Mom Charged with “Child Endangerment” When Tot Wanders Off

Hi Readers!  According to this hsniakafyz
story by Terri Sanginiti in Delaware Online,
a mom  put her 3-year-old down for a nap and then went to take one herself. Unbeknownst to her, her daughter then got up and managed to get out of the house. When police found the little girl later, they went looking for the mom and charged her with child endangerment.

Agreed: It is not a good idea to have a 3-year-old wandering around the nabe. But I disagree that this means the mom endangered the child. Sounds more like the mom underestimated her child — didn’t realize the girl could or would get up and go!

So how about giving the mom some of those babyproofing thingies that make it hard for a child to open a door? Or an alarm that sounds if the door is opened? In other words, how about helping the mom — and child — rather than making this sound as if the mom is a no-good parent who needs to be punished? As it doesn’t seem like there was any evidence of drugs or alcohol, sounds to me like we’re talking about a parent who simply had something go wrong, which can happen to even the “best” of us.

When we criminalize the ups and downs of normal life, we start making it seem as if living that normal life (which inevitably involves some mistakes and surprises) is criminal. That’s when we start believing we need to take extraordinary precautions against unlikely events, and hovering over our kids out of fear for them and fear for ourselves — we could be blamed!

I hope the charges against this mom are dropped, and that she gets some childproof doorknobs. That should be the end of the story. — L

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207 Responses to Mom Charged with “Child Endangerment” When Tot Wanders Off

  1. Rachel Banzhaf June 27, 2011 at 7:42 pm #

    The only thing the mom did wrong was not lock the doors before taking a nap. Usually you think of that as something to keep others out, not keeping children in. I’m more scared that the police had to hunt down the child after getting the report. Whoever found her should have felt comfortable staying with her until the police came and possibly getting her a juice.

    Anticdote time: When my husband was around this child’s age, he crossed a four-lane road to get to a convenience store for ice cream. Without telling mom, of course.

  2. This girl loves to Talk June 27, 2011 at 7:45 pm #

    hopefully it is dropped.

    We just had our first run in with the police too. I was so embarrassed. We have a child who loves to climb occasionally on the roof of the garage (which leads to the house roof – single story) and someone called the police on us. Luckily they were kind and just came to investigate and just left with giving our 8 year old a talking to about how it ‘scares neighbours/passerby’s’ I know to some it would not be considered the ‘safest thing’ but we trust her, shes a good climber, its her quiet place, and we’ve never had any issue, she’s never fallen, knows not to go near the edge etc, her dad often goes up with her, but this time I wasnt home so he stayed down with our 5 and 2 year old and let her climb alone….which is ok, till someone calls the police on you 🙂

    I blogged it here

  3. helenquine June 27, 2011 at 7:48 pm #

    I cannot fathom how anyone thinks this sort of approach can actually be in the best interests of the child. That kids life must be miserable right now because her patents are going to be stressed out and scared – not about the fact their kid can get out, but by the way their lives are being devastated by a criminal charge. It is appalling.

  4. SKL June 27, 2011 at 7:57 pm #

    This is something that could definitely happen to anyone, even though it usually doesn’t. My sister at age 1 was always observing and memorizing what everyone else was doing. One morning (around 6am) she got up, dragged a chair to the door, and unlocked the two locks that were thought to have been keeping her inside. She was found by the police, identified with the help of a neighbor, and returned. There was no talk of “charges” or whatever. She received a swat on the butt and a talking-to, and that was that.

    So it always disturbs me when a parent is demonized for having a wandering child. I always want to know what other factors were involved. Sleeping while your child is asleep is not a crime. Having an ordinary operating door is not a crime. To my knowledge, there is no law saying that we have to buy all that babyproofing stuff – I never did, and I don’t consider myself a criminal nor a neglectful parent.

    However, usually when I hear the other side of the story, I find that the house was uninhabitable, the child was abused/malnourished, and/or the parent/caregiver was abusing substances or leaving the toddler alone in the house.

  5. Get Kids Outside June 27, 2011 at 8:59 pm #

    My little brother did the same thing when he was two. Kids will be kids.

  6. JB June 27, 2011 at 9:07 pm #

    So, now parents must never nap while their children nap? What if you have an infant who’s up all night sick, and a toddler who naps from 2 to 3 in the afternoon? And another safety rule that we’re supposed to follow is that all locking doors be openable with a toggle from the inside, in case of fire. This is so wrong.

  7. thinkbannedthoughts June 27, 2011 at 9:09 pm #

    I wrote a reply to this and then realized it was, in fact, an essay. So the short version is – kids is kids. Their job is to push our boundaries, find new limits and explore the world. We can try to child-proof the playground, but that only encourages them to make it more dangerous.
    This mom seems to have been doing the best she could. Needing, and taking, a nap at the same time as your toddler is not a crime, it’s a survival skill. Her child didn’t come to any harm, and all the what-ifs and worst-first thinking in the world can’t change the fact that this story should have had a happy ending right from the get-go, let’s all hope it still does.
    If you want to see the longer response, hop over to Thanks Lenore, for all you do.

  8. kherbert June 27, 2011 at 9:14 pm #

    If there were no other problems with the house – the charges are silly. Most households in my family have alarms not to keep the bad guys out – but to keep sleepwalkers in or at least alert the rest of the house they have left. There is more than one story of young family members found sleep walking outside in the middle of the night.

    We had a similar incident to this at my school. A group of teachers found a nonverbal toddler on the playground, in winter, in a diaper. She was brought inside. The diaper needed to be changed, Thankfully we have a SPED unit that deals with students under 4, some still in diapers. So one from the emergency supply was used. Our nurse was able to find a T-shirt to put on the child. The police were called because the child couldn’t/wouldn’t talk. The officers came up with the idea of taking the child to every classroom to see if the kids recognized the child.

    One of the older kids knew the child, and was able to tell which apartment she belonged to. Our social worker went over with the police to talk to the parents. Turns out Mom was a night shift worker, and Dad was at work. They were staggering their shifts, so that someone was always home with the child.

    Like in your story Mom had put the child down for a nap and went to sleep herself. The police handled the situation by forcing the slumlord to fix the door so it shut properly and would lock. (Mom had been using a chair under the door knob.

    There was some concern with staff that the child might be delayed. The social worker followed up with a couple of home visits. Turned out the child was tall for her age and on track developmentally. Because of her height – staff overestimated her age by a good deal. She was 18 months and they thought she was 2.5 – 3 by her height.

  9. Brenna June 27, 2011 at 9:19 pm #

    At less than 2 my daughter figured out how to open the door by herself, and wandered into the street. I had no idea she could do that – thankfully we figured out she was gone and found her before anything happened. I’ve said it before, I fear self-righteous neighbors and child protective services a lot more than I fear kidnappers.

  10. Sky June 27, 2011 at 9:25 pm #

    “So how about giving the mom some of those babyproofing thingies that make it hard for a child to open a door”

    You mean a lock that only opens with a key? Most houses come with those already installed on the doors leading to the outside these days. You just have to remember to lock them. And, of course, you often don’t think to lock them when you are inside the home until you realize your kids can and will go out of the house.

    My youngest first did that a little before the age of 2, and, until she did, it didn’t occur to me she would. Good thing for me CPS wasn’t around the first time it happened! (I guess good thing I found her before a “concerned neighbour” did.) But I did start locking the outside doors after that. Now my kids are older and free to go in and out of the hosue when they want – play inside or outside. They are supposed to at least tell me first if they are going out, however.

  11. April June 27, 2011 at 9:30 pm #

    I did this at 18 months old. My parents were building a shed in the back yard and so someone had left the door unlocked. Mom thought I was down for a nap, but I got up and just left. Our small dog followed me down the road. I was found by a neighbor.
    My mom used to sing me a tune “Where do you live? Ellysee Way.” mostly just to get me to fall asleep to the routine words. But when the neighbor asked, “Where do you live?” I just completed the song and said “Ellysee Way”. He then walked me back down the street where everyone had figured out I was gone and were running around frantically looking for me.
    Never underestimate kids! And how many times do we here, “sleep when your baby sleeps”. Why does that magically change? Just take whatever precautions you can.

  12. Foxmom June 27, 2011 at 9:49 pm #

    Ha! Childproof doorknobs. We has them! Unfortunately the stronger of my 2 yr old twins has already managed to figure out how to remove them on occasion. Basically, if you bang on it hard enough they’ll pop off. 😉
    A locked door is also easily opened, especially if you have a toy to stand on and are already well over 3 ft tall. Heck, when I was 3 I got out of the house and made a trip around the corner to the donut shop. Unfortunately I went the opposite way that my dad did and so he didn’t know until he got home and realized I was gone.

    And, most houses do NOT come with key only deadbolts. Mine, at just 10 years old doesn’t. Nor did any of my previous apartments.

  13. Frances June 27, 2011 at 9:50 pm #

    My brother wandered off naked at 2 or so, went a long way and was found by a neighbor who gave him a cookie and waited for someone to come looking for him. No police were called.

  14. Nanci June 27, 2011 at 9:59 pm #

    I can easily see where a child could wander outside and mom not notice. I think that happens to just about every parent at some point. I also remember occasionally napping at the same time as my kids, I’m not really much of a napper though. The one hang up I have with the story is it says after several hours they finally found the right house and the mother was still asleep. I could easily go along with a story where the mom wakes up 30 minutes later, can’t find her child, searches frantically, and is relieved when she encounters the police with her baby. I’m guessing in that scenario no charges would have been filed. Maybe there is more to the story, like she was taking some kind of sleeping pills or hung over from a party the night before??? I find it a bit hard to believe that you could sleep for hours in the afternoon. Maybe that’s just me though because I’ve never been a napper and had kids that both slept 12 hours through the night by 2 months, I was never tired during the day. I do remember as a kid my aunt took a nap while my cousins slept. They woke up before her and at 1 and 2 years of age took a thick permanent black marker and wrote all over the walls. From 3 foot and down the walls were black!!! No cops, but I’m sure it wasn’t a pleasant afternoon 🙂

  15. Mom's Journal June 27, 2011 at 9:59 pm #

    Wow. That’s sad that a parent can’t assume that nap time for the child can mean nap time for herself without being charged with neglect. I guess I’ll buy stock in coffee and energy drinks.

  16. dmd June 27, 2011 at 9:59 pm #

    Of course this buts right up against the advice repeated in every baby book and parenting book to nap when your child naps. Hopefully, that juxtaposition will stir things up since a lot of moms hold that as sacred.

  17. kaleete June 27, 2011 at 10:12 pm #

    But isn’t a deadbolt that can only be opened from the inside with a key a bit of a hazard if there’s a fire? I can’t even count the number of times I’ve almost been late getting someplace because I couldn’t find my keys.

  18. kaleete June 27, 2011 at 10:17 pm #

    @Nanci: I am sure there are plenty of parents who could sleep for a couple of hours in the afternoon if they needed the nap. I am typically up around 8:30 on my own. When I worked a job requiring me to get up at 5:30 in the morning, I found I absolutely needed to take a nap when I came home. I usually slept from 2:30-4:30, then got up and started dinner. So when I had my DS and he was up at 5 with an afternoon nap, you bet I laid down too and slept the whole 2 hours with him. And by the way, no, I wasn’t on drugs or hung over.

  19. Michelle Q June 27, 2011 at 10:18 pm #

    I did the same thing when I was 19 mos. old. Opened the back gate and walked down the street. A pregnant woman found me and held my hand until my dad ran down the street frantically looking for me.
    I have wonderful parents that would never endanger anyone!

  20. Steve June 27, 2011 at 10:24 pm #

    Arresting this mom for child endangerment in this case is on a par with that Portland, Oregon incident where they drained the Mt. Tabor Reservoir simply because one man urinated in it.

    Our society is in danger of complete stupidity.

    The part of this article I liked was:

    “The child, who was overheated from wandering around in the heat, was taken to Christiana Hospital for evaluation after complaining of stomach pain, Weglarz said.”

    Stomach aches are common in children when they are upset. And I’ll just bet this child was MORE upset after all the attention paid to it by total strangers!

  21. Dolly June 27, 2011 at 10:33 pm #

    I agree that this type of thing should only happen ONCE. Now that she knows the little girl can get out she needs to take measures such as door locks and alarms on the doors to make sure it does not happen again. Of course I am going to say that it can be a good idea to just go ahead and install such measures before anything bad happens and the whole thing never would have happened. We have gates blocking off door access outside.

  22. Dolly June 27, 2011 at 10:49 pm #

    Also I think there is more at play here. The article says the police searched for several hours to find the mother. She should not have been napping that long. Unless she was sick there is not much need for any adult to be napping that long in the day especially when you have a child to care for. I was never a napper. So when I had kids even though I had twins that kept me up all night long when they were babies, I still never napped. I was up. The few times I did try to nap I would wake up over any little sound. Probably why I am not a good napper.

    Even now when I am asleep at night I wake up when my kids get out of the bed. I will wake up from a dead sleep if I hear kid noise. My brain is programmed to respond to my kids. So I have a hard time believing that a mom would just sleep through all that. Maybe that is how it is for other people, but I am so the opposite of that that I really can’t wrap my mind around it.

  23. pentamom June 27, 2011 at 11:13 pm #

    Dolly and Nanci — yes, that’s just you. People can have different sleep patterns without being neglectful parents.

    “Stomach aches are common in children when they are upset. And I’ll just bet this child was MORE upset after all the attention paid to it by total strangers!”

    And stomach aches go with dehydration as well, which can easily happen to a child who’s been wandering around in the heat.

    It’s an unfortunate thing that happened, and yes, there *could* be more going on, like the mother being under some kind of influence, but that does not have to be the case. Napping for a couple of hours in the afternoon is NOT necessarily neglectful or the sign of something bad going on. And as Lenore said, it’s more than likely that if she had been under the influence of something, that would have been mentioned in the story.

  24. antsy June 27, 2011 at 11:17 pm #

    Back in the 1970’s our dog escaped just as the phone rang. My mother went to answer the phone and did not know when my toddler brother (non-verbal) went out the door to chase after the dog. After the phone call, my mother went out front to call for the dog (still not realizing that my brother had left the house). As she was standing there, a police car came driving by and she saw the dog’s head in the car window. She waved him down and told him he had her dog in his car. The policeman said, “Oh. By chance, is this your child, too?” Mom peeked inside the vehicle and was so surprised to see my itty bitty little brother sitting there.

    That was all that happened. No criticism. No interrogation. No CPS. I guess more police were like that back then – like a helpful neighbor. Reminded me of the kindly Constable in Mary Poppins who brought the two children home from the park.

  25. stephanie June 27, 2011 at 11:33 pm #

    My two year old is fully capable of popping off the doorknob covers (we have tried seven different types and none have lasted more than a week), unlocking the deadbolt and unlocking the regular lock and opening the door. We thought about putting a lock way up high until we saw her move furniture and put a stepstool on top and books on top of that so she could climb (she would have but she was thwarted- we simply wanted to see what she would do) and reach the lock at a friend’s house. We decided that a broken neck was far more likely than an escape so we only have the locks we have always had.
    If someone told me I couldn’t nap when the nine month old naps I would tell them they are welcome to come over at 2am and hang out with the crying baby while I sleep.

  26. Cheryl W June 27, 2011 at 11:58 pm #

    Sky, actually, all the doors to houses I have lived in since I had kids had keys. BUT, they all had a knob or such to turn from the inside. The only houses that had keys that could be used from the inside were the ones that were older than 100 years and had skeleton keys. And I wouldn’t put it past a determined toddler to get the key down and use it!

    My neighbor’s toddler about a month ago woke up from nap and went out the front door and down the dirt road. The family of five other people were all out in the back yard gardening, and the mother had recently sent the oldest child in to see if sister was still asleep. The biggest problem we all had was not having the mom’s cell phone number on hand (several neighbors stepped up to help, we didn’t want to upset the little girl and she refused to talk to.) So I sent my daughter to get the mother and all was fine.

    Except that now the neighbors think that the mother is a bad mother. No word on the dad who was also home, it is all the mother’s fault. BS in my opinion. She did what was reasonable. No one called the cops though, even though the house she ended up in front of was a sheriff deputy.

  27. RobynHeud June 27, 2011 at 11:59 pm #

    I think it’s funny that so many people are wondering if the mother could have been under the influence of something (sleep deprivation anyone?) but no one is questioning whether the article could be exaggerating the length of time the child was actually separated from her mother. Hours could imply two hours just as easily as four or five. Plus, if the child was capable of opening doors, perhaps the norm was for her to wake her mother when she was done with her nap. We don’t know all of the facts. Reporters are notorious for reporting sensationalist items and not necessarily the facts. So let’s stop judging and admit that we’re no better than this mom who is being railroaded by a justice system that stays in business because it’s all for keeping our children “safe”.

  28. KateNonymous June 28, 2011 at 12:00 am #

    I’m of two minds here. First, I think the reaction was excessive. I once found a little girl walking up and down the street. She was vague about where she lived (turned out to be in the building across the street), so my husband called the police. Her parents had left her alone while they went out with the baby to run an errand–clearly more of an issue than “took a nap”–and the police didn’t charge them. They gave the parents a stern warning about the dangers of leaving the girl alone in the house, but that was it. (Although the officer did say, “Next time, somebody goes to jail”–but I think “next time” is the key phrase here.)

    At the same time, I know that we bought doorknob covers (and even changed some interior doorknobs) as soon as we noticed that BabyNonymous was aware of their function. My guess is that at some point when she leaves the crib, we may start putting a baby gate at the door of her room. But we noticed this awareness when she was a year old, not three. The mother in this case seems to be a little behind the curve on the process, and I hope she isn’t relying on outdated assumptions across the board.

  29. LRH June 28, 2011 at 12:01 am #

    Filing charges in this situation is just insane. Stuff like that happens and is NOT indicative of a neglectful parent–if it is, I am one.

    Something like this happened to us last year. We live in the boonies, around lots of woods, but nonetheless about 150 yards from a busy road that could easily be a 4-lane highway (although it’s not). Last year, when my son was 1½, he & I were outside, the wife (his mother) was around in & out. He wandered out of the yard and onto the busy road 150 yards away–even with me outside, he STILL managed to do this, right under my nose. For 10 minutes or so we couldn’t find him, my wife finally found him ON THE ROAD ITSELF, him having followed some puppies we had at the time which had gone that way. Part of what upset me so much about it was that he could’ve wandered in the opposite direction & simply been in the woods itself, not on a traffic-heavy highway (still not good, but much less dangerous), but that’s how it goes.

    We were told that the motorist who saw this called the sheriff (which I actually can understand in this case), but we never saw him, nothing legal came of it. All’s well that ends well–no one was hurt, no stupid social services involvement came of it (even as I relayed my story to a friend of ours who’s a foster parent and involved in social services somewhat) and in the aftermath we fenced off an area that he can freely play in without any nagging worry that he can wander off (so long as he can’t defeat the fencing system, the gate etc–so far, it’s fully childproof).

    Heck, a year later, with him now 2½ and our girl 4 & change, it’s not unusual for us to leave them in this fenced-in area while we’re INDOORS, maybe for up to an hour or so, and they do just fine. Sometimes I or whoever will be outside at the same time, other times we’re indoors doing whatever–and they’re fine.

    Was I upset when it happened? Of course I was. Did I beat myself up in that I was outside yet still didn’t manage to notice? Kind of–I didn’t beat myself up as being negligent, but did briefly ponder that I must be unfit if I somehow couldn’t see something like that right in front of my face. I received much feedback from other parents–the RIGHT kinds, the kinds with some sense & without the snotty judgmental attitude–that such can easily happen, similar things had even happened to THEM, and it’s not a criminal thing at all. Don’t beat yourself up–thank God that he’s okay, then you learn from it, adjust, move on–end of story.

    And by the way, my wife does, on occasion, nap for a good 2 hours on Sunday if she’s tired. So what? She has the right, being a parent doesn’t change that. The kids learn to adjust to THAT, and they still get lots of mom-involved playtime. Heck, it’s a good time for them to learn and re-learn what “independent play” is, besides, on those occasions, I’m normally up and around. You can be vigilant and still not freak-out, even after a close-call that scares you–you learn, adjust, and move-on.


  30. Wendy June 28, 2011 at 12:06 am #

    Unfortunately, BTDT. When I was in the basement doing laundry, my then 2yo decided to go look for his brother who was riding his bike around the neighborhood. Two neighbors saw him, one of whom sent his kids to knock on my door and alert me. Neither one captured my kid, just watched him until I retrieved him. And the next day CPS called. No charges filed, but that was one HUGELY stressful week until it was all done with. And that 2yo is now about to turn 12, and I STILL make many decisions based on how the neighbors might perceive things.

  31. Jennifer June 28, 2011 at 12:24 am #

    I’m surprised that some people think it’s strange for adults to take naps. I nap every afternoon for an hour or two if I can. My kids are old enough now that they play or do their schoolwork while I’m sleeping. They know not to disturb me unless it’s an emergency. I’m a much better parent if I’m rested, and a schedule with napping is much better for me.

    There are plenty of places in the world where everyone naps for a couple hours in the afternoon. Stores and businesses are closed so people can rest.

  32. LRH June 28, 2011 at 12:26 am #

    Wendy I assume BTDT= been there, done that? (Another freaking acronym I had to look-up, grrr–sorry, forgive me if I’m being petty or nit-picking over a non-free-range issue.) But more important, it’s wrong that an environment exists where you feel compelled to edit your parenting practices based on nosy busy-bodies. I hope that the day comes you no longer feel compelled to do that, what an AWFUL way to live. You have my sympathies.

    antsy I consider that a great contrast in the differences in how people look at things now vs then. If your illustration is any indication, we could really use a 70’s flashback.

    pentamom Exactly. I receive flack from some because our child’s bedtime patterns are from 10:30 pm – 9 a.m. or so, rather than the more common 9-8 or so. I don’t see the problem personally. Yes when they start going to school it will need to be changed, but in the meantime, what’s the big deal? Just people being legalistic, that’s all.

    thinkbannedthoughts What a sensible post in my opinion, and I intend to read your longer “essay” on it as well.

