceries–or that, because my child showed up at their house to play, they now are responsible for providing my child with food and drink every time he requests it. No way.

  66. Let Her Eat Dirt June 15, 2014 at 5:30 am #

    I’m with you, Lenore. The GPS app is just too tempting for control-hungry parents, and it sends a terrible message to kids. Of course the web site emphasizes “independence” — no one would buy it if it said, “Spy on your kids!” But that’s exactly what parents would do. They would check it regularly just to know where the kids are. Prepare them beforehand and then let ‘em roam a bit!

    Let Her Eat Dirt
    http://www.lethereatdirt.com
    A dad’s take on raising tough, adventurous girls

  67. Donna June 15, 2014 at 7:39 am #

    Unfortunately, we don’t have many kids nearby so I generally just have an extra kid or two. Still, if I am giving my child a snack, I will offer it to everyone, but don’t ask me for food or tell me that you are hungry. Go home.

    I expect the same from my child. She can accept any offer of food if she wants, but she can’t ask for food or whine to another parent or her friend that she is hungry.

  68. anonymous mom June 15, 2014 at 8:29 am #

    My neighborhood has a lot of larger families. The two families who live closest to us on either side each have five kids, and within a couple-of-block radius there’s a few more families with three kids whose kids come by sometimes, and one family a block over who I think has seven or eight, a few of whom might come by. We live in an urban neighborhood and most people have small yards, but there is this enormous, well-maintained field that the owners are fine with people using right across from our house that is great for running around and playing games with lots of kids, so we get a lot of kid traffic here. Our house can easily become a public canteen and bathroom if I’m not strict.

  69. SOA June 15, 2014 at 9:05 am #

    I think what you described is fine SKL and anonymous mom about the food stuff.

    I really don’t want other people feeding my kids either. I have a food allergy kid and another kid who has no restraint so yeah, let me handle feeding them. Mine are also not allowed anything but water between meals to drink (except for the very occasional lemonade) and I am trying to limit sweets. I would have no problem with someone sending my kids home to eat. I prefer it. Or at least call me and check before feeding them.

    I will sometimes offer popsicles or if I have a ton of leftover brownies or cupcakes from a party to the kids playing outside but that is it. They all live super close so no reason they can’t go home if they need something. I would let them use the restroom but only because we don’t have kids over all the time in this neighborhood. Most of the time kids are at activities.

    I think it is fine to establish rules like that. I also always heard about a sign you put up on the front door that you flip over when you are okay with kids coming by and if it is not flipped they need to not bother you. That way they don’t even ring the bell. We don’t get kids over enough to do that, but I heard it is effective.

  70. Jenny R. June 15, 2014 at 9:06 am #

    We had a similar problem with the feeding of the neighborhood children. They would eat all our fruit which can really get expensive and inconvenient. So I taught them they had to ask first. It wasn’t a big deal. Now I buy big boxes of saltines specifically for the neighborhood pack of kids. Crackers are cheap. They’ll keep the kids from starving, but no one gets excited about them. When kids come in saying they’re hungry, I offer the crackers. Many times they say “no thanks,” and some kids just stopped asking for food once they caught on. Sometimes kids will take a sleeve of them if they truly are hungry.

  71. SKL June 15, 2014 at 9:08 am #

    My parents had a simple rule – nobody in the house besides those of us who lived there. And we didn’t get snacks except on special occasions. (Most kids didn’t in those days.) Simple.

    When I was a teen monitoring my youngest siblings, I thought it would be OK to let in a 6yo boy to use the bathroom. Come to find out he saw a spider on the wall and decided to pee on it to kill it. Never again.

  72. anonymous mom June 15, 2014 at 9:35 am #

    When my oldest was about 3, he was playing at a neighbor’s house, and the mom let him inside to use the bathroom. She came over to get me (we lived about two houses apart) a few minutes later to let me know that he had decided to poop on the bathroom floor, rather than in the toilet. I’m sure she was sorry she had broken her normal outside-only rule for kids who were playing over there.

  73. SOA June 15, 2014 at 10:49 am #

    LOL one of mine would eat that sleeve of saltines all gone.

    The bathroom stories are hilarious.

    I don’t even mind if the kids want to come in and play. I am a pretty laid back mom about stuff like that.

    the only thing that bugs me is during the big playdates, I usually keep a bowl of apples on the table. But that is just where I keep them. I don’t mind one or two kids asking for one and having one. But twice I came in there to find all the apples either eaten or with just one or two bites out of them….that perturbed me a bit. But again, I only host those big playdates once every 3 months or so, so I can let it go. I just made sure to tell the moms about it and they started being more watchful of the kids about wasting the apples.

  74. anonymous mom June 15, 2014 at 11:17 am #

    My kids are cracker monsters. They could devour a box of Saltines between the three of them alone in probably twenty minutes. And the way a lot of their friends eat, I’m sure they’d do the same.

    I’m especially cranky about this this summer because I’m currently 35 weeks pregnant, and I’m at the point of feeling like, if you are going to allow your kids to come over to my house unannounced, at least have the courtesy to tell them not to ask me for stuff. So many times I’ve had kids see that I’m drinking water and immediately, first thing, want me to go inside and get them a glass. Kid, you should be offering to get me a refill, not asking me to get up and get you stuff.

    I think this is where something that has some up before–the difference between being free range and just being kind of lazy and expecting other people to do stuff for your kids that you could do for them or they could do for themselves–comes in. It’s one thing to let your kid freely roam the neighborhood all day. That’s totally cool with me, and it’s totally cool with me if they end up in my yard or the field across from my house for hours. But, it’s not “free range” to expect that other parents in the neighborhood are going to make sure your child is fed, watered, and given access to a bathroom during all that time. (This is also why I don’t think cellphones are a replacement for payphones; I don’t want my kids having to ask neighbors if they can borrow expensive gadgets that they probably don’t know how to use; I’d rather they have some way, whether it be a cellphone or GPS or walkie talkie, to contact me without having to bother an adult–an emergency is diferent, of course, but I’m talking about just regular everyday communication they might want to have with me or I might want to have with them.) If they are going to be gone all day, either tell them to come home for meals, or have them pack food to bring with them. Send them off with a water bottle, etc., so they can actually be somewhat self-sufficient, instead of just asking other adults for the stuff that you don’t want them bugging you about all day.

    Again, my usual annoyance with pushy kids is much worse this summer due to being pregnant, but I do think part of what allows kids to roam neighborhoods on their own and adults being okay with it is if parents teach their kids appropriate boundaries.

  75. derfel cadarn June 15, 2014 at 11:56 am #

    Tannis your mom required no such devices to raise you. You are clearly a competent thinking and loving mom, please allow your kids to experience the kind of childhood you experienced. It will make you all better people. Hope you and your children enjoy some freedom.

  76. anonymous mom June 15, 2014 at 12:22 pm #

    I do think we should resist the tendency to idealize our own childhoods. The question shouldn’t be, IMO, how do I recreate for my child the child I had but how do I provide them with the kind of childhood they need and deserve in 2014? The world *is* different now, not in a “It’s more dangerous!” way (we all know that’s not true), but in the sense that things always change. My parents didn’t have GPS or cellphones when they raised me, but they also didn’t have the internet, Netflix streaming video, Ergo baby carriers, or little squeeable containers of yogurt and applesauce, all of which I will happily incorporate into my parenting. Just because something is new does not necessarily mean it’s bad, and just because something isn’t strictly necessary doesn’t mean we can’t employ it in healthy ways.

    All of these things are tools. That’s it. I don’t think we need to eschew all post-1995 technology out of a belief that somehow the problem today is the technology itself. It’s not. It’s the fear that motivates a lot of people to use the technology. But, if we find that we can utilize new technology in non-fear-based ways that suit our family’s needs, I don’t see any reason to not do so. Every argument being made against cellphones or GPS here could have been made against regular phones, TVs, radios, and telegrams. I’m not saying that every use of GPS devices or cellphones is good–clearly that’s not true–but the same is true of every new technology. The thing we need to do is figure out if and how we can usefully incorporate a technology into our parenting, not just rejecting anything new.

  77. SOA June 15, 2014 at 1:18 pm #

    well said anonymous mom and I agree. I don’t want to make my kids a burden on others. And I get bugged if other parents take advantage of me which sometimes happens.

  78. Emily June 15, 2014 at 1:58 pm #

    Anonymous Mom has hit the nail squarely on the head. Just because the Internet, Netflix, GPS systems, cell phones/smartphones, iPads, etc., exist, doesn’t mean they’re destroying all those who use them, especially children, and just because we have access to more sensationalist news stories, doesn’t mean the world is actually more dangerous than it was when I was a kid, or when Lenore was a kid. So, I’m not a parent, but I agree that it’s possible to incorporate these modern inventions into positive parenting–I mean, what’s the harm in sending kids outside to play, and then wrangling them inside when it’s dark and setting them up in front of the plasma-screen TV to watch Frozen, or in front of the computer screen to Skype with friends and family members who live too far away to make frequent in-person contact feasible? I mean, leaving kids to rot in front of screens and shovel down junk food 24/7 is bad, but teaching kids how to use technology appropriately can be a positive thing. For example, where a child of the 80’s might have written a letter, or called Grandma on the telephone to thank her for Spirograph she sent her for her birthday, a child of this generation would be able to actually go on Skype, and say, “Hey, Grandma, I really love the Rainbow Loom you got me. Here, look, I just finished this starburst bracelet.” You wouldn’t send a child out into the real world with no guidance whatsoever, so you probably shouldn’t allow a child to navigate the online/digital world completely independently right from the beginning either. Also, final thought–when I was in grade three, and I read “Anne of Green Gables” for the first time, I was shocked to learn that people of that generation thought that BOOKS (other than the Bible) were a negative influence, especially on females.

  79. Matthew June 15, 2014 at 2:22 pm #

    Richard,

    It likely had minimal impact. Aside from the near heat stroke, which caught me off guard because I didn’t anticipate the difference in conditioning making her more susceptible, its always been practice in my family to assess risk and have a plan.

    What can go wrong?
    I could get a flat.
    What do you need to handle it?
    A patch kit and a pump.

    I had more freedom than all my friends, but never struggled except when I had weaker stragglers. Like the idiot that went with me to go swimming in a river and neglected to mention he couldn’t swim.

    I’m one of those lucky people that doesn’t need to make my own mistakes to learn. The main effect for me was just a tendency to do things alone.

    In family tradition I’ve already had my son change out car battery leads. At 3.5. When we go hiking I have him help with the checklist. Even with a phone, its highly unlikely he’ll call because of his foundation.

    Our family philosophy, going back a few generations, could be summed up as “Lets find a relatively safe way to do dangerous stuff”.

