The Way I Never Want to Think

Hi Readers! This came in response to the hfirrfdify
post about a mom who unexpectedly left her 3-year-old alone at a table at Taco Bell
for two minutes and got screamed at by the woman at the next table for “endangering” the child. “Please tell me I didn’t do something crazy,” wrote the mom. Most of us reassured her we all have moments of imperfection, and besides — the child was never actually in any danger! But then there was this note:

Dear Free-Range Kids: I hear and empathize with the idea of, “Don’t you dare judge me!” We had our four wonderful children in the first five years of our now 47-years marriage. I do get it.

But when that awful, unspeakable event occurs, which does in fact take only seconds, it will be no comfort that you have postings in your favor.

Make yourself crazy. Be protective. Just focus on the alternative and the possible consequences.

To me, the operative phrase here is, “Make yourself crazy.” We all know how to do that. I just think it’s a bad idea. Because crazy is…crazy. – L.

When it comes to child safety, go nuts!

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64 Responses to The Way I Never Want to Think

  1. jb February 8, 2013 at 5:13 pm #

    If something were to happen to my child, no matter what it was or what I had done in an attempt to prevent it, I would feel terrible and guilty and find something to blame myself over, however accurate or ridiculous. If something bad happened, no amount of prevention would seem too excessive in retrospect.

    The answer, then, isn’t to do excessive ineffectual stuff beforehand, it’s to do your best, and no better, to keep your kids safe at all times. If doing something wouldn’t make your child safer, then don’t do it, even if you would blame yourself in retrospect for not having done it.

    That said, if I was leaving my kid alone somewhere, I’d ask a nearby adult to keep an eye on them.

  2. Emily February 8, 2013 at 5:22 pm #

    Just a few things I notice here:

    1. The letter writer said, “when that awful, unspeakable moment occurs. Not “if,” but “when.”

    2. What “awful, unspeakable moment” are we talking about here? The “awful, unspeakable moment” when the child gets injured, sick, or (much less likely) dies before reaching adulthood, or the MUCH MORE LIKELY “awful, unspeakable moment” when the child is now an adult, in his or her first year of university, and hasn’t grasped basic concepts, such as how to do laundry, or cook a simple meal? I’ve seen this happen on far too many occasions. Here’s my favourite exchange:

    SCENE: Fourth year university, I’m in the communal TV room after dinner. A random guy from my building walks in.

    GUY (to me): My roommate and I cooked a chicken for dinner, but it was still pink in the middle. My roommate ate a piece, and now he doesn’t feel too good.

    ME: Well, if the chicken was still pink in the middle, that means it wasn’t cooked enough, and if you eat chicken that’s undercooked, you can get salmonella.

    GUY: Yeah, but he was REALLY HUNGRY.

    Anyway, I bet the guy just ended up either puking until he was empty, or his roommate might have called an R.A., but I saw a lot of similar things like that. I saw people who couldn’t work a washing machine (usually guys), people who thought it was a smart idea to smoke weed in their rooms (the ventilation system spread the smell pretty effectively, so someone in charge WOULD find out), people who thought giving themselves food poisoning was preferable to waiting five more minutes for their dinner, people who sprayed fire extinguishers all over the hallway, or the one guy (brilliant student in high school, drug dealer his first year of university, didn’t see him after that year) who actually had his (completely clueless) mom come and take care of him when he got sick. Anyway, every time I saw something like that, my first thought was, “Were these people really among the best and brightest from their respective high schools?” That’s what happens when kids grow up bubble-wrapped–they may make it to university on the strength of their “book smarts,” but then they flounder for lack of common sense.

  3. lollipoplover February 8, 2013 at 5:51 pm #

    “Just focus on the alternative and the possible consequences.”

    If you alway think something tragic is going to happen, you never get to enjoy the moment. What an awful way to approach life.

  4. Donna February 8, 2013 at 5:57 pm #

    If I focused on all the possible consequences, I would never leave the house. I’ve never been known to have a particularly overactive imagination and yet I can probably come up with many possible consequences for any one decision. None of them are LIKELY, but they are all POSSIBLE. I could also come up with several possible, albeit unlikely scenarios, in which the child is taken into the bathroom and ultimately dies/is seriously injured.

