Why I Can’t Watch the News

Hi Readers — Here’s a “news” story that goes on for over three minutes (a lifetime in TV!) about a 5-year-old who was dropped off by the school bus at the wrong time, with no one to pick her up.  I’m very sorry it happened but I’m almost sorrier that this is what passes for news: Oh my God! Something went wrong and a child was involved and it was confusing and annoying!  How can we LIVE in a world like that? Alert the media! 

Me, I’m glad to live in a time that is SO SAFE that a story where nothing terrible happens (but could have) is considered news. And I’m also glad to have readers like you, who provide me with material AND brilliant commentary. So here goes! – L

Dear Free-Range Kids: I  think you’ve run stories like this before, about a kid dropped at the wrong bus stop or at the wrong time.  Here’s another.  The twist is that it’s happened to the same kid two times.

While this sort of thing certainly shouldn’t happen, I have to say I don’t much care for the tone of this whole story.

1: The first question they ask the mom: “What do you think could have happened to her?”  Sure, there are a million awful things that could conceivably happen.  But none of them are particularly likely.  What’s the point of listing them all, except to stoke up irrational panic?

2:  The second time this happened, the girl approached a stranger for help.  The story reacts as if this was a terrible thing, but it was exactly the right thing for the girl to have done under the circumstances.  What are the odds that a passing stranger picked at random is going to be a monster?  Vanishingly small, that’s what.  So small, it makes getting hit by lightning seem like a clear and present danger.  If a stranger had approached her (as happened the first time), the risks are greater, though still small.

I’m reminded of another story about a lost child who had been so indoctrinated with stranger-danger fear that he hid from the people searching for him.  He was lost for days.

3:  The whole story acts like it’s some kind of miracle that the girl survived this ordeal.  Not once, but twice!  In fact, her getting home unharmed is exactly the expected outcome. – Reader Ron

Lenore here: Yup. I wish I could embed the video here, but it doesn’t have the embed code, so you have to go watch it to hear the tone of the reporter’s voice. It is brimming with shock, anger and a sense that it’s only sheer luck that the girl is still among the living.

Girl let off at the bus stop by mistake!

49 Responses to Why I Can’t Watch the News

  1. Stephanie January 13, 2013 at 4:13 pm #

    Child has social skills to ask for help when she needs it. Story at 11.

  2. TM January 13, 2013 at 4:41 pm #

    I am reminded of what happened to me once when I was younger. After school I was dropped off at a sitters home. One day, I fell asleep on the bus. I can sleep through anything, and apparently slept through the entire trip. The bus driver didn’t notice until he returned to the garage. Of course you know what happened right? The sitter called the FBI to report an abducted child, my parents were on the evening new tearfully demanding that something must be done for our children, and the bus driver was sacked for kidnapping, I was put through months of intense therapy for the PTSD I had developed from the ordeal, and the school was sued for millions for endangering my life.

    No sorry, that was the plot of the made for TV movie about the ordeal. In reality, when I didn’t show at the sitters home, she called my parents to verify whether or not I was supposed to be there that day. When it was determined that I was missing, the sitter and my parents called the school and the bus depot to let them know, and some phone coordination later and I was back on a bus to the sitters. I don’t even personally remember this it was such a non event to me. I have no doubt my parents were worried, as is inevitable, but ultimately they kept a cool head and did the reasonable things first, and as is th case 99.999% of the time, everything was just fine. Oh and this was before the age of cell phones, so no instant to the minute status updates either.

  3. mollie January 13, 2013 at 5:34 pm #

    Ever hear about all the wretched excesses of the Roman Empire, which reached their peak right before the whole thing came down?

    Yeah, I think that’s a bit of what we’re seeing here. Because we’re so overindulged, because we’re enjoying such a lull in drama, we can afford this kind of excess.

    How outrageous it’s all going to seem pretty soon! Well, to me, it already does seem outrageous, but I mean that it will even seem outrageous even to the most die-hard fear-mongering helicopterers, and some may even have nostalgia for these times, comparing what befell children in the 2010’s as opposed to what humanity will be collectively facing in the 2020’s.

