Readers! Remember this story — about the mom whose neighbors called the police because they saw her three children playing outside, unattended? That sort of epitomized my fears for our country: Busybodies AND the authorities meddling in normal childhood, as if it’s too dangerous. This new note from the mom gives me great heart. Let’s hope it bodes well for 2011! — L.
Dear Free-Range Kids: All week I have been wanting to write to you. Fortunately, this time, with good news!
It has been a year since you posted my story regarding the police telling me my kids are too young to play outside. Because of this movement, my life has changed for the better! I am not longer scared letting my kids go out because so many people around the US wrote letters of support. It feels really nice to know there are people who are on my side!
In February, my husband lost his job. For economic reasons, we moved to Oregon — which turned out to be a blessing. To make a long story short, my husband found a job, we bought our first house AND our neighborhood is wonderful. Most of the kids here are Free-Range Kids, so my family finally fits in! It is nice seeing normal kids ride bikes, play basketball on the street, and play with each other.
Two months ago, the most awesome thing happened. My kids were playing outside with the neighbor kids, and my 7-year-old, Muhammad, came home. He was wearing a police badge sticker. He said, “Mom, a police officer gave this to me.” Of course I had a flashback. Then Muhammad continued, “He was really nice. He asked us what our names are and he gave us these stickers.”
I can’t tell you how happy I was. What a nice and smart police officer. Instead of him questioning my kids about why they were outside, he was having a nice conversation with them. Therefore, he was doing his job. I am guessing he was making friends with the neighborhood kids, so they know that if there is any danger, they’ll be comfortable talking to him. Isn’t that what a police officer is supposed to do?
Meantime, at school I have told a couple of teachers about Free-Range Kids and they agreed with some of the ideas! My son’s teacher said the school doesn’t do apple bobbing anymore because of “germs.” But she agreed the odds of someone getting sick is unlikely. Another teacher agreed with me that the media scares people thinking their kids are in danger, etc.
I look back at the last year, and I feel a sense of relief. My life is so much easier. Because I feel more comfortable being a “Free Range Mom,” my kids have matured so much. They have learned more social politics, and because they are outside more, they drive me less crazy. The whole family is happier!
Let’s hear it for defending Free-Range Parents! — Shaylene Haswarey