    Which potential consequences are we supposed to consider? The potential consequence of a kidnapping from a restaurant or the potential consequence of taking her into the bathroom where she falls, hits her head and dies. Both are highly unlikely to occur, but certainly possible.

    Or maybe we should just focus on the most likely consequence of a trip to Taco Bell – indigestion.

  5. katrin February 8, 2013 at 6:25 pm #

    This mother is certainly lucky that her kids were never injured in a car accident, especially given the lack of seat belts 40 years ago. Unless of course she did not allow them in the car. Did she have stairs in her house? It is unbelievable that her kids did not fall and sustain major injuries.
    If I were to worry about every eventuality, I would never be able to leave the house. But then again, there could be a fire, or radon or carbonmonoxide contamination, or I could fall down the stairs. . . . ..

  6. Becky February 8, 2013 at 6:33 pm #

    I’ll echo Donna – if we allowed ourselves to make ourselves crazy, be protective, and “focus on the alternative” (whatever that means), we will smother our children. We’d never leave the house, we’d keep them in padded rooms devoid of stimulation, we’d feed our children only pureed foods. Seriously! They could be hit by a car, or bump their heads, or choke on a grape!

    OR… we could NOT be crazy. We realize that we can’t control everything, we can only hope for the best. We realize that no matter what we do, we will all keep getting older, and eventually we’ll have to set those little guys free into the world, and they’ll have to take care of themselves. So what do we do? We weigh probabilities, we take risks. We show them the ropes. We teach them life skills, and we slowly, gradually loosen our grip on them.

  7. baby-paramedic February 8, 2013 at 6:37 pm #

    Awful occurences happen no matter how attentive of your children you are.
    We harm minimize (seatbelts, wrist pads when learning to rollerblade), but can not take away all risk. We calculate risk and act accordingly.

    Just this week a saw a kid who when walking managed to land her foot funny and break her leg (previous break on same leg, but I dont know what from), and another boy who dislocated his knee, whilst sitting down, never having done that before (and for a first time it was an impressive one). Hardly risky behaviour this walking and sitting down business for most of us!

  8. Mike C February 8, 2013 at 6:45 pm #

    I refuse to live in a state of constant fear, especially fear of the extremely unlikely. Should the extremely unlikely ever happen, then I’ll deal with the turmoil then. In the meanwhile, I’ll deal with comfort and happiness now.

  9. Kate February 8, 2013 at 6:56 pm #

    I have an anxiety disorder. Making yourself ‘completely crazy’ is no picnic. I HAVE to consciously choose NOT to consider every worst case scenario, or I’d wind up completely house-bound! I’ve reclaimed driving, and a lot of less objectively dangerous stuff that I had slowly let anxiety take from me, motivated almost entirely by my determination not to let my fears limit my children’s horizons. No way am I going to buy back into ‘worst-first’, let alone teach my children to live in fear of remote and unlikely ‘maybes’.

  10. CrazyCatLady February 8, 2013 at 7:02 pm #

    “But when that awful, unspeakable event occurs, which does in fact take only seconds, it will be no comfort that you have postings in your favor.”

    When, Original Poster, did that awful, unspeakable event occur in your family? Because as you say, it does only take seconds, and not one of us can be with our child EVERY second. They go to bed (generally in their own room for most of us,) they go to school, they go to their friends’ houses.

    I want to know more, more about why you would word this as though it HAS to happen to each an every one of us. Because you know, statistics prove that it doesn’t happen to everyone.

  11. Pluto February 8, 2013 at 7:10 pm #

    My thoughts: the stranger was very rude and unduly hostile, BUT the mother should have asked someone to keep an eye on the child for a moment (even though I would help, when I am trying to eat, talk on my phone, or read a book, I may not be aware that your child is alone). My biggest concern would be that a 3 yr old would just wander out, or in this case fall out of the high chair. How many squirmy kids have you seen drop a toy and reach over to try to get it, nearly toppling it over? Or, wanting to go with Mommy and trying to climb out by standing up?. This is not a stranger danger overreaction (I generally have faith in fellow citizens) or even a product safety issue. This is just a mom who has witnessed kids being kids (and 3 year olds are accident prone). While we can’t bubble wrap them, it is reasonable to supervise a 3 year old child in a fast food restaurant while sitting in a high chair. That mom might be indignant, but she was careless. She is not a criminal, she is not evil, she is not a bad mom. She may be a free-range mom, but I don’t think that this is type of behavior that we want to hold up a a great parenting moment.

