Readers — As usual, I’m sitting here wondering whether it’s “lucky” to live in such a first world country. Check out these two notes I just got:
Dear Free-Range Kids: I am a writing from Estonia, it’s a small country in Europe. I came a cross your blog through babble.com and a quick flip through your posts left me a bit astonished. I mean, you seem to be sane and a thoughtful lady, but has rest of the America gone insane? 🙂
Around here, we have no problems with children playing in the parks by themselves, going to school alone using public transport, having fun on the beaches, taking country trips, being home alone — without no adult supervision whatsoever. I would not imagine anyone calling the cops here for leaving children in the car. The emergency service people would probably laugh their asses off or consider it a prank call.
I wish you all the best and strength in voicing common sense in that strange country USA appears to be.
And then came THIS note:
Dear Free-Range Kids: When Evan, my oldest, had his tenth birthday, we invited nine teammates from his baseball team to a party. For the first couple of hours we took them to the park so they could play some 5-on-5 ball.
They couldn’t do it. Pick their own teams? How? Who’ll call balls and strikes? Not hit to right field??
They had none of those social, creative or flexibility skills I realized I had developed as a kid, when I was “abandoned” by my mom to spend the day at the park and play with older kids. The game started around nine and went until (after) sunset, when we were afraid of losing the ball. Kids rotated in and out, the seven-year-old got pitched underhand, and the occasional fight worked out the close calls.
But these kids had never played ball unsupervised. They wanted an adult to participate. Maybe pitch. And they had never played with a kid not their own age.
By the way, congratulations on making an issue of one of the scarier trends today. I even read a sociological analysis of the destruction of the “children’s culture”– all those rhymes and games and teases and stories that are no longer passed on.