    Jennifer Exactly. “A schedule is napping is much better for me.” I just love that, a statement declaring that it’s okay to take your OWN self into account even though you’re a parent. SO refreshing to hear that.


  33. Donna June 28, 2011 at 12:42 am #

    I love naps and frequently napped on the weekends when my daughter still napped. It wasn’t uncommon for me to still be dozing when my daugher woke up. If I did, she’d track me down and bug me until I got up. So yes, I can see a mother falling asleep and not waking up until something – the cop knocking on the door – woke her up, even if that was more than 2 hours. If you are used to waking when the child jumps on you or when you hear her playing, you may oversleep if those things never occur. I miss naps.

  34. Elayne Glantzberg June 28, 2011 at 12:45 am #

    Just another “me too:” Back in February, we were staying in a vacation condo down in Texas. My older kids (11, 11, 11, and 8) had gone to play, and my 2- and 4-year-old (both blind) were finishing breakfast. The 2-year-old generally eats dry cereal at the table in a regular chair, and that’s where he was when I went to the bathroom. When I came out, he wasn’t in his chair. I assumed he’d found a cabinet in the condo to hide in or play with, something he does frequently at home. So I started searching the condo rooms and calling for him. It was probably 10 minutes or so before it even occurred to me to look outside, because this child has never ever opened an exterior door. Sure enough, that’s where he was. He had gone two buildings down along the sidewalk and had been picked up by another couple. There was a whole crowd, plus resort security, gathered around by the time I got there. They thought he was sleepy or sleepwalking because of his eyes. The resort security guy lectured me on how he could have fallen in the lake (like I wasn’t scared about that already!) and said the police would probably be coming by to check on me later. I spent the rest of the days we were there scared to show my face and terrified that he would get out again. Turns out the doors there have lever handles, which are much easier to open, and the lock on the outside door unlocks automatically when the inside handle is turned. Great!

    On the positive side, in my mind, I know my youngest, and because of his lack of vision he doesn’t like to walk across grass or any uneven surface, so I know from experience that without interference he will stay on a sidewalk, and just turn around if he reaches the end of the sidewalk or an obstacle. So it was extremely unlikely *for him* to have wandered into the street or the lake. It was still a scary experience, though.

    I’ve seen what CPS can do to families in my area up close and personal, and I live at least somewhat in fear of getting their attention some day. As a homeschooling family of blind children with an alternative religion, we raise every red flag in their book.

  35. SKL June 28, 2011 at 12:49 am #

    As for the mom of a 3yo being “behind the curve” of putting up baby gates etc., I see it the other way.

    If parents choose to teach their child rather than rely on baby restraint/frustration equipment from an early age, the child is less likely to try this kind of stunt at age 3.

    Before my kids were 2, I took down every thing in my house that could restrain my kids (gates, pens, crib sides) because they were old enough to navigate the house safely. I never did use special door handles/baby locks. The girls knew the rules and the consequences of disobedience, and they demonstrated self-restraint, so I trusted them. I have never regretted this.

    My girls were short and thus unable to open our outer doors until they were around 3. And we always lock our doors for general security reasons. However, as the kids were becoming big enough to try to get out, I laid out the rules and that was that. (Also well before age 3, my kids knew the neighborhood and would have been able to find their own way home. I was more concerned about wild animals.) But if they did wander off at age 2 or 3, I would NOT go out and buy a baby safety device; I would work with them to ensure they made a better choice next time. (This is assuming no special needs issues.)

    So, I don’t think the mark of a good parent is that her preschooler is unable to freely navigate his world due to artificial barriers. Honestly, I found that suggestion a bit disappointing.

  36. Donna June 28, 2011 at 12:58 am #

    @ KateNonymous – Being aware of the function of doors and going out them unattended are two totally different things. My daughter has been able to open doors she was small. She’s never had any interest in going out wandering by herself. Still doesn’t at 5.5. I’m trying to get HER to be more free range. We’ve never had door knob things and never needed them. It is very possible that this was very much out of the usual nature of this particular child and mom didn’t feel like cluttering up her house and spending her money on a bunch of “safety” gadgets that are not needed. Now she knows that something may be needed.

  37. KateNonymous June 28, 2011 at 1:04 am #

    It’s about knowing your child. Mine is 14 months and is trying to open the doors using the knobs. When a door is open, she goes through it. She’s not able at this point to learn never to do that without permission, so we fix things so she can’t. As she is able to learn more things, and retain them over time, how we handle this will change.

    If the three-year-old in the article is leaving the house–and my comments were about that three-year-old, not anyone else’s–then it would seem that the teaching and/or prevention were not appropriate for that child. So I still think that the mother in the article is behind the curve on this.

    If your child doesn’t need them, great–you’re doing what’s appropriate to keep your child safe for his or her abilities.

  38. Becca in Alaska June 28, 2011 at 1:29 am #

    First, I’m all for naps! The longer the better. I keep my 9 month old with me and my 2 year old plays in his room (which has a door leading to the fenced backyard, so yeap he goes in and out as well) I may be a parent but I’m still a human being who has terrible insomnia and lots of times naps are the only sleep I get for days.

    Second, hubby and I found a 3 year old riding his big wheels down a main road on post. No adults in sight and a good distance from any housing units or parks. So hubby went to talk to him while I drove around hoping to find some worried adult but was unable to find anyone. The boy couldn’t tell us where he lived and whenever we walked in one direction he would say its the other way so after about 30 minutes or so of looking and waiting we called the MP’s not knowing what else to do. I felt so bad because I know with the MP’s involved social services would be next. Just as the MP’s showed up so did a neighbor who happened to be driving by. Seems the parents keep leaving their kids with irresponsible baby sitters. Don’t know what happened after that but I hope that some postive change occurred and not just “punishment”

  39. SKL June 28, 2011 at 1:51 am #

    Katenonymous, I see your point, but all we know is that this child got out ONE time. We do not know whether teaching/discipline was ever attempted. Perhaps the mom didn’t think her child would do that, and never really gave it any attention before. That does not mean teaching would not be effective now; especially after the child had a bad / teachable experience.

    On the other hand, if this child has pulled this before / isn’t one to respond well to discipline, then I agree that the parents may need to secure the door better. I just don’t like that it’s treated by many as a foregone conclusion.

    It can be a lot of work to train a tot/preschooler to NOT do what is easy for him to do. But to me, the opportunity to teach/learn is valuable in itself. I wish more people would value it.

  40. Dolly June 28, 2011 at 1:55 am #

    Stephanie: Then for you I recommend the alarm that goes off when the door opens or dings so you can hear if your child is trying to escape. There is always another option. Thanks to technology really there is no way for a child to escape unnoticed if you do some prevention.

  41. KateNonymous June 28, 2011 at 2:00 am #

    Yes, and if you’ll notice in my original comments, I said, “seems to be” and “I hope.” In my second, I said, “I still think.” Maybe I could have worded that last one differently, but frankly I’m not sure parsing every word is all that helpful in the larger discussion.

    Also, I think that it’s important not to think the worst of people with little information. I think it is equally important not to over-balance and default to thinking the BEST of people. There is no harm in saying, “I’m hearing one side of the story–what are the possible variables, and how might those apply to my situation?” Knee-jerk reactions aren’t helpful in either direction.

  42. Becky June 28, 2011 at 2:05 am #

    This was an unfortunate incident that happened, but I sure hope the charges are dropped!
    My own 3 year old son can easily reach and unlock our deadbolt, AND can bust open those door knob blockers we have on the bed and bathroom doors. We live in an apartment complex and he knows how to summon the elevator and go down to the main floor. Sometimes when I shower or put him down for a nap (and go for one myself) I worry he’ll take off, but you know what? Life must go on. If I need to shower then I need to shower and I do everything I can to keep my kids safe, including teaching him that only mommy opens the door. It’s terrifying to think that despite my best efforts, if my son were to wander off (he does have a will of his own, afterall) there could be criminal repercussions.

  43. Dolly June 28, 2011 at 2:05 am #

    Its all about your particular child. If your child tries to escape regularly than you need to make sure it does not happen by any means necessary such as childproofing or not napping anymore. Yes, you should teach your child not to do that but in the meantime, till they learn, you need to prevent it.

    If your child only tries it once and learns their lesson, then you don’t need the childproofing.

    Some kids will try things over and over again. Some are too young to really learn they can’t do something yet. Some parents feel more secure doing things like napping when they know the child cannot sneak out undetected because of their prevention methods.

    I feel better letting my kids out of my sight because I know our house is safe and they cannot get into too much trouble. They get more free play and I get more alone time that way. So I am all for childproofing personally. I feel bad for my mom friends who won’t childproof but then all their stuff gets broken or they can’t even pee without having to take the child in with them. It must work for them but honestly that would drive me crazy. I want my stuff protected and to pee alone.

  44. socalledauthor June 28, 2011 at 2:14 am #

    Once your child can climb or otherwise thwart a baby-gate, the gate itself can become a hazard and should be removed, so that might not even be an option for a 3 year old.

    As for naps, I nap every day, at least during my son’s morning nap, sometimes during his afternoon nap. I work evenings AND I’m nocturnal, so even when I don’t get off work at 10pm, I can’t fall asleep until 11pm or so because of my biological rhythm. That rhythm didn’t change just because I became a mother. And some days, when the pollen count is high, I get walloped by fatigue, with or without taking an allergy med, so I could sleep longer. Let’s remember that, like fingerprints, all people– even all parents– are different. “You” might not be able to nap, but I sure can and do and have to in order to function.

    Lastly, my older brother, at 18 months old (back in ’78) removed the rungs from his crib to escape and was found wandering down the sidewalk to the park. He didn’t climb out– he dismantled his crib. You can’t prepare for every possible thing a child could do because they can surprise us. Trying to circumvent every “maybe” event will only make you sick with worry. That is, if I understand it, part of the free-range thinking. LIFE happens!

  45. JulieD June 28, 2011 at 2:21 am #

    Oh for Pete’s sake. This poor woman.

    My poor mother had four girls and TWO of us (uh… including me…) were “wanderers”. When we got up for our naps, (Mom wasn’t asleep- by the way. She was usually occupied with one of my three other sisters and/ or their friends) we’d dress, then walk out of the house to play, then promptly get lost. I did this to my poor mother three different times. Every time this happened a neighbor found me and brought me back home. End of story. Same thing for my sister.

    I guess we were lucky that we lived in a neighborhood full of other understanding parents. I can’t imagine living in a place where some busy-body decides that a quiet and curious child with an independent streak at 3 years is symptomatic of neglectful parents. How ridiculous!

  46. Ann June 28, 2011 at 2:29 am #

    I sure hope the charges are dropped. I frequently nap when my three year old does, and it wouldn’t occur to me that she would leave like that. That story potentially could have been me! And as for my own lost child story… my three year old left the hotel room while I was in the shower at Disney World! Oops! Quickly learned my lesson to always lock the chain lock the minute we walked in the door. I’m glad CPS wasn’t waiting to arrest me for that one.

  47. KateNonymous June 28, 2011 at 2:55 am #

    “Once your child can climb or otherwise thwart a baby-gate, the gate itself can become a hazard and should be removed, so that might not even be an option for a 3 year old.”

    True, but we’re not there yet. Like I said, it’s about knowing your child. What works for me now may very well not work for the mother of a 3-year-old (or even the mother of a different 14-month-old), and I haven’t advised a one-to-one correlation.

  48. Donna June 28, 2011 at 3:38 am #

    Even knowing your child doesn’t always prevent these things from occurring. My kid, who has never left the yard without telling me, could decide to take it upon herself to take the dog for a walk tomorrow morning before I wake up (just like she decided last month that she was afraid of thunder having no issues for the previous 5.5 years). Am I “behind the curve” if I don’t anticipate this sudden change in behavior? Kids are fickle little creatures whose goal in life seems to be to keep you on your toes – as soon as you think you have them figured out, they change.

  49. pentamom June 28, 2011 at 3:38 am #

    Dolly, I don’t really disagree with what you’re saying about what parents “should” do to protect their kids.

    And, I don’t know if you’re implying this or not, but I think it’s important to state that failing to do things as you describe may be nothing more than an error parenting judgment or foresight. Unless there are other factors involved, none of which are mentioned, IT IS NOT CRIMINAL NEGLECT.

    That’s the problem here — there are a lot of things that parents do that could be done better, even some that are objectively wrong because they should have used their heads better, even some that are fair game for criticism that ARE NOT CRIMES. A crime is a different thing from “not realizing I should have put in an alarm” or “taking too long of a nap when I’m not sure whether my child can climb out of her crib.”

  50. KateNonymous June 28, 2011 at 4:01 am #

    As I’ve also pointed out, Donna. Things change, and we need to change with them.

    And by the way, I’m aware that it’s entirely possible that the mother in the original article has done everything people are discussing here, and more–and her child simply had abilities she wasn’t yet aware of. There’s no way to know. We can only analyze based on the information provided, which isn’t much.

  51. Jennifer June 28, 2011 at 4:18 am #

    This is one of those “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” situations. Our 2nd child was quite the escape artist. We lived in an apartment complex that – despite repeated desperate requests/pleas to be able to add different kind of lock to our front door to keep him from escaping – would not allow us to do what we needed to do to keep him inside. If we had a lock that needed a key to open from the inside, it was a “fire hazard”; if we put on a chain lock high enough to be out of reach for him (even on a chair), it “didn’t meet code”.

    At just past 2 years old, he managed to get outside not once or twice, but THREE times in the middle of the night (over the course of several months). We kept adding “booby traps” (noise-makers and partial blockages) to his bedroom door and the front door to try and keep it from happening, and bought a more sensitive baby monitor, but still he managed to eventually figure those out and get out again. We finally had to get a locking door knob for his bedroom door and install it with the lock on the outside – essentially locking him into his room at night.

    Even then, the number of people who gave us the “you’re bad parents” looks and speeches didn’t go down. We were bad parents for “letting” him get out of the house; then we were bad parents for “imprisoning” him in his room. We just couldn’t win.

  52. SKL June 28, 2011 at 4:23 am #

    I am just saying, and not to anyone in particular, that the mindset “kid did __, need to buy a safety product” is becoming the kneejerk reaction, and it concerns me.

    When this exact sort of thing happened decades ago, the parents’ first thought was usually “how do I teach her better?” It was even common practice for all preschoolers to be taught how to find their way home safely, just in case.

    What I’m saying is, before, safety solutions were child development solutions. And now, safety solutions are child restraint solutions. Anyone else see why this is troubling?

    (I’m not talking about a precociously mobile infant who is really too young to learn to choose well. And yes, I support a mom’s right to pee in peace, even if that means having baby gates for a while.)

  53. SKL June 28, 2011 at 4:27 am #

    Jennifer, that’s a good point. My mom used to have a hook-and-eye outside my brothers’ bedroom door, because she’d heard horror stories of tots hiding during fires and dying that way. At least if they were in their bedroom, they could be found quickly and taken outside. Nowadays, “locked children in room” is often listed in descriptions of horrible things abusive parents do to their children.

    LOL, and nowadays the kids’ rooms have locks on the inside of the door, so they can lock the parents out.

  54. Elayne Glantzberg June 28, 2011 at 4:55 am #

    We used to lock our triplets in. Most parents of multiples do, in some form. Lots of parents of triplets I knew used crib tents. We elected to install the locking doorknob with the lock out. We also had to take everything (I mean everything!) out of their room except their cribs and a very few stuffed animals. Triplets get into *more than 3 times the trouble a single child will, because they work together. I had heard several tales from other parents of multiples of sets who snuck out at night to wander the neighborhood, and I know mine would get up and wander the house. So we locked them in from the time they started climbing out (9 months, before they could walk!) until we started potty-training them at 2 years, with a monitor installed to listen in. Even without the threat of them getting out (and no amount of childproofing kept these guys out of anything), just them wandering the house was bad and scary enough. And we got flak for it, of course, but nobody else had a better idea to keep them out of danger.

  55. Lisa June 28, 2011 at 5:22 am #

    @Dolly: I can’t believe that you’d be surprised my a mom taking a nap several hours long. If mom is tired enough to nap during the day, she is likely EXHAUSTED. And she is, reasonably, expecting her kiddo to act as an alarm, crying out for her once s/he is awake.

    Personally, I got about 5 hours of very broken sleep last night with a teething toddler who cried from 1am to 4 am. I WISH I could’ve fallen asleep with him for his nap, but I probably had too much coffee this morning. If I did fall asleep, it would take a crying baby to wake me up.

    This mom had no crying kid because the kid had escaped so her body did what it needed to do: Keep Sleeping!

    Our culture needs a lot more understanding of moms and a lot less judgement.

  56. antsy June 28, 2011 at 5:34 am #

    I’m the Mom of seven kids and, like my mother before me and her mother before her, I have never baby/child proofed for any of them. I hated that one of their pediatrician’s used to always ask if I had installed latches, locks, pads, and plugs on everything yet. No, and I didn’t plan to! Somebody gave me hand-me-down plastic inserts for electrical sockets. I stuck them in the sockets just because they were laying around the house……guess what, that’s when the baby discovered the sockets, when there was something to play with attached to them! I don’t look down on anyone who finds some of these products useful, but I don’t think they should be a required part of parenting either. I definitely don’t think their use has anything to do with whether a person is a good parent or not, even if a young child has wandered out of the house once or twice. Ever notice how quickly you can train a child when it’s something you’re REALLY serious about – like running into the street?

  57. ShortWoman June 28, 2011 at 6:08 am #

    I used to work at an apartment complex. One day, I had the mom of a toddler come and ask if we could put a lock on her door that required a key to be unlocked from the *inside*. She wanted to avoid just the kind of situation this poor mom had. My manager told her we could not because of fire code: the child might not be able to get out in an emergency!

    Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

  58. Dolly June 28, 2011 at 6:12 am #

    Pentamom: agreed. I don’t agree with the charges being filed this time. Now sure if it happens again next week, then maybe some intervention needs to be done.

  59. Dolly June 28, 2011 at 6:20 am #

    Jennifer: in your case, locking him in his room sounds like what needed to be done. The fire risk is worth taking compared to a much more likely, getting hit by a car risk or getting kidnapped when out wandering risk or getting bit by a dog while out wandering or getting lost risk or wandering into the apartment pool in the middle of the night drowning risk. At least in his room the only bad thing that could happen is fire. Outside in the middle of the night alone, a million things could happen.

    You were not a bad parent for locking him in there either. Up until about 3 and a half we locked our twins in their room every night with a simple doorknob cover lock. We did not want them wandering the house at night doing who knows what while we slept. We did this once they were out of cribs and in toddler beds. If they needed us they knocked on the door and we let them out. It was a fire risk but we were in the next room and the fire risk was small while a breaking the parent’s tv or choking on something or trying to go outside in the middle of the night risk was higher.

    Around 3 and a half we felt we could trust them in the house so we left the door open from then on. I advise parents all the time to turn the doorknobs around backwards and lock their kids in or use door locks or doorknob covers locks if they are worried about their kids getting into trouble in the middle of the night while the parent sleeps.

    I don’t think its cruel. They have everything they need in their room like toys, nightlights, sippy cups with water, beds, books, flashlights. They are supposed to be sleeping anyway. It won’t hurt them to stay in there and the parents can sleep sounder knowing their stuff is not getting broken and their kids are safe.

  60. Dolly June 28, 2011 at 6:26 am #

    Lisa: Yes, I do have a hard time understanding a mom napping and just being totally out of it. I explained why. Because I had twins that I was absolutely alone with all night long to care for and they fed every 2 hours on the dot and then took forever to fall asleep and stayed up all night long with gas and reflux and yet, I still never napped. I went on little to no sleep for a long time and I still can do it. It is not ideal, but its what my body does. I understand maybe I have some super powers in that department and that is not the case for everyone. However, no, I personally do not get it because as long as I got like 4 hours of sleep I was good for the day. Maybe groggy and not feeling great, but I function on it and I don’t pass out for long naps either.

  61. Dolly June 28, 2011 at 6:33 am #

    antsy: Yeah I have a mom friend who didn’t believe in childproofing either. We had that discussion and she even kinda tried to insult me by saying since she watched her children she didn’t need to childproof. She said this while I was just making conversation about what I still needed to do to finish childproofing my house. Guess what? Her son got electrocuted by one of the high voltage outlets like the kind you plug a dryer into. Bet she wished she had childproofed. Luckily he was okay.

    The point of this story is anything can happen even to good parents because she is a good parent but you can’t watch your child constantly. Secondly, it almost killed him. So that one occurance could have killed him. So you know, you can’t teach him not to mess with high voltage outlets if he is already dead. Childproofing especially some things like stairs a baby could fall down are essential. You can’t teach a dead baby not to go down the stairs after they already broke their neck the first time they did it.

    I am not a paranoid freaker about this but I do believe childproofing has a very good purpose. You don’t have to do all of it, but I am not going to call someone a good parent if their baby topples down the stairs and there was no stair gate. There should have been a stair gate granting this was in their home and in an area the baby is regularly in. That kind of stuff can be prevented by childproofing and I don’t get why a parent wouldn’t.

  62. pentamom June 28, 2011 at 7:06 am #

    “That kind of stuff can be prevented by childproofing and I don’t get why a parent wouldn’t.”

    Because people can be wrong or imperfect without being evil?

    “Because I had twins that I was absolutely alone with all night long to care for and they fed every 2 hours on the dot and then took forever to fall asleep and stayed up all night long with gas and reflux and yet, I still never napped. I went on little to no sleep for a long time and I still can do it. It is not ideal, but its what my body does.”