  12. lollipoplover February 8, 2013 at 7:23 pm #

    I call BS or amnesia. She had 4 kids in 5 years and NEVER took her eyes off of one of them? She must have super powers!

    I always find that older generations who now have time on their hands to watch the news constantly have selective memories about how they *actually* raised their own kids. They like to add their two cents to the parents about how perfectly they did things because, after all, their kids are still alive to tell about it.
    Personally, as the youngest of 10, I KNOW i spent hours in a very large playpen(unsupervised!) while my very busy mother cooked and did laundry constantly.

    Something can always happen, even if you are psychotically supervised.

  13. Backroadsem February 8, 2013 at 7:34 pm #

    How will making myself crazy and being super-protective make me feel better if something horrible happens?

  14. Eric Van De Ven February 8, 2013 at 8:22 pm #

    The only danger the child was in was from the food at Taco Bell!

    If you are going to worry every waking minute about your child, I’ll save you some drama. They will get hurt, they will do dumb things. It is called growing up.

    Sitting, waiting for it to happen, dreading it, is no way to live.

  15. Alex R. February 8, 2013 at 8:50 pm #

    It’s a trade-off. Free-Range parents do take more risks with our children. However, these are calculated, minor risks along the lines of “yes, you can ride your bike to your friend’s house” or “please walk to the market and get me some salad dressing.” These risks pay off by giving our whole society capable, responsible children who are able to solve their own problems.

  16. Laura February 8, 2013 at 9:22 pm #

    I would prefer to be protective, but not make myself crazy.

    It makes more sense to be protective and loving and warm and fun than it does to be protective and more protective and more protective and “oh my god, i’ve lost sight of what’s important in terms of loving and living life and managed to raise a completely sheltered kid in the meantime.”

    No one here is talking about throwing caution to the wind (I think, but any website can get a few weirdos…).

    I’m doing my best to be a balanced human being (in terms of taking risks with myself!) while I try to raise a balanced human being.

  17. Betsy February 8, 2013 at 9:22 pm #

    Regarding the “falling out of the high chair” argument: when my daughter. was a sprat in a high chair, I used to go get napkins, straws, and EVEN ORDER (gasp!) at fast food restaurants after I buckled her in (always making sure I could see her from where I was). Was I never supposed to be more than an arms-length from my toddler?!!! I knew my child; she was not one to do a face-plant (my younger son, however, was crawling out of his crib at age 2. I used to put his rump – oops – germs! – on the order counter so I could hold him there with my body, or pin him into the counter with my legs).

  18. Dave February 8, 2013 at 9:48 pm #

    Make yourself crazy. I never will but you have to love her honesty.

  19. Pluto February 8, 2013 at 9:50 pm #

    Fair enough, Betsy. I just want to make a distinction between the 1) encouraging children be independent (which means not making ourselves crazy with “what if” scenarios) and 2) being careless and admitting when we make mistakes (which we have all done). I encourage my 10 year old to play in the neighborhood with his friends and climb trees, but I don’t let my 2 year old climb on the bookcases. It is unlikely that either will meet their demise, but one is riskier than the other. I consider one to be “free range parenting” and the other to be careless. When my neighbor found my 6 year old had started a fire in the backyard, I did not make a case for my enlightened parenting style. I was embarrassed, felt like an idiot and hid the matches (even though he had a bucket of water and nobody got hurt, I was careless and he was being bad).

  20. pentamom February 8, 2013 at 10:46 pm #

    For some of us, the issue is that we ARE focusing on the consequences — ALL of them.

    We’re focusing on the consequences of structuring our lives in such a way as to never, ever entertain the smallest risk of the unlikely happening, and therefore ruling out a lot of other constructive possibilities in favor of guarding against something that has almost no chance of happening anyway.