  80. CrazyCatLady June 15, 2014 at 7:29 pm #

    I am kind of on the fence on this. I don’t have these GPS things for my kids, but a friend does. When we all went camping in the mountains, we had the kids pair up and go their own ways. Everyone got to see pretty much what they wanted to see, and the parents had a way of finding them if they didn’t come back to camp.

    At home, eh. I either go outside and holler, ring the dinner bell, or if I think they are inside another friend’s house, I get on Face Book and message the parents to send them home. If they go off riding bikes, I usually send my phone with them. Not because I am going to call them, but because we have this horrible plant around here called a Goat Head, and it will put holes in your tire in nothing flat. Including ones that have Slime and liners. So, yes, if they want to call me to pick them up if they have a flat, I really don’t care.

    And when it comes down to it, I guess I must be a helecopter parent, because I ask my kids to let me know where they are going before they go, and if they leave the place they were going, I ask that they tell the parent there where they are going. It is not perfect, sometimes I have to search because they forget, but the kids from 3-4 families tend to roam around and it is easier to say they went on to Y’s house after mine when a parent comes looking for a kid.

  81. Warren June 15, 2014 at 9:51 pm #

    Not only hilarious how protective y’all are about your food, but very disturbing, at the same time.
    Either y’all are way overprotective of your groceries or you have forgotten what it is like to be kids.

    Beggers, moochers and pushy kids? Really? Your attitudes are horrible.

    As for other parents not wanting kids to eat certain things? Not my problem. When they are over playing with my kids, there are always juice boxes, bottles of water, veggies, fruits, junk food and food in general. If your kid can’t eat something, teach them.

    To deny kids snacks and drinks, is plain crap, and shameful behaviour. Guess my kids were just too free range for your liking. They would come in, say the group is hungry, and proceed to get a bunch of snacks ready. Pretty cool looking out the window watching the bunch of them sitting in the shade sharing snacks, talking, laughing. A good sight better than sending the little beggers home.

  82. SOA June 15, 2014 at 10:46 pm #

    It is not free range to let kids have free reign over their diet. Now maybe teenagers or tweens who have learned to make good food choices. But letting a kid eat whatever they want, whenever they want is why we have so many obese kids in this country. If your kids make good food choices, good for your family.

    I would not advise any parent to keep that policy of they can raid the fridge and pantry and go nuts with junk food and snacks whenever they want. Because most kids don’t make good food choices by nature. We had to start putting crackers up out reach of my autistic son because he kept sneaking in there and eating a whole box of crackers. If doing that makes me anti free range, so be it. I don’t want a kid with diabetes.

    You teach kids to have good food choices, but you also have to enforce it if necessary. I think it is actually more free range and good parenting that our house rule is if you eat between meals it has to be fruit or nothing unless you ask first and most of the time my answer is still fruit or nothing. It makes them learn to eat what is offered at meal times and wait and be patient.

    Kids who need to be constantly eating or drinking things (besides water) drive me batty.

  83. SKL June 15, 2014 at 10:47 pm #

    Warren, we never went home for a snack; we didn’t snack as kids. We went home for meals. That’s how it is done in our culture.

    If we got thirsty and there was no water fountain nearby, we drank from a garden hose.

    It never occurred to me to feel deprived within this setup. I’m sure my kids will survive it as well. And on the rare occasion when there is a treat to be shared, the kids will actually appreciate it.

    Yeah, I find demanding children rather unattractive. I really don’t want them around if they can’t find anything better to do than hit my family up for food. Parents should send their kids out into the world with sustaining food in their bellies. Furthermore, it isn’t healthy for kids to be snacking all day just because they can. That’s how we end up with rising obesity stats.

  84. Donna June 15, 2014 at 11:37 pm #

    If kids have the ability to go nuts on junkfood in the house, the entire household pantry needs adjusting. My kid has pretty much free reign over our kitchen. I will occasionally tell her to get out because it is too close to dinner, but otherwise she can help herself to whatever she can make herself (I don’t prepare snacks) throughout the day. I also keep very little by way of junk in the house so pretty much anything in the kitchen is healthy. And she snacks a few times a day. In fact, regular meals other than dinner are kinda rare on the weekends. My little snacker comes in at a whopping 3rd percentile in weight. Snacking is absolutely not causing the obesity problems. Snacking on CRAP is certainly contributing, but not snacking itself.

  85. lollipoplover June 15, 2014 at 11:38 pm #

    I always have kids at my house, it is a gathering spot in our neighborhood and I regularly feed the animals, I mean children.
    We keep a water cooler in the garage with cups and sharpies. For snacks, I have no problem cutting up a watermelon and sending it outside.

    But i do say “Kitchen’s closed” and You’re not hungry, you’re just bored” to the few scavenger kids that cone to play but are starved for adult attention. My husband calls me spatula hands because when they come inside and make requests, i flip them around and turn them towards the door to a new activity or squirt them with a water gun. We have 2 kids that are known to all the neighbors as sugar-seeking maniacs (parents are paleo dieters who talk incessantly about their lifestyle) and try to sneak treats or anything they can get. They’re sneaky little sh!ts and they bother the crap out of me.
    But the majority of kids don’t ask for much and i have no problem sending food out for kids who’ve been playing ball for hours.

  86. SKL June 15, 2014 at 11:44 pm #

    I want my kids to be hungry when they come home for dinner.

  87. SOA June 16, 2014 at 12:19 am #

    I know some overweight kids that eat healthy. Even too much cheese, fruit, nuts, veggies, meat, etc can make you fat if you eat too much of it. Calories are mostly calories if you don’t burn them. So I personally am not letting my kids think they can eat anything minus fruit or veggies since you typically burn it up just digesting it as much as they want because that is not true. You can eat health food all day long and still gain weight. So I tell my kids they need to wait for meal times to eat.

    Good policy too because in school they are not allowed to eat whenever. They have to wait till lunch. And a lot of work places have a similar policy. That is how the world mostly works. You got to learn to eat when it is time and wait the rest of the time.

  88. hineata June 16, 2014 at 3:58 am #

    @Donna, same here! All my kids are underweight, have just been told Midge is well under the first percentile for weight :-). And they virtually snack whenever they want, long as they can fit in dinner….

    Could be, of course, that the percentiles are crap! :-)

    On other stuff, off topic but would be interested in ideas, I am not a ‘good’ free ranger at the moment – recently did one of Midge’s assignments virtually for her! First time, but I didn’t feel guilty …. the darn thing was pages of crap of a budgeting assignment that added to nothing if, as all the girls did, you missed that neither parent was working full time. Appears either the teacher was trying to get the girls involved in labour issues (i.e. what do you do if your employer is paying you below minimum wage?) or teacher was simply out-of-date/lazy about the figures (below minimum wage input, lack of correct output from Min. of Social Development about correct entitlements).

    Anyone got an opinion on whether I should have helped her, or just told her to go back to the teacher for the correct figures? Can’t believe I’m rambling about this, but was one huge piece of homework that required at least a modicum of adult input (even the ‘poor’ kids I teach whose families are dependent on some of these entitlements aren’t able to find their way around Government websites – you have to be of a minimum age to log on to them), and way more than a modicum of help if they were going to learn anything from it. Felt like they were being set up to fail!

    Sorry about the rant, have good evenings :-).

  89. BL June 16, 2014 at 4:40 am #

    @anonymous mom
    “All of these things are tools. That’s it. I don’t think we need to eschew all post-1995 technology out of a belief that somehow the problem today is the technology itself.”

    And yet somehow it’s supposed to be acceptable to eschew even older technology, like pocket knives.

  90. SKL June 16, 2014 at 6:52 am #

    Hineata, how old is your daughter?

    Sometimes my kids get assignments that the teacher couldn’t rationally believe they could do by themselves. Since my kids are in private school, they could get kicked out if we were too uncooperative, so I choose to go along. In those cases, I figure out what the girls *can* do and I structure/manage the project accordingly. For example I have dug in the basement for books on topic, and broke their projects down into manageable steps, giving suggestions / corrections along the way. It can take days to do it this way, but I don’t want the girls to think they are not responsible for their homework. Not sure if they learned any study skills or not. :P The last one was a research paper on a famous inventor or explorer, complete with title page, bibliography, illustrations, and a list of about 12 other specific requirements. Plus it had to be presented orally as well as written/typed. My kids are 7 and just finished 2nd grade. :P

    If my kids were in public school, and were assigned a ridiculous project, I would probably tell the teacher that either my kids would not be doing the project, or that I felt the project was inappropriate but I’d let them spend __ hour(s) on it and turn in whatever they came up with on their own.

  91. SOA June 16, 2014 at 7:59 am #

    Our super competitive my super nice public school assigns all the projects where there is no way parents could not help. It is stuff that is way out of age range like wanting a kindergartner to do internet research when they can’t even read yet or type??? yeah right. Or assigning a project for first graders involving extensive use of a hot glue gun. I kept hearing about the Parents being burned really badly doing that project so yeah not safe to let the 6 year olds do it.

    I think that is just standard. They want and expect the parents to help. I am not a fan of it. I would rather have age appropriate stuff sent home the kids can do themselves. Even the homework they send home daily requires parent involvement to quiz them on words or read with them or to them or check the math.

    I feel bad for the kids whose parents cannot help because they work or don’t care or have 10 kids and don’t have time or maybe never got a good education themselves and don’t know how to do it or are not crafty or can’t afford the materials for projects (I had to spend $40 at HObby Lobby for the first grade project for two kids). It is not fair to those kids.

    But most of the parents get off on it because they are uber competitive and think its cute going above and beyond and doing it for the kids. I just roll my eyes because we did the bare minimum to get full credit and got the same grade they did. So yeah you guys wasted your time.

  92. Donna June 16, 2014 at 8:02 am #

    I tell my child to eat when she is hungry … and no other time. I may make her wait if it is within an hour or so of dinner (if we are actually eating dinner), but otherwise she can eat if she is hungry. In fact, pretty much every nutritionist will tell that going hungry for extended periods of time is the worst thing you can do for your diet. The longer you are hungry, the more your body craves fat and sugar and the more likely you are to gorge yourself when you get food.

    Food just really isn’t a big deal at our house. I haven’t made it a battleground, nor is it a big emphasis in our life. Unless we are going out, dinner isn’t even that important. I’m not a big nighttime eater so will often just skip it. She’s content with me throwing together something simple for her.

    And she is still perfectly capable of functioning in school. She understands that rules and routines are different at school and home (and friends’ houses and grandma’s and …) and can adapt.

    And, no, Dolly, people are not becoming obese by overeating fruits and vegetables.

  93. Andy June 16, 2014 at 8:32 am #

    “I kept hearing about the Parents being burned really badly doing that project so yeah not safe to let the 6 year olds do it.”

    Do you really want us to believe that in the most safe conscious country teacher mandated usage of hot glue gun and then there was an epidemic of parents being badly burned with it? Or you are just exaggerating as usually?