    It has to get ridiculous. It’s part of the cycle, I guess.

  4. Jennifer January 13, 2013 at 5:35 pm #

    Just prior to Christmas, my 6 year old nephew got off the bus at the wrong stop, he was 1 mile from home, right outside an excavating business. We live in Canada, and it was frightfully cold. Just imagine what could have gone wrong! The cold, the excavating equipment, and the list could go on and on.

    What did my 6 year old nephew do? He tightened up his scarf and pointed his feet towards home and started walking.

    What did my sister do? She told him to pay more attention when he gets off the bus. No calls to the school division, the police, or the media. End of story.

    There is hope!

  5. Jenna K. January 13, 2013 at 6:04 pm #

    @TM–when my son was in kindergarten, he took the bus. It was only a few weeks into the school year and he forgot to get off on his stop. He then didn’t know when to get off, so he stayed on the bus. It was all resolved easily with a phone call to the school, who contacted the driver, who came back around after his route and dropped my son off right at our house. When he didn’t get off the bus at our stop, I figured he either missed it entirely or that he got off at the previous stop and the first thing I did was call the school. It was all resolved within about ten minutes. The fact was that I knew nothing had happened to him other than some mistake like that. And he wasn’t traumatized at all, he was just fine. He never forgot after that to get off at our stop.

  6. Rachel January 13, 2013 at 7:18 pm #

    I never rode the bus until high school. I was utterly unequipped for the experience and got on the wrong bus multiple times. Embarrassing but I survived. My daughter will be riding the school bus from the start no matter how many “horror” stories I hear.

  7. Justin January 13, 2013 at 8:32 pm #

    There are two things that stuck out to me in this story that weren’t mentioned in the article:

    1. When they showed footage of the little girl at the bus stop by herself, they had to note that this time the girl wasn’t by herself, her mother was just out of the frame this time. I didn’t realize that needed to be mentioned.

    2. How they said the stranger she talked to fortunately helped her out as if it was a bizarre occurrence that a stranger would help a child rather than kidnap her. Amazing a stranger helping a child. What will they come up with next?

  8. Tony January 13, 2013 at 9:02 pm #

    When I was four, I was riding the bus for my first time ever. I saw the bus drive by my house, and told one of the bigger kids that the driver had missed my stop. (I though he had, but my stop was actually two kilometres from where I got off.) So the big kid told the bus driver, and he stopped and let me off. I got out, walked to my house and couldn’t get in. My mum and dad were waiting anxiously at the bus stop to greet me and ask about my first day. After the bus drove by and I didn’t get off, they began to worry a touch. So they walked home to call the school. Of course I was sitting on the doorstep annoyed and indignant at being made to wait so long and that’s it. No police. No media. No lawsuits. I did, however, learn the value of communication when one is unsure of something, a lesson that has made me much more independent throughout my life.

  9. Warren January 13, 2013 at 9:04 pm #

    I suggest everyone inform CTV News that their reporting of the event was not only overly dramatic, that it was completely frivalous to report in the first place.

  10. Donald January 13, 2013 at 9:17 pm #

    I agree with the first line of the reporter. “It seams inconceivable.”

  11. Donald January 13, 2013 at 9:23 pm #

    @ Warren

    It would do no good to talk to the network. However if people would talk the advertisers that they resent CTV for fear mongering, than the network may take notice.

    Send them all emails and give CTV a carbon copy.

  12. Peter January 13, 2013 at 10:15 pm #

    The first question they ask the mom: “What do you think could have happened to her?” […] What are the odds that a passing stranger picked at random is going to be a monster? So small, it makes getting hit by lightning seem like a clear and present danger.

    Those two comments jumped out at me. That might be a good answer for such stupid questions.

    Reporter: “What do you think could have happened to her?”
    Parent, with a sudden look of terror: “She could have been struck by lightning!”
    Reporter: “Well, it wasn’t raining…”
    Parent: “But it could have been! It could rain at any time! And that rain could become a thunderstorm! And my poor child could have been struck by lightning! Oh dear God, what a horrible parent I am for putting my child at such a risk!” (Runs crying from the room)

  13. CrazyCatLady January 13, 2013 at 10:58 pm #

    Peter, almost makes me want to have this happen just so I could do that! But because I homeschool my kids, that is pretty unlikely. Riding the school bus is pretty rare!