    But was trying to function with sleep deprivation a good thing? Think about all the things that “could have happened” because you were sleep deprived. As many bad things can happen by means of sleep deprivation as can happen during a nap, ESPECIALLY when your babies are at the age of feeding every 2 hours! What did you think they’d get up to at that age????

    You know, you might have been a “bad parent” for that choice, in some people’s judgment.

  63. Catspaw June 28, 2011 at 7:06 am #

    Dolly, you are lucky, I cannot function on less then 6, but need more like 8 to 9 hours to be fully functional, so when the kids were younger I needed to nap while they slept, or I would get a really, really bad migraine. And yes, I can nap 2 or 3 hours during the day if I’ve had broken sleep, or am coming down with something.

    I remember when we found out the youngest could use keys, 18 months old, he got his dads keys, unlocked the backdoor, unlocked the car and turned it on, luckily could not reach peddles or get it in gear. Eldest learned slide bolts and gate latches at about the same age as I discovered when I went pee, thinking she would be okay in the sandpit in a fully fenced and gated yard only to have her take off up the road to the park, luckily a neighbor caught her. Yes we changed where keys were kept with the youngest, and padlocked the slide bolts with the eldest after this, but they kept trying, and we were always behind as we didn’t know they would use the screw driver to remove the lock on the gate (so glad I caught them after just one bolt was removed) etc.

  64. gramomster June 28, 2011 at 8:17 am #

    Baby gates… only had those with the grandson, and he could climb over them, 3 sets, and go upstairs, by the time he was 1. Started walking at 9 months. There was/is no stopping the kid. He’s got an independent streak a mile wide. In our last house, we had a fully fenced backyard. He knew not to open the gate, but the day I caught him bolting down the block, he assured me that he HADN’T opened the gate; he climbed the fence. Oooooo technicality!

    An old friend of ours had a little boy who, when all other childproofing had been done after a few escapes (and he was one who would strip out of his clothes too), figured out how to remove the screens from the front windows. He was 16 months old. This family also had cable locks, as you might use on multiple bicycles, chaining the top cabinets and the refrigerator and drawers closed. This after (and we witnessed this… took him about 3 minutes) he figured out how to open the drawers to different degrees and use them as steps to get to the top of the fridge and from there to the top cabinets. He came out to the living room with a butcher knife and cookies, with which he had climbed down.

    Some kids are really good problem solvers and quite freaking agile.

  65. gramomster June 28, 2011 at 8:25 am #

    And, PS, I looooove my naps. None of my kids napped past the age of 2, including my grandson, but he and I worked out a system. 😉
    However, I think only one person mentioned the possibility that this mom might have been ill. When one is sick (and I was very sick over the past winter. Months of treatment that left me completely exhausted and often not able to stay awake longer than 4 or 5 hours at a stretch. Fun times home alone with a wily 4 year old) one can really need more sleep, and, if one does fall asleep, it can be very hard to wake.

  66. Dolly June 28, 2011 at 8:27 am #

    Pentamom: Or maybe I am just an evolved human being that can function on less sleep than the norm? It was not always that way. I used to need 8 to 10 hours but now through not having the option of sleep I can go on 4 or less and be about the same as if I had 6 to 8. 6 or more and I feel pretty good. I drag and can be kinda lazy but that is also due to other factors. I have never once nodded off or fallen asleep or not had quick reflexes. I just don’t need it. Do some research, marines and Texas Rangers etc go through training to go without a lot of sleep. It is possible.

    I will admit though that if I go too long without catching up and getting 8+ hours at least twice a week then I might get a migraine. But yeah, I went for weeks on 4 hours of disjointed sleep or less and I did it. I had no other choice. It was not like I chose to not nap. I couldn’t. My body does not like to sleep during the day for short periods of time. I also still had babies or kids waking me up. It was not like I could just sleep and ignore their screaming or decide not to feed them. You know another kicker? I don’t even drink coffee! I drink caffeinated sodas and eat chocolate but no coffee.

  67. Dolly June 28, 2011 at 8:35 am #

    Phew, some of ya’lls kids are future jewel thieves or something! LOL! Mine are not that clever or agile and that does make it a little easier on me to contain them. Still if they were more agile or clever I would figure something out one way or another. Its our job as parents to do what needs to be done. If a young child too young to be outside on their own is escaping regularly and you can’t make them stop, then you have to figure something out even if that means sleeping in shifts or boarding up your windows. Letting them just sneak outside in the middle of the night is not an option.

    So that is why I don’t think a parent should be given any trouble if a child gets away once or even twice but if it continues to happen unfortunately it could be considered neglect. You have to live with the cards you are dealt. I got two premature babies that had to eat on the dot every 2 hours and had reflux and bad gas that kept them up all night screaming and crying. My friend got a little girl that slept through the night really fast and never has bad gas or cries. Just the luck of the draw. I learned to go without sleep. She didn’t have to learn that lesson. Maybe she will have an escape artist on her hands while I did not. You just gotta deal. 🙂

  68. FairyGothMama June 28, 2011 at 8:44 am #

    Adding to the ‘been there’ list… it was a beautiful day and I left the front door open, storm door latched. While I was in the bathroom, my one year old made a break for it. I had no idea she could shove open the heavy storm door. Since it had one of those nice ‘anti-slam’ deals on, I didn’t hear her get out. About the time I got out the door in a panic, unable to find her, my elderly neighbor was walking her back.

  69. Jynet June 28, 2011 at 8:45 am #

    Dolly, so glad to know you are still so special.

    I never used to sleep heavily either, but I do now. Now the phone on the table next to my bed can ring and I won’t hear it. That’s just the way MY body works right now in this place.

    Sleep depravation is more imparing than drinking. Of course the Texas rangers (and doctors, btw) train to do without sleep when they have to… but why should “mother” be in the category of extreme vocations that need that kind of training? Even doctors in many hospitals don’t have to do back to back “on call” nights any more because mistakes happen to easily when you are that tired.

    Anyway: I don’t – and neither do any of you – know what other things were going on. There was nothing in the news release that said this was the first time, OR that it was the 1000th time. Who knows? All we know is that IF it is the first time AND there is nothing else going on then the charges are over blown.

  70. Buffy June 28, 2011 at 9:00 am #

    Really…an evolved human being? What are the rest of us, Neanderthal cave men? Very nice.

  71. SKL June 28, 2011 at 9:06 am #

    Ha, I know kids who were really Houdinis (my mom’s kids, ha ha), but my kids were not. It was one of few areas where I was glad to have “late bloomers.” Clearly there is a broad range of what tots can and will do to drive their parents nuts. But babyproofing is for babies (and only some babies). Not for kids who can learn to obey and to think past their noses.

    Part of the problem, I think, is that parents don’t want to have to be “the heavy” if they can avoid it. It could hurt the child’s fragile psyche. Once again in an effort to protect our kids, we delay learning that would actually make them safer (and probably smarter).

  72. SKL June 28, 2011 at 9:13 am #

    As for naps, I take them! I often need a nap just to get through a day’s work (I’m a night person AND have to get up early, so . . . .). I didn’t take too many naps when my kids were wee tots, but I distinctly remember one time when I went to sleep right on the floor where they were playing (because I was sick AND tired). I figured they wouldn’t let me sleep long, and I was right.

  73. Dave June 28, 2011 at 9:31 am #

    I thought the concern is what is in the best interest of child? When a child is removed from his/her family it has long term effects on the child. Instead of destroying the family fix the problem. Lenore you are right on again. Secure to house. Support the family. Things happen, no one was hurt and Iam sure the mother went through it when her child was missing. This is a sad story and it has little to do with the baby walking off.

  74. Coccinelle June 28, 2011 at 9:38 am #

    Just go to youtube and type “baby gate escape”. Hours of fun. “crib escape” is not bad either…

    In my opinion, a child falling out of a crib 4 feet high is more dangerous than a child falling in a flight of stairs, depending of the stairs.

    So do you put your children in a crib? If so, do you put a crib tent over it to prevent them to fall out?

    Don’t judge my parenting and I will not judge yours.

  75. Dolly June 28, 2011 at 9:49 am #

    Coccinelle: Well I always had the mattress on the lowest setting when they were in cribs and no they never fell out. I had carpeting so if they did fall out it would not be as bad of a fall. I also followed safety rules about not putting pillows or stuffed animals in the crib so they can use them to climb out. The day they learned to climb out of them we immediately went to toddler beds so that they would not injure themselves climbing out. I pretty much did everything right on that account. So you are saying you don’t have a stair gate and a tiny baby? How do you pee or sleep or even turn your back on your baby then?

  76. Dolly June 28, 2011 at 9:54 am #

    Oh so now I am a bitch because I can go without a bunch of sleep? Wow. What’s next? Insulting me because I have green eyes? Or because I know how to speak two languages? Or because I have long hair? Or because I used to be able to do the splits? Der…. Everyone has their talents and some people can do things other people cannot. Big whoop. I can’t dunk a basketball. Should I go insult Michael Jordan because he can do something I can’t? Get over yourselves.

  77. Dolly June 28, 2011 at 10:03 am #

    Skl: the funny thing is my husband will fall asleep anywhere anytime and the boys leave him alone. Oh if mommy even attempts to try to sleep mine will be all up ins and not let me. I have never been a napper even before I had kids but after I had kids even if I wanted to nap it was not happening. Maybe my body knew I would not be able to nap so it just learned to not bother trying.

    People on this board get so touchy. I am in no way insulting moms who nap. As long as your kids are taken care of, I don’t care. I just said I have a hard time napping so I don’t understand a mom who naps for long periods of time with no idea what her kids are doing because personally that has never happened to me, not even close. I don’t even get a 30 minute nap that I can remember.

    Even when I am sick and my husband is watching them. I try to sleep with the door closed and everytime I nod off one of the kids will be loud outside my door and my eyes pop back open. I need like absolute dark, quiet to sleep and I don’t get that during the day. Its a talent to be able to fall asleep anywhere and anytime easily too. Just like its a talent to not need much sleep to function. My mom can go without a lot of sleep too so maybe its hereditary.

  78. pentamom June 28, 2011 at 10:06 am #

    Dolly, I was making a point — if you can criticize other people for not taking naps because you don’t need one, maybe other people could criticize you for not getting enough sleep because they manage both to get naps and care for their kids. It cuts both ways. I really don’t care whether you take naps, whether you need them or whatever.

  79. Donna June 28, 2011 at 10:10 am #

    SKL – I still sometimes take a 20 minute nap on the weekends while the child watches tv or draws or does something quiet. I don’t like anything with caffeine so I have a real energy drain in the early afternoon regardless of how much sleep I got the night before. It would be easier to pop open a coke, but until they make caffeinated water, I’m stuck catching a quick nap. The child and I have evolved to that as our routine when we happen to be home in the afternoon.

  80. Taradlion June 28, 2011 at 10:21 am #

    “…..locking him in his room sounds like what needed to be done. The fire risk is worth taking compared to a much more likely, getting hit by a car risk or getting kidnapped when out wandering risk or getting bit by a dog while out wandering or getting lost risk or wandering into the apartment pool in the middle of the night drowning risk. At least in his room the only bad thing that could happen is fire. Outside in the middle of the night alone, a million things could happen. . ”

    Um, Where am I?

  81. Taradlion June 28, 2011 at 10:36 am #

    Dolly: You say both: “Even now when I am asleep at night I wake up when my kids get out of the bed. I will wake up from a dead sleep if I hear kid noise. My brain is programmed to respond to my kids.” AND
    “Up until about 3 and a half we locked our twins in their room every night with a simple doorknob cover lock. We did not want them wandering the house at night doing who knows what while we slept.” How could they be “wandering about” if you are programed to wake up out of a dead sleep with even the slightest kid noise….

    You also say “I feel better letting my kids out of my sight because I know our house is safe and they cannot get into too much trouble. They get more free play and I get more alone time that way. So I am all for childproofing personally.”…so really what could happen?

    In another post, you say, “I also followed safety rules about not putting pillows or stuffed animals in the crib so they can use them to climb out. The day THEY LEARNED TO CLIMB OUT of them we immediately went to toddler beds so that they would not injure themselves climbing out. I pretty much did everything right on that account….” BUT, you didn’t ANTICIPATE the kids climbing out of the crib…no one can (no matter how evolved)…should you be judged because they figured out how to climb out?

    I think it is statements like “I DID EVERYTHING RIGHT ON THAT ACCOUNT” and “Maybe I am just an evolved human being” (implying others are less evolved) that makes people annoyed…

  82. PTAmom June 28, 2011 at 10:53 am #

    It makes me giggle to think about it now but at the time it was scary. I was watching American Idol and DS was playing in his room or so I thought. There was a knock on the door and here stood a police officer. DS had very quietly let himself out the back door and was riding his tricycle. The verbal contortions that officer was trying to go through-first, DS shouldn’t talk to strangers and he had revealed too much information to the officer. But, then it’s okay to talk to officers because they can help you. I should note that DS was on the sidewalk in front of our home and had not gone past the boundaries we had set in terms of trike riding but we did review that we wanted to know if he was going outside.

    DS was one of those escape artists. I paid way too much for a big play yard for him to be in while I was mowing, gardening, etc. in the yard since we didn’t want to do permanent fencing and he was 16 months old. I don’t think I even managed to mow one time before he climbed over the top.

  83. Amy Andrews June 28, 2011 at 11:08 am #

    This happened to me too when my son was 18mo old, and just learning to walk. We had just moved and the locks on our front door weren’t so great. We found that out the hard way when the wind from a storm blew the locked door open while I was in the bathroom. He was out the door, down the stairs, across the street, and behind a neighbor’s garage in the span of about 5 minutes. We live in a small town where kids do still play outside unattended, so the police were very helpful and not at all accusatory. I feel bad for parents when charges or blame is otherwise laid on them, because this could happen to anyone.

  84. pentamom June 28, 2011 at 11:11 am #

    So, Donna, apparently you and your child are evolved humans, too. Who knew there were so many?

  85. SKL June 28, 2011 at 11:42 am #

    If I were evolved, I’d be sleeping right now, but obviously I’m not . . . .

  86. Nanci June 28, 2011 at 11:52 am #

    I’m not really sure why so many here are angry and arguing with each other. Don’t we all have the same goal of raising independent children who can think for themselves? Arguing over how much sleep we need is silly, different people need different amounts of sleep. Some kids are climbers and runners, some could be in a house with the doors wide open and mom passed out for hours and never go outside. Some moms babyproof, some don’t. In the end it doesn’t really matter. The whole point of free-range is to do what works for our family and not be conformed to cookie cutter our parenting to the “right” way.

  87. Dolly June 28, 2011 at 12:03 pm #

    Tara: Every kid learns to climb out of the crib at some point. You just hope they don’t get hurt the first time they try it and then either put up a crib tent or switch to toddler beds. Mine didn’t get hurt the first time they tried it thankfully. That is about all you can do. So yes, I did do it the right way. Only other way is to put them in toddler beds when you think they are getting close to climbing out or to never sleep and watch them on a video monitor 24/7. The point is I went about it the safest way you probably can.

    I do wake up when my kids get up 99% of the time. The 1% I don’t or might not wake up I would like to know they were safe thus why we kept the doorknob cover on their door so they could not get out. Our house is childproofed but you know, as about every mom posting today has said sometimes your kids figure out how to get by the childproofing. So we put in back up measures. Doorknob cover, childproofing, gates, locks on doors. 3 measures to protect them. That is why my kids have never escaped this house without me knowing about it while they are too small to be out on their own especially since we live on a busy road with no fence in our yard. So I do acknowledge kids can get out even for good parents but if you do like us and take measures against it the percentage of them getting out lessens considerably.

  88. LRH June 28, 2011 at 12:21 pm #

    Forgive the length of this post, which is an essay more than a post, I imagine many won’t read it all, they’ll just “skim it,” and that’s fine–but once I got rolling, I couldn’t stop. This may be one of my favorite posts ever, one of the ones that really captures the sort of thing that Lenore talks about in terms of parents never being good enough in the eyes of their peers, no matter what.

    Taradlion Regarding your last point, a topic matter which a few others have chimed in on (re: Dolly supposedly sounding self-righteous & having a superiority complex), my thoughts.

    This is NOT an attack on Dolly personally, but rather a few of the ideas expressed. Namely, this: it seems as if many parents, mothers more often than fathers (although sometimes fathers too), seem to take pride in how little of their own life they have because “I love my kids too much to ever let them out of my sight, my thoughts, even my sleep, because anything else is just not enough.” It’s not so much that they’re taking pride in doing a good job or being dedicated, so much as they are puffing their chest at how special they think they are–and how inadequate everyone else is who isn’t up to that standard.

    It is that very mentality, I think, that Lenore is referring to when she talks about how society has this tendency to really put pressure on parents that unless you are chained to your kids even when you’re in the shower, the bathroom, having sex with your mate (if you ever even do any of that), then you’re just not doing enough. That is where a lot of this insanity comes from, the expectation that once you are a parent then nothing else matters at all whatsoever. No one cares if you are hungry or hot from the heat, but you darn well better make sure your children are neither. And no complaining, not even venting, about how tired you are, about how you’d like a break, about how you miss some of the things you haven’t had a chance to do, about how you & your mate really need some time alone to focus on each other a little.

    No, no, no. You created kids, your life is over, your needs don’t matter, your tiredness doesn’t matter, your need for affection from your mate doesn’t matter, sleep doesn’t matter–and oh yes, you better be PROUD of how that’s your predicament.

    And it doesn’t stop there. It’s not good enough to have car seats anymore, you must have the kinds that are absolutely the most difficult to buckle & un-buckle even if they are only (say) 5-10ths of a percent safer than other types which are 1350% easier to buckle & un-buckle. You must not care about your child’s safety to get the kind that’s dramatically easier to fasten & un-faster even though it’s only a fraction less safe. And you’re a bad parent if you clothe your children with garage sale clothes, it doesn’t matter if that’s what YOU wear, but you darn well better buy NEW clothes for your child.

    And if your child has a dirty face from eating or playing and the stains are there longer than 3-millionths of a second, and you haven’t practically broken your ankles from spring-board-diving across the room to get at the wipies, you aren’t parenting good enough. If your children aren’t in bed by 9 p.m. and you let them stay up until 10:30 or so in order that you can sleep until 8:30 or 9 the next day–what kind of parent are you for doing that? You should be up by 8 and cooking pancakes and waffles and home-made biscuits (not canned–home-made) and sausage and bacon and ham and sausage steak and hand-squeezed orange juice and you had better have ironed AND starched their brand-new outfit–and by the way, if you get outfits which zip instead of button because it’s easier, then you’re “lazy”–and you should have their teeth brushed and their ties straight and their hair perfectly combed dead-exactly correctly–all by 9 a.m. or earlier. AND, if you have not even so much as gone to the bathroom in all of that, so what? Your needs don’t matter, it’s ALL about the kids.

    And you BETTER not teach your kids to play independently in the evenings while you’re both at home so that the 2 of you can enjoy each other as man & wife any at all, or do your own things at the PC or reading books etc. No, you must spend EVERY MINUTE of the evening with them, EVERY MINUTE. They must be able to quote Shakespeare and count from 95 to 3 backwards in increments of 2.5 divided by the square root of 20, all by the time they’re 9 months old, or you’re just so selfish and don’t deserve your kids.

    Don’t tell me that mentality doesn’t exist–it most certainly does. It’s ridiculous. Some in my own family on my side (not my wife’s) are like that, and frankly, if they’re reading this so be it, but frankly–they can kiss my ass. They can go to hell, and take their white jackass of a high-horse straight with them.

    Okay, I’m not hear to vent about certain people ticking me off. Back to the topic!

    Really, there are many in society just like that, or darn closer to it than you think–I admit, my description of them was a LITTLE bit over the top, but they do often-times exhibit much of that very sort of thing.

    What you have to do is surround yourself with the right people–ones that give you permission to be a little selfish, so long as you are doing the big stuff and doing it good enough. That’s what we do. We have friends who love US and not just our children (although they do lavish a little bit of special attention on them and it’s OKAY), and understand–and agree with–us striking a “balance” between being involved parents (as opposed to being so passive it’s as if they’re raising themselves and you’re barely there) versus not having a life of your own any at all.

    I think Lenore would say this, not that I pretend to speak for her, but I do think this is what she’d say–the sum of all that sort of insanity as I outlined, it results in the sort of things which occurred in this story. An accident happened, something that wasn’t negligence, but no matter–this parent is scum, they aren’t fit, they must be prosecuted, because they’re not eating-drinking-burping-pissing their child 24/7/365. How dare they sleep! Don’t you know you give up the right to any naps when you become a parent? What kind of low-life is this? Let’s burn her at the stake and YouTube it!

    I hope you liked my long essay, my apologies if it is lengthy to the point of being ridiculous.


  89. taradlion June 28, 2011 at 12:47 pm #

    Dolly: That was my point, there will be a first time, there will be 1%, there will be kids who can get through the baby proofing (if you choose to do it, or even over-do-it)….my point was not that you didn’t “do the right thing”…there may be more than ONE right way because kids and families are different…and sometimes it takes the kid learning a new skill before it is no longer right/good enough or time for a new plan. That’s all.

    I believe in Free Range kids because I agree that parents can’t (and shouldn’t attempt to) remove all risk, and that many parents have very exaggerated perception of risk (Which was why I commented on the comment you made about being better to take the risk that there would be a house fire and lock a kid in, because it was less than the risk of being kidnapped if a child wandered out of the house).

    Lenore’s chapter on baby proofing products had me laughing out loud (not LOL for Larry) so hard my brother took the book from me to read it.

    Certainly there is a Free Range parenting continuum. Dolly, I apologize for cutting and pasting from your posts. I think I was reacting to what may be an unintentional tone of superiority.

  90. Janet June 28, 2011 at 12:50 pm #

    Ah, there but for the grace of God… If it was the first time, then what an incredible overreaction the charging of this woman is.