    There’s a real consequence to living this way, and it’s a 100% predictable consequence if you choose to live this way. Whereas the consequences of the infinitesimal risk of having something awful happen to your child that rarely happens at all, and almost never in the kind of situation we were discussing, are terrible, the level of risk is so low compared to the 100% risk of living a cramped, paranoid life if you choose to live a cramped, paranoid life makes the choice easy.

  21. pentamom February 8, 2013 at 10:48 pm #

    sorry, “the level of risk is so low compared to the 100% risk of living a cramped, paranoid life if you choose to live a cramped, paranoid life that it makes the choice easy.”

  22. bmommyx2 February 8, 2013 at 11:30 pm #

    maybe we should never leave the house or drive a car those are such risky activities

  23. Erica February 8, 2013 at 11:34 pm #

    Wow, just wow. And what is this mother with two kids supposed to do when in that most unlikely event occurs? How exactly dose super mom save the child simply by proximity?

  24. Emily February 8, 2013 at 11:46 pm #

    BMommyx2….not so fast. The home is FULL of dangers, isn’t it? I don’t know about you, but my house includes a kitchen, with hot cooking appliances and sharp knives, a bathtub that a child could drown in, and various poisonous/flammable/explosive/corrosive chemicals throughout the house. No, I’m not a meth addict; I’m talking about normal things, like drain cleaner, Fantastik, laundry degtergent, ibuprofen, and my multivitamins, that keep me healthy when taken once a day as directed, but could probably poison a child (or an adult) if they took them all at once. Anyway, all of these things are necessary, for one reason or another, but they can all be dangerous if used improperly. Everything has an inherent risk–grapes can be choked on, a pencil can put someone’s eye out, hell, even lying in bed too long without moving can cause bed sores. So, even if you never leave your house, you don’t escape all risk, because that’s impossible. Some people think that that’s all the more reason to TRY to eliminate every possible risk, but I think it should be the opposite–since risk can’t entirely be avoided, it makes sense to go out and enjoy life.

  25. bmj2k February 9, 2013 at 12:21 am #

    The scary thing is that she wrote “when” it happens. This is the result of this whole negative way of life. Bad things WILL ALWAYS HAPPEN. In fact, THEY MUST HAPPEN! The only way to avoid it to “go crazy” and be over-vigilant and over-protective. It is a warped and unhappy way of looking at the world, and also totally unrealistic. It is sad how society has made people like her victims in their own minds- before anything has even happened!

  26. Julie February 9, 2013 at 12:31 am #

    There’s a book called “The Science of Trust” by John Gottman. Dr. Gottman applies mathematical equations to human relationships. If you’ve ever seen the TV show “Numbers” he basically does what the FBI guy’s smart brother does. Anyway, at one point there was an illustration showing people’s happiness in relationship to how much they trusted which included whether or not they were betrayed. The people who trusted and were betrayed anyway were still happier than those who chose not to trust and were not betrayed at all. It was a fascinating read for anyone who likes that sort of thing. He mostly applies his work to couple’s relationships but they can be applied to other relationships as well. Basically, you can have a crappy life and not trust anyone ever and maybe you’ll be right (or maybe you won’t) or you can choose to trust others, and be happier than someone who chooses not to trust whether you’re betrayed or not. I know which one I’d rather be.

    Disclaimer: It’s been about a year since I read the book so you should really read it yourself and not take my paraphrasing as absolute truth. That’s just what I remember getting out of it.

  27. Julie February 9, 2013 at 12:34 am #

    Also, it really is a fascinating read.

  28. Suzanne February 9, 2013 at 2:29 am #

    I’d be concerned if the kid DID hurt herself. The thing about leaving the average kid out in public is that they CAN advocate for themselves. Would a crying three-year-old know what to do if she did fall? Would they be nervous about mommy not being there?

    I also think that mindful adults are part of the social safety net. When I feel that a kid might be in danger of hurting themselves, I WATCH THEM. I know that chances are, nothing will happen, and if they do, I’m there. *I FEEL* a lot better doing that.