  94. Andy June 16, 2014 at 8:42 am #

    “I know some overweight kids that eat healthy. Even too much cheese, fruit, nuts, veggies, meat, etc can make you fat if you eat too much of it.”

    Too much of nut or meat (especially fat type) is not healthy food. It might not be junk food, but that still does not equal healthy. On the other hand, no one ever got fat from eating too much of raw fruits and veggies. At worst, eating them whole day will make the child eat somewhat smaller dinner.

  95. SOA June 16, 2014 at 9:00 am #

    Yes, we were burned while using it and several moms I know were bitching about it burning them too. Again, not everyone is crafty. I definitely would not let my kids use the glue gun. They barely are able to use safety scissors without cutting themselves. This was a project a 11 year old could do solo, not a 6 year old.

  96. SOA June 16, 2014 at 9:03 am #

    Reread my post. I said fruits and veggies are okay to eat anytime but other things are not. Warren said he has all types of food available at all times and I said that was not a good idea unless your kids are really good at healthy food choices and self control. Then someone said they only have healthy food at home so their kid will not get fat and that is not always true either. If you eat a grilled chicken breast which is generally considered healthy but eat 10 of them, you are still going to get fat.

  97. anonymous mom June 16, 2014 at 9:08 am #

    Again, Warren, it is very fortunate for you that you have a grocery budget that allows you to provide snacks to your kids’ friends whenever they want them. I personally do not have the luxury of feeding snacks to an extra 3-8 kids on a daily basis all summer.

    Just yesterday, one of the neighbor kids asked to use my bathroom. (Why? I don’t know. Her house is literally about 20 feet away. But, I’m not a total jerk, and she said she really had to go, so I let her.) Of course, her sister followed her in, too. On their way out, they passed the basket where I keep apples and asked if they could both take some. First of all, they were heading home. Second of all, I had about 10 apples in the basket, which is enough for my family for a week. So, no, they can’t take off with a few of our apples because they happened to pass the apple basket and think the apples looked good, any more than my kids can see that a friend is eating yogurt for a quick snack and start asking the mom for yogurt. That’s not how it’s done. If you are offered food, feel free to take it, but you do not invite yourself into a person’s home and then start asking for food. That’s not free-range, it’s rude, and frankly I do wonder if kids acting that way are part of why a lot of people don’t like the idea of free, unstructured playdates.

    Free-range and rude are two different things. Not teaching your child to be a polite, gracious guest is not free-range. Reality is, very few people will be happy with a child asking if they can play and then a few minutes later asking for drinks and snacks.

    And I don’t think enforcing food rules is anti-free range, either. I’m not sure previous generations of children had unlimited access to the pantry or fridge; people’s budgets and family size would have made that untenable. My kids get meals and snacks, at regular times. Between those times, if they are hungry, they can have carrot sticks or a piece of fruit, which, if they are hungry, they’ll happily eat. If they complain that they don’t want carrot sticks or fruit, but something else, then it’s pretty clear they are not actually hungry but just feeling kind of bored or happened to remember we have something tasty in the house that they want, and they can wait until the next snack or meal to eat.

  98. anonymous mom June 16, 2014 at 9:10 am #

    I like Ellyn Satter’s food philosophy, which is largely about division of responsibility in feeding (with the child increasing the amount of responsibility they have and the parent lessening the amount they take on as the child ages), and try to follow it. For littler kids, the division of responsibility is that the parent chooses what foods to provide and when to provide them, and the child chooses whether to eat, which of the available foods to eat, and how much of the available foods to eat. As they get older, they get more responsibility for planning and preparing meals. It makes sense to me. If I asked my oldest to put together a menu for the week, he’d probably do a decent job of having a variety of balanced meals. If I asked my 4yo to do the same, we’d likely eat nothing but Lucky Charms, strawberry smoothies, and pizza. Again, being free-range doesn’t mean placing developmentally-inappropriate demands on kids, like expecting a very small child to be able to make good choices about what to eat without adult guidance.

  99. wombat94 June 16, 2014 at 9:37 am #

    I agree with Anonymous Mom – the technology isn’t the issue, it is the application of the technology.

    As for the issue of eating/drinking at a friends house and moochers/etc…

    I too try to make sure my kids DON’T ask for food/juice/etc at friends houses. They are specifically instructed to NOT ask if they can stay for dinner when at friends houses. However, the close circle of friends where they usually are found on weekend afternoons almost always DO invite them to stay for dinner. We all know this, and we all sort of abide by these rules.

    It is not a matter of hoarding/mooching food… it is one of those areas that I feel too few parents take their responsibility seriously these days. It is a matter of being polite. If you are playing and thirsty, asking for a drink of water is fine… beyond that, it is rude, IMO to ask someone else for food or drink.

    When kids are over OUR house, however, we don’t hoard the food. We offer food/drinks to the kids on a fairly regular basis. Our kids and their friends alike. This is another area where people don’t do enough these days – hospitality. Does it cost us a bit more? Yes. But in the long run it does even out within the circle of friends.

    We try to make sure that kids don’t have to ask for something to eat… if they are around at lunchtime or have been playing hard for a while we try to offer everyone something to eat and drink.

  100. Warren June 16, 2014 at 11:07 am #

    Dolly, you are just an idiot with major issues. The first two items listed were fruits and veggies, then junk food.
    And if you cannot teach your kids balance in their choices that is your failure. I did not fail my kids that way.
    As for junk food, it is not candy and chocolate bars. It is chips, cookies, crackers, nuts, granola bars, and the like. Yes they are junkfood.
    But when my girls would have sleepovers………damn right they loaded up on sugar and crap. That is part of a sleepover.

    We are on a well, that has to be put through a softener, so we all get bottled water, including the animals, because of the softening salt. And at less than 2 bucks a case of water, I will hydrate every kid in town if they are thirsty.

    Y’all are a bunch of extremists. Just because someone says they would not say no to snacks does not mean that all the kids need to go to Jenny Freaking Craig.

    I will put the diet, health and fitness of myself and my family up against anyone here, anyday.

    And if kids are over at your place with your kids, it is down right deplorable not to feed them.

  101. SKL June 16, 2014 at 11:14 am #

    Donna, you’ve found what works for your individual kid. That system would not work at all for either of my kids. Even if the statistics say you’re more likely to be healthy doing abc vs. xyz, there is still a portion of the population that is healthy and happy doing xyz.

    It was normal in my childhood to eat three meals, period, except for rare special treats or maybe a Koolaid here and there. Now I eat 3 or fewer meals. I’ve never been overweight. In my family, some are heavy, some are slim. In my wider circle, some are heavy, some are slim. My friend who snacks a lot is obese. My other friend who doesn’t snack much is also obese. There is no one right way to eat.

    That’s why parents are justified in wanting to be the main people managing their young kids’ feeding and nutrition.

    If someone wants to occasionally share cookies or Koolaid with my kid, that’s fine, but I really don’t want them breaking out the snacks every time my kids come over. I want my kids to be hungry at meal time, because hunger gets them to eat the less exciting but more nutritious foods. If I’m sending them someplace where I know they will be fed, then I will make adjustments on my end, e.g., don’t offer starch with the nearest meal.

    If childhood obesity was a remote risk for all kids, that would be a different story.

  102. anonymous mom June 16, 2014 at 11:20 am #

    I should clarify, as I mentioned above, I won’t NEVER feed a child at my house. If one of my kids invites a friend over and that friend is here for a meal or snack, they join us. My oldest just asked today to have a friend over, we picked him up an ice cream when my kids got some on our way to get him, and he’ll be joining us for lunch and probably dinner. That’s totally fine.

    I’m not talking about having an extra child or maybe two join the family for a meal once or twice a week. I’m talking about kids who live close who aren’t that good friends with my kids and who might come over to play in groups of 3 or 5 or 7 every day. If, as sometimes happen, 4 of the 5 kids who live in the house at the end of the block ring our bell to see if my kids can play, that’s cool. It’s not cool to start asking me to get them stuff, to think they now have a free pass to enter my house whenever they want, or to feel like they have free access our food. Or, as has happened, to come over when they are actually playing at their own houses just to ask me if they can have a snack. Uh, no. If we were talking about families in dire poverty, I’d probably assume the kids were hungry and feed them. (My son, when he was smaller, had a good friend whose mom was really, really struggling, and we know he wasn’t getting regular meals at home, and he was always welcome to join us for food.) But these are kids who have enough to eat at home and whose parents just probably didn’t want to get them a snack right then. That doesn’t make it my job to provide it, and that absolutely is mooching/begging for food and being pushy. And it’s rude.

    I’m not blaming the parents, because I know kids often act in ways contrary to what their parents teach. I have one friend whose daughter, every single time she sees me, asks me if she can eat dinner at my house that night, and her mom ALWAYS reminds her it’s rude to invite yourself over to people’s homes. But she still does it every time I see her. So I’m not blaming parents, but I don’t think it’s behavior adults are required to enable.

  103. SKL June 16, 2014 at 11:27 am #

    I also would not feed my kids in front of other people who don’t have anything to eat. I would wait until those kids leave and then feed my kids as normal.

    Warren, this is not about a competition with your kids. It’s about recognizing that everyone has a different metabolism, yes, even young kids. I don’t expect other people to know my kids’ nutrition issues, nor do I expect to know those of other kids. Feeding is simply done in families. I also don’t medicate other people’s kids, or dress, bathe, groom, kiss, or put them to bed unless there are unusual circumstances.

    Now if everyone were rich, I’d say sure, please have on hand a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables so that my kids can be assured of healthy snacks wherever they go. But fresh fruits and veggies, and a lot of other “healthy” snacks, are expensive, and kids have a tendency to waste them unless they are really hungry. So no, it’s not my neighbors’ responsibility to provide those.

  104. Amanda Matthews June 16, 2014 at 11:35 am #

    I think a watch will foster independence much more than a GPS.

    Not that I understand why this is an issue. The kid will come home when they get hungry enough. At worse, they’ll have to re-heat their dinner in the microwave, or they’ll eat at a friend’s house.

    I personally don’t mind “food moochers” or whatever you want to call them. As an adult, if I have a friend over for hours I offer them food and/or drink before they have to ask. I teach my kids to do the same. So, I expect them to be able to get a bit of food/drink at a friend’s house. I teach them not to ASK for it, but being the type of family that offers tends to mean that the reverse happens – their friends offer when they are over there.

    It’s rude to ask for food and drink; but it’s equally rude to eat/drink and not offer your friends some.

    We do have a food budget. But it isn’t so tight that giving a friend a snack is going to break it. If it were that tight, then unpredictable things like a kid needing to eat more because of a growth spurt would be an issue, and imo it’s irresponsible to put your family in that position. If the food runs out, then the food budget obviously doesn’t cut it anymore and it needs immediate adjustment.

