Readers! Let’s give this woman some good ideas. She needs them — as do we all!
Dear Free-Range Kids: My name is Shaylene Haswarey, and I want to share a story with you today.
This morning, my doorbell rang, and two police officers were present.Â They asked me if I am the mother of my children, and I said yes.Â They said someone called them because my three oldest kids (ages 9, 7, and 6) were walking around our GATED town-house complex, unattended.Â I said, “They found a cat, and I let them go out and feed it.”
The officer said that he’d been called by a concerned neighbor who’d added that yesterday he’d seen my oldest child Â outside in his pajamas in the rain. (My son was wearing sweat pants and a T-shirt.)
I told the officer I am from Idaho, and kids play outside like this all the time.Â He said my kids are too young to be out, Â because we do not have a yard, and this is a complex.Â He also told me there are predators around here.Â He finally told me if I let my kids out again he will have to call social services because I am endangering my children!Â What is wrong with this picture???
1.Â Is it against the law to go out in the rain in your pajamas?
2.Â My kids know how to watch for cars.Â They were following the cat and feeding it.
3.Â There are NO predators in my neighborhood. I looked on Megan’s Law, and there are only 6 in our whole city, and none are in my neighborhood.Â I live inÂ Aliso Viejo, CA.Â Aliso Viejo is a small city in betweenÂ IrvineÂ and Mission Viejo.Â These cities rank #1 by the FBI for the safest cities in America with a pop. of 100,000+.Â Therefore, Aliso Viejo is safer than the city I grew up in in Idaho!
After the police officer asked for me and my husband’s name and birthdates, I freaked out!Â I am NOT going to let my kids go outside without me again! Â I don’t want social services knocking on my door.Â What do you think I should do if anything, about this?Â My husband’s family is fromÂ India.Â They have a big house there.Â I am thinking of going to their villageÂ this SeptemberÂ and staying there for a few months, so my kids can be normal kids. — Shaylene
Dear Shaylene: Isn’t it incredible that you are living the “American Dream” — a house, four kids, nice town — and longing for the kind of childhood a kid can get in a much less affluent country? Meantime, I put this question to readers: What can this mom do to prove to the cop that she’s not off base? How can we she convince him (and other cops and other neighbors) that being outside is normal and healthy for kids? Should we all call the police department there? Start a petition? Any ideas? — Lenore