Folks — To be filed under, “What we’ve lost.” Or maybe, “What Free-Range Kids is working to bring back.” – L.
Dear Free-Range Kids: I had an interesting experience in the Target parking lot today. While
I was unloading my cart, an older man passed and complimented me on my
four kids. I thanked him, and we struck up a conversation.
When my three-year-old shyly turned away from the man, he said,
“That’s right, I forgot you’re not supposed to talk to strangers these
days.” And he turned to leave.
I said, “No sir, I teach my children that it’s okay to talk to
strangers. They need to learn how to speak with adults. I just teach
them never to go anywhere with a stranger.”
The man said, “Yeah, when I was in my 40s and 50s, I always pictured
myself sitting on a park bench one day, giving dollar bills to little
children. But some wackos messed that up for the rest of us. Can’t do
I told him the world was worse off for it, and I try to teach my
children that most people are good and it’s okay to interact with
people of all ages.
The man started to leave again, but then abruptly turned around,
pulled out his wallet, and gave each of my kids a $1 bill. I wanted to
decline, mainly because I like my kids to earn their money, but I
could see how delighted they were, and how pleased the man was that he
could do that for him. I realized this man probably genuinely enjoys
interacting with children, and we live in a world where he may not
have an opportunity to do so.
I wonder what our children could learn from old men sitting on park benches.