    Anyway, it all evens out – I’m paying for Joe’s snack today, but Joe’s family is paying for my kid’s snack tomorrow.

    We also have food allergies, but I teach my kids to deal with those allergies. They can’t be independent if I have to constantly monitor what they eat for them.

    As for contacting a kid because you want to leave the house… in the past, people would have just left a note and went to the store.

  105. anonymous mom June 16, 2014 at 11:39 am #

    I am not particularly concerned about my children’s size. Assuming they are eating a reasonably balanced diet and are active, I figure they will be the right size for them.

    I am concerned about self-control and manners, though.

  106. Amanda Matthews June 16, 2014 at 11:40 am #

    “I don’t expect other people to know my kids’ nutrition issues, nor do I expect to know those of other kids.”

    This is why I expect kids to know THEIR OWN issues and not eat something that isn’t compatible with those issues.

    If your kid can’t handle that, maybe they aren’t ready to be in situations where it’s an issue.

    A kid that is allergic to apples – if left to his own devices without being taught how to deal with his allergy – could find an unowned apple tree and decide to eat from it.

  107. anonymous mom June 16, 2014 at 11:47 am #

    Again, I just want to clarify that I’m not talking about *a* friend coming over. I’m talking about 3-5 neighbor kids coming by, and all wanting food within 10 minutes of asking if they can play.

    And, yes, that does happen. I would not have my kids eat in front of other people, because that absolutely is rude. If they are outside playing with five neighbors, and I can’t or don’t want to feed an extra five people for lunch (which is the case most of the time), I’d call my kids in for lunch, then send them back out.

    But, seriously, when you have kids showing up at your house at 7 p.m. every night for a week insistently asking if you will give them dessert because one time you did let your kids eat ice pops on the porch and brought out enough for the neighbor kids, you start to think twice about whether you really want to be the neighborhood snack dispenser.

  108. SOA June 16, 2014 at 1:07 pm #

    If I am playing hostess meaning I invited the guests over then I will usually offer all kinds of refreshments. For playdates at my house that are scheduled I provide cupcakes or brownies or some kind of treat and offer fruit and goldfish and water and juice and whatever else. Same for parties during a meal time. I provide a meal.

    But if the kids just happen to start playing in my yard or migrate into my house from the neighborhood randomly that is not really my job to host them. I would offer water or if I had some snacks on hand that is fine, but that is a lot different than a set invitation.

    If your kids just showed up on my doorstep Warren I would be happy to let them play with my kids and if I had some snacks on hand to offer I might. But it can’t be an every day thing and it is different than if I called you up and invited you specifically over on Tuesday at 10. In that case I make sure I have refreshments available.

  109. Warren June 16, 2014 at 1:14 pm #

    Well I guess when you are raised, and when you raise your own with knowledge of foods, and drinks, then it isn’t a worry. Not once have I worried about feeding kids be them mine or other’s, and never worried about other parents feeding my kids.

    If food is that much of an issue for someone, that they worry about it, or demand that much control over it, then it is time to seek therapy.

  110. Warren June 16, 2014 at 1:17 pm #

    Dolly,
    Don’t worry about it. As I have said before I wouldn’t allow my kids within miles of your unstable mind. Besides, you have already said that you don’t answer the door for those uninvited anyway. So keep being rude and antisocial, it works for you.

    LOL, and she wonders why the neighbors don’t like her.

  111. anonymous mom June 16, 2014 at 1:38 pm #

    @Warren: Again, it must to be nice to be privileged enough to not have to ever worry about a grocery budget, and to have neighbors who you are sure must also never have that concern. That’s not reality for most people, though.

    I absolutely would be upset if I found out my kids were going to my neighbors’ homes, asking to play, and then asking for food. We do not live in a high-income area. Many families are on food stamps. People have limited resources. I have enough food in my house to feed my children, and I feel very strongly that doing so is my responsibility. Now, if somebody wants to offer my kids food, that’s fine, but if they were going over and asking/demanding/sneaking, that would NOT be okay. I am not okay with a neighbor having to be put into the position of either having to feed my child food they may not actually have to spare in order to be a gracious host or feel like they are being rude by denying the request.

    So, yes, if your kids came to my door, they’d be welcome to play with my kids. If, ten or fifteen minutes later, they asked me for a snack, I’d be a bit annoyed. If, should I offer them something I did have extras of, and they didn’t want that and asked, “What else do you have?”, I’d be more annoyed (and I’ve had kids ask me this many times after I have offered them a simple snack). And if they just came into my house and start going through my kitchen, I’d be extremely annoyed. If they were younger, I’d write it off as immaturity, but if they were older I would wonder why their parents hadn’t bothered to teach them simple manners.

  112. Sarah June 16, 2014 at 1:41 pm #

    Thanks for the two-way radio suggestion! I hadn’t realized they made them with such a range. I don’t want to get my son a phone, but having a radio seems like a nice compromise that could help me talk my husband into letting him go to the playground by himself.

  113. anonymous mom June 16, 2014 at 1:45 pm #

    Or, free-range is not synonymous with feral. We need to have age-appropriate expectations, of course, and be patient with kids acting in age-appropriate ways (which doesn’t mean giving them whatever they want, but also gently teaching them socially-appropriate behavior and enforcing appropriate boundaries), but sending ill-mannered, demanding, entitled children into the world and then expecting everybody to acquiesce to their wishes is not what anybody should be striving for. At the most basic level of courtesy, my kids know that they follow the house rules of the house they are in, whether they are our house rules or not. I can’t imagine not even teaching my kids that most basic bit of respectfulness.

  114. Warren June 16, 2014 at 2:32 pm #

    Didn’t know being able to afford groceries was privelaged?

    I work for my money, nothing privelaged about it. There is a lot of stress, sweat, and blood in that grocery budget.

  115. lollipoplover June 16, 2014 at 2:36 pm #

    I don’t know how this went from gps to food, but then I am never surprised when we go through the usual topics of autism, food allergies, etc.

    Food is personal. Every family has different customs and traditions. Snacking falls under this realm. I think it’s always good to be clear with house rules with visiting children. Around here, we frequently swap siblings or do dinners with other families pot luck style so feeding other children is the norm. During the summer, I bring a loaf of bread and PB&J jars to the pool and make sandwiches for anyone who is hungry. I’d rather see them eat PBJ than spend $10 at the snack shack for chicken fingers and fries and a large coke.
    As for snacking, I’d love to say I can hold them off between meals but mine swim competitively in the summer and are ready to gnaw their arm off with hunger after daily swim practices. But mine have higher calorie requirements than less active kids so again, it’s personal. Just talk to your neighbors, folks.

  116. SKL June 16, 2014 at 3:26 pm #

    So some of you are saying I must not let my kids out because they have metabolism issues?

    Why does play time always have to equal snack time? Is there no value in getting together if there isn’t food involved? If that’s how some people feel, good, because we don’t need those kinds of “friends.”

  117. Warren June 16, 2014 at 5:40 pm #

    Play time does not ALWAYS

  118. Amanda Matthews June 16, 2014 at 5:46 pm #

    “because we don’t need those kinds of “friends.””

    Eeek.

    Well I suppose that works if you pre-screen your kids’ friends, or only allow them to be friends with members of families you’re also friends with.

    Personally, I don’t do that. I don’t decide my friends based on their eating habits. I don’t get along with most parents, and the very few friends I have that are parents were my friends long before they were parents and live too far away for our kids to be friends.

    My kids make their own friends. I’m not going to become friends with the parents simply because our kids are friends and I’m not going to tell my kids what “type” of people they can be friends with. I don’t debrief my kids’ friends’ parents on what my kids’ issues and expect them to remember and cater to them.

    Because of that, I mostly don’t know if their friends are the type to offer my kid something they are allergic to. Therefore, I rely on educating my kids.

    And I’m going to say: if your kids have some sort of food issue, and you’re refusing to educate them about how to stay safe despite of that, then letting them out without someone that DOES know how to keep them safe despite of that is unsafe. Educate them, and then let them out.

    Or doom them to a life of nothing but approved “friends.” My kids won’t pass the pre-screen so I’m not worried.

  119. anonymous mom June 16, 2014 at 5:52 pm #

    I don’t care about what kids weigh or have any strict philosophies about food. I just don’t like rudeness. And that’s what it comes down to. You are not being “free-range” if you send your kids out to freely roam the neighborhood, including going to neighbors’ homes without your supervision–with I think is a good thing to let your kids do!–without first teaching them the basics of being a good guest, and feeling relatively confident they will do at least a halfway decent job of doing so.

    I just came in from outside. It’s 91 degree. I’m 8-1/2 months pregnant. I figured that, while my little two played, I’d sit on the porch and supervise them, and to avoid having to get up every 10 minutes, I brought out a gallon of cold water and some cups. That should have been more than enough for my kids. Not two minutes after we’d gotten outside and three kids from up the block–whose parents were sitting on a porch two houses away, talking and drinking and laughing (and I’m not criticizing that in any way, because I know they’d have invited me to join them if I wanted to–the whole 8-1/2 months pregnant thing puts a damper on the drinking, though, and my kids were happy playing in front of my house)–came over and asked for water. I’m actually not a mean person and I don’t enjoy saying no to kids or correcting them; I spend more than enough time each day saying no to and correcting my own children. So, I said okay, and then they wanted refills, and then they wanted just one more cup, and soon the water that was going to last my kids for two hours was gone. It’s not even a matter of expense in this case, just principle, and this is what I’m talking about. I’m talking about kids who come by in groups, ask for stuff, and then literally consume it until all of it is gone, when they are more than close enough to home that they could and should just go there. My oldest knows that if he’s playing up and down the block with the neighbors, and gets thirsty, he comes home and gets a drink or asks me for something, instead of asking the neighbors. And my youngest can’t be reliably trusted to remember that, so I remind them if they are heading in that direction–“Don’t hang out on their porch, don’t bother the grown-ups, and don’t ask for stuff”–or go with them. Because, again, my neighbors should not be responsible for having to discipline my kids. That’s my job.

    And then, of course, everybody had to use my bathroom. Why they had to use my bathroom when their own bathroom was literally 20 feet away, I have no idea, except that they probably just wanted an excuse to go in the house, because they came out with some toys that are not outdoor toys that I had to then clean up. Again, I am not a mean person, and I don’t like telling kids “You can’t go in the house.” I don’t like being put in that position. Teach your kids that, if they are playing in front of a house twenty feet from home, they need to come home to use the bathroom, instead of asking the neighbor to use theirs. I mean, I’m not saying, if you are visiting from even a block away, you need to go home, but if you are just playing outside with my kids, and live on the same block, use your own damn bathroom, thanks. Again, basic courtesy.