    Having had both climbers and non-climbers, I can now safely say that parents of non-climbers/escapers should refrain from judging the parents of climbers/escapers. It is NOT down to your parenting. There I was patting myself on the back very self-indulgently for having two wonderful children who didn’t dare touch a thing I’d told them not to (childproofing the kitchen cupboards??? Why? They never touched them!), and along came #3. Kitchen cupboard contents strewn across the kitchen floor. Dancing on the coffee table. Trying to jump off the back of the sofa.

    And THEN I had twin boys. Ah, the power of conspiracy in toddler escape attempts. And the power of an audience to make persevering worthwhile.

    While none of it has been particularly dangerous, my 8yo was hysterical the night I forgot to put the baby monitor on, and only woke up because the screaming from upstairs (our room is downstairs) was so loud. Turns out one of the boys (2.5yo) had climbed the gate on their doorway because no-one was responding to his calls, and had gone into the 8yo’s room and screamed in her ear! Boy was I in trouble for that one.

  91. Dolly June 28, 2011 at 1:05 pm #

    Larry: Well since my kids have spent the last 3 days at my mother’s house while my husband and I have alone time and enjoy ourselves I am thinking I don’t fit that description whatsoever. Nevermind the fact that part of the reason we childproofed is so that if my husband and I feel the need to have adult realtions we can lock our door and put a movie on for them and know they are safe for 20 minutes or so while we do the deed.

    That is one thing I don’t like about some parents. Just because for example I like to sometimes go what I see as above and beyond for my kids or feel like I need to play it a bit safer or follow the guidelines that I am somehow looking down on other parents that don’t do the same. I don’t. I only look down if your child is suffering negative consequences from the degree of effort you are putting into raising them. As long as your kid is okay, I don’t care whether you put outlet plugs in or not. However if you didn’t put outlet plugs in and your kid gets electrocuted don’t expect me not to raise an eyebrow at you. I am sure if something happened to my kids from me lacking to do something that I would get all kinds of raised eyebrows.

    This is free range kids but I don’t think free range has anything to do with not childproofing for little kids. We are not talking about 10 year olds. I am talking about infants and toddlers who cannot take care of themselves and can get seriously injured by crawling down stairs, sticking a fork in an electrical socket or swalowing some buttons left on the floor. That kind of stuff needs to be prevented and it has nothing to do with free range.

    As my kids get older I get rid of more baby gates and more childproofing and let them do more and protect them less. That is the way its supposed to work. Such as once they no longer mouth stuff you can start letting them have small toys to play with. Till then you have to pay attention to the age recommendations and keep small parts away from them. Mine actually stopped mouthing things at 2.5 so I let them have 3+ toys at that point even though they were not 3 yet. But free range is not about handing a 1 year old some tiny toys and saying have it.

  92. JMS June 28, 2011 at 1:17 pm #

    I have a wanderer. And I’d like to say that you don’t even need to be asleep for this to happen. A few months before my daughter’s 3rd birthday, I looked out the kitchen window while I was cooking dinner and saw my girl walking down the sidewalk. She had unlocked the front door (yes, I’m sure it was locked) and I hadn’t heard it from the kitchen. Which was odd in itself, given the layout of our house.

    My daughter is NOT street savvy, so it was a bit unnerving to see her going on her way around the corner. I ran out and got her and then got a childproof cover for the knob. She was able to defeat the cover within a couple weeks, though. Next up…a latch she can’t reach!

    But still, this story could have been mine had I not looked out when I did. I did nothing wrong; after all, a family’s gotta eat and my kitchen is too small for little hands to “help” me regularly. I didn’t know at the time that she could turn the deadbolt–and as far as I know, it was the first time she’d tried it. It scared the bejeezus out of me. (Again, she’s not yet street-savvy.) Bringing criminal charges in my case would have done nothing to alter my situation. Mostly would’ve mounted emotional stress on me, which would have trickled down to the kids in some form or another.

  93. Dolly June 28, 2011 at 1:34 pm #

    JMS: thank you! Your story is exactly the point I was trying to make. You are an awesome parent because after your child got out you made a measure to try to prevent it from happening again. That is good parenting! Doing nothing when your child gets out so it continues to happen again and again and again. That is when there is a problem. Glad you saw her and were able to get her!

  94. Jennifer June 28, 2011 at 1:41 pm #


    I was the one (or one of the ones) who locked my child in his room at night after he escaped from our apartment despite all our efforts to keep him in and be able to hear when he tried. And yes, the “risk” of a fire in his room was MUCH less than the risks he would encounter in toddling out of our apartment. 10 feet from the door of our apartment was the main road in and out of the apartment complex, with cars coming and going at all hours – none of them driving the suggested speed limit – and about 40 feet from the gate that was only supposed to be opened by key tag, but usually stayed open 24/7. We lived less than 1/4 mile from a major four-lane divided highway, less than 1/8 mile from a Louisiana swamp with actual alligators, and less than 100 yards from the apartment pool that was not enclosed in any way (because the apartment complex did have a fence around it). Was I worried about him being kidnapped, so I locked him in his room? Absolutely not. I was very concerned that he would be run down by one of our neighbors, who wouldn’t notice a 30-inch-high person as they zoomed into our complex, and only slightly less concerned that he’d fall in the pool and drown, as he knew exactly how to get there.

    Dolly said: “The fire risk is worth taking compared to a much more likely, getting hit by a car risk or getting kidnapped when out wandering risk or getting bit by a dog while out wandering or getting lost risk or wandering into the apartment pool in the middle of the night drowning risk. At least in his room the only bad thing that could happen is fire. Outside in the middle of the night alone, a million things could happen.”

    None of those things she listed had anything to do with kidnapping – the risks she listed were all much more real risks to my particular situation than fire.

  95. Jennifer June 28, 2011 at 1:43 pm #


    Mea culpa. Now I see where she said kidnapping. My bad. But the rest – absolutely more risky than a fire than a child that age wouldn’t understand how to “get out of” very well anyway. I apologize for misreading the first bajillion times!

  96. Wendy Case June 28, 2011 at 3:22 pm #

    For those of you suggesting that a mother that naps for hours is negligent I am in wonder. I only have one child (1 year old) and we will often go down for 3 hour naps no problem.

    I share a room with him and would know instantly if he were to wake up. If this mother was not sleeping in the same room she might not hear the child get up. Nobody in my house hears my son cry when they’re sleeping even his dad who sleeps down the hall. I can easily see this happening especially since my son is already starting to turn door handles at 13.5 months!

  97. Miriam June 28, 2011 at 4:04 pm #

    I had a similar situation with my middle girl when she was 3. She got up in the morning, opened the gate, went downstairs to use the potty and heard a car that she thought was my husband’s. (Same make and model, three units down and th garage door is near the bathroom.) She drags over the bathroom stool and unlocks the deadbolt, goes out sans underwear and the door closes behind with the self-lock set. A guy walking his dog hears her crying and calls the police. Naturally I find the police at my door at 6:30am and panic thinking the hubby has been hurt when they ask me about my daughter.

    We got a chain which has all three girls proudly undo to open the door for guests and a new gate which only one dd can open though they all like to climb over. The biggest help was actually talking to her about how the door closes and locks and she can’t go outside alone without telling anyone.

  98. JTW June 28, 2011 at 4:51 pm #

    the ultimate purpose is to criminalise everything, so they can take your children away at birth and raise them as good little denizens of the State, to always do as they’re told and vote for whom the State wants them to vote (as long as there still are elections, eventually of course you’ll have them vote to abandon those outmoded things because they’re no longer needed).

    If everything is a crime, the State can always arrest you as there’s no way you can’t have done something wrong. That threat alone will be enough to keep most people in line, the rest will be snitched out by parents, children, spouses and neighbours in exchange for the hope of not being arrested themselves.

  99. Tuppence June 28, 2011 at 5:58 pm #

    @LRH — I read your essay, and think it’s very insightful. Before I continue, can I just point out (and I sincerely hope this’ll give you a laugh, and not be taken as pure snark) that you bemoan the use of acronym, yet have yourself started to use initialism – LRH – rather than Larry Whatevertherestwas.

    And now to the subject at hand. What I wanted to add is, I find it hard to understand how the parents who live by the attitude you describe — the best thing to do is to make it ALL about the kid — should consider that beneficial to the child. How can anyone think it healthy for a child to believe (know, actually, since it IS the case) that their needs, desires, wants, are paramount to all those around them? No worries, apparently, for these folks, that the child will grow up assuming they are the center of the universe they inhabit, since this has been encouraged and fostered their whole childhood. In other words, they actively work at raising a narcissist. I would have thought that, for the most part, our parents’ generation was much more concerned with a child’s character.

    But maybe not. Maybe we’re seeing a generation of folks raised themselves as self-centered brats – evidenced through the way they are raising their children. As many have pointed out in comments before, all this overparenting is probably more about the parents wanting to “big themselves up” (parenting is v.v. importante! – It’s allll about what the parent does) than about the kids, after all.

  100. SuzyQ June 28, 2011 at 6:42 pm #

    Remember when people marveled that their children had advanced to the next developmental stage, and the neighbors (and others who might have become involved) breathed a sigh of relief, chuckled, and went about their OWN business? It’s not like this mother has set a record of having her child wander from the house multiple times prior to this. Maybe I should have been charged with neglect the day my 3-year-old son wandered the house with a sharpie during a nap, labeling items “where it’s not” a’la Cat in the Hat video…there is still sharpie on my husband’s alarm clock, 10 years later – it’s a good reminder (and good laugh) that little ‘uns are most dangerous when they can’t be heard! 😉

  101. Taradlion June 28, 2011 at 7:13 pm #

    Jennifer- No problem. It was “the risk of kidnapping” that got me. Just to be clear, I have no issue with locking an escape artist in while sleeping. I had a climber (16 month from the crib and could climb my daughters bunkbed ladder by 10 months). Walking outside into street at night, or getting disoriented and lost could be real risks to avoid.

  102. Myriam June 28, 2011 at 8:20 pm #

    I do like your essay, Larry, and I’ll take it a bit further. And by the way, this does not relate to the post, it’s just a general point. We are told over and over again how hard and taxing and challenging being a parent is, so if there is a mother out there who appears to be coasting along and not assiduously “on the job” at all times, a little anxious even, then she obviously must be doing it wrong, even if her child is perfectly fine.

    And that might explain the mothers out there who are eager to pull down such women, because if they are exhausted and anxious and harried why should some other woman get away with it and do it all the easy way. As women we really are our own worst enemies.

    I’m guilty of this myself. My husband was the main carer for my first son when he was a baby for reasons beyond my control. My husband used to drive me mad with all the short cuts that he took (getting the baby to sleep with a bottle, etc). Partly I was afraid of developing bad habits that would cause more work in the long run, but I also suspect that I thought he was “getting away with it”. It’s not supposed to be easy – you’re supposed to be SUFFERING.

    I’ll admit that I do get a bit of “job satisfaction” over fussing over my children and being busy with myriad childcare activities (to some degree) and like to think that that my efforts might be benefiting my children even in some small or temporary way so I’m not about to scoff at the mother hen types. On the other hand, I don’t judge more laid back types as neglecting their motherly duties, because their children are usually just fine as well.

    Funny that the mother that society used to frown on was the one who “lived through her children”. This was considered to be very bad for the children. Now, however, we are all encouraged to treat our children as some sort of project, and the more parental input the better they will turn out.

  103. Elizabeth (Foodie, Formerly Fat) June 28, 2011 at 9:02 pm #

    This past Sunday my husband and I hosted a summer party at our home for his work. Our 6 year old and 3 year old were in attendance and charmed the crowd in our fenced in back yard. Near the end of the party some folks, unbeknownst to us, left through the gate in the fence rather than going through the house and didn’t shut the gate properly. After almost everyone had left our 3 year old went out back to keep playing while we began to clean the kitchen. A few minutes later there was a knock at our front door. We thought someone had car trouble or missed a train and was coming back. My husband opened it to discover our 3 year old standing there! Everyone present laughed and the 3 year old got praised for thinking to knock on the door and reprimanded for leaving the back yard without a parent.

    This is what I call life. Not “an incident”! Teaching children how to handle themselves is so much more important than buying anything. What in the world would be buy to prevent that? Omniscience?

  104. Dolly June 28, 2011 at 9:25 pm #

    Wendy: If you can see your son escaping or sneaking out then it would be a good idea now to go ahead and install a high up door lock or a chime when the door opens. I have a son that sleepwalks sometimes and that is why we keep the gates up plus door locks and if need be we would install a chime too. Luckily for us I usually wake up and hear him and he usually only sleepwalks into our room.

  105. Dolly June 28, 2011 at 9:30 pm #

    No Tara was just being obtuse and snarky. I listed about 6 reasons a child could get hurt being outside alone at night and therefore why locking them in their room would be less risk since fire is the only bad thing that can happen and outside lots of things could happen. Kidnapping was just one of the things I mentioned. It was not even the first thing I mentioned. She just wanted to zoom in on that one to have something to pick on me about. If I had to label the things I listed in order of most dangerous kidnapping is not the first one I would pick at all. Cars, lost, pool (if there is a pool) seem way worse.

  106. theadventuresoflactatinggirl June 28, 2011 at 9:40 pm #

    This is especially scary to me considering I woke up this morning to find my toddler in the driveway playing. I’ll be buying a thing that keeps my sliding glass door from opening today, but I could easily be in the same situation as this mother. There’s nothing criminal about it, it’s just simply making the mistake of underestimating your child (just as you said). Infuriating that they would bring charges against a mother for something so innocent.

  107. Taradlion June 28, 2011 at 9:59 pm #

    Ha! Snarky, maybe, in my cutting and pasting from your posts, and I apologized. Obtuse, no. And that is just obnoxious. I agreed with you that things can happen (there will be a 1% and a first time….). And I agreed with Jennifer that locking a child in may be a solution to avoiding REAL risks, like wandering into a road or getting lost/disoriented.

  108. Jennifer June 28, 2011 at 10:02 pm #

    When my son got to age 2 and learned to climb out of his crib (thank goodness he didn’t learn earlier) I simply could not understand how parents could move their kids to beds at that age. My son, when allowed loose, did things like trying to take apart lamps. We kept him in crib with a crib tent until he was almost 3. By then he had figured out how to remove the tent, but it took a while and kept him occupied for long enough so we could intervene before he started in on electrical appliances. Finally we had to move him to a bed, and we had some scary moments before he learned basic judgment about safety. Thank goodness he didn’t want to get outside; I could easily have been in the position of the woman in the article.

    The thing is, some kids, no matter how many rules you set or how many precautions you take, simply lack judgment, at least until they’re older. I worked hard to teach my kids to not run into the street, to not play with stoves before they were old enough to use them safely, to leave bottles of medicine and dangerous chemicals alone. But one morning when my son was about five I found him hanging from the gas pipes in the basement doing gymnastics. He couldn’t understand why I was so upset. I’d never told him to not hang from the gas pipes. It had never occurred to me that anyone would hang from the gas pipes. You simply can’t anticipate everything that might happen.

    After many years I finally figured out that there were people who put 2 year olds in beds and the children just stayed there. These people had a hard time understanding why I would “imprison” my child in a crib tent. Kids are different.

  109. pentamom June 28, 2011 at 10:32 pm #

    Dolly, the logic of what you said, the way you wrote it, was that getting kidnapped was much more likely than a fire. I’m guessing you didn’t mean it that way, just that there are many risks other than fire, but that’s the way it was written, so I’m not sure you can call people “obtuse” for reading it that way.

  110. pentamom June 28, 2011 at 10:36 pm #

    Jennifer’s comment reminds me a bit of the family doc who told me that now that my son was four, I should be REALLY careful about keeping the chemical and medicines and so forth out of reach. (For the record, I did anyway, but…) I thought to myself, “Huh? Now he’s FOUR! He KNOWS better by now! Maybe when he was two I would have worried about that….”)

    I concede that some four year olds are more adventurous/defiant/whatever and might not be able to be trusted to know better at that age, but what struck me was the doctor’s assumption that four was a more dangerous age, rather than an age at which a kid could likely have been taught not to mess with things that weren’t his and not to eat or drink things that weren’t food.

  111. Jennifer H June 28, 2011 at 10:48 pm #

    My one-and-a-half year old escaped right under my nose WITH the door locked! I checked the door and it was still locked so after frantically searching the house I finally ran outside to find him being carried across the street by a local police officer who commented with a smile that “it’s going to be a long summer trying to keep track of this little guy.”

    I watched him closely and soon discovered his locked door escape routine. The screen door lock only locked the handle – he could still use his little fingers to push the latch part and get out! 7 years later and our screen door still has three latches… because he figured out how to slide the second latch with a broom or toy golf club.

    We did have neighbors whose small child wandered the neighborhood constantly – I had brought her home several times to find parents still “sleeping” so soundly at 10 am that they couldn’t hear the doorbell or knocking and I had to literally come in to their home and wake them. They were later charged with endangerment after they were reported several time by myself and others.

  112. Vetnita in MN June 28, 2011 at 10:54 pm #

    Add me to the been there crowd. One Sunday morning at 6:30am, we were woken up by the police coming into our home asking if anyone was home. Turns out my little just turned 3 year old boy had woken up in his room next to ours and decided to go looking for us outside. Why, I don’t know. Then he walked down the block, still looking for us until he got to the intersection of a busy street. Even at 3 he knew not to cross the street so he stood there crying. A 3rd shift worker was driving home and thought that didn’t look right so he stopped and asked my son where his family was. Unfortunately, my son has speech issues and we also hadn’t taught him our first names or phone number yet (1st kid). This angel didn’t have a cell so he waved down yet another person and they called 911. Now the police arrive, my son is on the corner crying and incoherent. Luckily, all the noise wakes up my neighbor who knows who he is and where he lives. The police put my son in the cop car and drive him home (his favorite part of the adventure). They find the front of house locked, the back door wide open and no one around. They told me later they were thinking a domestic or a murder. Instead they find us still in bed and clueless. Those police officers were so kind. They told us that this happens more than anyone has a clue and that it may be time for deadbolts. They did look around the entire house, perhaps looking for signs of drugs or neglect, but treated us like good parents who had a son suddenly discover how to unlock doors. We had up high deadbolts on both doors before noon, and a funny story for the relatives. Remember, this could have been a tragedy, except for 2 complete strangers taking the time to look for out a lost little boy and a neighbor who knew us by name. For all of those fearful parents out there, always remember, most people protect children and will help. Although, make sure your kids know your name as something more than mommy.

  113. LRH June 28, 2011 at 10:59 pm #

    Myriam Exactly right. Yes, if you aren’t stressed & frazzled, then you’re not doing it right. On the other hand, if you vent about anything that irritates you–which would seem to be part of being stressed & frazzled–then you’re scolded for that too. Can’t win either way, it seems.

    Dolly The whole “raising my eyebrows” sort of response is the very thing I look to have NO happen, pretty much period no matter what. This is not a license for parents to be negligent, but rather to say–I don’t need naysayers bugging me, not even if something bad happens. I’ll figure it out myself, if I need your help I will ask for it; if it’s offered with a gentle loving type of disposition on your end, that’s okay, but if it’s the whole “raising of the eyebrows,” you’re apt to get the middle finger or “crackville” in response to it–and rightly so.

    “But free range is not about handing a 1 year old some tiny toys and saying have it.” Why not? That’s pretty much what I do. They may not be TINY, but they’re toys.

    Je Yes that is ridiculous, the insinuation that making your child’s picture as your profile photo on Facebook is akin to inviting kidnapping etc. That said, I refuse to do it on another grounds–practicality. How is anyone trying to find me supposed to know that’s me? Also I find it part also of the whole silly “living vicariously through your children” thing. I go to your site first to know about YOU, not your kids. The kids are part of it, yes, but not ALL of it.

    Tuppence Ha ha, I can tell you’re not being “snarky,” it’s okay. To me, using your initials (examples such as SKL and JTW) is not what I consider “lazy acronym’ing” (if the latter is even a word). I admit it’s a judgment call but to me, these are examples of things which are NOT “lazy acronym’ing”:

    USSR (back when there was a Soviet Union)
    PC (personal computer)
    Any of the US States (especially when entering address in a contacts listing etc)
    “Geek” talk terms amongst others (example, in photography, AF=autofocus, WB=white balance)
    A person using their initials (LRH)
    BS/SOB (so that you’re not technically cursing)
    A/C (air conditioner)

    These are the types I’m referring to:

    DS (dear son, dead son?)
    MIL (mother-in-law, also BIL for brother-in-law etc)
    BTDT (been there, done that)
    GSD (German Shephard Dog, my friend runs a Petfinder sight & gripes of people who email “Do you have a GSD”)
    AFAIK (as far as I know)
    TTYL (what’s wrong with “talk later”)
    GLWS (Good luck with the sale)
    UWMA (until we meet again–I just made that one up–oops, “IJMTOU”)
    cul8tr (See you later)

    Admitedly some may argue that the “okay” ones and “bad” ones aren’t that different in some occasions (A/C vs MIL for example). I think it’s a matter of, say, anyone who says “FBI” almost everyone else automatically knows what that means. But who is going to know that “GSD” means German Shephard Dog, even if you’re running a Petfinder site & it’s an email inquiring about a dog? (Whwereas, say, in photography, all the hobbyists know WB is white balance, but then I argued that them using BIL referring to “birds in flight” as a type of wildlife shot was overdoing it.)

    To wit: it’s also a matter of extent–I can certainly understand someone saying FBI or DVD but when we seem to acronym practically everything it gets ridiculous. Otherwise, why not type everything like this: “TODIWWMDAIBT” (the other day I was walking my dog and I became thirsty). It gets ridiculous. It was one thing when people were texting with flip-phones having to press the 7 key four times just to create the letter S, but now that phones have QWERTY it’s silly–and doing it on a PC (personal computer) is even sillier still.

