Two Stories You Won’t Hear on the News

Hi stsiynznyh
Readers! Here you go! — L

Dear Free-Range Kids: I live in a small town (less than 300 residents) in Southwest Pennsylvania,  and regardless of the image the local-ish news channels portray, it is VERY safe. I grew up in the house I am living in, my  parents live next door.

The other day I was working in the yard, repainting some furniture. I heard my 2-year-old come out  then turn around and bang on the door she just exited. My mom came to the door and asked Gwen if she wanted to come in. I didn’t hear anything else, and when I looked up a few minutes later and didn’t see my daughter, I assumed she had gone in with my mom. A couple minutes later, I went in to clean up. When I didn’t see my daughter, I asked where she was. Mom said she thought Gwen was outside with me. This started a search of the yard (large, nearly 3/4 acre, all fenced in), something that happens a couple times on most days. When we determined Gwen wasn’t there, we started walking up the street. Mom found her standing in front of a neighbor’s house three homes away, looking for the back-hoe she’d seen the day before. The neighbor who lived there was just walking over to Gwen to bring her down and see if she was ours. My next door neighbor, who was leaving for work, was also just coming out to see whose child it was.

Total result? A minute of semi-panic when we realized my two-year-old wasn’t in the yard. A five-minute conversation with a normally anti-social neighbor about her grown daughter at the toddler stage. And when my father came home, he moved the gate latch to the outside of the fence so Gwen can’t open it again. Nobody called the police or child protective services, no injuries occurred, and Gwen wasn’t even fazed  — though she WAS disappointed that the big machines were gone.

This is a big deal to me because Pittsburgh news (our closest “local” news) runs nearly weekly reports of parents going to court-mandated parenting classes or even losing their children because of similar occurrences where toddlers get out and wander unsupervised. In all of these occasions, when neighbors find random children, they don’t look for a parent, they seem to START by calling the police.

Then, today we went to our nearest park to play on the big swings. The park is right against the Youghigheny River, so there are a lot of water fowl. Gwen played until she realized the ducks were there! She wanted to go look. While there, she had a lovely conversation about the ducks with an older gentleman (75 or 80 years, probably), who was sitting on a bench watching the ducks, too. I actually walked back to the car (about 20 yards away) to get her drink while she sat and watched with him. She probably sat still for longer than anywhere else today. He was polite, patient, and seemed to find her constant observations about the ducks adorable.

Thankfully, the local city has not succumbed to the temptation to bar adults from enjoying the same areas as children, because both my daughter and the gentleman had a wonderful time.

Moral of the story: There are some areas of the country that haven’t completely succumbed to insanity, and I am SO happy to live in one of them, since we have been Free-Range with Gwen since she first became mobile. — A Happy Pennsylvania Mom

WTD? What happens when a toddler watches ducks with someone other than her parent?

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115 Responses to Two Stories You Won’t Hear on the News

  1. KateNonymous May 17, 2011 at 2:53 am #

    Great stories!

  2. bob May 17, 2011 at 3:05 am #

    Sounds like the kind of thing that happened all the time when I was a little kid (way back in the fifties).

  3. aDad May 17, 2011 at 3:10 am #

    I did call the police and they were very nice and totally helpful!

    My seven-year-old was riding home on her bike in a pretty urban area while I followed behind with my younger daughter and her training wheels. When we got home, no older daughter. Try to supress panic. Go check the park, retrace steps, still no seven-year-old. OK. Drop younger one at a friend’s house and flag down nice looking officer. Quick ride around the neighborhood, no daughter. Check back at home and there she is on the steps in tears. Thank officer profusely and go to comfort daughter who was confused and thought we were going to the OTHER park (which in fairness to her, we had talked about earlier). When we didn’t show up, she waited and waited and then rode home. She was upset, I was upset, and my wife was upset. The next day, she rode home from school by herself again, and has continued to do so.

    Lesson learned: make sure everyone knows where they’re supposed to go.

    Lesson learned: the cops are nice and very helpful looking for kids. In addition, they weren’t judgmental at all, they didn’t scold or try to tell me it was my fault for letting her ride off by herself; go cops.

    Lesson learned: seven-year-olds are pretty smart and very resilient, not so sure about their parents.

  4. TheDrBuchanan May 17, 2011 at 3:28 am #

    In all fairness, there are definitely some ‘neighborhoods’ in Pittsburgh where I would question a parent about their roaming 2-year-old – not necessarily because of the ‘crazies’ that might snatch them up, but more because of the traffic! Neighborhoods in urban Pittsburgh are not nice little cul-de-sacs, nor do they resemble quiet towns of 300, and they have many more cars speeding by without regard for little ones who may wander out.

  5. Mike May 17, 2011 at 4:19 am #

    TheDrBuchanan, that is an example of a REAL danger, not an imagined one. The whole point of being free-range is acknowledging real dangers, and not living in an “every air molecule is out to get my children” paranoid fantasy.

    Look both ways before crossing the street: Check.
    Never cross the street without me holding your hand, even if you are a teenager: Insanity.

