Free Childhood with Purchase

Hi zsyzthzarn
Readers — Here’s a note that made me happy, and, as it is gifting time, I figured it might inspire a few more Free-range Kids books (just $10.17!) under a tree:

Dear Free-Range Kids: For or against? Definitely for! I just finished the book and wish I’d known about it sooner.  Then maybe I wouldn’t have second-guessed myself so much.  Such as when I let my seven year old walk home by himself from the school bus (even though my neighbors warn me repeatedly about the dangers of child snatchers who could be lurking around in our rural, small town neighborhood).  Or when I let my kids eat raw cookie dough and cake batter (even though my sister told me I was putting their lives at risk).  I also suspect there have been a few times when friends have decided not to let their kids play at my house because I don’t stay outside with them in the yard the whole time.

But I have held my ground and am occasionally rewarded with evidence that my children (ages seven and four) are doing just fine with the freedom they have.  The other day I watched out the window as my son ran home from the school bus.  He ran as if he were being chased by a swarm of hornets and darted off the road into the tall grass in our neighbor’s yard.  When I asked him what was wrong he said, “Oh nothing.  I was just pretending that I was Indiana Jones trying to escape a huge boulder that was about the squish me.”  Music to my ears!

I love this movement.  I only pray it takes off while my children are still young.  Maybe then they’ll have some friends to run home from the bus stop with. — Kate

Let's hear it for freedom and fun!

12 Responses to Free Childhood with Purchase

  1. Larry Harrison December 15, 2010 at 11:01 am #

    I’m the first commenter. This is dated Dec 15th? (The next day.) That’s my 10th wedding anniversary.

    Anyway, I did a mini “free range” thing today. Was with kids at Walmart (yuck!) and the in-law’s van crashed, wouldn’t start. Stinks, of course. However the other child, the mother of the 3 nieces-nephews I always talk about, showed up to provide a jump.

    It was kind of cold outside, the parents were all about keeping the kids inside, but they wanted to play. Our niece & our daughter especially love each other & were hankering to play, my daughter going to the vehicle window her cousin (the niece) was in, they were talking.

    I plucked the niece out & swung them around, both at the same time, right in the parking lot. They exploded in delightful laughter.

    A small free-range victory, and we all went home friends.


  2. Larry Harrison December 15, 2010 at 11:06 am #

    PS–I typed that rather quickly, probably wasn’t being clear.

    My wife & I, and our 2 kids, went with mother-in-law (our van needed a battery) to WalMart to get a replacement. Then, the mother-in-law’s van crashed, and needed a jump. It was about 47-51’F outside, and the mother-in-law’s other child, my wife’s sister, the mother of the 3 nieces-nephews, showed up to jump-start.

    The 5 kids saw each other & wanted to play, but the parents were all about making them stay inside “cars could hit you” and “it’s cold outside.”

    My little girl & the niece like each other a lot & my girl went to the other vehicle’s window and the 2 were playing through the window. I plucked the niece out, they hugged, and then I swung both of them around–and they laughed hysterically from the fun.

    Then, the others exited the vehicle and played right there in the parking lot (mostly empty where we were anyway) for those minutes, eating it up.

    Like I said (feel free to delete the other post, moderators): it was a small free-range victory, and yet we all went home friends.


  3. helenquine December 15, 2010 at 2:18 pm #

    Indiana Jones – fantastic! That’s exactly what I want for my kids.

  4. Larry Harrison December 15, 2010 at 5:26 pm #

    I apologize for making the author of 3 out of 4 posts here. That’s excessive.

    However, I feel bad because I think I made this post more about my experience than the writer’s. I was sharing my experience because it’s somewhat analogous to the writer’s story a little (in terms of being an advocate for free-range in your life–with others or your own, or both), and to basically “story-swap,” but I failed to congratulate & welcome the writer for their stance.

    So let me do that now.

    Kate–welcome to this blog, and congratulations on your epiphany and, more than all of that, for taking a stand even when it cost you something (friends not letting their children play at your house because you–egads!–just let them play!). I salute you for not letting the gossiping hens (or roosters!) in your neighborhood brow-beat you into being a helicopter parent, and for your not obsessing over what they probably think of you, and especially for not being reactionary (“they might call the police or CPS!”) so as to taint the purity of your parenting prerogatives.

    And Lenore–okay, I probably congratulate you too much, but I salute you for being the beacon of light who provided Kate with her epiphany–“I was right to trust my own instincts, I was worrying all this time for nothing, I’m not a crazy mom!” I say it all the time, but LS (I hardly ever use abbreviations like that, I deviated, ha ha)–it would be almost impossible to overstate the positive influence you have had on parenting sanity in every corner you have graced. You prop up those who are the source of sanity, those who get their epiphany, those who advocate it in their own little circle much as you do in your rather larger-sized circle–but you also spotlight, in a “wall of shame” type of manner (but not in an ugly way, mind you), those who would dare perpetuate a Chicken-Little “the sky is falling” bunch of blithering nonsense masquerading as responsibility.