    I like the way I’ve seen it handled in past formal writings where the full-term is used with the acronym version in parenthesis immediately after, with the acronym version used later. That way there’s clarity on what the acronym means right in the article without burdening the reader with the chore of having to manually look it up–they shouldn’t have to. That’s why you sometimes see me refer to CPS intially as Child Protective Services (CPS), I will then use CPS later in the same article.

    Main thing: it was one thing when people used NORMAL abbreviations like NASA, USA etc and just the occasional other ones like A/C, and when the crazy extremes of it only showed up in texting on numeric-only phones–but now it’s starting to be everywhere. I agree with the teachers who complain of formal essays turned in with such tackiness littering the pages throughout. I am told that many of them demerit for that or even will fail it outright based on that sort of thing–I couldn’t agree more.


  114. LRH June 28, 2011 at 11:04 pm #

    PS–by the way (no, not “BTW,” but by the way, however, PS is okay, in my humble opinion NOT “IMHO,” ha ha)–anyway, yes, I am now noticing several typos etc (yes etc instead of et cetera is okay) in that last posting of mine, and that’s ironic–I’m nitpicking “lazy acronym’ing” and making 2-3 typos while doing so. Not good Larry! (Ha ha).


  115. Uly June 28, 2011 at 11:04 pm #

    I started from the bottom and scrolled *up*.

    I have to say, people here aren’t that touchy, Dolly. You’re the only common thread in everybody thinking that you think you’re God’s gift. It’s clearly something in how YOU communicate (or don’t). I have no idea what you really think or feel, but it’s not everybody here with the problem.

    Kherbert, thanks for the totally underappreciated story of social services and the cops getting things completely right. This is what is supposed to happen.

    As far as childproofing goes… seriously, if you have a young kid who is a wanderer, just get another latch or a door alarm. Life is too short. You can do that AND STILL teach your kid that they’re not supposed to go outside without you at that age.

    As for every other aspect of childproofing… look, it’s your life. It’s going to take longer to teach your kid various safety rules when they’re young than when they’re a little older, but then again, once you do you won’t have to worry when you travel. Either way it’s a choice you have to make with a price on it. You have to figure out where your priorities are and then deal with it. (And it’s okay to figure that it’s worth it to childproof THIS aspect of your home but not THAT aspect. Nobody cares, seriously, and if they do they need to get their own life.)

  116. Uly June 28, 2011 at 11:05 pm #

    LRH, if you’re going to correct typos you should note that etc. has a period at the end 😛

  117. Uly June 28, 2011 at 11:11 pm #

    Also, I gotta say, it seems like you just dislike innovation. Which is okay, we don’t all have to like every change in the language, but in truth people are no more likely to abbreviate now than in the past. We just use different shortcuts for different words.

    As far as terms like GSD, aside from the fact that it can get tedious (TDS?) to repeatedly type “german shepherd”, the use of an acronym like that has an additional, secondary meaning: “I am a member of this group, and I belong here. If you don’t know what I mean, you do NOT belong here, at least not as much as the rest of us who DO use this term do.”

    A surprising amount of word choices amount to that, I’ve always thought. It’s like deciding between saying “I will not do that” and “I ain’t gonna do that!” One is standard… but the other creates a folksy impression and makes it sound like you don’t think you’re better than the person you’re talking to (even if this is a deliberate stylistic choice on your part specifically to create that impression….) and might even make your speech sound more emphatic. (And it’s word choices like this that got Bush elected. The more you know!)

  118. pentamom June 28, 2011 at 11:29 pm #

    Larry, FWIW (and I use that acronym advisedly) Miss Manners has always been adamant that the only people whose grammar or manners it is appropriate to correct is a minor child entrusted to your care (as a parent, teacher, etc.) NEVER another adult, at least only in a very private setting and intimate relationship.

    So feel free to dislike the way other people write, and teach your kids accordingly, but it’s not your place to lecture whole swaths of people on the Internet.

  119. Shadow Laviolette June 28, 2011 at 11:55 pm #

    My kids did the same thing. I had no idea they could get out the front door until I heard my son playing outside when the neighbors.

    We hung huge christmas jingle bells on the doors after that. Even now that they are teens, I still have those bells on the doors so I can hear if they come home.

    I hope the community turns out to help this mom, not persecute her for this.

  120. LRH June 28, 2011 at 11:55 pm #

    Uly What you said in the 2nd paragraph is something I’ve heard before, and I disagree with those who subscribe to that mentality. More to the point, I believe in “universal” language, that is, language that applies to ALL people, as opposed to “exclusionary language.” I don’t believe in slang much (although I have used it SOME, and am probably opening myself up to others nit-picking me if & when I do), I believe if proper English says you are to say “I don’t have anything for you” as opposed to “I ain’t got nothing for all of y’all today,” then the former is right & the latter is wrong, end of discussion, I don’t give a runt where you’re from.

    I don’t believe a person should communicate in such a way so as to deliberately be difficult on purpose, especially for reasons such as “if you know what this means you belong–if you don’t, then you don’t.” MY reply would be: get a dictionary buddy, and learn how to spell. This isn’t here. Kansas is spelled “Kansas,” not “Kanzus” just because you prefer that spelling for whatever reason. It’s “Kansas,” and that’s it. Otherwise, why have a dictionary? Why have any standard of right & wrong about anything at all? Let’s just decide to spell decide “dee-side” and then when you point out that’s spelled wrong, why how convenient it is that I can say “well, that’s how I think it’s spelled.”

    And if someone finds typing “German Shephard” tedious, frankly I’d submit they’re just plain lazy. Spell it out, or don’t do anything at all, I say.

    I do recognize “folkiness” in some occasions, heck, I listen to Jerry Clower audio clips for humor at times, and laugh at how he deliberately pronounces Yosemite “yo-see-might” etc. That said, even though I come from the south myself (NC born & raised), I’ve always taken pride in being able to write as if I didn’t. It’s not about shame in being from the south, as if all of us are rednecks with a farmer’s tan etc., it’s just that once I learned what the rules of English were, I’ve made it a point to abide by it and not be a “respecter of regions.” Once I learned that proper English dictated that you don’t say “I ain’t got nothing” (ain’t isn’t a word, you also have a double negative), then I don’t care if that’s “how they talk “round here,” it’s not proper English, so I refuse to use it, especially in anything I type as opposed to some buddies & I (not me & my friends) hanging out chatting.

    I believe in proper English for pretty much EVERYTHING, especially in typed writings vs 2 old men at the country store. I don’t think I’m better than anyone else, I’m not trying to give that impression just because I don’t say “I ain’t got nothing for you today,” if people TAKE it that way–oh well.

    And no, I don’t consider “GSD” for “Good Shephard Dog” and the like “innovation,” it’s just lazy. Nothing else. Just lazy. This isn’t a free-range topic, and it’s not worth losing a friend nagging them about how “lazy” you think they are (again, I have a friend my age who texts me “TTYL” and I don’t say a thing about it, never would DREAM of doing it), but that’s what I like about the Internet and forum postings (as opposed to Facebook ones)–you can really debate these topics passionately without reprecussion. I just love it. But I don’t want to make anyone angry either, I’m not being aggravating just for the purpose of being aggravating in & of itself–that would be wrong–but because I do really feel this way about it.

    And no, I’m not one that corrects my friends’ usage (or misusage) of English etc. I will point out mis-spelled words for them if they WANT me to, otherwise, I don’t pester them about it. Online, though, especially the “over acronym’ing”–I can be pretty bad about it sometimes, and can get carried away by it if I’m not careful. I try to not be TOO petty, like I said once before here we’re here mainly for discussing free-range aspects, and I’d hate to be someone causing us to bicker about things not free-range. But if we can have the discussion without it turning hostile & losing sight of the free-range priority of things, why not?


  121. K June 29, 2011 at 12:00 am #

    I think that discussion here would be more productive if we ignored trolls.

  122. EricS June 29, 2011 at 12:03 am #

    Sad that had to happen to her, and really unwarranted. Back in the day, a parent wouldn’t have been charged, or even scolded. Adults would be talking “I can’t believe how smart he/she is.”, “who would have thought he/she could do that.” Then steps to EDUCATE the child would taken. Like teaching them not to go outside unless mom or dad was with them, or they knew about it. We were taught that if ever we went outside on our own, we would never go pass the backyard. Which was the only place we were allowed to go out too. This was between 3-6. After 6 years, we were taught how to walk to and from school. For the first week or so, we would be walked to school by either parent. Once we got comfortable, we did it on our own. Cops would see us (and a bunch of other kids) walking home from school alone. Never once did they knock on my parents’ door and scold them. Adults didn’t have that “shocked” look when they say us crossing the street. Nor when we played in the park with our friends. The world hasn’t changed, but people in it did change how we view things these days. Truly, the pen is mightier than the sword. Or should I say media is mightier than armies.

  123. LRH June 29, 2011 at 12:03 am #

    Oh, quick PS (I’m sorry)–pentamom–again, to me, the Internet is a little bit different (unless it’s Facebook I’d say), here I’m LRH and you’re pentamom. The Internet is where I get to do things like that I’d never do in “real life,” because yes–as I said, my friend who texts “TTYL” to me, I would NEVER badger her about it.

    But mainly this–I would agree it would be wrong if every-time you used FWIW (and yes, I do think doing that is lazy) I replied in a post “pentamom, that’s lazy when you do the FWIW thing,” yes–that would be very rude. (Yes, even though you’re pentamom & I’m LRH and this is the Internet, I’d still hold to that standard of etiquette.) However, I think it is TOTALLY appropriate to make the observation “I think all this acronym’ing of everything is just lazy.” I’ve made that observation and will continue to in the future, I don’t care who takes offense to it.

    Even so, I will concede this–we’re here to discuss free-range topics, and while it’s okay for me to observe that I don’t like all of this acronym’ing of everything and to make occasional reference to it as such, I should cease to do so once it becomes a thing of us bickering about that at the expense of staying on-topic with free-range. Us agreeing that it’s okay for our children to free-range, and supporting each other in that, is FAR more important than bickering about such matters, so it is important for me to keep it in-balance–that is, it’s okay for me to make light of how I feel about it in a general sense, but not to be “preachy” or “nagging” about it. I’ve probably already committed that offense, though, and am sorry if I have. This is, not (ha ha).


  124. Dolly June 29, 2011 at 12:06 am #

    Larry: So you would hand a one year old a small Lego that is the perfect size to go right down their windpipe? I certainly wouldn’t and that was what I was referring to.

  125. Dolly June 29, 2011 at 12:09 am #

    Uly: You say it is what I am saying that is the problem but your post where you state your opinion on the childproofing was pretty much exactly what I was saying. yet, I got jumped on and you didn’t. So yes, I do think people are touchy. There are a lot of other posters who agreed with me too so maybe it is the naysayers that are the common problem element.

  126. Dolly June 29, 2011 at 12:10 am #

    Larry what pentamom said. We all know you don’t like abbreviations. We obviously don’t care. You don’t have to like them but it is not your job to scold people for using them either.

  127. LRH June 29, 2011 at 12:32 am #

    Dolly No, it’s not abbreviations, it’s the over-usage of acronyms beyond, say, FBI, CIA, DVD, USA etc. And yes I am going to give my opinion on it. The thing is this: not to do so to such an extent that it becomes unpleasant & causes us to bicker about such things when, hey, most of us are free-range here & that’s what we’re here for. If we’re supporting & encouraging each other with the free-range stuff, THAT’S what is most important. So the trick becomes: how to state your views on the other things (like over-acronym’ing) but without distracting from our free-range focus and bickering.


  128. Peggy the Primal Parent June 29, 2011 at 12:47 am #

    Wise commentary on a sad story. I so respect what you do here on this website!

    We are so quick to condemn in this society and so slow to offer help. Could this have anything to do with our anti-social behaviors as a society in general? So many of us aren’t a part of any kind of community. We are alone with our kids and our couple of friends. We get everything we know about anything off the internet and are losing touch with the art of communicating, learning from each other, and asking questions.

    I think what you said would be immediately obvious to anybody that read it, but without a community to grow with people are just so quick to judge.

  129. pentamom June 29, 2011 at 12:56 am #

    Larry, I agree that there is such a thing as standard and non-standard English, that standards are useful for communication, etc.

    But do you realize that if everyone thought the way you did about “some things are simply wrong” we’d still be speaking 6th century Anglo-Saxon Old English?

    No Shakespeare, no poetic license, no lots. of thing. Do you realize that as recently as the early 18th century, English spelling wasn’t even *standardized*? Highly educated people spelled the way they thought was right, but the first English dictionary didn’t even exist until 1604, and dictionaries varied among themselves until more recently than that.

    Like I said, I don’t have a problem with the fact that some ways of speaking or writing are right and some are wrong. But the kind if inflexibility you advocate wasn’t handed down at Sinai — in fact, it wasn’t even a feature of most languages until the invention of the printing press. Language spoken and written by humans just doesn’t work like that.

  130. Donna June 29, 2011 at 1:44 am #

    Dolly, then maybe you should look at HOW you are saying things, not what you are saying. The fact is that almost every thread on this blog becomes “more tales of how wonderful Dolly is.”

  131. Stephanie - Home with the Kids June 29, 2011 at 2:03 am #

    I’m one who wonders if the “hours” is exaggeration. I worked in a store that was robbed, one shot was fired. In a tiny, two short paragraph story deep in the newspaper, that became “several shots were fired.” Questioning the exact details such as how long something took is pretty sensible when reading these kinds of stories.

    It’s ridiculous to charge the mom without something more going on, even if that is how things seem to be going these days. She didn’t do anything negligent, and I’d like to think that she’ll come up with her own plan on how to prevent it in the future.

    I also have to say that you all are making me grateful that my kids’ adventurous streaks haven’t resulted in anyone wandering down the street alone. Had one fall in the pool at the grandparents’ house recently, but I was watching so it was no more than a dunk. Wouldn’t have taken much for that situation to have been worse.

  132. anditron June 29, 2011 at 2:12 am #

    It’s sad that what is really the problem is hidden deep within the story. The police were called and then searched for hours trying to find where the little girl lived. It’s hard to tell if a good samaritan had stopped the child and kept her safe while the police came or if the call was a “Hey there’s a kid wandering around out side”

    But what is clear is the police searched hours trying to find her home. Why did no one in the neighborhood know this child? Know her mom? Know where she lived? Hours of searching and no one could say “oh that’s little Janey she lives up at such and such”. They knocked and knocked and realized where she lived when they finally knocked on her door and showed the mother a photo.

    That’s the real crime here and the perfect example of what our crazy fear-based society has come to. Granted in cities I can understand it to a degree, but I googled the neighborhood and this is a classic stereotypical neighborhood and there’s no excuse for the neighbors not to know each other.

  133. LRH June 29, 2011 at 3:03 am #

    anditron I agree, and I think that is a perfect example of what Lenore speaks of when she speaks of how, in us knowing and trusting each other, making a community, besides just being more at ease, you also get loving SUPPORT in your parenting journey, and in a way that’s not judgmental and/or mean in its nature.

    No parent is perfect–not Dolly, not Donna, not SKL, not the subject of this article, not Lenore, and sure as heck not me–and double that on the ones that judge those who DO make mistakes. Most of us, though, are free of evil or apathy, and want to do what’s right. That’s what it should be about. So if you’re here to help me do my best, with loving support, I welcome you–if not, sit down & be quiet while the rest of us play the game.

    (By “you” I didn’t mean you, but rhetorically as in anyone who would be critical of a parent for not being perfect.)


  134. SKL June 29, 2011 at 3:07 am #

    Re acronyms and other shorthand tricks, I used to hate them, but now I use them in certain situations. (1) When I’m in a hurry, the readers will understand, and it’s not a business letter. (2) When there is a character limit for comments. (Character limits are certainly the origin of this terrible habit, at least for me). (3) When I’m sending a personal text from my phone. I rarely text, so I’m not expert at it yet, and I have better things to do than type out every oft-repeated phrase.

    Life is too short to get all agitated about an acronym, kwim?

  135. LRH June 29, 2011 at 4:10 am #

    If we’re talking about acronyms, I will concede this–there is one difference between when I learned typing & keyboarding (in the 80s) and now. Then, practically all typing was about business letter composition. No one took typing with the idea of using it in everyday life, but rather that you may get a job that required you to type letters up. Any sort of “shorthand” was absolutely frowned upon, although (again) USA or FBI etc was okay, and others such as CPS for child protective services were okay if you spelled it out first, with the acronym in parenthesis immediately following for reference, and then SUBSEQUENTLY used the acronym now that it had been established.

    The expectation for proper punctuation and freedom from “slang” and short-hand etc was totally absolute, even if it meant your re-typing a document all over again from scratch to get it right. I agreed with that principle then, and I still think it applies now–although mainly in “formal writing” deals, more on that in a bit.

    Even so, I so enjoyed typing I’d type letters I’d mail to friends, and took pride in using correct English & such on them as well. I wouldn’t use “slang” or anything of the sort, even though I was in “redneck country” and was writing to my friends. I still use that style of writing to this day, for the most part. I went online in 1997, by this time I had been typing this way for some 12 years when I was a teenager taking those classes back when “Back to the Future” was a new movie. I would rather slit my wrists than send a message saying “y’all come 2 our crib c u l8r,” even if I talk that way in speech in humorous moments.

    The thing is this: now, keyboards for typing out thoughts are used for many sorts of things not of a formal nature, so it’s not altogether the same necessarily. Certainly someone sending an instant message (IM) in chat software isn’t doing the same sort of thing as when I was typing out formal letters in word-processing and typing classes. (Yes, I took word processing AND typing, as in on a typewriter, with the correction tape & all of it.)

    It’s just that, anymore, it’s getting to where “slang” and such is becoming more pervasive than I think it needs to be. I’m not picking on anyone here by name, nor am I referring to this site specifically–it’s in a lot of places. I think my friend is right in griping about someone at his Petfinder site inquiring “do you have a GSD?” Sorry, I think it is lazy to type that vs “German Shephard Dog,” even in less formal writing. I suppose “TTYL” is fine, although I still think “talk later” isn’t going to kill you, but “GSD”–good grief.

    I’m somewhat like the late George Carlin this way–he wasn’t just about vulgar humor, he also had respect for language & used to make critical observations about how language was mangled by people often-times.

    But I can be notoriously nit-picky sometimes. I will sometimes correct people who say “cut and paste your content”–you’re not cutting and pasting, you’re COPYING and pasting. And using it’s when you’re supposed to be using its (no apostrophe), or your when it’s supposed to be you’re–drives me nuts. It may not be worth getting a stroke over, but it’s still incorrect–know what I mean (NOT “kwim,” ha ha)?


  136. pentamom June 29, 2011 at 4:20 am #

    But you know where “cut and paste” comes from?

    The “good old days” of typewriters, when, if you wanted to copy a part of a document into another one without retyping it, you’d cut part of it out and paste it in, physically, and then make a photocopy of the new document.

    It’s less technically correct since the standard word processor commands are “copy” and “paste,” but like your distaste for informal writing, hearks back to earlier technology.

  137. pentamom June 29, 2011 at 4:21 am #

    “Hearks” isn’t right, either! It’s harks. ISHNB (I should have known better.)

  138. EricS June 29, 2011 at 5:33 am #

    OMG! CWJGA. OTN. lol I kid, I kid. I think acronyms started becoming very popular in the early days of chat rooms. It was taking too long to for people to type out full on sentences. It’s now just become part of the digital age. Much like the crazy text talk that kids do. It’s like ebonics for texting. Short, phonetic words. Going by the sound rather than what you read. Some schools, I’ve heard, actually have classes where they teach such language. And it has become a standard language on the internet.

    Dolly, its all about what your saying and how you say it. Uly is pretty much saying, “if that’s what you want to do, who says you can’t. What you do is your decision, you just have to live with it”. He’s giving his opinion in how it’s up to each individual. Your comments however, comes off more as “I’m right, your wrong”. That if we do something totally different than you, you make a point of telling us so. That’s not an opinion, that’s criticism. You always come off as challenging others’ views. And in return, they challenge yours. But you tend to NOT take what you dish very well.

    Blogs are an outlet for opinions, and these opinions are meant to be taken or ignored. It serves the purpose of opening people’s minds to other views. In hopes that they can do their own soul searching. Do as you please. But don’t force people to accept them. In the end, everyone will always answer for their own decisions.

  139. Taradlion June 29, 2011 at 6:33 am #

    Larry- every time you explain which acronyms you think are acceptable, I think, “why doesn’t he just say the acronyms we use when speaking”…that is people say DVD, NASA, FBI, but not TTYL…what do you think?

  140. LRH June 29, 2011 at 6:57 am #

    I admit this posting is a departure from free-range parenting, & hope I don’t distract from the mission in posting this. I know I’ve been around & around and around and at some point it’s going to be “okay LRH, we get it, acronyms are evil, let it go already.”

    I hear you EricaS, in fact in response to your posting, I did some research (Wikipedia) into the terms, including the Oakland Ebonics ruling of 1996, African American Vernacular English, etc. I certainly am familiar with “slang” & so forth, I enjoyed watching “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air” with Will Smith talking about “that plain ride was dope” and “that show was stupid” (meaning “good”), so I do understand, to an extent anyway, all the “jive talking” and so forth, and even to an extent enjoy it.

    I just don’t agree with the existence of alternative languages that exist to give legitimacy to laziness. I don’t think much of the “jive talking” of the past I’ve mentioned admiring does that, so much as it’s just more casual vs formal–and at least it was considered appropriate to still hold to the standard that such talk should NOT be taken too seriously as actually being regarded as a proper different language altogether and as the same level of legitimacy.