  29. Tsu Dho Nimh February 9, 2013 at 3:51 am #

    There’s a FaceBook page for that woman:

  30. knutty knitter February 9, 2013 at 4:12 am #

    One thing – why on earth would a 3 year old be in a highchair anyway. That would be considered very babyish round here. By that age ours are expected to sit at the table (with a cushion), use a knife, fork and spoon with minimal help and follow instructions when necessary. I would probably ask someone to keep a rough eye on things or tell them to come too if it looked like there might be problems.

    viv in nz

  31. Betsy February 9, 2013 at 4:46 am #

    Make yourself crazy?
    SHE’S flipping crazy!

    Advice for Unlearning how to Make Yourself Crazy:

    Tune it out and calm yourself.

  32. hineata February 9, 2013 at 5:03 am #

    @lollipoplover – amen! So many ‘oldies’, God bless them, definitely have selective amnesia. I had only three in five years but regularly looked after two others as well, and no way in heck did I have my eyes on them all, all the time.

    And the sweet old dears who tell you they never left their kids outside the dairy/shop/supermarket…..This from people I know used to leave their kids outside the pub…..

    Bring on memory loss, I say – can’t wait for the time when I can look back and consider myself the perfect mother, LOL!

  33. hineata February 9, 2013 at 5:14 am #

    @Viv – I was one of the naughty ones who used high chairs way past when a lot of Kiwis do, i.e to three for the teeny one, chiefly because it was easier to manage multiple toddlers when at least a few of them were strapped down, LOL!

    Also Midge couldn’t actually reach the table without a high chair until she was four or so. Must be other kids out there like that. She is a bit naughty though – she’s now thirteen and would still sit in the ‘kid seat’ in the supermarket trolley if I let her!

  34. Warren February 9, 2013 at 8:07 am #

    The terrifying part of this, is this woman, the one advocating making ourselves crazy, is the one that lawmakers, and policy makers will listen to.

    Her and her kind will lobby for change after change, while we do not see the need for the change. And let`s face it, it is alot easier to get funding for change, than it is to get funding for leaving things alone.

  35. pentamom February 9, 2013 at 10:08 am #

    knutty knitter — cushions aren’t always available at fast food restaurants. Sometimes a high chair is the best thing available for someone who can’t otherwise reach the table.

  36. pentamom February 9, 2013 at 10:13 am #

    “And the sweet old dears who tell you they never left their kids outside the dairy/shop/supermarket”

    Right here in the good old U.S. of A. which is supposedly not as trusting as the rest of the world in this respect, my mom left me alone in the car at the grocery store sometimes at school age, in the early 70’s. Sometimes she made me come along, but I think that was more about “come on, get off your duff, sometimes you have to do stuff you don’t want to do.” That means it’s quite likely that the old dears of 75 or so were doing the same thing at the same time (my mom was a bit older but I was the youngest by a lot.)

  37. Krista (from the story) February 9, 2013 at 11:26 am #

    Knutty knitty, I’m the mother from the Taco Bell story. These are the reasons why my daughter was using a high chair:

    1) She insisted and since she’s going through a stubborn phase right now I decided letting sit in a high chair was much, much better than having her throw a massive tantrum and disrupt everyone.

    2) She is rather short for her age. She’s perfectly capable to climb down herself from the high chair, but the benches are so far away from the table it can be difficult for her to reach her food. If she wants to sit at the bench and try I encourage that, but it is easier for her to eat from the high chair.

  38. Donna February 9, 2013 at 11:46 am #

    @knutty knitter – Because the kid asked to sit in a high chair. As a general rule, my kid stopped using a high chair at 18 months. Every once in awhile, we’d go out to eat at McDs or Taco Stand (different than Taco Bell) and she’d push over a high chair and climb in. She did that up until we left the states when she was 6. And, based on her desire to sit in the baby seat in grocery carts on occasion, may still want to do it if we ever ate out in places with readily accessible high chairs. While I think it is infantizing kids to insist that they still must be in high chairs at 3, I never saw a reason to stop her from making a choice to sit in a high chair.