  14. CrazyCatLady January 13, 2013 at 10:58 pm #

    Of course, probably this mom CALLED the news station.

  15. Doug January 13, 2013 at 11:28 pm #

    Ridiculous as this is, it’s ever so slightly refreshing to know that this kind of hysterical drivel also happens outside the United States. I had assumed it was an uniquely American phenomenon thanks to our litigation-centric society. Still, Canada? We always thought you were perfect. Maybe not.

  16. hineata January 14, 2013 at 4:27 am #

    In a way it’s quite refreshing that so little was happening in the world that somehow this nothing incident becomes news somewhere.

    In other non-news occuring today, my daughter will catch the bus to the hospital tomorrow for her treatment, and I will be rung to give my permission for the IV because the kid can’t possibly okay it for herself, and neither can her 16 year old brother…Anyone care? Good, because I don’t either, just thought I would put it out there, as there is no news happening in my neck of the woods . Maybe I should ring a news station to complain, and see if I can get my crappy non-news aired – CTV sounds like a good candidate!

  17. Sean January 14, 2013 at 5:28 am #

    “Me, I’m glad to live in a time that is SO SAFE that a story where nothing terrible happens (but could have) is considered news. ”

    Right on!

  18. Lisa January 14, 2013 at 7:38 am #

    I’m sitting here reading all this while enjoying my morning oatmeal. Cream of wheat actually, but I digress. You know what *could* happen? I could choke to death, right here in my kitchen, with my 3 year old watching. I bet it would make the news, as choking on cream of wheat is probably rare. There could also be cyanide in my breakfast, or shards of glass. Maybe I’ll burn my tongue and sue the manufacturer of my microwave.

    Or, maybe I’ll just eat my breakfast and carry on with my day.

    Seriously, is our world that boring, that we can’t report on the news that *did* happen, but are forced to report on what *might* happen?

  19. John Cecere January 14, 2013 at 7:54 am #

    I couldn’t watch more than 30 seconds of the new story it was so disgusting. “They didn’t know if he was dead or alive!” says the “news reporter”. One might ponder that question any time your child is out of direct sight. This is a textbook example of what’s wrong with the media.

  20. Tamara January 14, 2013 at 7:59 am #

    And and and…they had the little girl right there while interviewing mom. While mom was listing all the things that could have “gone wrong”

    I am in Canada, tho at the other end.This stuff is getting ridiculous here too as anywhere. My kids’ school is awesome. The staff care, they really try hard. And yet our wonderful kindergarten teacher still couldn’t refrain from commenting directly in our weekly news letter in December about hugging our children tighter after sandy hook. This week they are practicing lockdown drills! My 5 year old was listening to her 8 year old sister explain them. Hide in the corner, turn out the lights. I asked what do you practice these lockdowns for? In case a bad guy comes. She said the teacher said we may have to stay like that for HOURS!

    This story is horrible. News? right. I will definitely contact CTV, and Bell Media and their advertisers…warren is absolutely right about that idea.

  21. AnotherAnon January 14, 2013 at 8:32 am #

    I was recently struck by lightning (or rather, my car was struck by lightning while I was in it). I emerged totally unharmed. I get more of a shock when I pet the cat and then touch the doornob. So even getting struck by lightning doesn’t have to be dangerous.

    In case you’re wondering, every computer circuit in the car was fried, and the car ended up getting totaled.

  22. Lollipoplover January 14, 2013 at 8:56 am #

    CHILD ABANDONED
    No she wasn’t!
    Someone made a mistake, many human beings do. It’s not news. If you want a real child abandonment story, go to one of the crack houses in Philadelphia where young kids are left in horrific conditions- actual abandonment. Help them.
    And why did they make this 5 year-old out to be like a giant toddler? (“Three adults out of camera range”. Why?!) She couldn’t walk to one of the buildings in the background or a neighbor’s house? I would be pissed if my kid just stood there and acted helpless.