    It was understood–at least that’s how it seemed to me anyway–that when you said “that plane ride was DOPE” that this was NOT just “different” than proper English, it was actually INCORRECT, but nonetheless totally acceptable given the informal context of the conversation. It was a way to help a person loosen up and not be so “stiff” and “proper” in situations that didn’t need it–but it DIDN’T mean that it was totally equal to “proper” English in its legitimacy. You still understood that a more proper response was “that was a very wonderful plain ride” or whatever. “Dope” wasn’t considered equally legitimate to the “correct” way of saying it, just more casual.

    Therefore, in that manner, I will never accept the premise that “cu l8r” is just as appropriate a way to spell or denote “See you later.” as the formal spelling is. It isn’t. It’s butchered, it’s ugly, it’s tacky, frankly–it’s demeaning to the language, juvenile, dumbed-down, and–dare I be blunt and risk being offensive–is just plain intellectual laziness on the part of the person choosing to use it. That becomes ESPECIALLY evident when you hear of teachers complaining about such language creeping into formal writings where it’s not just me saying it shouldn’t be seen.

    If all of this “wht r u up 2” blathering nonsense becoming recognized as being just as legitimate as the proper spelling is something in which there is change, it’s change that I don’t agree with and will never participate in, and will always ridicule no matter who it offends. In fact, in what would admittedly be a departure from a free-range attitude–if my kids were teenagers and they talked to me that way, they’d be disciplined for it. I’m not kidding. If they texted me “dad cn u hlp cr wnt strt” (Dad, can you help–car won’t start?) or something like that, I’d text back “sry eye dnt xcpt txt whc r typ tht wy.” (Sorry, I don’t accept texts which are typed that way.)


  141. pentamom June 29, 2011 at 7:21 am #

    Larry — it may have been “understood” that way, but it was pretty much only “understood” to be the case by a small percentage of English speakers in Britain and America for about 300-400 years, and not ever by anyone else anywhere in the world, where multiple dialects and local languages are as common as dirt. Most people in the world speak two languages, and I’m not talking about the educated types who speak English and something else. Most people routinely speak one language (an entirely different language) among peers and family, another in more formal (business, government, education) settings.

    If it is common among the majority of the people in the world to speak two entirely different languages without one of them being “right” and one being “wrong,” why cannot it be possible for people to commonly speak two different variants of the same language without it one being right and the other wrong? Of course it’s wrong to use the wrong one at the wrong time, just as it would be wrong to try to use Qechua in a school where the Peruvian national language of Spanish is used, but it is no more “wrong” for the Fresh Prince to use Fresh Prince talk among his homies in the neighborhood, than it is for the Qechua kid to use Qechua at home in the village. As long as they don’t mix up the appropriate usages, (which is only a danger if they’re not taught to distinguish) there is nothing “wrong” with two patterns of speech in the same person.

    If West Country dialect in England is not “wrong” when used among those who share it, why is a dialect of some urban population in America (which has its own conventions, it is not merely a pile of “mistakes” about “real English”) “wrong?” It’s only wrong if they try to use it where other people will not understand or be confused by it — i.e., where it fails to communicate.

  142. pentamom June 29, 2011 at 7:24 am #

    So, Larry, if your kids were stuck out on a cold night without a working vehicle, and didn’t want to spend excess time and energy spelling out every word in an inconvenient text message, you’d privilege proper spelling over getting them home safe? Interesting set of priorities, there. It’s great to teach your kids that standard usage is generally appropriate, not to be lazy, and so forth, but you’re so rigid on only one form of communication being appropriate for all media and all contexts that you’d never bend?

  143. LRH June 29, 2011 at 8:07 am #

    pentamom I love discussing this with you, hopfully I’ve kept it civil with you–you surely have with me.

    I do agree about the “two languages” aspect–one language on the “street,” another in the workplace or formal writings etc. My only disagreement is in “street language” being considered as “legitimate” to such an extreme that you get decisions such as the 1996 Oakland School decision where it’s actually taught as a class. “Jive talk” is fine in informal uses, but it shouldn’t be given THAT level of legitimacy. It should be recognized as being “below” the formal language from which it’s derived. I don’t think “bad mamma jamma” should be given the same level of recognition as “proper” English in terms of a person being expected to learn it & be graded on it.

    And again part of my gripe with the Internet shorthand being so prevelant is how it’s showing up in more formal contexts where it doesn’t belong. Like you said, if it doesn’t “cross that border” (my words), it’s okay. But it seems to be doing that.

    And no–I don’t think I’d actually leave my child stranded because they texted me in shorthand. I would hate to think I’d be THAT much of a stickler about it. But I might make them shortly THINK I would to put a little healthy respect for that in them, ha ha.

    Blackberry 8310

  144. Tuppence June 29, 2011 at 8:11 am #

    Can attest to what pentamom wrote about people speaking two languages being the case here in Germany. There’s standard German, known as “high German” (“high” meaning from the highlands area, i.e, mountains, although for a long time now it’s been spoken in the lowlands, and the highlands speak another dialect. I know, it’s confusing), which is the common language, and then different regions have different dialects. But perhaps using the term “dialects”, fails to convey just how different they are from each other. I cannot understand “Bavarian” at all, although I am completely fluent in standard German. And though I fare a little better with “low German” (Northern German dialect), still, it’s another language, and I don’t fully understand it, and can’t speak it at all. Just like pentamom states, these dialects are used (and cherished) in informal, homey circles.

  145. Laura June 29, 2011 at 8:28 am #

    It’s sad that charges were brought against this mom for many reasons! As new parents, the advice you receive is “nap when the baby naps”… I guess that doesn’t apply anymore and we should hover over the crib to make sure they don’t die of SIDS every moment they are sleeping? I get this is a 3 year old and not an infant, however, we as parents must utilize the time kids are sleeping to accomplish whatever needs to be done… Yes, I believe that includes taking a nap.
    I also know that a 3 year old is capable of learning their address. IF we the parents teach them. Little ones love to sing… no matter how silly it may sound to an adult, sing your address over and over to your kids and they will learn it too! The first person that found the little guy could have asked him his address and prevented a lot of this!
    Good luck to that mom!

  146. Jenn June 29, 2011 at 9:02 am #

    Before I had kids, I was a terrible sleeper. I was a very light sleeper, disturbed easily and took a long time falling asleep. Becoming a mother made me into a person who can hit a pillow at night and be out for hours. If for some reason I don’t get enough sleep, I will need to nap. Luckily, I’m a light sleeper when napping so I can be happily napping and my kids will now wake me up when I hear them trying to sneak a cookie in the kitchen. I was lucky that both my kids were sleeping 12 hours a night by 6 weeks old. The doctors didn’t like it (apparently good parents breastfeed around the clock and are supposed to wake their babies) but the kids gained weight easily so I wasn’t going to tamper with something that was a parent’s dream. I don’t know how I would have managed if my kids weren’t amazing sleepers and I feel for parents who struggle with this.

    When I was pregnant with my second, I napped almost every day while my toddler napped. There were many complications with this pregnancy and often it meant sleep issues. Sometimes my son didn’t want to nap, so I had to figure out a way to nap and keep him safe. We had made one area of our home `child-safe’ so that we could leave him unattended while we did jobs around the nap (laundry, cooking, pee). Since there was a couch in this area and we took measure to child-proof the area, I felt comfortable napping if he didn’t nap that day. Our biggest mishap was that I placed my eyeglasses on the end table. I woke to hearing a metallic crunching noise. My son had first tried on my glasses, so he tried to press them into his face to fit. When that didn’t work, he used a pair of those kiddie scissors that are supposed to not cut anything (other than kid’s hair of course) to try to bend them back into shape. Problem was, the scissors with their rounded edges, made lovely gouges into my lenses. Not only did he break the frames, but he also destroyed my lenses. Since my prescription is about -10.50 and -12.00 plus astigmatism, this was a costly $600 nap.

    As for baby gates, I used them long past when my kids mastered the stairs. It wasn’t because I was afraid of them falling and hurting themselves but I see baby gates as a way of setting boundaries (physically and literally). I think that all children need some form of boundaries. Even if your one year old is a stair climbing master, I still think baby gates are in order (think of climbing over them as a way of losing baby weight!). I feel I’m setting a precedent with my kids at a young age that I have some guidelines/boundaries that I expect them to follow and this is one that a toddler can easily understand. There are just some places I do not want my toddler to go and he needs to know it. My son once tried to climb over and I caught him in the act. I scolded him and he never did it again. If only he listened to me the same way now! 🙂

    As for child locks, we had one cupboard on each floor that was locked with a magnetic lock. I know that some group homes use them to lock up medications, and only staff have the fob to unlock. They are supposed to be more difficult to open than any other child-proofing lock.
    The only problem is when the kids know where you hid the fob and figure out where the magnet is located!

    Back to the napping issue… I feel for the mom and I hope the charges get dropped. I still nap even though my kids are older. They know there are some things they can do while I’m on the couch and some things they can’t. They know when to wake me and that they can wait 20 minutes to ask me their question. By the time they were 3, they learned how to get out of bed in the morning (usually with a quick poke to me or my husband to let us know they are out of bed), turn on the tv or get out a toy and help themselves to a bowl of cereal. I can usually lie in bed an extra 45 minutes, in a `twilight’ kind of sleep. I’m hoping my kids learn some independence while my husband or I are sleeping.

  147. LRH June 29, 2011 at 9:55 am #

    Jenn Exactly. This is something certain ones in my family could stand to read: it isn’t going to kill your kids to be on their own briefly (not all day obviously ) while you get some “twilight” sleep. It’s silly how parents are judged as awful just because they don’t get out of bed 1 hour prior to this & spend the entire hour mimicking Aunt Jemima & Quaker Oats on hormones & steroids.

    But of course my earlier post (do a CTRL-F search for forgive the length) covers all of this sort of thing in greater detail.

    As many have said here, as much anyway–if you need a nap, you need it. It isn’t a crime, nor should it be, that parents nap briefly while their kids are entertaining themselves. You just have to be REASONABLY vigilant to making it to where they can’t escape–and if something happens where they do anyway despite very reasonable attempts at placing barriers, that really should be “good enough” in most cases.


  148. Beth June 29, 2011 at 10:23 am #

    “Oh so now I am a bitch because I can go without a bunch of sleep?”

    No Dolly, you are a “bitch” because you basically said those who nap are un-evolved human beings. That was extremely rude and uncalled for, and another in a long line of “Dolly is perfect” posts that you refuse to take responsibility for.

  149. Dolly June 29, 2011 at 11:22 am #

    Eric: That is the problem and that confirms that people here are too touchy. I am not insulting anyone. If I was insulting you, trust me, you would know it.

  150. Dolly June 29, 2011 at 11:25 am #

    anditron: I agree. I am pretty confidant that if my kids got out that whomever found them in the neighborhood would know they belong to me and our house. Partly because everyone in our subdivision has to pass our house to get to their house and because we are outside playing almost everyday. Everyone waves at us and everyone would know my kids and our house. Makes me wonder if that mom ever takes her child outside?

  151. Dolly June 29, 2011 at 11:26 am #

    ps I also can say I know where just about every kid in our subdivision lives too. I see them out and I see the toys in the yards etc. So in turn I can take them back to their house too if need be. A big advantage to outside play.

  152. Dolly June 29, 2011 at 11:37 am #

    Beth: I did not say those that need to nap are un-evolved human beings. I was defending myself from an attack first of all. Secondly I said “I” have evolved to not need as much sleep. I evolved from needing a lot to needing not very much. Just a fact. Humans evolve and change all the time.

    [ih-volv] Show IPA
    verb, e·volved, e·volv·ing.
    –verb (used with object)
    to develop gradually: to evolve a scheme.
    to give off or emit, as odors or vapors.
    Free Video Presentation
    Demystifying the Smart Grid. Intelligent Power Delivery & Usage.
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    –verb (used without object)
    to come forth gradually into being; develop; undergo evolution: The whole idea evolved from a casual remark.
    Biology . to develop by a process of evolution to a different adaptive state or condition: The human species evolved from an ancestor that was probably arboreal.

    Let’s see I gradually developed the ability to not need as much sleep. I also changed to a different adaptive state of needing 8 hours of sleep a day to needing only 4. The way I used the word was correct. If you take offense at it then perhaps you have some guilt about napping during they day instead of doing work or interacting with your child. That is your deal. I didn’t say it. If you have no guilt about taking naps then why get so offended? No where did I say she had no business taking a nap. I said that I personally did not understand sleeping that long or that deeply during the day. And I don’t because I never have done that. I can’t change the reality of my sleep patterns.

  153. Uly June 29, 2011 at 11:47 am #

    “My only disagreement is in “street language” being considered as “legitimate” to such an extreme that you get decisions such as the 1996 Oakland School decision where it’s actually taught as a class.”

    Except that’s not what the decision was nor what happened.

    It’s long been known that bilingual children learn better when they are literate in their home language. And it’s been known for only slightly less time that bidialectical children learn better when they are literate in their home dialect (and that is the correct term, dialect), and that they can use support in learning how to switch between dialects.

    The decision was to have them explicitly taught how AAVE compares to Standard American English, so as to improve their grasp of SAE without stigmatizing the way their parents and friends speak at home… something which can lead children to think school and everything about it is not for them, because even the way they talk is wrong.

  154. Uly June 29, 2011 at 12:10 pm #

    But perhaps using the term “dialects”, fails to convey just how different they are from each other.

    A language is a dialect with an army and a navy. Max Weinreich said that. And HE said it in Yiddish! (It makes perfect sense in Yiddish too, thanks to the shared Germanic roots of our two languages. Check it out: A shprakh iz a dialekt mit an armey un flot.)

    The official delineation between dialects is that when two dialects are not mutually intelligible (somebody from this village can’t talk to somebody from that village), they’re different languages. Dialects are NOT deviations from the standard language. Well, not typically. Most commonly, the standard dialect and all the other dialects have the same origin, in the same way that different languages in a family have the same parent languages.

    Unfortunately, the typical definition ignores political reality and a heck of a lot of commonsense problems, although it works well for some things. And that’s why there’s one Chinese language and why Bavarian is a “dialect”. (But Flemish is a language! Never forget it, even though it’s really just Dutch.)

    LRH, I hope you didn’t think I was attacking you. There is nothing I like MORE than talking about language! Nothing! I love the subject!

    And what I really like? Etymology. Everything about it, how words change through time, how whole languages change, how grammar changes (did you know English used to have a frequentative? We still do, it’s just not productive, but many times when you see -le or -er at the end of a word that doesn’t come through French it’s the frequentative. Wag, waggle. Grunt, (dis)gruntled. Sit, set, settle. Chat, chatter. Did you know AAVE has a habitual aspect marker when SAE doesn’t?) Changes through time is… I love it. I love it everywhere I see it. I have this book on childcare advice through the centuries, I have whole books on nursery rhymes in different places and times, I pay my nieces 25 cents each time they can show me a new variation on a game that they learned from someone else. I love it!

    And even when people are so completely wrongheaded as to moralize “correctness” (lots of people don’t like to know this, but dictionaries don’t make the standard, they just record what people already say and how they say it) and elevate their preferred mode of speech, I can’t get upset at it. I can’t, I can’t, I can’t!

    Well, unless they start calling people stupid, and that’s where I draw the line. Ignorant, maybe (although I always say that other people speak my language better than I speak theirs, and the same goes for dialectical variation), but not stupid.

    I do have great respect for using the accepted standard (although I remember that the standard is only the standard because we all agree it is. It’s like the Emperor’s clothes. If we all decided that another way of speaking is the standard, that’d be that.), but that doesn’t mean I think it’s always the best choice, nor that other choices are inherently wrong. I mean, yeah, using textspeak in a formal paper is inappropriate… but then, using Spanish in that paper is probably inappropriate if it’s an English-language class, but that doesn’t make Spanish wrong. Wearing jeans to a wedding is inappropriate, but that doesn’t make jeans wrong, you just have to remember that some times don’t call for them.

    The only reason the people in power speak the standard way is because they ARE the people in power and so they get to make the rules. It’s not the other way around.

    Dolly – look, seriously. This is a group of people with big personalities and strong opinions. The truth is we’re often less than truly civil with each other. The problem with you is twofold.

    First, you really have annoyed and antagonized a lot of people. And we’ve told you why, and we’ve told you, and we’ve told you, and you refuse to accept responsibility. It’s like the small child insisting that when she steps on somebody else’s foot, it’s THEIR fault for having their foot in the way! Even if she has a point, she should still say sorry, right?

    Second, to make it worse, you did it by kinda jumping on the scene. And I’m sure I’ve said this to you before, and I’m sure you’ve disregarded it, but it’s good advice anyway. Any time you’re joining a new group of people online (or even in real life, I believe) it’s a good idea to lurk a little first and get a feel for how people talk and act there. And then you start joining in slowly and carefully.

    People don’t get so pissed at me firstly because I do think I’ve gotten better over time at this whole “social skills” business, although it’s a work in progress. Not my forte. (And, to tie this in to the other conversation, that’s a Germanic word. You don’t say the e at the end, except you probably do because if you don’t, people think you’re wrong. Sic transit.) But they also don’t because they know me. I’ve been hanging around here for a while, and at least a few of these people know me elsewhere. They’ve had time to get used to me.

    So, y’know, if you’re deadset on not changing, just hang around for a few years. People will get used to you too. Eventually. But honestly? When lots and lots of people tell you the exact same thing and give you the same piece of advice, you should try to take it. Nobody but you knows what’s in your heart, but we all know the exact words you’ve posted here.

  155. LRH June 29, 2011 at 12:53 pm #

    Yeah, there are some powerful personalities here. And I would imagine that to be a GOOD thing, because you have to have a strong personality to battle the people who wish to oppose your free-range thinking. And in some regards, those same strong personalities can debate other topics, as is happening here now.

    To wit, Uly, I appreciate your history lesson & perspective, I do, I don’t mean that sarcastically. However, I will also say that if it’s true what you say that dictionaries REFLECT the standard as opposed to STATING the standard, well frankly I don’t like that. I can’t STAND the prospect of “AFAIK” now being in the dictionary as a “correct” alternative of “as far as I know.” (For all I know it may well be in there now.) I know that words change definition to some extent, “gay” used to mean happy a long time ago. Faggot in some versions of English means cigarettes or a bundle of sticks. The word “niggardly” means “thrifty” or “miserly” (meaning very careful with money or resources etc), but try saying “niggardly” without being accused of being a racist.

    But to me, AFAIK now being acceptable for “as far as I know” isn’t simply “language evolving,” it’s a dumbing down. The people who use it admit they do, and started doing so, for easier typing, which I find appalling, given that typing is much easier than it has ever been WITHOUT such laziness masquerading as “progress.” I’m only 42 but yet that’s old enough to have seen typing become word-processing and even word-processing to become much better over the years. Used to be that in typing you were dealing with straight-to-paper which made corrections difficult, moving whole blocks of text was all but out of the question, yet there was STILL the expectation of the language looking decent. (But again, I do concede some of that being that typing then was solely for business types of communication and formal writings.)

    Heck, my free Firefox web browser automatically underlines suspect words for me. I can easily open a new tab to search for the correct spelling of a word without losing my place. We have copy & paste, predictive text, auto-correct etc–what in the world made someone decide typing “as far as I know” was just so burdensome?

    But more than that, at least AFAIK, BRB, TTYLE etc are something of a standard. By contrast, my friend’s example of someone asking “Do you have a GSD” (for German Shephard Dog) in reference to his Petfinder site, I mean c’mon! What next? Is someone going to ask me “what color is your DB?” (diaper bag) What color did you paint your SB (son’s bedroom)? What mm is your fc (make-model is your family car)? It’s getting ridiculous, and I think that is just lazy. As much as I may be against TTYL or BRB, at least they’re standards. But making so much up on-the-fly, and expecting the reader to know what it means? When it goes that far, yes, it’s lazy.


  156. Amanda June 29, 2011 at 1:14 pm #

    I just finished installing latches at the very top of our outside doors after two successive mornings of waking up to find my almost-3-year-old happily digging up the front lawn at 6 AM. Seems he’s realized that it only takes a chair to reach the regular deadbolt. Not that I mind him being outside (and he’s usually outside almost all day!), but I do expect him to TELL me he’s going out. Also, the older kids on the block get to ride their bikes in the street and he has a bad tendency to try to do the same–so I prefer to supervise bike riding, Good thing everyone around here seems to free-range their kids, otherwise I’m sure DYFS would be bird-dogging me…

  157. Uly June 29, 2011 at 1:49 pm #

    But to me, AFAIK now being acceptable for “as far as I know” isn’t simply “language evolving,” it’s a dumbing down.

    Well, you’re wrong. This is not an opinion, it is a matter of simple fact. No language is more or less complex than any other language EXCEPT for pidgins which, by their nature, seldom last more than a single generation and are, by their nature, second languages for everybody who speaks them. (Once you get a generation of children speaking a pidgin as a first language they increase the vocabulary, add a significantly more complex grammar, and turn the language into a creole. Creoles all tend to share certain grammatical features, no matter what the substrate languages were.)

    Adding another initialism to the dictionary isn’t dumbing down the language, it’s increasing the complexity in the vocabulary. English has a particularly large vocabulary with many shades of meaning. This isn’t because English is superior, it’s because of the history of the people who speak English, first as being conquered by the Normans and then by spreading as an empire and now… whatever you’d call American influence.

    When you add an initialism such as AFAIK, what it means is that speakers have to memorize it as one unit, increasing their personal vocabularies by one. You can’t just reason it out every time. That’s inefficient! And that’s not how we speak, anyway. You don’t reason out every time you hear a word like “aggression” “Oh, well, that’s a + the bound morpheme gress + the noun marker ion”, you memorize it as one unit. (And you may not realize that aggression is related to progression, digression, regression, transgression until you see a little list like that. Latin roots are fun! This way to the egress, don’t miss the egress!)

    I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking “But wait! If English has a particularly complex and varied vocabulary, surely that means some languages are more complex than others?”

