If you look at the tabs at the top of this blog, one says, “Find ssefrbkhdd
a Free-Range Friend.” (Online on its own its freerangefriend.com). It’s a way to find other families near you who also want to give their kids more independence.
When my kids were younger, one stumbling block to getting them out of the house (and by “house” I mean 37-story apartment building) was that they’d look outside and not see any other kids to play with. I am pretty sure that other kids were looking out their windows and sighing, too. When the streets and parks are bare of kids, it’s a lot harder to get our own kids out.
It’s a free widget (or whatever it’s called), developed in different stages by Jonathan Meyers and Eileen Mullin. You enter your ZIP or Postal code, and the years your kids were born. You don’t put in their names, you don’t put in your address — nothing that would allow your kids to be “stalked.” (Not that I think they would be, yada, yada….)
Then you can click to see other Free-Rangers in your neighborhood and send them an email. (Once again anonymously, etc., etc.) They can email you back. (Yes! Without anyone seeing anyone’s “real” email address!) And if you want to get together so your kids can meet, you take it from there.
Frankly, it’s like a dating site. The goal is simply this: If my kids have Saturdays free and your kids have Saturdays free, now they’ve got some Free-Range Friends nearby. Out they go!
I realize this may seem a parent-intensive way to give kids freedom, but so be it. It was born out of the frustration I heard — and felt — so often: How do I find other parents who don’t think it’s crazy to let their kids play outside unsupervised?
So think of it as re-seeding the outdoors with children. Once a few are out there playing, running, bicycling, my hope is that other kids seeing them will want to join in. And their parents will let them, because it doesn’t seem weird, it seems normal. Everybody’s doing it! Why not start this weekend? We’ve got 500+ folks signed up already!
Good luck and please let me know how it goes.
Your Free-Range Friend, Lenore