    You, Lenore, are the antidote to the poison of parenting paranoia. All of us are better for it–emboldened, validated, supported, encouraged, uplifted, kudo’d, “yah!’d,” applauded, spotlighted, hurrah’d, confirmed, upheld as being passionate and neither lazy nor crazy–just like you, Ms Skenazy, doing all of this in a world, at times, gone hazy.

    (Pretty good rhyming sequence eh?)

    Hope that makes up for my failure to point the focus of light on where it rightly belongs, and belonged–the head blogger, the professor of our blog-based curriculum, and the student who was the wiser for it.


  5. RareRoastBeef December 15, 2010 at 11:11 pm #

    Now, just hold on one minute here. This “mother” simply stands by and watches her son get off the bus FROM INSIDE THE HOUSE? She doesn’t wait outside, ready to hold his hand in case he trips or stumbles? And she allows him to run through the tall grass BY HIMSELF? It’s well known that mice, moles, groundhogs, violent squirrels, angry chipmunks and other predators often hide in the tall grass. And what is this woman doing, allowing her impressionable child to watch Indiana Jones movies? That’s it. I am calling Child Protective Services right this minute.

  6. April December 16, 2010 at 2:10 am #

    You know it’s funny–I’m only 31. I wasn’t a kid THAT long ago…and yet, I was KICKED out of the house daily as a young child! 🙂 In return, I usually BEGGED to go back out to play after dinner where my friends and I could play “Ghost in the graveyard”.

  7. EricS December 16, 2010 at 6:07 am #

    Ding…ding…ding…ding! Give Kate a prize! Congratulations on taking the steps to peace of mind and happier children. If ever you have doubts, know that there are others out there who will support your free range decisions. 🙂

  8. C. S. P. Schofield December 16, 2010 at 8:54 am #

    Having been a Free Range Kid, I love this site and this movement!

    May I recommend for all and sundry a long out-of-print book about childhood I think you would like?


    by Robert Paul Smith

    all about what (boy) children do when they are “out” doing “nothing”.

  9. Kate December 16, 2010 at 9:32 am #

    Thank you for the warm welcome to this blog. I am, indeed, very happy to be among kindred spirits and do feel (as LRH put it) emboldened, validated, supported, and encouraged.
    I haven’t had the chance yet to look back at previous blogs/comments but get the feeling I’m not the only one who weeps (sometimes literally) for what my kids are missing out on by not having a pack of friends to ride bikes with, play tag with, dream up great adventures with.
    When we moved to our neighborhood over 2 years ago, we loved the fact that we had a big back yard, a lot of neighbors with kids the same ages as ours, and all this in a safe, family-oriented town. Little by little I came to realize that our neighborhood became a ghost town in the summer, and the rest of the year children were only visible walking to and from the school bus stop (parent in tow). I’ve thought about moving almost every day, but as my husband says…where would we go? It’ll be the same story no matter where we live. The days you remember as a kid are over.
    So here I am. A Free-Range mom in a cooped-up world, wanting to shout out to the masses,”It doesn’t have to be this way! Your kids will be fine if you just let them play!”
    Anyway, sorry for getting all sappy. Thanks again Lenore. You rock!!

  10. Timkenwest December 16, 2010 at 10:44 am #

    Kate reminds me of a great point that someone mentioned on here long ago: I’d love some sort of application on the site that allowed us free-rangers find each other and hang out together. Strength in numbers; show the neighbors an alternative option, etc etc.

    PS I weep over what they’re missing, too

  11. bequi December 17, 2010 at 9:45 pm #

    Sheesh, Larry, get a room.

    I kid, I kid!

    Way to go, Kate!

  12. IRS Attorney May 24, 2012 at 12:04 am #

    Few doubt that the very succesful can have empathy for the poor. That members of this group may seek to make the world a better place……even if many of us disagree with their approaches to this problem…….isn’t…or shouldn’t be the question regarding Ms. Warren. What should be asked is why…..why so often….she fibs about her past. Not just with the Native American issue. That’s one thing. Her life story is another, If folks outside of Massachusetts could see Ms. Warren’s TV ads they’d come away convinced that she spent a childhood in abject poverty. That she lives today as a middle class American. Nothing could be furthur from the truth. Elizabeth Warren’s father was a succesful corporate lawyer. She never had to struggle financially. For her 16th birthday she received a used MG to drive to school in. And today she lives in a home valued at over six milllion dollars. I don’t begrudge her any of her success. Good for her. But, why all the lies? Why?