    I do draw a line at sippy cups. One of Maya’s friends still drinks out of a sippy cup at almost 7, so, of course, the other kids want one too and I always refuse. The mother’s excuse is that she doesn’t want them to spill in the car (which carries over to use in the house), at which point I ask “why not just don’t drink in the car?” We live on a freaking 26 square mile island. While it takes more time to get around than you’d expect (due to a maximum speed of 25 mph that is rarely attained), you are not routinely in the car for more than 40 minutes. You’re not going to die of dehydration on the daily 30 minute journey to school.

  39. Yan Seiner February 9, 2013 at 12:07 pm #

    Just wow. Live in fear, make yourself crazy. That’s nuts. I prefer to enjoy life.

    I think the old samurai said it best:

    Wake up in the morning and accept that this may be the last day of your life. Accept the certainty of your death, and only then does death lose its grip on your life.

    We in this culture do not accept death, our own, that of our children, and try to stop it at all costs, and in doing so we fail to live.

  40. Betsy February 9, 2013 at 12:43 pm #

    Warren, Bingo! Then the parents debate about what level of crazy is acceptable when change is introduced!

    This woman is a poser. Fake.

    Seriously doubt married for 47 years with four kids.
    If she followed her own advice, she’d be in a nuthouse at this point.

  41. pentamom February 9, 2013 at 12:55 pm #

    I guarantee that if that lady was acting like that in the late 60’s, she really stood out as a nutcase. The sad thing is that now, there are websites full of people who would cheer her on.

    Realistically, I’ll bet she actually didn’t act like that.

  42. lollipoplover February 9, 2013 at 1:15 pm #

    @hineata- I can’t wait until memory loss kicks in too so I can be a perfect mother, finally!

    I remember frequent comments from my MIL about my first child- “Why he sure gets so many bruises and scratches. I never let them get more than a hands reach away when I raised my babies!” I used to feel so guilty that I was doing something wrong…but then I found my husband’s baby book.
    He’d been to the ER 4 times between ages 2 and 3 for swallowing a bottle of heart pills, drinking aftershave, and breaking his arm twice. She described him as “always getting the lumps”. When she made her amnesia parenting comments, I would pull out his baby book and remind her of what *actually* happened.

  43. Betsy February 9, 2013 at 1:57 pm #

    She wasn’t even around in the sixties.

  44. pentamom February 9, 2013 at 2:41 pm #

    Betsy, if she’s been married for 47 years, she certainly was.

  45. pentamom February 9, 2013 at 2:42 pm #

    OIC, you don’t believe she’s real.

    I wouldn’t assume that. Why are you so doubtful that foolish, crazy people actually exist? I meet them frequently.

  46. Taradlion February 9, 2013 at 2:59 pm #

    People say Hindsight is 20/20…I say it is more like wishing you had the DeLorean time machine from Back to the Future….just go back and change one thing and change everything.

    I’m sorry, but any parent that has a child seriously injured of killed will fee terrible and will have the “if only…” You could have a car with THE safest rating and the best carseat installed professionally, and if hit by a drunk or a semi-truck with failing breaks, you will think, “if only we had left 5 minutes sooner/later”….”if only we had taken the other route”…Many posts here have pointed out that finding fault in the parenting gives comfort that it will never be MY child that is hurt.

    In the Taco Bell scenario, if the child had slipped and fallen in the bathroom and hit her head, or pinched her fingers in the door, or licked the wall (like SKL’s daughter at McDonald’s- no judgement, mine licked an NYC subway pole), mom might have thought, “If only I had left her safely in her high chair at the table.”

    If only I had that DeLorean and I could go back every time something caused my kid (minor) trauma…well, then my kid would have ZERO ability to cope with anything….

  47. Betsy February 9, 2013 at 3:07 pm #

    operative phrase, “Make yourself crazy.”

    Operative for what?

    This person is crazy and a fake.

    Why bother ?

  48. Beth February 9, 2013 at 3:12 pm #

    While I love this site and reading the usually insightful comments, the judgmental stroller and high chair hatred always astonishes me.

    It seems kind of inconsistent that we are saying “yeah, it was OK to leave your child there for a few minutes (and to be clear, I think it was, too), but MY GOSH why o why was a 3-year-old in a HIGH CHAIR?”