    No, not so much, because we haven’t touched upon all the other parts of language that make each language variety unique and interesting, such as grammar.

    As far as “Well, how absurd can the abbreviations get?” the answer is “Until speed overtakes comprehension”.

    People alter their language for a number of reasons. One incredibly important reason is, yes, laziness and ignorance. Why did “adsimulare” become “assimilate”? Because it’s easier to say ass than ads. Why do children ask for “Mom” instead of “Mother”? Because Mom is only one syllable. That’s laziness covered, ignorance explains why sensible people no longer use the word inflammable, and why we can count peas. (In the past, pease was a “mass noun”, like rice. You could have a cup of pease, but not a pea, no more than you can have a ri. But some ignorant peasants didn’t grasp that and thought that it was pea + s, and so you could have A pea. And now that’s standard!)

    But there are other reasons language changes. People play with language, they say funny things because they’re funny or interesting and make them stand out. It’s good to be a little novel, like wearing a distinctive hat. If a certain usage catches on among a few big speakers in a group (like, say, the term “free range” to apply to children and mean a whole idea about how to raise ’em), everybody in that group will start to use that term. Like all of them wearing the same hat because they belong together. People say some things with the deliberate intention of being obscure – maybe so the cops or the kids or the parents don’t understand, or just so outsiders in general don’t. And in other circumstances they use different words so they ARE understood by EVERYbody.

    People speed up their speech a little because humans are lazy, and they abbreviate things because they’re lazy. I type like this, but you should see the sort of notes I used to take for school! Never a full word, any letter I could remove I did, any sentence I could shorten I did. If I’d learned shorthand, how much faster I could’ve been! I’d take five minutes of lecture and record it as something like “strikes = !working unt. dmnds. met (+ hrs, $, cond.)” I didn’t really care if anybody else could read them, these were my personal notes.

    If I’d wanted other people to read them, I would’ve written it out in full, of course. But here’s the thing. I could read what *I* wrote. If I’d cut that sentence down to s = nwudm, hmc it really would not have made sense. I shortened it down until I met in the perfect middle between ease of transcription and ease of re-read. Other people will abbreviate their words on the internet only so far as other people can understand them. If their works are incomprehensible, they’ll start to expand what they write. (If it gets that far. Most people only innovate a little bit, which is why there’s only one James Joyce. They don’t make up their own acronyms and initialisms, they crib off of other people… and usually only the other people in the group that they’re talking to. There are actually “dialects” in how people communicate in English on the internet! They don’t all shorten the same things, or in the same way, but magically each group understands itself. Such is the wonder of language. These shortenings increase complexity. They really, really do.)

  158. LRH June 29, 2011 at 2:50 pm #

    Uly If you don’t mind me asking, are you an English or language professor of some sort? I have never seen such detailed explanations in all of my life–frankly, I find a lot of it WAY over my head, but I don’t mind it and I do try and understand it–but at the same time, it still doesn’t change my mind about acronyms beyond, say, FBI or NFL being laziness that shouldn’t be catered to.

    You sort of make my point a little, although I know you weren’t looking to (or NOT to), when you mentioned laziness as part of where the genesis of words like AFAIK come from. That’s exactly my gripe. I abhor such laziness. I find it very nauseating and sickening, to be honest. Heck, let me put it like this–remember the Seinfeld episode where Elaine broke up with her boyfriend because she didn’t like how he wrote the note grammatically (no exclamation points)? I’m that nit-picky where it regards acronyms–if I were single and dating, I might well dump a woman based solely on her usage of acronyms that way, regardless of everything else about her. I hate it that passionately.

    And the part about being obscure on purpose so that outsiders don’t understand–that’s downright MORALLY wrong, if you ask me (unless it’s, say, the police doing so in order that criminals eavesdropping can’t figure out how the police are proceeding with their investigation etc). The whole purpose of language is communication to ALL people, I think. Being hard to understand ON PURPOSE goes against the very idea of language in the first place. And you better believe–if, when my kids get older, they deliberately talk in “teenager-ese” (a word I made up, I admit) to be deceitful and I pick up on it, there will be absolute hell to pay for it.

    I understand that when hobbyists of a certain hobby get together there may be acronyms they use within the context of their conversations–computer people are especially big on that (RAM for memory, CD-ROM, DVD+RW, HD for hard drive, microSD cards, etc), but they’re not doing that to purposely make other people unable to know what they’re talking about. They’re facilitating communication within their own context not looking to be “exclusionary,” and that sort of thing doesn’t usually bother me.

    As for “dialects on the Internet,” I just don’t agree with people doing that. In fact, if I ran a site, I would ban people from doing it–seriously, it would be a rule you HAD to use “standard” English or else I would specifically not allow people to post–even if it meant no one posted and my site was basically irrelevant, I don’t care, the principle of “no Internet slang” is that important to me–more important than the success of the site itself. I mean that. Where it regards language, I will admit to being extremely anti-free-range–within a certain language, in things written vs spoken, to me there’s only ONE right way and everything else is just wrong, no change allowed for, no “innovation” allowed for–nothing. Even if history states that this has never been the case, I think it should be the case now, here, with this sort of thing. It’s time to STOP “diversity” and make everything more black & white and ditch all these shades of gray that make everything needlessly complex.

    I have no interest in accepting such complexity–you said it yourself, such simplification (acronyms) actually increases complexity, and that’s the very thing I look to avoid. Once we’ve come up with “as far as I know,” I can understand other phrases existing like “as far as I understand it” or “from what I understand,” but AFAIK as just another form of “as far as I know?” Enough already.

    Man, my essays still aren’t any shorter, and they need to be, we’re clogging Lenore’s site with these language debates. What are we doing? (Ha ha.)


  159. LRH June 29, 2011 at 3:15 pm #

    I apologize, I wanted to add a quick PS–I concede that some may say I’m the one being lazy, in that I’m saying “let’s stop inventing so many new words I have to keep up with–instead, just keeping using the same ones I already know so I don’t have to learn anymore.” That’s KIND of true in a way, I suppose.

    Actually, I don’t mind learning new WORDS which are what I’d call “proper English,” it’s all these “trying on new hats” sort of “dialect” words which I don’t care to have to learn. I like to learn the “standard-formal” words and be done with it.

    I like things “standardized” that way, it explains why, for a while, I dabbled in small office database design and did well with it–and even thought it should be my profession. I LOVED how, say, you HAD to enter the zip code in the proper field, and how in the “state” field you’d set up a drop-down box of the 50 states so that you didn’t have variations such a “Texas” or “texas” or “TEXAS” or “Tx” or “TX” or “T.X.” Instead, whatever form of “Texas” was in the list, EVERY SINGLE entry that was a Texas entry had the exact same entry for every single one. My mind absolutely cleaves to that very mentality–a total dictatorship in doing things that one way and ONLY that one way, even FORCING those using the database to adhere to it. There was even a term for it, called “normalizing” the database. The more rigid a database is that way, the better it works in terms of being able to crunch statistics and pull up a proper search, because everything is standardized.

    Sort of ironic that my mind would be so much that way yet I’d also love photography as a hobby, a field that promotes “diversity” and “openness” if any field ever did, and that I’d love “free range” parenting & insist we respect other’s differing parenting styles even if we don’t agree with them. But I’m like that–I love hot weather but ONLY if the air conditioning works–but then I hate cold weather. I love to swim but love the dry desert–even lived there for 10 years. I’m very goofy and “fun-loving” with the kids while very disciplinary with certain things at the same time. I respect privacy for the most part but photograph everything. I am sitting at the computer for WAY too long one minute, being a “couch potato” of sorts, and then bicycling 15 miles round-trip the next or playing basketball for an hour non-stop until I all but faint. I’m nothing if not paradoxical, ha ha.


  160. Lisa June 29, 2011 at 10:22 pm #


    I just wanted to say how much I enjoyed reading your posts on language. I majored in English Language eons ago, and your posts reminded me of how much I loved studying about it. As a language student / lover, I fully agree with you that dictionaries are descriptive, as is grammar, and am fascinated with changes the English Language has undergone through history. As an English teacher, I also understand (and fully embrace) the prescriptive view of language – that there are right and wrong usage based on the standard variety. I love the sybject too!

    On topic, my boy is now 13 months old, and I definitely plan to raise him mostly free range, and am thankful that the situation in my home country is not as dire as in the US. Although I am afraid to say that helicoptering is gaining more and more ground here in Singapore, due to, I think, greater exposure to ‘the American way’ via media.

  161. LRH June 29, 2011 at 11:54 pm #

    Lisa It is ashame (is that one word or two, Firefox insists that word’s a typo) that “the American way” is gaining ground where you’re at, even outside the US. It really puzzles me what it is about helicopter that makes it seem to have a life of its own to where it becomes seen as “the right way” even in places where it’s never been that way. Good for you, despite this being “the trend” (see young people, just because “that’s the way we do things NOW, that other way is YESTERDAY’S way” doesn’t make it right) that you are seeking to go free-range anyway. Good for you, for what it’s worth (maybe not much, but still), I support you 100%.

    To the off-topic subject of language I’m being a stickler about, I will try to keep this post MUCH shorter than the prior ones. Your comment caused me to look up “prescriptive language” in Yahoo! for information. I did see this link ( where it debates the descriptive vs.prescriptive views on language, and how, rather than the 2 harmoniously helping language evolve, they often are in opposing, hostile camps. Apparently the descriptive camp accuses the prescriptive camp of “uninformed bigotry,” whereas the prescriptive camp accuses the descriptive camp of “anarchists who want to do away with all rules of language.”

    Yup, you guessed it, I’m not an English professor, and I don’t understand ALL of the angles of everything, but where it regards this debate (using AFAIK and BTDT etc) I most certainly side with the prescriptive camp. I most certainly DO believe that there are persons who seem intent on flaunting any standards of consistency–maybe even decency?–in terms of spelling words correctly (typos happen, of course, I’m talking about things like “your cute” instead of “you’re cute” and “The van is missing it’s door” {no apostrophe} and not caring about that being wrong and doing it correctly in the future) and acting as if typing out “German Shepherd Dog” vs making up GSD on-the-fly is “like, so lame” and part of “old-fashioned squares from the past imposing the old world order on us young people trying to make the world a better place” or some bunch of nonsense like that.

    I don’t have a problem with people changing–or even breaking–certain rules of society which are silly, but I have HUGE respect for the rules of language & a HUGE dislike of the rules there being flaunted. I think once you know that “your cute” should be “you’re cute,” you ought to get in line and do it that way and quit your griping about “those silly rules.” Once you know that “The van is missing its door” should be that way, not it’s, then DO it that way PERMANENTLY, from now on, no matter what you think of the rule. If the standard says the 1st letter of every sentence should be capitalized & that contractions should have an apostrophe, then please, no more sentences like i have 2 go 2 the store but i wont be long, and yes, now that phones have QWERTY keyboards, that goes for texting also.

    I don’t have a problem with “jive talk” in the RIGHT place, but I do dislike out & out laziness, and yes, I do think that much of this “DS” (for dear son, or dead son?) and “BIL” (for brother-in-law), especially outside of “street talk” environments–I think it stems from a disrespect of grammar/spelling and just getting your jollies off flaunting any rules of decency/consistency that way and just being an anarchist just “because I can.” And not to belabor the point or upset anybody, but I do find it altogether silly and even lazy. More prescriptive approaches to language, please! (Ha ha).


  162. pentamom June 30, 2011 at 12:42 am #

    Larry, as long as you realize that the “rules” are only “rules” because some hundreds of years ago someone decided to break the “rules” that existed then and talk differently, and then more, and more people did, and then it became the “rule.”

    That’s why this talk about the standard being SUPERIOR might be inviting, but it’s historically impossible. It’s certainly *useful* for people to maintain a standard since that facilitates communication, but to give it some kind of intrinsic worth makes no more sense than to say Victorian style furniture is SUPERIOR to Louis Quinze just because we happen to be in 19th century England. It’s just the way it’s evolved at this point, and the way we’ve tacitly agreed to talk and right. And it WILL change. Linguistic change has slowed with growing literacy (i.e. the invention of the printing press) but it has not stopped, neither in thy town nor mine citie. 😉

    FWIW I’m not any kind of professional student of language, but I do like to read about linguistics as a hobby. If you’re into things like books on CD and your library has them, I HIGHLY recommend John McWhorter’s “The Story of Human Language” from The Great Courses.

  163. pentamom June 30, 2011 at 12:45 am #

    LOL, that’s “talk and write.” I’m pretty good on grammar (though I do code switch between formal and informal, NOT sorry Larry ;-)) but I’m a lousy typist, and a lazy editrix.

  164. Uly June 30, 2011 at 6:18 am #

    I’m not an English professor by any means, but I’ve been informally studying linguistics since I was quite young. It’s a passion, as I say.

    And it’s “a shame”. Shame as in shameless or “has he no shame?”

    The truth is that you can’t stop language from evolving. You don’t have to like that it changes, and you can whine and fuss about it, but you can’t stop it. It’s only a coincidence that this dialect of English is preferred over that dialect, or that you speak English instead of French. Or, for that matter, like saying that today’s fashionable clothes are better than yesterday’s or tomorrow’s. How we speak is just a fashion that stretches over a longer period of time than what sort of pants we wear. (And in any given time different people will wear different fashions, and they won’t always wear the SAME fashion because different events call for different clothes.)

    One more thing, that I totally forgot – gripes that “language will devolve into grunts if this keeps up” have been spread for several hundred years. There’s a site, Languagelog, which (among many other things) keeps a running list whenever they find a historical language gripe, many of which would not be surprising today (and the “omg, this is necessary!” form would be considered ungrammatical!)

  165. LRH June 30, 2011 at 8:02 am #

    Uly I will have to give that “language log” site a read sometime. Frankly, if it’s one of those “pro-linguisitic” sites, I’m apt to go over there and let them have a piece of my mind about “OMG” and “BRB,” ha ha.

    At any rate, I don’t have a problem with language evolving per se, I just don’t want “jive talk” polluting areas that were previously sacred to formal talk, “standard” English if you will. If “jive” and “formal” occupy the same places as before, and formal hasn’t become “polluted” by such things as “OMG” and “BRB” now being considered “formal” words, then it’s okay by me I suppose.

    But again, also, my friend’s gripe about someone asking “Do you have a GSD” is still legitimate. My friend is as laid-back as they come, fishes and dresses like it just about all of the time, has no interest in fancy restaurants or “ritzy-ditzy” clothes or museums etc, and types like his fingers are toes (if I’m around, he’ll have me do it for him because I’m much faster, about 75-80 words per minute, he might do 25-30 on a GOOD day), but then that’s kind of the point–when HE of all people is griping about it, then it MUST be getting kind of ridiculous.


  166. Uly June 30, 2011 at 9:00 am #

    You know, LRH, here’s something.

    You say you don’t like language to communicate ingroup and outgroup status. That is, that you don’t want groups having a dialect that indicates that they all belong together.

    But what do you think you’re doing when you’re lumping all dialects you don’t like under the semi-insulting term “jive”? Why not use a neutral word, like “dialect”, “colloquial”, or “nonstandard”? Your word choice sets a tone, and indicates what group you’ve decided to join in this regard.

    when HE of all people is griping about it, then it MUST be getting kind of ridiculous.

    Or it could be the recency illusion. Something bugs you, so you assume it’s a brand new problem. A more careful study of the history of language would indicate that your complaint goes back much further than you think, and the thing that bugs you existed before you were born.

  167. LRH June 30, 2011 at 10:38 am #

    A more careful study of the history of language would indicate that your complaint goes back much further than you think, and the thing that bugs you existed before you were born.

    Well that’s good to know, to keep it in context. I still submit that the persons submitting GSD for Good Shepherd Dog are being lazy. Now, it is important, as I’ve gone on & on about this, to keep it in context: their laziness is not the most outrageous thing in the world. It’s not like they committed sodomy or arson. But yes, it is annoying–and yes, lazy.

    Why not use a neutral word, like “dialect”, “colloquial”, or “nonstandard”?

    Well that’s fine, I don’t see a problem with “jive,” but if a phrase like non-standard “jive” or something like that is a better description, that’s fine.

    For some reason, I’ve REALLY been into this lately, I saw some new example of it I hadn’t seen before (“BTDT” for been there, done that) and then my friend mentioned the “GSD” example. My contention is simple: I shouldn’t have to learn what that word means, since it’s an acronym based on laziness, nor should have my friend had to have learned what “GSD” meant. It’s not like I’m demanding they spell out “FBI” or “NASA.”

    Obviously, if I want count myself as being “reasonably intelligent,” it would benefit me to learn new things such as what a GPS device is or that people are now using digital cameras instead of film, who Sarah Palin and other presidential candidates are, for instance. But why should I have to learn “BTDT” or “GSD” which is just an abbreviation–of laziness? Why can’t the person just type it out? And if we’re going to just abbreviate everything, why stop there? Why not type out “TODILMKPOATLI” (the other day I let my kids play outside and they loved it?”) It’s a matter of DEGREE, because–again–I don’t bemoan someone typing NASA or GPS etc.

    I agree with this entry in Wikipedia in the “SMS language” entry:

    Welsh journalist and television reporter John Humphrys has criticized SMS language as “wrecking our language.” The author cites ambiguous examples such as “lol,” which may mean “laughing out loud,” “lots of love,” or “little old lady,” depending on the context in which it is used. Humphrys describes emoticons and textese as “irritating” and essentially lazy behaviors, and surmises that “sloppy” habits gained while using textese will result in students’ growing ignorance of proper grammar and punctuation.[5]


    And again, I realize we’re debating a non-free range topic. I’ve read your posts pertinent to free-range, and I agree wholeheartedly with your points there. I hope we’re still “okay” with each other despite this particular non-free range debate.


  168. Uly June 30, 2011 at 1:00 pm #

    Jumping ahead slightly, if you’re attempting to bow out of any more linguistics geekery now, I’ll go ahead and stop.

    And no, there’s lots of people I disagree with on waaaay more important issues that I still can get along with.

  169. average mom June 30, 2011 at 2:16 pm #

    Wow. Interesting how a conversation can start showing a bit of heat, when I think if the ideas were phrased in more neutral words we could probably agree on the basics and ignore the particulars like whether or not somebody takes/needs/should nap. I see this WAAAAAAYYYY too often in parenting discussions. Let me give it a go:

    1) If you can teach your kids the rules, don’t bother baby proofing.

    2) If the child can’t or won’t learn the rules, you probably need to babyproof/restrain/contain.

    3) Children are surprising creatures and you can’t always anticipate what they are going to do. As such, there is a difference between a child that is neglected and a child that does something unanticipated.

    4) Accidents can/do/will happen whether you babyproof or not.

    5) Using rare incidences as huge factors in your decision making processes is probably not actually useful.

    You all with me so far?

    I have four kids. my 7 yr old, almost 4 and 2 year old have been easy to teach and train. My second born who is currently 5, not so much. She is the one who wanted to know if ‘don’t run in the street’ meant the same thing if she exited from the sidewalk as from the driveway as from the grass and if it still meant the same thing from each of those areas if the time or day were different and ‘what if I -accidentally, ha, ha- throw a toy out there. Then can I go? Well, not from the sidewalk, but what if from the grass? No? Let me try again tomorrow.’ Not. Even. Kidding. She is one of “THOSE” children that makes you look like a horrible parent no matter what you do. That personality also makes her the most buoyant, creative member of our family. She climbed out of her crib early. Conquered babygates when she could barely see over them and tried to do everything she saw anyone else do. She needed taught, but it took her MUCH longer and so we also needed to try to contain her. At the age she is (and the ages the other kids are) now, they ALL know how to get outside and do so pretty much whenever they want into our unfenced backyard with access to cows, chickens, a large dog and cats that haven’t been declawed which they cuddle up to their faces. And if you’re wondering why we haven’t been reported for unattended children yet? It’s because our nearest neighbors love us (regularly helping oru children ‘disappear’ in their flower garden or into their home to watch cartoons) and we live in the country (the cows and chickens reference might have made that redundant.) The two and near-4 year old have lately been leaving the house in the morning, once or twice this occurred before I was even awake {which far from scaring, instead thrilled me because I got up to see my near-4 had gotten his own breakfast and his sisters and was SO PROUD of himself} getting a kitten we rescued off the side of the road and bringing it in to play or playing with it out on the deck. This is not a problem because at this point they are all that dependable. I no longer babyproof because my kids all know and have demonstrated how to handle themselves on stairs and around sockets. I am perfectly comfortable telling any of them at their current ages not to touch a hot pan of cookies on the table and walking out of the room to get something. I would not have been able to do that if our little ‘Miss Determined to find a loophole’ were still 2. It’s all about what kids you have and what kind of track record they have and which actual dangers versus minor wound opportunities are around. Now, I would not currently leave them alone near an uncovered well unless an emergency demanded that of me, but when we mistakenly uncovered a gaping death trap in our yard shortly after moving here, I did feel comfortable telling the two children who were with me to step back and go inside without worrying about them setting our house afire.

    So all that said, I do wish that when the cases are NOT extreme (as with my oldest daughter) that we would give even our smallest kids at least as much credit as we would a golden retriever dog in training, and expect them to understand ‘no’ and ‘hot/ouchie!’ at least as well as they understand ‘ball’ and ‘go to grandma’s’ and ‘bath time’, but I also understand that some of us have trainable kids, some of us have not-yet-trainable but containable kids and some of us have not-yet-trainable-nor-containable kids. So even to myself, I say: grace, people. Understanding. Less hackles. More appreciation for the fact that everyone has a different situation. We’re all moms and everyone could probably use less of the “I can’t believe she…!” or “Why doesn’t…” and more of the, “I’m glad you are doing the best job you can with the kids you have and I know it will turn out great. Hang in there! We’re all in the same boat.” I also get my hackles raised when I see people are switching outlet covers fro the third time, until I remember the trials we had teaching my ornery one. I also get my hackles raised when I feel like someone else’s choices and their discussion of it invalidates my own. I need to put them down and realize that we’re not the same and we do different things and the fact that one person babyproofs doesn’t mean I’m a bad person for not doing it and vice versa because we have different kids, different situations and perhaps even different goals.