  6. Emily May 17, 2011 at 4:23 am #

    What a lovely post! It’s nice to hear a bit of good news.

  7. Dolly May 17, 2011 at 4:37 am #

    That is a great post. Glad that some things can still be simple.

  8. Marie May 17, 2011 at 4:46 am #

    I love it. It’s the kind of stunt I keep waiting for my 2 year old to manage, as she’s been one of those kids who wanders off without looking back ever since she learned to walk. Any time she gets out front I know I have to keep an eye on her because she has no fear and there are a few drivers who don’t understand what a reasonable speed is on our roads.

  9. The Woman Formerly Known As Beautiful May 17, 2011 at 5:02 am #

    I let my 4-year old daughter talk to a homeless woman outside her pre-school as I talked to another mom twenty yards away. My daughter came back to me and said, “Mommy, I’d like you to meet Karen, she loves Jesus.” I’m agnostic, but found my child’s innocent, non-judgmental attitude so endearing. I went over and met Karen, who was quite dignified as homeless people in L.A. often are. We shook hands and chatted a bit. Then she told me my beautiful girl had made her day.

  10. AlottaLettuce May 17, 2011 at 6:44 am #

    Must echo the original writer’s sentiments: There ARE areas – even those that are nowhere near rural – where people still seem to have some semblance of perspective and come by free-range parenting naturally.

    My neighborhood is one of them.

    I’m not a parent myself, but I regularly see the neighborhood kids out riding their bikes and scooters and having a grand ole’ time, free of constant supervision…and I LOVE it. These kids are getting the childhood they deserve – one marked by curiosity, exploration, creativity, conflict management and yes, even failure.

    Having read Free Range Kids for a while now, and observed parenting trends in my own neighborhood and others, I have a theory: The hyper-vigilance often reported here is class-based and largely limited to ex-urban neighborhoods populated by educated, upwardly mobile, primarily white families.

    My neighborhood on the other hand, is a close-in suburb of a major city, populated primarily by elderly retirees (60%) and families with young children (40%) who are considered “working class” at best, and “low-income” at worst. There are a lot of minorities – primarily Hispanic – but it’s definitely still a “white” neighborhood.

    Perhaps these parents don’t have the luxury of worrying about their children incessantly and protecting them from any and every adversity, every second of every day. Perhaps both parents must work in order to make ends meet and have made reluctant sacrifices.

    Or perhaps they’re just really, incredibly wise and realize that THERE’S NOT MUCH TO WORRY ABOUT.

  11. Jen May 17, 2011 at 8:15 am #

    @TheDrBuchanan: I’m the mom who originally wrote the note. We do NOT live in Pittsburgh. We’re actually about an hour south. I’ll agree that there are definitely areas even in our town where traffic is way more of an issue than anything else. Gwen is starting to learn to look both ways for traffic, even though there isn’t much traffic on the road that isn’t a resident.

  12. Alison Golden May 17, 2011 at 9:38 am #

    I’ve called the police on my own kids once when they disappeared. Similar situation – I thought they were outside with their dad, he thought they were inside with me and drove off. They were hiding from me because they didn’t want a bath and did. not. come. when. I. called.

    I drove around the block a couple of times, searched the house three times then was too panicked to be useful so I called 911. They appeared from somewhere, I still know not where.

    My point is, this kind of lapse can happen to anyone, now and again. And for some people that is an absolute tragedy if something terrible happens. It is no less a tragedy if the lack of supervision is habitual but it is less random.

  13. ebohlman May 17, 2011 at 10:04 am #

    Alotta: I think you’re right about the class issue as it relates to super-intensive parenting as a whole. First, as you point out, you have to be pretty well-off to be able to afford to do it. Second, I think part of the problem is that we as a culture have magically slid from “being a SAHM is just as valid a choice as being a high-powered career WM” to “being a SAHM requires putting in the kind of hours that having a high-powered career does.” That in turn is related to our cultural fetish for long working hours, which I suspect is why helicoptering is so much more common in the US and UK than in continental Europe.

  14. Storm May 17, 2011 at 10:51 am #

    Thank you for this beautiful slice of sanity. But, I gotta tell you, as a middle aged guy in North America, especially as a gay middle aged guy, I am terrified of strange children.
    The last time I though it might be cool to have a working lunch outdoors in a park, I was asked to leave.
    Rudely. By a group of really scary moms. Ironically, I was employed by a provincial youth advocacy ngo at the time and was actually drafting a grant proposal for a youth safety initiative when the incident happened.
    Now, if I were to encounter a young child in distress, I would absolutely call the police and keep them on the line. For my sake. The possible consequences of doing anything else are just too horrific.

  15. Gabrielle May 17, 2011 at 10:51 am #

    I live on a pretty quiet block where people don’t socialize much. Despite that, and despite having lived here only a few years, the person next door and the person a few doors down from mine DEFINITELY know to which house/family my kid(s) belong.