    Part of parenting is walking your kid through the many “What would you do?” scenerios that *could* happen in our imperfect world. I remember years ago when my kids were supposed to go from the bus stop to a neighbor’s house after school because I had a doctor’s appointment. They forgot and went home (they let themselves in with the garage security code). My neighbor forgot too. I came home to my kids doing homework and having a snack alone in the house (they were 6 and 5). They let the dogs out and fed the cats, too.

    Miscommunications happen all the time. You can call the news channels or you can have a frank discussion with your kids.

  23. Sharon January 14, 2013 at 9:52 am #

    I remember being alone about 7 or 8. I think my parents took my sister to the doctors and forgot I was coming home after school. I landed up going across the street and sitting on the porch with a retired gentleman, he fed me snacks, laughed with me, and then we saw my mom pull in the driveway.

    She told me later that him and wife had a reputation of being mean to children but that they were nice to me. She did me they loaned them a snow shovel when I was baby (they had always had apartments before the first house) and they were careful to return it in good condition.

  24. Sarah January 14, 2013 at 10:27 am #

    While I do agree that the story was over dramatized and not something I would consider necessarily news worthy, I do think that this was a serious mistake. Imagine being a single working mom and getting called away from work because your young child was dropped off at a bus stop with no one to care for her AFTER you had already made arrangements for her care in the after school program. You might decide, “OK. Things happen.” But then you are called away from work AGAIN for the exact same reason. This was irresponsibility on the part of the school. She SHOULD be angry! She can’t keep leaving her job (where her employer expects her to be) to keep fetching her child because the adults responsible for her aren’t doing their job. So yeah, the STORY was over dramatized, but the main point behind it made sense, in my opinion.

  25. Neil M January 14, 2013 at 12:19 pm #

    The mind-blowing part of this is that the breathless journalistic coverage reports…nothing. The little girl was never reported missing, was never in any danger, and was not hurt. Yes, her mother has a legitimate gripe with the school – those folks obviously don’t have their act together – but I did not realize that journalists covered parent-school spats. What’s the next story? “Man complains that Starbucks serves him cold coffee”? “Woman upset that someone did not hold a door for her”? Jeez Louise…when did we get so weird about things?

  26. Captain America January 14, 2013 at 12:26 pm #

    Step back a moment on this one, and you will realize that it seems as though there is a hidden belief that there are many evil people out there who will immediately rush after unattended children. . . the way air will rush into a vacuum.

    Umm, I doubt this. I guess I look inside myself and I have no desire whatever to have to deal with somebody else’s kid. My own’s tough enough and I HAVE to deal with him! :) I can’t imagine many people watching and watching and watching in order to swoop in on a kid.

    More people are likely to let an unattended kid STAY unattended, and possibly in some kind of harm’s way. Perhaps we need to have a campaign to get people to step up and be helpful.

  27. Jenny January 14, 2013 at 12:51 pm #

    In 1989 or so, my parents didn’t pick me up after a Jr. High School Dance (in a fairly large city in Iowa). The details are a bit fuzzy in my mind, but they either both forgot or (more likely) each one thought the other person was going to get me. But I stood outside the school as everyone else got picked up, and then it got darker and darker, and colder. And I walked up and down the sidewalk in front of the school looking for my parents. And, eventually, I started to cry. A police car patrolling the area drove past and spotted me, and the officer invited me to sit in the front seat while he called the station and they called my home. Whichever parent was home (the other was at a meeting) was incredibly embarrassed and came to get me immediately. My parents made a mistake, and I was fine. I’m so glad no one shamed them or — worse — charged them with a crime.

  28. Rachel January 14, 2013 at 1:38 pm #

    If this type of thing were news worthy in the 1970’s when I was a little girl, I probably would have had my own personal reporter trailing me everywhere. Most of us who are my age or older got lost several times, were not picked up, or ran off on an adventure where no one knew where we were for a day. The only requirement was that I made it home for dinner. It was called childhood.