    And, yes, the fact that the public schools are out in three days and I know I’m going to be dealing with this like five-fold, all day, for most of the summer–even massively pregnant and then with a new baby in the house, because God forbid anybody think that maybe the woman due in mid-July doesn’t want to be the neighborhood snack dispenser, water cooler, public bathroom, and solver of disputes (I have seriously had neighbor kids knock on my door to ask me to come out and deal with a fight they were having) this summer, and advise their kids about appropriate behavior accordingly.

    I think people might have less of a bad reaction to unsupervised kids being out if those kids were behaving in more respectful and courteous ways.

  120. anonymous mom June 16, 2014 at 6:08 pm #

    @Amanda, I don’t disagree with anything you say. I don’t think it’s wrong, at all, to offer a snack, or for a child to accept a snack offered. I don’t think it’s wrong for kids to snack or to share their snacks with friends (and by that I mean share *their* snack, not raid the pantry and eat up the entire week’s worth of snacks in an hour with friends).

    But, I assume that you do teach your kids that it’s not cool to go to a friend’s house uninvited, ask if they can hang out, and then start asking for food. Or, for your kid to show up at a friend’s house uninvited, and then ask if they can stay for dinner, and, when the parent politely tells them no, start asking “Why not?” and demanding an explanation. I assume that if your kids are playing outside with other kids who live on the block, and they get hungry, you’d want them to get food from your house, not head over to a neighbor’s house to ask for food. And, if they have to use the bathroom in that situation, they’d come in and use yours instead of going to a neighbor’s house and asking to use their bathroom.

    That’s what I was complaining about, not the idea of providing snacks for children who you had agreed to host that day or children eating snacks, period. I’m just talking about what to me seems like egregiously rude behavior, which honestly makes summertime a bit miserable for me, because, again, I spend enough time dealing with my own offspring’s egregiously rude behavior and trying to teach them out of that. I probably count the days until school starts up again more than any homeschooling parent in history, because I am so eager for the day when I’ll only have three ill-mannered, constantly-hungry little monsters to deal with again. ;)

    I guess what it comes down to for me is that teaching other people’s kids manners and courtesy is not and should not be my job.

  121. SOA June 16, 2014 at 6:35 pm #

    Lollipop: I am going to nicely ask that you might want to reconsider making sandwiches at the pool. We had a mom that did that at our pool and I had to say something to her. I did not care that she brought pb and j to the pool but when you lay it all out on a table that everyone uses it gets a lot messier than making them at home first and then just handing them out to be ate on plates. She also let her daughter eat one of the sandwiches while sitting on the edge of the pool and my son was swimming right there.

    I don’t care if people eat pb and j. I just ask they are as neat as possible with it. I bring soy butter sandwiches to the pool too. So I feel you. But I make them at home and make sure my kids are cleaned off and the table wiped down when I am done. We still watch out for ourselves but it is nice when others help us out.

    Anyway, I agree with the other poster that said food does not need to be a part of everything. I wish we would move away from food needing to be a part of everything. With so many people have issues with food whether it be food allergies, diabetes, gluten intolerance, lactose intolerance, kosher, whatever- it might be easier to move away from food having to always be a part of everything. Or move toward everyone bringing or providing their own.

    I don’t mind people offering my son food. He knows to say no or ask me first or read the label. But for courtesy sakes I try to ask the parents first before offering food to other people’s kids Because it seems the polite and safer thing to do and I don’t mind doing it.

  122. SKL June 16, 2014 at 8:39 pm #

    Amanda, I was not saying I screen friends. I don’t. But I also don’t go out of my way to attract “friends” by offering snacks and drinks that I normally would not even offer to my own kids.

    My kids don’t have deathly food issues, but their health will suffer if they spend the summer scrounging snacks everywhere they go. One of mine puts on weight very easily, and the other won’t eat at meals if she snacks much.

    And I made the point that I DO teach them not to ask for food, and also, we are not grazers here, so they are not in that habit. Scrounging food has not been a problem for us so far, nor do I foresee it becoming one.

    I was simply responding to the attitude that I’m a sucky community member if I don’t arrange my life so that kids who stop by randomly will always get fed at my house. I don’t really think most parents want their kids grazing all the time when they are supposed to be out getting some exercise, fresh air, and social interaction.

    There are a lot of chubby kids around here. Some people say “I don’t care what kids weigh,” but I care that my kids are generally healthy and not overweight, and most parents I know also care. For those who have kids who can eat all they want and not gain weight (or suffer other health problems), that is nice for them. It can make people underestimate the issue for the rest of us, though.

  123. Warren June 16, 2014 at 10:12 pm #

    Who gives a rat’s ass what bathroom they use, who gives a rat’s ass about drinking water, or snacks or whatever? Damn some people are just hateful and uptight.

    If they make a mess in the can, I send their butt back in there to clean it up. Water is either free or damn near free, who cares.

    Invited? Really? My kids never waited to be invited over. They went over and then figured out what they were doing with their friends. Anon, give up the control. Kids are always knocking on the door to see what my kids are up to. They do not need an invite.
    And Dolly, shut up. Amanda is not responsible for your kid.

  124. CrazyCatLady June 16, 2014 at 10:19 pm #

    I am not a food hoarder. But…I grow a lot of my food. I spend hours getting the soil ready, weeding in the heat, and doing my best to grow healthy food for my family.

    The year before last, I made two raised beds in my driveway for strawberries. Because my family likes to eat strawberries and whipped cream. Want to know how many my daughter, husband, and son each got? None. That is because a boy in the neighborhood, who has a sweet tooth, ate ALL of them. So now we have a new rule. He can have 1 berry each time he comes over so that the rest of the family can actually get some of the fruits of our labor. Same goes for other produce in the garden. I will share it, but dang, we have worked hard and want some too.

    When in the house this kids will also eat all of my fruit that we get for the week if I do not put a limit on it. He can have one apple per visit. If he is still hungry, he can go home and eat. Otherwise, he is not going to starve. He is a sweet kid, but he insists that he needs to eat constantly, especially things that he is not supposed to have and things that I actually don’t let my kids have on a daily basis. (Like the juice boxes that we get for hiking.)

    The rules that I have for visiting kids are NOT different than the rules that I have for my OWN kids. They are the house rules, and when kids visit, they are expected to follow the rules. I don’t let my kids climb and play on our tractors. Nor do I let neighbor friends do that. Our kids cannot chase our ducks and geese, neither can the friends.

    What I am hearing from the above conversations is that most people are expecting the same from guests as from their kids. No one likes a rude hog. I will never forget one day when I was about 15, when we got a bushel of oysters. Shucking oysters is hard work, (unless you were my grandmother who was fast and knew the tricks.) My step brother, step sister and I work for hours getting all of those oysters ready for frying up for dinner – a treat we had once a year. Then a friend of my step father dropped by and stayed for dinner. When my mother brought out the plate of fried oysters, he took half the plate. None of us said anything but all of us were thinking the same thing: “What a RUDE A-Hole!” He had no idea how hard it was, how much they cost. Each of the 6 of us got about 6 oysters, he got about 20. He was never invited to stay again. And, that is what I am trying to teach my kids, and my neighbor’s kids. Don’t be rude – leave enough for everyone to enjoy – it is not there JUST for you, little snowflake! Moderation is important.

  125. SOA June 16, 2014 at 10:53 pm #

    My kids friends they play with the most don’t live nearby. They live as far as 45 minute drive away. So yeah we usually set up an actual okay we are bringing the kids over to play on this date at this time.

    They do play with neighborhood kids too. But their best friends are actually kids that don’t live nearby that parents have to be involved to bring them over. I guess my kids are just super popular they have friends from several different school districts. Heck they have friends from another city we hang out with a multiple times a year. Mostly it is kids that I am friends with the mother so we all get together and socialize.

    As others have said kids are often being carted around to church or activities or sports or family and they are not always home to play with. So we associate with other people too or my kids would get a lot less playtime with friends.

  126. SOA June 16, 2014 at 10:55 pm #

    Okay Warren: If people don’t have to be mannerly enough to not smear peanut butter all over public tables and let it get into the pool, then I guess I don’t have to bother checking for kids behind me when I pull out of my parking space at the playground right? I mean why should I? My kids are buckled in their seats. Screw watching out for other people’s kids. If they get backed over that is their parent’s problems LOL. Oops!

    No, that is not quite what Lenore had in mind when she said build a community. A community watches out for one another.

  127. anonymous mom June 16, 2014 at 11:36 pm #

    @Warren: “Invited? Really? My kids never waited to be invited over. They went over and then figured out what they were doing with their friends.”

    Well, honestly, if you didn’t teach your kids to wait to be invited, it sounds like they missed a very basic, important lesson in common courtesy. My kids know that, if they want to play with somebody and haven’t been invited to, they can invite them over to our house. Or, they can go over and see if the kids can play outside (they may NOT invite themselves into another person’s home). Or, they can call the person up and ask if there would be a good time for them to come over.

    But, no, unless you have some kind of prior open-door policy that both families agree to (and we do have a few families we have that understanding with), you do not show up at a person’s home and invite yourself in. You do not invite yourself to stay for a meal. That is being an unbearably rude guest and putting your host in a difficult position.

    It’s not about control, but courtesy. You seem to be confusing a child’s independence with their sense of entitlement, but they are not the same. If your children are truly independent, then they will be able to think of something to do when thirsty–like, bringing water so they are prepared, or going back to their own home two houses down–other than asking their massively pregnant neighbor who is supervising a 2 and 4 year old who are playing right next to a city street to get up and bring you cups and a pitcher of ice water. If they are relying on a neighbor to provide them with water, then they aren’t being “free-range,” they are just asking an adult who isn’t their parent to do things for them. And,I’m sorry, but a child expecting an adult to stop what they are doing and fetch them food or drinks or toys is being rude. Period.

    If my oldest wants to have a friend over and the two of them are going to entertain themselves in my house, that’s fine. They don’t need me to supervise or intervene. But, there are plenty of people whose younger kids–like 4 to 8–will come by and not just ask if my kids can come out and play outside (totally fine with me!) but ask if they can come in. That is what’s not cool. At that point, I’m basically being asked if I’ll be an unpaid babysitter, especially because in many cases these kids aren’t very close with my own kids and mostly just want to play with their toys and eat our food. That is not cool.

    Which, to keep this somewhat on topic, is to say that, if you want to send your child out to freely roam the neighborhood, cool. But, if what they are going to end up doing, because you haven’t taught them otherwise, is showing up at neighbor’s houses where they’re going to invite themselves in and then spend the day asking to do all the things you probably send them out of the house to avoid anyway–wanting to play video games/watch TV, asking for food/snacks repeatedly, demanding constant interaction with adults, making messes, etc.–you aren’t being free range, you are just being a bad neighbor.

  128. SOA June 16, 2014 at 11:49 pm #

    One of my things about free range I usually add in is “if the kids are well behaved”. If your kids cannot handle seeing a movie solo without acting up, than you better helicopter right on in there and supervise them. I don’t care if they are 16. Kids should only be allowed to independently roam around without their parents when they prove they can do so and follow the rules, behave, act politely, act safely.

