Hi Readers — It’s summer! Time for kids to run around and ride their bikes and play like puppies till the moon shoos them home.
Unless, that is, they’re living in the Eagle Place Townhomes in Lafayette, Colorado. There, no children are allowed to play outside, unsupervised, until age 16.
That’s right. No kids. Outside. Without an adult. Period.
That’s the new, written rule at the 60-home development and can you guess the reason given? Of course you can! You can recite it in your sleep! Quoth the property manager: “We just want them to be safe.”
This article, in Boulder’s paper, the Daily Camera, details the “ghost town” the development has become. Said one dad, “It feels like prison.” Another said he has received letters from the management company saying his 5 and 8 year old kids can’t ride their scooters OR play on the grass between units OR play on the property’s playground without an adult present. Before this new rule, up to 30 kids would get together and play.
Playing on a playground? Imagine that.
Eagle Place management even forbid a 15-year-old from reading a book on his porch swing. Talk about proactive danger management. His 12-year-old sister babysits in the complex. Now she is forbidden to take her young wards outside to play.
The impetus for all this seems to be twofold: One, management says that children are vandalizing the property. And two, recently a child got his foot stuck in an air conditioning unit and his parents couldn’t be reached. Instead, 911 was called. For this reason, management wrote in a letter to the residents, “Each time we find a child unattended they will be instructed to go home until an adult can accompany them outside.”
(The letter also said, “Children bring such joy to our lives and we all love seeing them outside playing in their carefree world.” Then comes the “but.”)
As bizarre as all this sounds, it is not the first time I’ve heard of such draconian laws. Other parents at other developments are dealing with them, too – and I’m not talking about retiree developments that specifically want nothing to do with kids. I’m talking plain old, all-American neighborhoods.
What’s terrifying is that this is what “all-American” may become: Neighborhoods so safe – at least from law suits – that the kids are locked inside or shuttled from supervised activity to supervised activity.
Of course, that sounds a lot like what America is becoming even without bylaws like the ones at Eagle Place. So much for our soaring spirit of adventure. The Eagle has, indeed, landed. It’s inside, playing videogames and eating a Fruit Roll-Up. – Lenore