Readers! The librarian who wrote the letter below is very angry at us, thanks to a couple of misconceptions about what it means to raise a Free-Range Kid. Note to Librarian: We’re with you! We don’t want ill-behaved kids driving you crazy and putting themselves in danger. Thankfully, “Free-Range” does not mean neglect. It means assessing the world and our kids realistically. When (and only when) we feel we can trust both of them, we gradually give our kids more freedom.
Free-Rangers do not believe in treating librarians as babysitters. We know you have a job to do and day care is not it. That’s why, by the time we let our kids go to the library solo, we do our very best to make sure they do not act like babies. We believe there’s a big difference between “dumping” kids and allowing them to be independent. We don’t ignore potential dangers, but we do try to keep them in perspective. And one of the reasons we don’t keep our eyes on our kids 24/7 is that we also believe that if they are thrown for a loop sometimes, they will be resilient.
That being said, here goes. – L.
Dear Free-Range Kids: I wish we lived in the world many of you seem to feel exists. One filled with rainbows and lollipops. We don’t. Public places, including libraries, are filled with people you would never want your children knowing.
In our library we are constantly identifying people who are criminals. I live in what is considered a very safe town in a very safe state. We can’t do anything about these people. We don’t have enough staff to watch them to see where they go and what they do. We’re terrified that they might hurt us or a patron. TERRIFIED. We can do nothing.
Every day at 2:50, 60-70 kids come streaming through the front doors. All unattended. For the next 3 hours they are in and out as they please. Sometimes there are only 3 staff people in the library which is 2 levels and 7 rooms, not including bathrooms, hallways, etc.
Our policy is that they have to be 9, which I feel is still too young.
I could sit here and tell you stories for HOURS of parents that come in and ask me where little Johnny is and look annoyed when I remind them that we don’t know each child and direct them to where they hang out. I could sit here for longer and tell you about their panicked faces when they can’t find their child. The parents that come running in describing their child asking if we’ve seen them. Oh, brown hair and a red coat? You just described a dozen kids I may have seen for 2 seconds while I was helping a dozen other people.
Oh, and what about the little kids we’ve chased after that aren’t being watched and run out the front door, where there is a major road? This gives us all nightmares.
So many stories but you idiots will need something horrible to happen before you believe me. Just do some internet searching or ask your local librarian. You’ll hear many horror stories.
Libraries are not day care centers. Librarians are not babysitters.
Take responsibility and parent your children. We’re not trying to punish your children (YOUR CHILDREN). We are trying to keep them safe since you obviously don’t have a clue. Get a responsible babysitter, send them to the library with your child. Be a parent. Oh, and it would be great if that babysitter knew your phone number or address.
Free-Range, give me a break. I’m a single Mom of a 21-year-old daughter. She wasn’t Free-Range, she was watched by loving and responsible individuals when I had to be elsewhere. She did not sit alone in a public place, ever. She is a healthy, intelligent woman who is aware of her surroundings and knows how to keep herself safe. She is not scared but confident because I gave her the right wings without subjecting her to perverts. She loves to read and even though I haven’t worked my whole life in a library, she frequented them with me and loves them. Keywords: WITH ME.
Yep, CAPS in places for you Free-Range Parents that need to be whacked upside the head. Your kids should all be taken from you. Why the heck isn’t there a test people take before they can become parents?
Go to your local library and thank them profusely for being smart when you are not. Support them and if you really want young kids in your library, volunteer to watch friends’ kids after school and bring them to the library. Quit trying to make some poor librarian who has a lot to do and not enough money or time to do it responsible for your children.
Free-Range belongs with the words chicken or egg after it, not children. – Fed-Up