  29. Yan Seiner January 14, 2013 at 2:08 pm #

    I saw this article just before I saw this post:

    http://www.cnn.com/2013/01/14/sport/skiing-risks-deaths-injuries/index.html?hpt=hp_t2

    Full of such newsworthy tidbits like “Regine Cavagnoud of France was the last leading alpine racer to be killed in 2001 and while there have been no deaths since then in alpine skiing World Cup or Olympic competition, there have been numerous sickening crashes.”

    OMG, people on the ragged edge of a sport get hurt! NEWSFLASH!

    OMG, 40 people die each year from skiing accidents! Horrors, Horrors, quick, run a story on “Danger on the slopes”!!!!!!!

    It’s the same sort of non-news.

    I was snowshoeing over the weekend; talking to a stranger on the trail I mentioned that I got lost a couple of times and had to break trail. The immediate answer from his teenage son was: “Oh that’s scary and dangerous.” Huh? I was at a snow-park with groomed trails. I realized I was lost because I came out on a road that wasn’t supposed to be there, found my location on a map, and went on from there.

    We have soaked our kids in this stew of “fear and danger” that it’s the first thing they think of.

  30. Lollipoplover January 14, 2013 at 2:13 pm #

    @Rachel- my older sister also would have made the news frequently too by today’s standards
    . We used to line up outside for showers (there were 10 of us) down the shore and Barbara would wander off (this happened from age 3 on) to go pick flowers on the islands dividing the main road.

    She was usually naked.
    She was picked up by the police twice.
    The police asked her name and she replied “Barbara Streisand” (this was the 70’s)and asked where she lived. She answered “Elaine’s room”, which was true but not helpful. They drove around until they found a family that looked liked they were missing someone. It was not newsworthy.

  31. missjanenc January 14, 2013 at 2:34 pm #

    First, instead of contacting the station, I would send a message to the dumbass reporter directly. Secondly, to those who are surprised this incident happened in Canada and not in the US, wasn’t the recent posting made by Lenore in regard to the dingbat who wanted a bunch of trees cut down due to her TEENAGE sons’ nut allergies also Canadian? I’m not dissing Canada, merely pointing out helicopter nutjobs are universal.

  32. Jenne January 14, 2013 at 3:17 pm #

    So even if this was a non-event to the girl, (haha, the bus left me but I had an adventure and it was fun!), her mother and the news reporter have now blown it up in her mind to make it a horrible, scary thing by SAYING how horrible and scary it was over & over in front of her. How will she react if (heaven forbid) this happens next year, now that she’s been told how horrifying the whole thing is?

    Kids will react to situations based on how the adults around them react. Tell her you’re proud of the way she handled it, tuck her in, then go lock yourself in your bedroom and have a cry ad a shot or two, but for god’s sake, why in the world do you want to proclaim to the entire city & surrounding suburbs that you haven’t prepared your child to cope with the world? (Ok, 5’s a bit young, but still . . . .)

    And, by the way, if there are unsavory types in the area, you’ve now put out a broadcast message that the school/bus company/after-school program is a bit lax . . . . nicely done!

  33. John January 14, 2013 at 3:48 pm #

    First of all, local TV “news” is the worst. They rarely tell stories or truly investigate anything — they just show you upsetting images. All exciting TV is like that: never narrative, but shocking images that operate on your lizard brain. There’s nothing to “tell,” they only “show.” Half the time the shocking image is not even local to you. That we still call these pitiful entertainment programs “news” is the problem. What’s between local weather and local basketball footage is really filler, with shocking teasers to get you not to change the channel.

    Second, it’s London, Ontario. No offense anybody, but not much happens there. (I live not too far south, in central Ohio; not much happens here, either.) Generating views on the news in a place where little happens must be a tough job.

    Third, if it’s a black kid in the inner city, you’re lucky if this — or things that are far worse — get reported at all. Eugene Johnson, this Cleveland kindergartener, at least had his mom with him when a related screwup happened, poor guy. On the first day of school, the district sent him to the wrong place. :-(

    http://www.cleveland.com/morris/index.ssf/2012/08/eugene_johnsons_first_day_of_k.html

    The head of schools apologized to him personally, so it’s another happy ending.

    http://www.cleveland.com/morris/index.ssf/2012/08/kindergartner_assigned_to_non-.html

  34. Jemma January 14, 2013 at 5:37 pm #

    @mollie
    ” it will even seem outrageous even to the most die-hard fear-mongering helicopterers, and some may even have nostalgia for these times, comparing what befell children in the 2010′s as opposed to what humanity will be collectively facing in the 2020′s.”

