Folks — Here’s a nice story from Leslie in Georgia, and a response from her friend that has me shaking my head. Is NOTHING safe enough? NOTHING? Not the most normal, delightful, sane, sweet slice of childhood, as dangerous as a daisy? To many Americans, the answer is simply nope, nothing IS safe enough. Next question please. – L.
Dear Free-Range Kids: Wanted to share a quick Free Range victory…Background: we live in a gated “country club” community, on a quiet street off the main avenue. There are very few kids on our street for my six-year-old to play with, but recently I’ve met a mom on our street who has four kids– one two weeks younger than mine.Yesterday, my son and I were walking home from his tennis lesson when we saw a few of these kids–unsupervised!!– in the yard four houses down from our house. They looked to be having fun, and I asked my son if he wanted to stay and play. He looked apprehensive and told me, “I don’t know, it’s getting late!” (It was 5 p.m.). (I know– when I was a kid, this would have been a completely normal thing to do, but you know how it is these days!) The other six-year-old ran inside to ask his mom if James could stay and play, and soon Mom came out and said it was fine. I cheerfully waved to my son and told the other mom just to send him home (ALONE! UP THE STREET–FOUR HOUSES!) in an hour. I was a bit nervous… she would either say, “Okay, great!” or she would go inside and call Child Protective Services.I held my breath and waited.She paused. Then she said, “Okay!” I trotted back to my house and began getting dinner ready…in peace and quiet… knowing my son was actually playing outside down the street. It was fabulous– for both of us.A few minutes after six, I saw a strange car go up by my house and I paused… did someone grab my kid on his way home? I knew the odds were likely on par with his being attacked by zombies, but the thought still crossed my mind. Mad at myself, I called the other mom just to tell her to shoo him home. She said, “They had a great time, he should be about back by now.” Sure enough… he was trotting through the front yard, sweaty and smiling. He made it. I told the other mom and she said she was glad to know he was back. I don’t know if she thinks I’m nuts or if she thought I’d taken a risk or if she’s Free-Range or not… but a good time was had by all, no one was abducted, and my son LOVED coming home on his own. And I can’t wait for our next opportunity!But…I told a helicoptering friend of mine about his four-house-walk, and she told me I was crazy. “Oh my GOODNESS,” she said. “You just kill me. Anything could have happened!”Something did! My son now has a bit more confidence and a new friend. – Leslie\Gated but…is it safe enough?