    My sister-in-law used to go into her kids’ bedroom several times a night to make sure the kids were warm/cool enough. (hovering mommy?) I told my kids to use or not use their blankets and quit waking me up about it. (mean mommy?) She can’t send her kids outside by themselves (hovering mommy?, I do mine all the time. She lets her kids play in the pool and even in the ocean (elementary aged and under) without any concern (neglectful mommy?). I have to keep them in my eyesight the whole time where non-kiddie pool in the backyard water is involved (helicoptering mommy?). See how our ‘free range’ versus ‘helicoptering’ kind of balances out. On the whole, we’re raising well-rounded, free range kids, all the while making opposite choices if we look at specific instances.

    So, here’s to looking at your own individual children and determining what they each need rather than using cookie cutter type guidelines that treat them like who they AREN’T. And here’s to being less offended by other parents who are attempting the same even (and perhaps especially) when they sound like they are challenging or belittling our own point of view. You can always go to the ‘smile and nod’ stand by, after all.

    And for those of you with a not-yet-trainable kid like mine was, may I recommend “Children who are not yet peaceful” as an encouraging read with some tips that might be helpful if you’re tired of spending the day saying “no, don’t, stop it”. It is written for classroom teachers, but I know my daughter benefited from at least two tips I got out of it, and I benefited from the inspiration it provided. Good luck! The little turkeys are fun, but lots of work.


  170. pentamom July 1, 2011 at 3:52 am #

    “But why should I have to learn “BTDT” or “GSD” which is just an abbreviation–of laziness?”

    But by the same token, why should someone have to type out “German Shepherd Dog” just to save YOU the trouble of learning it, when you’re not even part of the audience the person was talking to, and have no need of the knowledge anyway? Aren’t you being the lazy one, complaining that other people are making you actually have to work to gain trivial knowledge? (Not really, but neither are they.)

    As for the “morally wrong” part, I don’t get that either. Make no mistake, I’m someone who definitely believes there are absolute morals. But in what way does making sure that everyone around you, including people who have no business in your conversation, understands what you’re saying, impinge on morals? It’s not immoral for me to use language that some people don’t understand if I’m not deliberately excluding people to their actual harm. And “missing something in a conversation that doesn’t even pertain to me” is not harm. Harm is like a bunch of teenagers talking in a secret language in from other teenagers for the pure purpose of humiliating them. Harm is not breeders of Alsatians writing GSD even though someone who happens to be looking over the shoulder of one of their fellow breeders might have to ask someone what the acronym means.

    “The author cites ambiguous examples such as “lol,” which may mean “laughing out loud,” “lots of love,” or “little old lady,” depending on the context in which it is used. ”

    Humphrys just made an airtight case against homonyms. I don’t think he meant to. We use homonyms very day and use context to figure out what the word means, and our language isn’t wrecked yet. In fact, it’s actually enriched by this, as it allows puns and poetry and the like. This is *not* a good argument.

  171. LRH July 1, 2011 at 5:35 am #

    Well pentamom I certainly figure that certain persons typing “GSD” would argue that it’s lazy of me to not want to look that up thus inspiring them to type it out. I disagree. To me anyone speaking or anyone writing, the obligation is to communicate so that your audience understands you AS-IS, just like that, no extra work required. That doesn’t mean that if the audience is just ignorant it’s your job to teach them everything, obviously, but if you’re using words or abbreviations that your audience doesn’t understand, whereas spelling the word out means they DO, then you spell it out.

    My point is–why stop there? Why not type “MDIAPOTFITH” meaning “my dog is always peeing on the floor inside the house”–and then EXPECT people to know what you mean, and complain “why should I have to type that out?” Again I understand FBI, DVD, GPS etc–but when you start doing “GSD,” that’s going way overboard.

    And in fact, when you say “you’re not part of the audience the person was talking to”–well my friend who received that email WAS, and in fact is a person who deals with dogs on a very day-to-day type of level, yet HE didn’t know what the term meant, and I don’t think it was reasonable that he should’ve been expected to know. He himself was saying that the person was lazy to not spell the word out, and my friend is not a blistering-fast keyboardist like me. That really “seals the deal” for me in feeling the way about it that I do: he is a dog person who deals with them all the time, he understands the email sender’s perspective in terms of not being a speed-demon keyboardist like me, yet he STILL though the GSD thing was ridiculous and lazy on their part.


  172. pentamom July 1, 2011 at 6:03 am #

    Okay, I missed the part about your friend not getting it. That’s different than you not getting it, because you’re actually NOT the audience.

    “My point is–why stop there? Why not type “MDIAPOTFITH” meaning “my dog is always peeing on the floor inside the house”–and then EXPECT people to know what you mean, and complain “why should I have to type that out?”

    I think another person already explained that well — it works up to the point that the acronym is harder to use or come up with or understand than it’s worth. Sure, that’s subjective — but the whole point is that *everything about language is subjective.* That doesn’t, as I said, mean there are no standards, but the standards themselves are really just the result of a choice to agree on a bunch of subjectively-derived practices.

    BTDT works because it’s common and memorable — you only need to be told once what it means, just like you only need to be told once what the word “taxi” means. It’s no more “lazy” to go around using the easily learned, easily understood acronym BTDT than it is to use the word taxi, which is really shorthand for the “proper, correctly written, non-lazy” form “taximeter cab.”

  173. pentamom July 1, 2011 at 8:53 am #

    Actually, that would be taximeter cabriolet!

  174. LRH July 1, 2011 at 9:32 am #

    It looks like this discussion is going to NEVER end, and I sure don’t want to end up coming across like many say “Dolly” does, but I probably risk it. I do appreciate the attempts at a rational response to my observations.

    Even so, I stand by my assertion that acronyms like IMO and BTDT and GSD etc are exercises in laziness & disrespect of decent English. I consider those vs “taxi” to be as different as night and day, NO MATTER how either terms evolved. As far as I’m concerned I’m right and that’s it. I don’t care if 10,000,000 people, including certain Deans of English at Stanford, say otherwise–I say it’s laziness, and that’s just it. I’m right, all the rest are wrong. I know I’m probably being arrogant, but it’s just the way I see it.


  175. LRH July 1, 2011 at 10:37 am #

    For some reason an old episode of “The Jeffersons” popped in my head. I say this because a certain episode featured Mother Jefferson and one of her opiniated tirades. In it she was giving Bentley some garters for holding up his socks. He called them “suspenders” and Tom Willis clarified that’s what the English call them. Mother Jefferson’s reply was “well they’re wrong,”

    Oh my goodness, I’m only 42 and I sound almost as bad as she does!

    I still think GSD and BTDT etc are laziness, but “I’m right everyone else is wrong?” That’s a bit over the top of me. That part I shouldn’t have said. I need to wait 30-odd years before I get to sounding as bad as Mother Jefferson, ha ha. Besides, would I like someone saying that to me about their opinion on my freerange parenting?


  176. Uly July 1, 2011 at 11:01 am #

    Well, as we say, you’re entitled to your own opinion. You’re just not entitled to your own facts : ) It’s okay to say things like “I don’t like these abbreviations”. There’s lots of things people say that I don’t like. I don’t like that English dropped “thou” and now the only standard way to distinguish between singular and plural second person is defunct. I mean, there’s y’all and you all and yinz and youse, but they’re all very NONstandard! And it’s a useful thing to have! It is, it is! More recently, I dislike that lots of people can’t do the subjunctive. And lots of them would like to do the subjunctive, so they try… and they get it wrong. “If I would have known how to do the subjunctive, I would know that one says ‘If I had known’ when they use it!”

    I know that “If I would have” makes a real intuitive sense, but it just grates on me.

    But it can’t be helped. So goes language, and there are other changes that I don’t notice or that I do notice and actively like. (This doesn’t mean I can’t be a pedant with the best of ’em, especially about punctuation (though I favor logical punctuation, I *can* punctuate the more accepted way) and spelling. Punctuation and spelling change more slowly than speech does, and there ARE iron-clad rules for them, which is one reason English orthography really, really sucks. I mean, really. I’ve actually given serious thought to how to reform our spelling, both the ideal final result (using my own dialect as a baseline, because why not?) and the various steps I’d take in doing so. Pointless, because it ain’t* never gonna happen, but I’ve thought about it!)

    As far as my opinion in general goes, this piece mostly sums it up nicely.

    *Ain’t is another useful little word. Or, rather, amn’t is. Amn’t is a form of am not which exists in some dialects and not others, and not in any standard variety of English. This is a pity because it fills a neat little lexical gap. Instead we have to say things like “Aren’t I?”, which just sounds silly. And amn’t is the historical antecedent of ain’t, though ain’t has long since surpassed the simple contraction of am not.

  177. Uly July 1, 2011 at 11:04 am #

    As for Dolly, I know I’ve jumped on her, and I feel kinda bad about it as well, much though it made me feel better at the time. Her real problem is that she made such a bad first impression that even if she tries really really hard it’s going to take a while to get rid of it. I know I, at least, have to try to look past that first impression. Be a better person than I am. (I amn’t that better person, though. I’ll keep trying!)

  178. Kids aren't chickens-- HTH July 1, 2011 at 11:30 am #

    “So how about giving the mom some of those babyproofing thingies that make it hard for a child to open a door?”

    Exactly. Why NOT ensure that the mother is not exposing her child to easily foreseeable risks?

    Hey, she was covered. A helpful stranger might’ve nabbed the kid before she ran out on the freeway, right? No stranger danger, no foul.

  179. Donna July 1, 2011 at 7:01 pm #

    I think this whole language debate can be summed up as this – Larry doesn’t know many abbreviations common and routine in the 21st century. If Larry readily knows what the abbreviation means (FBI, CIA, DVD, taxi), it’s “right” to use it. If Larry has to think about what the abbreviation means for a second (although most of the general population readily knows what it means), it’s “wrong.” Fortunately, the rest of society doesn’t really care what Larry thinks and eventually many common abbreviations will be so used that even Larry will know them so they will become “right.”

  180. theintentionalparent July 1, 2011 at 7:04 pm #

    My guess would be that this kind of thing happens alot (child getting out) and this mom had some bad luck. We have probably all underestimated our kids at one pont or another. It would be nice if the “experts” in our society wanted to help instead of punish and blame this poor mom who probably feels badly enough, and underwent a very scary situation.

  181. pentamom July 1, 2011 at 9:04 pm #

    Uly, you don’t know how it tickles me that you are a fellow fan of the second-person plural and “ain’t.” I mourn the loss of those constructions from our language frequently. (If I’m not mistaken, the second person plural is “ye.” “Thou” is the second person singular familiar. Familiar and formal are nice, too, but not as big a loss.)

    I don’t want to see people saying “ain’t” all over the place out of ignorance, but I’d love if if somehow the Grammar Gurus let us use that, or something similar, to express “am not” more elegantly than the illogical “aren’t.”

    There’s another less common feature of other languages that I think could be handy, too — some languages distinguish between we as in “you and I and maybe others” and “we” as in “he and I, but not you.” That would come in handy a lot. But unlike second person plural, English isn’t as unusual in trying to do without it.

    And Larry, I don’t think continuing to pursue this discussion is the same as what has bothered some people about Dolly. It was a discussion — you said some things, people addressed them, you answered, it stayed cool. It was off topic but the thread was near the end of its lifespan anyway. It didn’t get personal, mainly, so at least from my perspective, it’s all good.

  182. Uly July 1, 2011 at 9:39 pm #

    Second person plural is you, actually, though pronouns in English decline and I don’t know how to decline you. (And why do we even have pronoun declension?)

    The inclusive/exclusive we *would* be awesome, but what I really want is a “fourth person” pronoun. That is, if I said “John slept with his wife”, you’d know if that his meant John’s wife or Mark’s wife. There’s a better term for this than “fourth person”, but you know what I mean now that I’ve described it.

  183. Uly July 1, 2011 at 9:40 pm #

    Oh, and yes, in English the plural got co-opted into the formal/informal distinction. Then people started being more and more polite with each other, leading to mutual formal/formal conversation (some cultures do it the other way and being polite is being mutually informal), and then we dropped thou.

  184. Tuppence July 1, 2011 at 10:27 pm #

    pentamom, you are correct, ye is plural, thee/thou is the singular familiar form. “You” is both the singular and plural for the formal form. I would describe it more like – the informal forms got “dropped” from the language. The singular and, at the same time, plural “you” (formal form) is as it was, nothing’s been co-opted as far as I can tell.

  185. Uly July 2, 2011 at 12:08 am #

    Tuppence, I leave you with Wikipedia. This is NOT the only place I’ve gotten this information from, but it’s the easiest to look up:

    See? The plural second person became also the formal second person.

  186. pentamom July 2, 2011 at 4:03 am #

    Well, all I know is from older Bible translations and hymns, “ye” was used as the second person plural (whether formal or familiar I can’t say) at least at some times and in some circumstances. Maybe things got sloppy on their way out the door?

  187. Scott July 2, 2011 at 8:18 am #

    When I was this age, my mom would lock the door securely with a chain. I would use a ladder to undo the chain, unlock the door, and wander into the woods. Often in the middle of the night. Sometimes I would cross a 4 lane highway, other times I would get as far as 10 miles from the house. We know that because one time I fell down a cliff and my dog ran to get the sheriff. It was in the news. There was no talk about arresting mom because you know what, kids have always wandered off while mom was asleep, for millions of years this has been happening. It’s not a crime, but good old 21st century Police State USA has made it so.

  188. Uly July 2, 2011 at 8:44 am #

    Maybe things got sloppy on their way out the door?

    Very sloppy. The Mormons, having started their religion after the end of Thou, think of thou as being the special, formal way of speaking respectfully to God. This is historically backwards, but I guess if there is a god then it’s the intent that counts.

  189. Tuppence July 2, 2011 at 6:13 pm #

    Uly, “you” ‘got left standing’ as the ONLY second person, singular and plural. The other option, to address people familiarly, disappeared from the language.

    Other languages still have two options. I’ll give you the example of German:

    Formal 2nd person singular: Sie
    Formal 2nd person plural: Sie

    Familiar 2nd person singular: Du
    Familiar 2nd person plural: Ihr

    English’s “du” and “ihr” – thou and ye – were dropped from the language, leaving only ‘you’ (equates to “Sie”). The formal form of address is the same in both the singular and plural.

    But perhaps you and I are more or less saying the same thing, and our quibble is semantic (and indeed our quibble is semantic, but you know what I mean). It seems”ye” left the language before “thou” did. To my mind, “ye” was ‘dropped’ from the language earlier than “thou” was. To your mind, “you” was ‘incorporated’ into the language by being used as the 2nd person plural for the informal form of address before “thou” disappeared.

  190. Uly July 2, 2011 at 8:53 pm #

    But perhaps you and I are more or less saying the same thing, and our quibble is semantic

    Yes, I think so. (And I do indeed know what you mean :P)

  191. pentamom July 2, 2011 at 9:49 pm #

    “Very sloppy. The Mormons, having started their religion after the end of Thou, think of thou as being the special, formal way of speaking respectfully to God. This is historically backwards, but I guess if there is a god then it’s the intent that counts.”

    Many Christians, not knowing the history, also think that. You’ll still hear some older ministers praying that way. It’s generally not worth quibbling over since it is done out of a sincere desire to be reverent, but it is an error with staying power.

    But when I’m referring to the older Bible translations and hymns, I’m referring to stuff written while “thee and thou” were still in common use, or so shortly after that there was an accurate memory of what they were for, even if the use was mainly “poetic” at that point. Especially with the Bible translations — the KJV guys and their predecessors definitely knew the correct forms. I am fairly sure that “ye” was the second person plural *of some form or other* in actual, non-contrived speech at some point.

  192. pentamom July 2, 2011 at 9:52 pm #

    And then of course there’s the other “ye” — “the” with an alternate spelling, but the same pronunciation we use. As in “Ye Old Clock Shoppe,” which is actually (as you probably know) pronounced “the old clock shop.”

  193. Uly July 3, 2011 at 11:41 am #

    It’s actually not “ye”. That’s “the” written with a thorn. It’s just that in English the alphabet no longer HAS a thorn. (Does in Icelandic, I believe. One of those languages.) That’s a pity, because the thorn really is a useful little letter.

    But then, you probably knew that…?

  194. Angie July 4, 2011 at 12:14 am #

    Recently a friend was awakened at 6am to a knock at the door. They answered the door to find two uniformed police officers standing on their doorstep with their 4 year old son! Apparently the son devised a plan to sneak out of the house, take the subway into Manhattan to pick up his friend, then take the subway back into Brooklyn so the two could go to Chuck E. Cheese. Needless to say he didn’t get that far. In fact he got exactly 6 blocks before a bodega owner saw the boy strolling down the street alone at 5am and called the cops.
    No harm no foul and the cops were really really nice about it. No child endangerment charges (lucky they weren’t in Delaware). People are inherently good and this story exemplifies that. Things happen, we’re all here to help when we can and avert a bad situation from happening when we see one. Why do some people need to be so dramatic?

  195. pentamom July 4, 2011 at 8:15 am #

    I knew it was something like that, Uly. But there are modern transliterations that render it ye, so people think it’s “ye.”

  196. Uly July 5, 2011 at 12:57 am #

    Indeed they do. Bringing back the thorn is the very first thing I’d do when reforming our orthography. Well… the third actually, after getting rid of needless silent consonants (that is, consonants that aren’t doubled to indicate that the preceding letter has a short vowel sound) and eliminating the letters c, x, and q. (C would eventually come back to replace the digraph sh (and, eventually, all digraphs that make the sh sound), and to form a new logical digraph to replace ch. Oh, I have such *plans*, and they will never ever come to fruition.)

  197. Mannie July 27, 2011 at 12:00 am #

    The cops are pressing charges, because that is what cops do. They are not in the business of helping you. They don’t care if you live or die, as long as they get their donuts and pension. The more innocent people they arrest, the more they can justify their budget.

    She’s lucky they didn’t tase and mace the kid; she probably resisted.

    Shut up and eat your cake.

  198. notsure July 27, 2011 at 11:41 pm #

    I’m glad that there is actual outrage over this in the comments, but let’s keep something in mind…

    Every single time some story about a kid dying or getting hurt in this country hits the national news, everyone comes out and demands some new law named for the kid.

    We have all collectively freaked out over the last 2 decades “for the children”, and now we are reaping what we have sown.

    Think about this the next time you click “like” on a Caylee’s Law, Lieby’s law, Amber’s Law, or anything else where vague criminal statutes are written in the heat of populist anger.

  199. Anony-mouse December 8, 2011 at 5:05 am #

    Something very much like this happened to me last week. First, my 3yo son climbed up onto a toybox and fell, giving himself a very nice black eye. The next day, my older children were doing as they are wont to do, going in and out the front door — out to play with friends, in for a drink or a potty, out to ride bikes, etc. I was trying to simultaneously work and watch my 3yo — a difficult task since he refuses to stay in any one spot for longer than ten seconds.

    I should mention that, from where I was sitting, I could see most of my house, but not the front door. (There really isn’t a place in my house that a person could sit and watch the front door.) I could hear every time the door opened or closed, but I could not actually see who was going in or out. And, like I said, my older kids and their friends were constantly going in and out. I usually look up and see where the baby is every time I hear the door, but obviously I must have missed it at least once.

    The next thing I know, my oldest daughter (13) bursts in and tells me that the 3yo had gotten outside. He, of course, had been immediately apprehended by my children, their friends, and three neighbors who had been driving by. I went out to thank the passing neighbors for stopping, only to discover that they had concluded that I must be abusing and neglecting my children, and were already on the phone with the police. One of them, an elderly man, started interrogating me about my parenting. All of the sudden I felt like the most horrible parent in the world.

    At this point, I fled with my children into the house, locked all the doors, and called my husband in hysterical sobs. I was pretty convinced that my children were about to be taken from me. Luckily, when the cop showed up, he merely asked to see my son, agreed that he looked healthy and fine (despite the black eye) and that the situation seemed under control, and left. Afterwards, another neighbor — who had been standing on his front lawn watching — came over and told my husband, “I hope you don’t think I had anything to do with this business of calling the cops. When I was his age, I got out of the house all the time.”

    I am still freaked out. I haven’t told anyone what happened because I’m afraid of what they’ll think. I am terrified about what may happen if my son managed to escape the house again. I still feel like a horrible parent — I should be able to keep a toddler from escaping the house without having to either a) keep my eyes on him every second of the day; or b) confining his siblings to the house 24/7 so that no one accidentally leaves the front door open or unlocked. (My son can already defeat those doorknob child-locks.) The only solution I’ve been able to come up with is to keep the front door locked with a key, and keeping that key in my pocket at all times. No one goes in or out without me unlocking the door. It’s not fun, but so far it’s working.

  200. Scott December 12, 2011 at 4:12 am #

    I sympathize with you. The people that consider kids wandering off a bit to be abuse are pretty much terrorists who get thrills from harassing and hounding good parents. It makes them feel superior to destroy other people’s lives.

    If this happened to my wife, I would go door to door to speak to all the people, listen to their concerns, then tell them under no uncertain terms that cooped up children like theirs are the abused ones and my children will in fact learn how to play outside and to become their own person. In case there are any doubts, I recommend carrying a couple copies of the Free Range Kids book to lend to the doubters so they can read about the actual statistics about abduction.

  201. Ray February 15, 2012 at 9:17 pm #

    L, I completely agree.

    I recently got in trouble with child youth and family for having the child proof locks ON my front and back door .

    The system in Canada doesn’t work.
    We can all see that.


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