    This isn’t the first time you posted about “what’s coming”. Would you please fill us in? What is coming?

  35. Sam January 14, 2013 at 6:29 pm #

    Yes, the news made a big deal (but that’s what reporters do – they dramatize everything to the fullest to sell a story) but I agree with Sarah. This mom had her young child in an after school care program and they sent her home to no supervision not once….but TWICE. This caused the mom to have to leave work TWICE to go get her young child. This is a 5 year old, people. Not 10. She’s too young to be left to wander alone with no adult as a home base. (In other words, whereas it would be appropriate for a 5 year old to play outside unsupervised and even walk to a nearby neighbors house with mom’s permission, it is fairly universally accepted – even by most free rangers – that 5 is too young to be left home alone completely unsupervised.) So, yeah, if it were my kid I’d be angry not only at the fact that they were not doing their job, but also at the fact I had to leave work twice because they weren’t doing their job. Maybe not so much after the first time (mistakes do happen), but definitely after having it happen TWICE. They need to be more competent in their job. (Because they are getting paid to do this.) I would imagine others on here would feel the same way if put in a similar situation.

  36. Tamara January 14, 2013 at 8:44 pm #

    @jemma and/or mollie

    I am not speaking for mollie, but what i thought she meant is that a lot of people believe (i do, too) that our world is in for a wake up call. Along the lines of the fall of the Roman Empire. Many have drawn parallels between that civilization and the state of today’s world. As in, soon the western world will “fall” as well. Am I close, mollie?

  37. Emily January 14, 2013 at 9:41 pm #

    When I was six years old, the summer before grade one, I attended a YMCA day camp that’d typically meet in the mornings at the YMCA, where we’d take a bus to a large park with wooded areas, a pavillion, and a pond for swimming, which was a bit sketchy–leech bites were a daily occurrence, but the counsellors kept salt on hand, but I digress. Anyway, just to give some context, this would have been the summer of 1990.

    One afternoon, after a perfectly ordinary day of camp, we were on the bus heading back to the YMCA, to be picked up by our parents. Suddenly, the bus driver lost control somehow, and drove the bus into a ditch, and might have even hit a telephone pole–the details are fuzzy now, because it was so long ago. Some kids had minor injuries (I remember seeing one boy’s finger bleeding pretty badly), but most of us were confused and shaken up a bit, but unhurt. Anyway, the next thing I knew, an older couple came out of their house, where the bus had crashed, helped the counsellors calm us all down, and gave us freezies. They must have also let the counsellors use their phone, because our parents came to pick us up from there. This wasn’t on the news, nobody sued anybody over it, and yes, we all went right back to day camp the next morning. Nothing more was said about it, and life moved on–it was an accident, no more, and no less. At the time, it was treated as a non-event, but the more I think about it, and the more I read this blog, the more I can see that, had that happened recently, it’d be all over the TV, all over the Internet, litigious threats would be spreading like wildfire, the bus driver would be immediately sacked, and that day camp would probably be shut down–either temporarily for investigation, or even permanently.

    As it was, none of these things happened, so we got to continue learning valuable lessons about friendship, teamwork, resilience, and hand-eye co-ordination, while swimming in the leech-filled pond, shooting arrows at targets hung on haystacks, braiding bracelets from plastic gimp, and singing songs about great green gobs of greasy, grimy gopher guts. Anyone who wants to deprive a child of those experiences, in the name of “safety,” should really stop and think about what they’re doing, and the effect it can have in the long run.

  38. Stacey January 14, 2013 at 10:33 pm #

    Know what I do when I get on the wrong bus? I enjoy the ride! Why is it that people are so convinced that most adults are out looking for kids to abduct? You’re an average adult, a kid asks you for help, do you kidnap them? The majority of adults would say no to that. the kid was lucky the adult whom they asked for help wasn’t paranoid about being accused of some crime if they helped.