    So you do things like what I am doing now where I back off and let them handle it and watch how it goes, but I am there to jump in and make them act right if they blow it. Not to rescue them, but to rescue that poor store cashier from my kid being rude to them or rescue that poor kid my autistic son is now yelling at. Because I do have responsibility to my community and my fellow man to not let my kids bother them and be rude to them and to cause trouble.

  129. Warren June 17, 2014 at 12:24 am #

    Dolly,
    First off, why would you assume that Amanda does not clean up after herself? Oh maybe she is too busy doing drugs with the guy in the fish shop.

    Secondly, please have someone back up a car over you. The sooner we get your genes out of the pool, the better our species will be as a whole.

    Hitting a kid with a car is not the same as making sandwiches at the pool, you moron.

  130. SOA June 17, 2014 at 12:28 am #

    Whenever Warren starts to lose an argument he resorts to insults and name calling. Same old same old.

  131. SKL June 17, 2014 at 5:42 am #

    About getting little kids water. When my kids were tots, I bought a plastic water dispenser for a few bucks. It was shaped like a big cereal box, so it could sit unobtrusively on the shelf in the kitchen, or be taken outside when the kids are out playing. I put it in my tots’ reach and left it up to them to get themselves water when they wanted it. (I also had all the kid dishes and such in a low cabinet so they could always access them.)

    Just thought I’d mention that as an alternative to hopping up and getting kids water when you’re trying to relax or get something else done. Because ready garden hoses aren’t as ubiquitous as they were when I was a kid. :P

  132. anonymous mom June 17, 2014 at 9:52 am #

    @SKL, the problem is when neighbor kids come over and start using up all the supplies you’ve prepared for your own kids. Again, this isn’t unreasonable selfishness: I’m not talking about thirsty kids taking a glass of water to hold them over until they can get home and drink more. I’m talking about three kids coming over and having three huge glasses of water in a row each and suddenly the water jug intended to last for the whole afternoon is empty.

    @Warren, you’d be surprised at how many kids, because they are denied adult attention all day, will desperately crave it from any other adult who’s willing to offer a smile and even half a willing ear. I don’t think many of their parents really think very much about various parenting philosophies, but I would caution people to consider if their “free-range” kid is actually being indepedent or is instead going to other adults for the things their parents aren’t doing for them (and may very rightfully not be doing for them).

    But this is why teaching kids basic courtesy and respect for adults is important. Because I don’t *want* to be a hard-ass, and I’m not. I don’t want to have a “No, you can’t ever come in my house” rule or a “No, I will never give you food when you ask” rule. I don’t want to have a “Kids can’t ever play on the porch” rule. But, when you’ve got kids who will take a mile if given an inch–not because they are young, but because their parents have apparently never told them that making demands on the time, attention, and resources of neighbors on a regular basis is not okay–then you are in a hard spot. If parents aren’t teaching their kids not to invite themselves into people’s homes, not to invite themselves to people’s meals, and not to ask people for stuff–and then, if they do do those things, to take “no” for an answer and not continue to push the issue–then they are making life a lot harder for the people who are otherwise inclined to enjoy sometimes hosting the neighbors and sometimes bringing out snacks for all the kids and sometimes having a chat with a neighbor kid or two for an hour on the porch but don’t want to have it be an everyday expectation, where every single day they are having to either play neighborhood hostess or justify to child why they aren’t today.

  133. lollipoplover June 17, 2014 at 10:10 am #

    “Lollipop: I am going to nicely ask that you might want to reconsider making sandwiches at the pool. We had a mom that did that at our pool and I had to say something to her.”

    SOA/Dolly- It’s peanut butter not plutonium.
    No need to turn this into a hazmat situation when I make sandwiches outdoors. Food policing and trying to control what everyone eats around your child is not only impossible, but annoying and won’t help your son no matter how much you think it does in your head.

    I rent a table in a picnic grove of our multi-acre community pool. The rental is split with 6 other families that share the table and take turns watching each others kids. Food is permitted in the picnic grove and at the snack bar. I cannot tell you the immense pleasure I get from going to swim laps in the adult pool and getting a break from kids mid-day when I can pass the baton to another parent at our table. Of all the families, we have two allergies- tree nut (a kid) and peanut(a mom). I make PB&J sandwiches for all of these kids at lunch (and do the allergic mom a favor because she cannot make the sandwiches for her kids), they eat, we clean up, and back to swimming and playing with friends. I am not smearing them with peanut butter and sending them on you son’s slip and slide.

    Dolly, if you came up to me at the pool and told me to stop making sandwiches, I would kindly refer you to seek mental counseling to discuss the unrealistic idea that you can control what other people feed their children and themselves and act as 24/7 peanut patrol for your son. You cannot. It’s a food allergy he will likely outgrow. Get a grip.

    Also, you would not need to drive 45 minutes to find friends for you kids to play with if they had ones nearby, in the community. But friends are not made and communities don’t strengthen over confrontations about PB&J sandwiches.

  134. Warren June 17, 2014 at 11:01 am #

    Anon,
    I don’t jump up and cater to them. If they ask for anything, they get the standard response, “You know where everything is, I am not your butler.”. And if they are new to the circle of friends, they are told to go see one of my kids. As from an early age I made sure that any guests over to see my kids are their responsibility, just as when my friends are over, I take care of them.
    Standard rule in our place, I will get you your first drink, after that you know where the bar or fridge is.

    And if they are not getting the attention at home, I just look at it as being a positive male influence in their life.

  135. E June 17, 2014 at 11:18 am #

    Wow – lots of discussion about neighborhood and pool etiquette. I admit that I’d never given it a moments thought about offering/sharing/supplying snacks to kids, but I don’t live in a neighborhood that’s full of same-aged kids. I tend to think the idea is one I’d LOVE for us to have to deal with though!

    Bottom line, it’s not free range (or not) to host/supply kids if it’s not convenient, in the budget, or you just don’t feel like it today (tired, pregnant, clean house, guests coming later, on and on). I certainly think that the pregnant Mom can make any rules she wants. Actually I think a parent can make any rules they want about kid guests. Even saying “not today” is fine.

    It probably got buried under a lot of talk of food and gadgets, but I’ll mention again, my Mom used a schoolhouse-like bell to signal it was time for us to come home. When we were smaller it could most certainly be heard as far as we were allowed to go (it was loud). And I suppose it does point out that we weren’t ever playing “inside” because that would have been the place we couldn’t have heard it!

  136. anonymous mom June 17, 2014 at 11:29 am #

    I think the neighborhood etiquette thing does fit in because that’s why I’m not comfortable with the idea of just telling my kids, basically, “If you ever need to call, ask somebody to borrow their cellphone.” And why I like the walkie-talkie idea.

    Cellphones are expensive and not particularly hard to break. If it was a genuine emergency, by all means I’d be fine with my kids asking somebody to use their cellphone. But if they just want to let me know they have changed plans or to ask if they can stay out later or just to check in about something, I’m not comfortable with the idea of them asking to borrow a cellphone. That’s especially true if they are older. I don’t want to put people in the position of having to figure out if this kid is trying to steal their phone or really wants to borrow it, if the kid can be trusted to not break the phone, or to have to feel badly if they don’t want to lend the kid their phone.

    I’m not anti-sharing, but I’m not in favor of the presumption that other people MUST share with my kids. If I think my child might need to contact me, I do think I need to figure out a way to allow them to do that independently, rather than just assuming that it’s the job of other adults around to lend them a cellphone.

  137. E June 17, 2014 at 12:00 pm #

    Again, my kids are older, but I don’t see anything wrong with asking to borrow a phone. Someone can ALWAYS say “I’m sorry, no” if there is a concern about theft or charges. The person can also offer to place the call for them if they don’t want them touching their phone.

    I’d hate to think that phone technologies advancing have actually created a step back in function. We always could ask to borrow the phone (on the wall) if we needed to call home, and so could my parents when they were kids.

    Worse case, if my kids brakes someone else’s phone…we/they would rectify the situation (as we would my own).

  138. Warren June 17, 2014 at 12:39 pm #

    I agree with E that because people are so protective of their tech, that common courteousy has gone out the window.

    Besides when we were out and about, and same with my kids, and the group changed plans, we either all jumped on our bikes and went home to check in, or we went to the nearest house of one of the group and all called home from there.

    If money is so tight that you cannot lend a kid a cell call, change carriers or lose the cellphone altogether. Without the cellphone, you can afford more snacks for your kids friends.

  139. SOA June 17, 2014 at 1:28 pm #

    Lollipop lover: if you rent the picnic area than you are right, you have every right to make sandwiches there. That would not bother me. The mom I was referring to was making it in a public general use area right next to the baby pool where my son was playing and then let her daughter sit and eat her sandwich over the pool which is not hygenic or safe for food allergies. Yuck.

    I have friends all over the area because people move to new houses, I have a bunch of mom friends I met through a club so they come from all over the area, and I have friends I met through mutual friends. So when you add all that in together you don’t always get friends that live next door. We have several friends that live super close too but those are not their best friends. They also went to a private preschool that kids from several area schools attended thus why we have friends from several school zones when they all dispersed for kindergarten. Does not mean the kids don’t still love each other and want to be buddies. I would say it was a positive thing that I can go to literally any area in town and have at least one friend in that area.

    I don’t dump a friend just because they switch schools or move further across town. That would be a shady thing to do.

    I agree with anonymous that I don’t want my kids bugging others for cell phones to borrow. Once in a blue moon is fine but all the time, not so much. It is bad enough random people will hand my son their ipads or phones to play with without asking me first. He will kinda get up in people’s grill to look at their phone or ipad and I will tell him to move and they say its fine (because people think its cute) then a couple times they just hand it to him to play with. Then I am like “Oh God please don’t break it” the entire time sweating bullets.

  140. SOA June 17, 2014 at 1:31 pm #

    Lollipop lover: and thanks for acting like you know more than my allergist. According to him my son will never outgrow his allergy. It might even get more severe over time. But what does that man know right? Medical school means jack when some random person wants to have an opinion to insult you. LOL

  141. SOA June 17, 2014 at 1:35 pm #

    Anonymous: I think you might really benefit from one of those signs that you flip over if you want company from kids or don’t flip if you don’t. You could even make a sign that says “Ask me for snacks and water” or you can flip it to say “Don’t bother the mommy!” haha I am serious. It might make your life easier. But with most kids if you just keep repeating the “Go home for water. Go home for potty, Go home for snacks” at them they will get it eventually.