  49. Donna February 9, 2013 at 6:12 pm #

    @ Beth –

    I think many, myself included, see the high chair and stroller and sippy cup and whatever thing as another sign of the increasing infantizing of childhood. Parents are using these baby products well beyond babyhood and well beyond previous generations.

    Some of it, I imagine, is convenience of the parents. It is much easier to walk a mile with a preschooler in a stroller than to try to drag her along while she stops to pick up every rock along the way. But some of it is exactly the same mentality we fight against every day – this belief that kids are far less capable than they are. Since my child has been 3ish, we’ve walked to the park a mile away sans stroller. Somehow that was always considered an amazing feat among some people I know. They could not fathom the idea that a preschooler could walk such a long distance without her little legs just falling right off. My kid is not a super athlete and I think most normally developed preschoolers can walk two miles over the course of a few hours (we hung at the farmer’s market and playground before coming home). But they are perceived as less capable – and as a result do become less capable. I don’t believe that the children of any of my friends astounded that mine walked to the park and back could walk to the park and back. Not because there was anything wrong with their legs but because they had never walked more than a block or two in their lives.

  50. Laura S. February 9, 2013 at 6:18 pm #

    ‘awful and unspeakable offence’ will occur even in the parents presence too. I know a 2 year old who choked to death right in front of her mother. And, i know a child who was molested by her father. Bad things happen when the parents are around too. And, things are beyond their control. You simply can’t protect your children 100% of the time.
    “When” something terrible vs. “If” something terrible happens; That is just fear of not being control. I lived 43 years, even traveled US, Europe and the world by myself, and nothing terrible and unspeakable has ever happened to me. For all my free rangeness growing up the on ’70’s nothing bad ever happened. I’m thankful that my parents raise me, as most people my age, as free range. They helped me grow into an independent, self confident woman and a free range parent myself.

  51. Adriana February 9, 2013 at 6:19 pm #

    Make yourself crazy… because that’s what a kid needs. A mom who’s so crazy about all the ‘what if’s’ in the world that they can’t see the good things around them, including their own child.

    I had a ‘make yourself crazy’ dad. All it did was make me crazy. Didn’t stop the 3 car accidents I’ve been in growing up. Didn’t stop me from getting lost a couple of times as a child. All it did was make me paranoid and afraid. I am doing my darndest to make sure I don’t pass that on to my kids.

    Also, as horrible as it would be, if something horrific were to happen to my child, such as death, I would hope that up to that moment they would have had a full and happy life filled with adventure.

    … Now I feel like watching Finding Nemo again.

  52. Ellen February 9, 2013 at 6:21 pm #

    Pluto, I have to tell you my Mom’s story. When one of my cousins stayed with us when he was 6 or so (in the 70’s) Mom caught him lighting matches. She then proceeded to show him how to do it properly and made him light every match in the box (while she observed). I’m pretty sure that to this day he is not interested in lighting a match.

  53. Emily February 9, 2013 at 6:22 pm #

    My son broke his femur walking through my kitchen. I assume I could have been walking everywhere with him holding his hand and he wouldn’t have broken it. That might have pulled his arm out of socket though. I’ll skip going crazy and let him ride his bike up and down the side walk and grow up free and independent.

  54. Elizabeth February 9, 2013 at 7:31 pm #

    My most useless attempt at keeping my child safe was when my son was younger and was riding his bike in the park. I noticed his brakes weren’t working well. I told him to go play while I worked on his brakes because I didn’t want him to get hurt riding his bike. So he went on the swings. I looked up from fixing the brakes and he was lying on the ground after falling off a swing. He ended up with a broken arm. So much for fixing the brakes so he wouldn’t get hurt!
    Apparently he was going to get hurt one way or the other.

  55. Suzanne February 9, 2013 at 7:36 pm #

    I think we can all agree that what happened to Jaycee Dugard, the girl who was kidnapped and kept for 18 years by a pedophile, is the worst possible thing we could imagine. I read her book, which was hard to read, but I wanted to read it to hear her experience firsthand. In it, she says that when she got rescued, and her daughters had to go to school, she had anxiety about them doing it, because she got taken going to school. She had to work through feelings, and says flat out that what happened to her is RARE, she is the 1%, and her daughters can’t live their life like that. So she let them go to school.