    Remember that Bible story where Mary and Joseph accidently lost Jesus at the temple? Remember how they freaked out and started listing every danger imaginable and alerted the guards and media and never let the boy out of their sight again? If not, that’s because it didn’t happen, they just went back to the temple where they had last seen him, there he was talking to strangers who weren’t trying to hurt him, ad they took him back home.

    For all anyone knows I could be dead right now. I’m home alone and nobody has seen me since I got home from classes. Yet somehow I doubt anybody is worried.

  39. Warren January 15, 2013 at 8:53 am #

    Here is one for thought.

    Why didn’t the reporter ask this parent, “So when something like this happens, what have you taught your daughter to do? What backup/emegency plans have you in place? Why have you not taught your daughter where to go, or who to seek out, in this type of situation?”

  40. Emily January 15, 2013 at 11:18 am #

    I agree with Warren. I remember one day, when I was six years old and in grade one, my mother was late picking me up after school. My friend Shannon and I waited around for her, and when she didn’t arrive, Shannon and I walked to her house together. Her mom called my mom, who told me that I’d done the right thing. Now, this wasn’t a huge disaster, because my house was just four blocks away from the school, and Shannon’s house was a bit closer than that, but it was snowing hard that day, which made being “forgotten” feel a bit scary, at least in my six-year-old mind. But, since I had the coping tools I needed to deal with an unexpected situation, I went to my friend’s house, where I’d been many times before, and I was okay. So, my point is, Warren is right–kids who are overprotected, and never taught what to do when things don’t go as planned, will melt down at the slightest provocation, and have a much harder time developing resilience, and resourcefulness.

  41. Rachel January 15, 2013 at 11:51 am #

    Thing is, Warren and Emily, I didn’t see that the child had melted down. The mother was upset, (understandably in my opinion), but if I remember right, the first time the little girl simply waited. She probably thought her mom was late and so in my mind she was just playing around the way small children do and waiting. There was no mention of tears or meltdowns. (Believe me, if there had been tears they would have totally played it up to make the story even more dramatic.) She simply occupied herself until a neighbor noticed her and called her mom. The second time she knew since mom wasn’t there and she’s been through this before, this wasn’t right and so she approached a man and asked for help. It sounds like she did have common sense and good coping skills. I didn’t get that she was too over protected and freaked out or didn’t know how to handle it. I actually thought she did great. :)

  42. Emily January 15, 2013 at 12:48 pm #

    Oh, Rachel, I agree–that little girl did exactly the right thing, which wasn’t all that different from the way I handled a similar situation at that age. What I mean is, when adults make a huge deal of these things (parents late for pick-up, child dropped off at the wrong bus stop, minor collision coming home from day camp), then children observe their cues, and react accordingly. When adults take these things in stride (or, at least appear to do so), then children will do the same, and gradually learn to be independent.

  43. Warren January 15, 2013 at 12:56 pm #

    @Rachel
    My comments were not about the child. Mine were directed towards the mother. She is the one with issues.

    My kids always knew where to go and who they could rely on, in my absence. This mother didn’t seem to have those backups in place.

    It is also funny how people will have the attitude that mistakes happen, and move on. Except when it comes to kids, and they expect people to be 100% perfect in the performance of their jobs.

    I have gone to the school to pick up my kids, after sending notice of my intentions. Only to find that they ended up on the bus, out of habit. No screaming no upset, just went to the bus stop and waited. Made us a little late, but nothing worthy of a reporter, or even bothering the teacher or school about. Crap happens, we are all only human.

  44. C.J. January 15, 2013 at 2:50 pm #

    @John- I have to agree, not much happens here. I live in Southern Ontario, right across the border from Ohio. News stories tend to be overblown since they are so few. Sometimes I read the news and think “wow, that’s news”.

  45. Hop January 15, 2013 at 3:45 pm #

    Honestly, the girl should know better. A five year old is perfectly capable of figuring out which days of the week she is supposed to stay at school. The amount of responsibility schools are given annoys me because it lets them over control children(even older children) due to liability issues.