  142. pentamom June 17, 2014 at 1:48 pm #

    E, I’m with you. If you don’t give a kid a phone for a significant period of time after it becomes clear that he’s going to need a phone regularly or frequently, and just expects that he can always borrow one, that’s being a mooch. But if the occasional unusual situation comes up where he might need to borrow one and does, no. People who do not have landline phones in their homes are not paying by the minute or begrudging younger kids who come over a one or two-minute call home in an unforeseen situation. They expect their phones will be used the way phones normally are, not the way our grandmothers regarded long-distance calls.

    I don’t know where anyone got the idea that people are opposing giving phones to kids who are old enough to spend lots of time on their own without having informed their parents where they are and what they’re doing, more than a couple minutes’ walk or bike ride from home. We’re talking about no, your 9 year old does not need their own phone just because they might walk down the street and you forget to tell them when to come home.

    I think the problem in the OP here is that people confuse “making sure this won’t happen again” with “making sure this CAN’T happen again.” A rule of thumb might be that if the situation is really not all that terrible, an intervention that makes sure it “can’t” happen is overkill. Stick to finding ways to make sure it won’t, not that it can’t.

  143. lollipoplover June 17, 2014 at 1:55 pm #

    Phew. So glad Dolly that you approve me to make sandwiches in a public eating area. Even with the plutonium peanut butter.

    The situation you describe, eating a sandwich by the pool would just be a lifeguard issue. Most pools forbid eating in the pool area because it’s a choking risk. Tell the lifeguard. Problem solved. But you handled it by making the sandwich itself a huge danger to your son and his life-threatening peanut allergy. Can’t you just tell him don’t swim near that kid with the PBJ? You bring his food allergy up in every thread. Having the ever present fear instilled in your child that he’s in constant danger isn’t healthy or constructive to developing coping skills and deal with this especially if he doesn’t outgrow it.

    And I do apologize about suggesting your son will outgrow his allergy. 85% of children with milk, egg, and soy allergies will outgrow them but only 20% with peanut. Instead of focusing on the 80% chance he won’t outgrow it, find out why the 20% do.

  144. SOA June 17, 2014 at 2:31 pm #

    Lollipop lover: There is no cure or documented reason why anyone outgrows any food allergy. The only thing they can tell you is to avoid it and avoiding it gives you the best chance. Thus why I was concerned that the peanut butter would get on him when he was swimming in the small kiddie pool about 4 feet by 4 feet. Not really anyway to avoid her. And you are right it was also against the rules to eat by the pool.

    They don’t even know what causes food allergies. For us it is prob genetics since his Dad has one too. So nothing you can do about that.

    With every potential exposure or reaction it can actually increase your allergy. So yeah, you should not take any kind of exposure lightly. He was swimming and water gets in his mouth and she gets pb in the water, not a good situation. Which could be avoided if people had enough manners and sense to not eat in the pool and clean up after eating,

  145. SOA June 17, 2014 at 2:33 pm #

    ps which is more polite-ratting her out to the lifeguards or approaching her myself and asking her to please make her daughter eat not right by the pool and to please make sure they are cleaned up good before going back in the pool. Cause I could have embarrassed her by having the lifeguard get onto her but though approaching her myself might be more polite.

  146. Warren June 17, 2014 at 3:17 pm #

    Dolly, with the social skills you have talked about and demonstrated, it would be oh so much better to talk with the lifeguard. Because if you handled it, the way you come across in here, the mother of said kid would probably drop you.

    Don’t care what allergy it is, you and your kid are the only ones responsible. Stop expecting the rest of the world to change to accomodate your kid.

  147. anonymous mom June 17, 2014 at 4:19 pm #

    @Warren: The difference is that I don’t make any assumptions about the person my child might be asking to borrow a phone from being able to afford to replace it, or somehow have the gall to think that, if my child DID break their cellphone, well, they just shouldn’t have had one in the first place if they couldn’t afford it, so screw them.

    I honestly can’t think of many $500+ items I’d be comfortable having my children request to use at another person’s house. Again, courtesy.

    You just seem to have an extremely cavalier attitude about your neighbors. I don’t. It is very important to me that my children learn to be polite, gracious guests who do not put their hosts out unnecessarily or put them in uncomfortable positions. I’ve had to explain to them a number of times why I do indeed have a double standard–why I do give food to neighborhood kids who ask for it and do let them use our bathroom if they just knock on the door asking to use it or do let them make calls on my cellphone, but tell my kids that they are not allowed to do those things with others–and it’s because, while we should be gracious hosts, we need to be gracious guests. And, honestly, I’d prefer to think that the reason so many kids aren’t gracious guests is simply because they are immature and impulsive, and not because their parents have failed to teach them even the most basic kinds of courtesy to show a host.

  148. lollipoplover June 17, 2014 at 4:39 pm #

    Dolly- I personally would have done neither. I would simply avoid contact and take a short walk while it takes the kid minutes to finish the sandwich.
    Second choice would be to ask the lifeguard if food was permitted in the pool and let him/her enforce pool rules.
    Last choice would be to call out the parent directly for her parenting fail and tell her “to please make sure they clean up good” like there needs to be a hazmat decontamination suit on this kid. That to me is the opposite of polite.

  149. SOA June 17, 2014 at 6:55 pm #

    Eh I think I handled it pretty well. I explained about the allergy and she thanked for me telling her about the daughter because she did not even notice she was eating it there and thanked me for telling her. Then told her Daughter to get out of the pool with the sandwich and she cleaned everyone off really good with wipes afterward.

    Then I shared all the cool water and pool toys I brought with her kids and they all played together.

    I think you fail to realize if peanut butter falls in the pool it does not only be harmful for a few minutes and then its harmless. It would be dangerous for hours before it gets filtered out most likely. Especially in a small baby pool. I paid my membership like they did and we should be able to use the pool.

    I never let my kids go in the pool with food or covered in food. That is against the rules and straight up nasty.

  150. anonymous mom June 17, 2014 at 8:52 pm #

    I think SOA handled it fine. We’re always saying here that people shouldn’t run to the police first thing; why should they run to the lifeguard immediately? If I were inadvertently or non-maliciously breaking a pool rule and somebody were concerned, I’d rather they politely approached me about it rather than reporting me to the lifeguard.

  151. Warren June 17, 2014 at 10:10 pm #

    Anon,
    You have a $500+ cellphone and whine about a tight grocery budget? Financial planning is not your strong suit is it.

    And no Dolly did not handle it fine. She made it more about her kids allergy than the pool rule. Handling it fine would be a slight head nod to the mom, and that’s it.

  152. SOA June 17, 2014 at 10:23 pm #

    Well to many people they think they should be able to do whatever they want with their peanut butter and people with allergies should just either never leave the house or go ahead and die.

    So yeah, to many we should have just packed up and left even though we paid $300 for the pool membership and had every right to be there as they did and we were the ones following the rules.

    A head nod would not have told that mom anything as she was too occupied with her 4 kids to probably know what the heck I would be nodding at. But apparently I am not allowed to even speak to other people. Yeah that builds community, not even speaking to other people lol.

    She did not seem to be bothered by me saying something and certainly seemed happy that her kids were entertained playing with all the pool and water toys I brought. If I just packed up and left then her kids and my kids would have missed out on getting to play together in the baby pool with all the cool water toys. I mean you cannot talk about how important it is to build community than act like people can’t speak to each other or ask favors of each other or try to get along and hang out near each other.

  153. anonymous mom June 18, 2014 at 7:18 am #

    Warren: Last night, before dinner, my two youngest were playing outside. I was sitting on the porch watching them.

    Once again, within minutes of sitting down, three neighbor kids (from two different families) headed over. First thing they did was ask me to get them water. Then, they asked if I could bring them out ice pops. My own children were not drinking water or eating ice pops. Then, they asked if they could go inside and play, while my kids were outside playing. I did get them water. I said no to the ice pops and the inside play. I was asked “Why?” several times after I said no.

    Do you think that is appropriate behavior? Would you be okay with your children behaving that way?

    And this is an all-day, every-day thing for me in the summer, especially when schools are out. I go outside to supervise my kids, and within minutes various neighborhood kids are asking for stuff. Half the time they aren’t even interested in playing with my kids; they just want access to my stuff. It is rude. And, again, while we’re certainly talking about kids who live in homes where money isn’t unlimited–just like it isn’t in my house–we’re not talking about kids in dire poverty who do not have enough food or kids who have truly neglectful parents. We’re just talking about kids whose own parents don’t give them everything they want but who somehow think it’s appropriate to then ask the neighbor for stuff their own parents said no to. If you are the parent whose kids are the ones always asking the neighbors for stuff, perhaps you don’t care, since your kids aren’t bothering you. But, if you are on the receiving end, it’s very frustrating to have to be saying “no” to requests from various kids who aren’t even yours all day (or to stay holed up in your house with your kids so you don’t have to deal with a day of endless requests for stuff), and it would be nice if parents both taught their kids basic manners towards neighbors and hosts AND didn’t allow their children to freely roam the neighborhood until they were old/mature enough to exercise those manners at least some of the time.

    You can act like having a grocery budget is unheard of or that nobody out there has a $500 cellphone (when nearly everybody I know has both a grocery budget and an iPhone–I actually don’t have a phone that fancy, but I’m not going to assume that because somebody does have an iPhone they can either 1) afford to replace it if it breaks or 2) therefore afford to feed my kids whatever they want whenever they want it), but the basic fact is that you seem to have failed to teach your children some of the most basic lessons in courtesy that would make their being free-range much more pleasant for others in your neighborhood.

  154. lollipoplover June 18, 2014 at 9:40 am #

    @anonymous mom-
    Please, for the love of mankind, say no to these kids.
    If they ask more than once, tell them they need to go home first and ask their parents where babies come from and then come back and tell you the answer. Only then will give them water.

    You are right when you say some kids are starved for attention. Pregnant women seem to attract kids in general (at least I did) and I remember how exhausting it was feeling I need to *take care* of other children who played with my own. You don’t. You’re pregnant and please chat them up and ask them about their days, what you should name the baby, etc. They clearly seek you out because they like you and want to interact with you. It doesn’t mean you operate Anonymous Mom’s Snack Shack. Those little buggers should be helping you out so you can sit and rest. Make them weed or do yard work and then reward them with an ice pop. Say “Kitchen’s closed” or “Asked and answered” for repeat requests then start asking them for stuff.
    “Can you sweep my porch?Can you take my trash out?”
    That will scatter them in no time.

  155. Warren June 18, 2014 at 9:42 am #

    Anon,
    I have never had to deal with kids that bad. If they were that bad, I wouldn’t whine about it and let it get to me. I would tell their parents to either feed them more, or teach them manners.

    But I am assuming they are not nearly that bad. Your attitude towards water, snacks and phone calls, rather tells me you are just very territorial and reluctant to share.

  156. Warren June 18, 2014 at 9:48 am #

    Dolly
    Yes we should do whatever we want with our peanut butter, and why the heck not it is our peanut butter.

    When we leave the house for any reason at all, you kids food allergy does not concern us one bit.