    If Jaycee Dugard can come to this conclusion, there’s really no excuse for someone else to “be crazy” about the potentials and worry about WHEN something will happen, and let if affect the way they bring up their children.

  56. AW13 February 9, 2013 at 9:11 pm #

    @Tsu doh Nimh: Thanks for that link! That is some of the best satire I’ve read in a long time! Several posts – and their comments – had me laughing loudly.

  57. missjanenc February 9, 2013 at 9:13 pm #

    Not understanding the high chair hate here. In some restaurants booster seats might not be available so a high chair sans tray pushed up to the table is a viable alternative. It’s not about babying a three year-old; it’s choosing whether or not you want the munchkin in question to do a butt plant on a regular seat and be eye level with his/her food.

  58. delurking February 9, 2013 at 10:17 pm #

    You’ve been trolled. Don’t respond to trolls, much less put them up on the front page.

  59. CrazyCatLady February 9, 2013 at 10:22 pm #

    The “when it happens” – I personally have only known one child who was kidnapped, and it was a custody dispute and the police came with the mother to the daycare to get the child while the dad was working out of town one day and couldn’t get back in time to confront the mother personally.

    I know one kid who saved another kid’s life when the first was stuck under water under a stump in a stream bed. It was the summer before 5th grade and his quick thinking saved a life when parents weren’t around.

    I knew one other kid, my younger brother’s best friend who drowned. But, he was 16, the water was cold and the current strong and he was swimming in a non-swimming area.

    I know one person who admitted that her father molested her (she was in 9th grade when she told this.) I know one of my daughter’s friends who was molested by a family “friend.”

    All of this, out of what…ten thousand or more people that I have met and dealt with during my life. 5 incidents. Of the “when it happens.” And all of them, for various reasons, not likely to happen to myself or my own kids. My husband is not estranged. My kids have learned water safety, and I have listened to my mom “sense” and not allowed some things like sleep overs when the mom of the friend was allowing random college age people to “crash” at her house, including in her daughter’s room. (People for the most part who could not keep a conversation appropriate in front of elementary age kids.)

    If something happens to my kids, I will be devastated. But I also know that everyone is only human, and we cannot fortell the future or be the “perfect” mom at all times. Sanctimommy listed above, reminded me of my FB group where people were complaining that they saw a mom in the store with a crying infant, in the car seat. The FB mom yelled at the other to pick up her baby. I told her flat out she should have offered to hold the baby while the mom was shopping. Other moms talked about how they felt like they were dammed if they woke their sleeping baby up to take it into the store in the “appropriate” sling or carrier, or if they let the baby sleep but it woke in the store. Yep, we can’t please all of the people all of the time, we should work to please ourselves all of the time.

  60. Peter Armenia February 9, 2013 at 10:47 pm #

    Leaving the 3 year old for two minutes is not crazy.
    Bringing them into a Taco Bell in the first place is the problem.

  61. Rebecca Masters February 10, 2013 at 8:56 am #

    I will sing the same refrain as i always do: Does she let her children be in a car? How will she ever forgive herself if one -or all- of her kids are horribly injured or die in a car accident which is 10,000 times more likely to happen.

  62. lollipoplover February 10, 2013 at 3:50 pm #

    Or a fox could eat her child.

    It COULD happen…..

  63. Let_Her_Eat_Dirt February 10, 2013 at 9:36 pm #

    Not only is it not possible to monitor your kids 24/7, it’s not desirable. It will indeed drive you crazy — and it will drive them crazy as well. The only thing that we know “will” happen is that we all will die. We can’t control that. But we can control how we live, and a life lived in fear is not really worth living.

    Let Her Eat DIrt
    One dad’s take on raising tough, adventurous girls

  64. pentamom February 11, 2013 at 11:24 am #

    “She had to work through feelings, and says flat out that what happened to her is RARE, she is the 1%, and her daughters can’t live their life like that. So she let them go to school.’

    Just to emphasize the point, she’s not the 1%. It’s way, way less than that.

    If I have the math right, a little over 100 kids per year out of 50 million abducted by strangers, over an 18 year childhood, gives you about .005 of 1% for any given child.