  46. C.J. January 15, 2013 at 3:57 pm #

    @Warren – I had the opposite happen. When my daughter was in JK she was supposed to take the bus. She wasn’t on it. Her bus buddy said the teacher told him I picked her up. Turns out Another child with the same first name had called and asked her child not be put on the bus. The school kept the wrong kid. I didn’t panic, it gave me a bit of a start though when she wasn’t on the bus. The school apologized and that was the end of it.

  47. Amy M January 15, 2013 at 5:32 pm #

    Another annoying news bit they do a lot in my hometown (Indianapolis) is the child-approached-by-a-stranger-in-a-truck/van/car story. They ALWAYS call it an “attempted abduction” even if the kid did the proper thing and put him/herself out of reach of the creepy person and no one was touched. In the latest panic-ridden newsbit, a 14-year-old girl was walking in a parking lot when a man in a van yelled “get in!” She replied no and took off. In my view, the correct response to such as request. However, the news that night and the local paper would have us believe an army of perverts was snatching young virgins out of their beds at night. Anything with a child involved takes on this tone.

  48. mollie January 15, 2013 at 6:16 pm #

    Tamara, yes, yes, exactly.

    Hard to say what “civilization” will be collectively facing in 15 or 20 years, but I’m guessing that the luxury of pretending there is some kind of perfect state of safety for children, or for anyone, will be the last thing anyone is indulging in.

    We in this FRK community identify that what’s going on is over the top, in terms of over-supervising and under-estmating kids, and see how this serves no one, or even safety, when it comes down to it. What I’m seeing, and perhaps I’m in the minority here, is that the “helicopter” and “nanny state” type of hysterics are a special kind of lunacy that could only happen in this particular moment of the human story, and this particular moment is ticking away: the relative affluence, ease, health, longevity, peace, and order is unprecedented, and I guess the kinds of excesses we’re seeing are part and parcel of what the apex of the roller coaster is like as it hovers on the brink before it plummets. There’s an inertia of sorts, a kind of giddiness, it can’t last. And it won’t.

    Anyway, what we’re doing right now isn’t sustainable. The hangover to our decades-long party of wanton consumption is nigh… I’m imagining that parenting, and childhood, will look a lot different very soon… can’t say what it will look like, but I do think people will have very different priorities, and be putting their energy toward different pursuits that wringing their hands over every missed bus, missed lunch, or missed educational opportunity.

  49. JP January 17, 2013 at 12:23 pm #

    Mollie – couldn’t agree more.
    Starting with media-enhanced security opportunities…(fear is a very profitable thing.) A child by themselves is just that. Add risk (real or percieved) to the mix, and now you have a value-added child. Profit margins go up, and the world turns.

    As to what’s coming down the pipeline – well, we live in anxious times, but seem completely out of whack when compared to Great Depressions, World Wars and real calamities (read: the entire continent of Africa, one way or another, plus much of the rest of the developing, indebted world.)

    Perhaps it is how we’ve become accustomed to dealing with anxiety. If children could live their lives in Disneyland, perhaps we could all relax. Unfortunately they have to live in the world of our creation – and therein lies the problem.
    We sort of always knew in our little doggie hearts that a good society naturally looks out for and takes care of kids….but we don’t exactly trust it to do that, anymore.
    In fact, most intelligent people I know become ever more pickled in mistrust – of all sorts of things, and for good reason. Not so much the boogeyman behind the bush, but something far more insidiously real – though kept maddeningly out of sight.

    Add to that the creeping horror of deep suspicion that perhaps our entitlements are indeed counterfeit, that today’s luxuries are borrowed from too many tomorrows, and our perfectly natural sense of concern about what sort of world our children inherit becomes fraught with misgivings.

    Not long ago I read a good book by a Persian woman, recounting her adventures trying to educate girls in her homeland (becoming a public enemy over that) and, when finally escaping to America’s shores had a difficult time for a while balancing her perspectives. Her sense of “danger” did not jive at all with what she found. The iron forged in her soul was far too blunt and heavy for most of the soft creampuff stuff she encountered.

    And perhaps that’s it. Perspective thrown off-balance.
    Teeter totters no long exist in playgrounds. As if their symbolic purpose has become somehow, redundant.