    You can control your home, but you cannot control what we do in public. Sucks to be you, but that is life.

    You warn me or my kids that your kid is allergic to what they are eating, you will be politely told,”Sorry, best keep your kid away from us.”, because we would not be changing what we are doing or eating.

  157. SOA June 18, 2014 at 2:01 pm #

    Warren: and if that mother had reacted to me that way then I would have marched right over to the lifeguards and reported her for breaking the no food in the pool rule with her daughter eating the sandwich on the edge of the pool and then she would be embarrassed when the lifeguards came over and got onto her and potentially kicked out if she kept doing it.

    So either way the kid is getting out of the pool with the sandwich but you can choose to be told by the lifeguards or told by me.

  158. SOA June 18, 2014 at 2:03 pm #

    Oh and ps: I guess if she responded rudely I would have had to take all the toys back that were ours I was sharing with her kids and then they would have boo hooed about it. But oh well. If you are rude to me, you don’t get to share our toys. I am known around the pool as the cool toy mom because I bring a giant basket of water toys and several giant cool pool floats like sharks or alligators every time we come.

  159. Warren June 18, 2014 at 2:36 pm #

    Dolly,
    You are nothing more than self centered witch, that only cares about herself.

    You do not do anything for the kids, you do it to try to enhance your status and appearance. So take your ball and go home, whiner.

    What a sorry life you must lead. I really do feel sorry for you.

  160. lollipoplover June 18, 2014 at 3:22 pm #

    Actually, I take back how I would handle this. I wouldn’t. Not with the lifeguard or the mom. It’s completely irrational to think that an errant crumb from a sandwich eaten pool side would contaminate a pool and be a danger to an allergic child to drink the pool water.

    You’re in the baby pool. Kids with shit-filled diapers are all around you. There is fecal matter in the pool and e.coli is more of a risk than anything else. Kids regularly pee in the pool which is why it is always warmer than the bigger pool. If your kid is drinking the water here, you have bigger problems than lecturing fellow pool members on your kid’s allergy and being rude to them by telling them to clean up good, like they are dirty people and you are the food patrol.

    Our baby pool has an age limit of 5 years-old. Once my kids learned to swim (around 4) they wanted nothing to do with the dirty baby pool. You can keep your cool toy mom status and police your baby pool for food predators all you want. But your floaties and rafts are bathed in fecal matter and urine, not pbj sandwich residue. Maybe instead you should monitor the bathroom and make sure everyone washes their hands after using the toilet or watch for the grimacing toddler who’s making a loose deuce in his swimmy diaper. That is what makes kids sick at the pool. E. Coli and Giardia.

  161. SOA June 18, 2014 at 3:52 pm #

    Our pool does not allow kids to swim without swim diapers so while it may be pee filled it at least is poo safe. They are very strict about it and will drain the pool and refill if there is an incident.

    I would not take my toys to be a bitch but if I have to leave, then yeah, I am taking my toys home with me. So if I felt it was unsafe for my son, we are packing up the toys and going home.

  162. Warren June 18, 2014 at 4:57 pm #

    Dolly, do your community a favor. Let your kids go, but you stay home, to make it a much better world.

  163. SOA June 18, 2014 at 7:10 pm #

    Really? The pool does not allow kids to be dropped off without parents unless they are 10 and up. Which is reasonable. Because the adults and other parents there don’t want to have to parent other people’s little kids. But yeah my 6 year old with autism can totally take care of himself at a pool……..

  164. Warren June 18, 2014 at 9:59 pm #

    Actually you got me thinking Dolly.

    In this day and age, those bullet proof blankets and white boards won’t do anything when the shooter is throwint peanut butter cookies at everyone.

  165. CrazyCatLady June 18, 2014 at 10:09 pm #

    The fact that the pool has unwiped butts, dirty feet, and bird poop always served me well as a lifeguard. Every year I would get some school age kid who felt it was cool to spit water in people’s faces. So I would have a talk about said unwiped rear ends, feet that walked in dog poo, and birds flying overhead. Stopped the spitting every time!

  166. Heather June 18, 2014 at 11:14 pm #

    My mom had a simple answer to this problem: a coach’s whistle. A good, loud, one. Mom would stand out in the yard and blow it, when she wanted someone not immediately in evidence. Kids, dogs, and even the cats were expected to show up pronto when the whistle blew. Then, Mom would sort out who she wanted. The whistle could be heard a block and a half away at the creek. I’m about to intiate the same procedure in our family, as it is easier than shouting.

  167. SKL June 18, 2014 at 11:19 pm #

    Public baby pools gross me out. They had one on the first cruise ship we went on, and because the other pool was 4ft deep with no shallow part, and my kids were preschoolers, I took them to the kiddy pool. But aside from not being fun at all, it was obviously full of pee. I mean, I know kids pee in the big pool too, but at least the water isn’t yellow with it. Blech.

    I always told my kids that babies pee in the pool, to stop them from drinking chlorine. They drank it anyway. Kids are gross.

    I am not a freak about allergies, but if they have a rule against eating at the pool, it should be followed.

    As for Warren’s comment that people only like SOA because she shares, I was wondering that about Warren. If he stopped handing out piles of snacks and letting people swim in his pool, would his charming personality be enough to keep the crowds coming? Hmm….

    I honestly don’t understand the attraction of having tons of sweaty, demanding kids at my house every day, so I don’t make any effort in that direction. Guess I’m a party pooper.

  168. Warren June 19, 2014 at 1:45 am #

    Well SKL, I guess we’ll never know, because we have a very open door policy with our kids friends, and our neighbors. Hell I cannot remember the last time we locked the doors.

    I would rather have my property filled with playing kids, than all that space doing nothing. And when we want it quiet, we just kick em out. It is not complicated.

    You may not like my in your face ways, but that is what you get here, when it is always about issues. Personally I cannot stand all you fence sitters, that hide behind the “you have to pick your battles” mantra. Experience has shown me that those people never pick their battles. They yip and yap, but never do anything.

    And I really do not give a rat’s ass who likes me or not, in here.

  169. pentamom June 19, 2014 at 11:34 am #

    “Our pool does not allow kids to swim without swim diapers so while it may be pee filled it at least is poo safe. They are very strict about it and will drain the pool and refill if there is an incident.”

    You might be assuming quite a bit there. It’s good they have those policies, but leakage and osmosis do happen.

  170. lollipoplover June 19, 2014 at 12:59 pm #

    Dolly, I am just curious as to why your 7 year-olds are swimming in the baby pool? Do they like wadding in shallow water vs. swimming or is this your decision to not let them in the big pool with kids their own age?

    Our pool is very strict about enforcing the rule of no children over 5 in the baby pool. Older children tend to play rougher (or have cool pool toys like squirt guns that splash the babies). Baby pools are designed for very small children to play safely. They are brimming with polluted diapers and children with no control of their bladders. Most parents would not want their 2 yo toddler to get knocked over by a 7 year-old on a crocodile float.

    @crazycatlady- I was a lifeguard for years growing up and lectured many children on the contents of the pool water to stop them from spitting it on each other. Those in the know. My only two *saves* as a lifeguard were for a choking incident (I gave the heimlich to an 8 yo who ate a snow cone from the ice cream man with the gumball at the bottom. The gumball was lodged in his throat but shot right out. Yeah Red Cross courses!) and another was a 5 yo with swimmies who jumped in the deep end and lost one. She just sank with one arm sticking out of the water until I scooped her out.

  171. lollipoplover June 19, 2014 at 12:59 pm #

    Dolly, I am just curious as to why your 7 year-olds are swimming in the baby pool? Do they like wadding in shallow water vs. swimming or is this your decision to not let them in the big pool with kids their own age?

    Our pool is very strict about enforcing the rule of no children over 5 in the baby pool. Older children tend to play rougher (or have cool pool toys like squirt guns that splash the babies). Baby pools are designed for very small children to play safely. They are brimming with polluted diapers and children with no control of their bladders. Most parents would not want their 2 yo toddler to get knocked over by a 7 year-old on a crocodile float.

    @crazycatlady- I was a lifeguard for years growing up and lectured many children on the contents of the pool water to stop them from spitting it on each other. Those in the know. My only two *saves* as a lifeguard were for a choking incident (I gave the heimlich to an 8 yo who ate a snow cone from the ice cream man with the gumball at the bottom. The gumball was lodged in his throat but shot right out. Yeah Red Cross courses!) and another was a 5 yo with swimmies who jumped in the deep end and lost one. She just sank with one arm sticking out of the water until I scooped her out.

  172. Cosette June 19, 2014 at 3:32 pm #

    I think it is tempting to assume the parent of an allergic child is a drama queen (esecially since “allergies are a go-to claim for actual drama queens), but it’s a little unfair. For most of us, allergies mean the sniffles or a bit of discomfort, but peanut allergies can be deadly. So, the “backing up your car” analogy was not that far off.

    However, the idea that being around peanuts and peanut butter is going to cause a reaction may be another instance of the media/schools causing more hysteria than is warranted. The Mayo Clinic page seems to indicate that the only kind of airborne elements that are dangerous are “dust or aerosols containing peanuts, such as that of peanut flour or peanut oil cooking spray.” If this page is to be trusted, peanut butter is no threat, nor is anything much of a threat in an outdoor setting: http://allergicliving.com/2010/08/25/can-i-react-to-the-smell-of-peanutnuts/

    Not that I would fault a parent for playing it safe, but this may be a case where you want to sit down with your son’s allergen and get a real, solid sense of what you need to avoid.

    Seeing as I don’t always have the time or ability to look this stuff up, I always play it safe when someone tells me they are allergic or sensitive to something. It really isn’t that much of an imposition to me to skip perfume, leave my dog at home, or have my dinner at another table, especially compared to the potential risk to the other person. Raising a stink about a slight inconvenience based on ideas of who *should* be moving or how I *think* allergies work isn’t how we build communities. I’d rather be a good neighbor than get sanctimonious about something so minor.

    For the record, I don’t have any allergies, nor any kids with allergies.

  173. SOA June 19, 2014 at 4:54 pm #

    My son will not react from airborne elements of a peanut. He will however have a bad skin reaction if it gets on his skin because your kid had pb on his hands and then touches the doorknob and then my son touches the doorknob. His skin will break out in hives which are painful and unsightly and require medication. Then if he gets it in his mouth somehow it can turn into full blown not breathing and his throat closing which is dying.

    So a kid eating pb over a pool is a concern because if some drops into the pool and it floats over and gets in my son’s mouth or on his skin he will have a reaction. I don’t care if they eat it over at the table. There is a middle ground but some people will not alter their behavior whatsoever because they are completely selfish beings.

  174. SOA June 19, 2014 at 4:56 pm #

    Lollipoplover: this was last year. this year they are too big to get in there and I won’t let them in there anymore. They still like it because they can play more with toys but they are too big now.