  16. Kelly G May 17, 2011 at 11:06 am #

    Oh Storm, I am sorry you had to experience that. That’s exactly what a lot of us here are trying to change–the pervasive attitude that strangers are dangerous and especially if they’re middle aged men in a park. It sucks when it happens to guys like you, and it sucks when it happens to men like my husband who takes out daughter out for an hour of Daddy Daughter time to let mommy have some much needed me time. Hopefully the movement will continue to spread and we wont have to endure situations like that too often!

    Jen, thanks for sharing your stories with us. It’s so wonderful to hear a positive note!

  17. Rebecca May 17, 2011 at 11:10 am #

    Storm, that’s absolutely horrible. The world is insane. Parks are for everyone. And to be afraid of unfounded accusations and feel inhibited from engaging with children who cross your path diminishes life for all of us.

  18. Jennifer May 17, 2011 at 11:28 am #

    there was just a story like that on the new a couple of days ago headline “Toddler Found Alone On Road, Babysitter Arrested”

  19. Heather May 17, 2011 at 11:50 am #

    On the escaped-toddler-home-safely-without-police front: We recently moved to a racially mixed neighborhood where we are definitely in the minority (we’re white). The 18-month-old has escaped twice out the front door, once less than 5 minutes after I was reading to her on the couch. I had walked into the kitchen to deal with dinner, two older siblings had come in from the front yard. I didn’t realize she had gone out the door.
    As I was setting the table, there was a knock at the front door. Oldest daughter went to answer it and I heard a surprised, “Oh, thank you!” Seems a group of young black men, probably early high school age, had noticed my youngest in the street. And brought her home. She seemed utterly unfazed after being carried, probably, by a group of strangers. This is a child at the peak of separation anxiety, but this bothered her not one whit.
    As to where I am, I’m three blocks away from a major city with quite a nasty reputation.

  20. Kelly Mayr May 17, 2011 at 12:00 pm #

    We had an incident when one of my sons was 2 1/2. I was out. My husband was downstairs and our son was taking a nap upstairs in his room. My son woke up. He walked down the stairs and right out the front door. He then attempted to come back in , but couldn’t reach the door handle. So he sat on the porch. I woman jogging past saw him and asked if this was his house. He said yes so she rung the doorbell. My husband answered the door and realized what had happened. He thanked her and didn’t think much about it. About fifteen minutes later the doorbell rung again and it was the police. It turns out the woman called the police before she rang the doorbell. The police came in to check that our son was ok. This totally freaked him out and he started crying. He didn’t walk out the front door again for a long time LOL.

  21. Marguerite May 17, 2011 at 12:09 pm #

    We live in a fairly small town but there is a seedier part to it. My husband was out front and a three year old was running by the house in tears and then ran out into the four lane traffic where he was almost hit by a car. I followed him in my van because he wouldn’t stop running and had to call the police from my cell as I followed this poor boy. The police were already out looking for him. When I walked up with the boy to his home, a man came out obviously on drugs and said he had done the same thing earlier in the week. The three year old knew how to get home. My point is some people are not allowing their children to wander because they want to raise their children with confidence, but because of neglect. Perhaps you should have looked up when you heard your two year old leaving the house. That isn’t raising them to be independent it is a two year old that is neglect. I am glad you didn’t have any consequenses from that but that is more luck then anything else.

  22. Miranda May 17, 2011 at 12:20 pm #

    My mum tells a story about how when she was about 3 (in a small village in the UK, late 1940’s) she told her mother she was going to the shop. “Have a nice time”, said her mother, assuming she was playing a game. But my mum actually walked out of the door and did indeed walk to the local shop (not very far away). She asked, I think, for a cabbage, and the shopkeeper asked if her mother knew where she was and suggested she’d better go home.

    I don’t know what my grandmother thought – she was a fairly sanguine woman and to be honest I’m not sure if she even noticed my mum was missing…

  23. Me May 17, 2011 at 12:25 pm #

    @Storm – I’m sorry you had that experience.

    I was at the park with my 3 kids (6, 5 and 19 months) last week and 5 had to potty. Obviously I was going to take the toddler with me, but I turned to 6 and said “I’m taking 5 to the potty over there in that building, do you want to come with me or do you want to keep playing here.” She opted to come with me but HOLY COW, the other parents looked at me as if I had asked if she’d prefer to be beheaded or skinned alive.

    Now I do live in a big city, but the park was FULL of families. I know my daughter wouldn’t wander off and I know that she’d throw the world’s largest shit fit if anyone tried to take off with her. There is absolutely no reason I should have been given the look of death, if I had any doubts about the safety of the area or my daughter’s ability to follow the rules I wouldn’t have given her the option to stay. Had she chosen to stay I’d probably ask one of the moms “hey, I’m taking 5 over to the wash room, can you keep an eye out for 6.” In the same way I would hope another parent would say that to me if they were going (and oh good lord maybe have a conversation and make a friend not in a predetermined play group.)

    One of the reasons I know my mom felt safe letting me wander around when I was growing up in a big city is that every mom was everyone’s mom in our neighborhood. If you acted up, you were told to behave by whichever adult was closest, or biggest kid there. My mom knew I was safe because she knew that there were other moms out and about and in our neighborhood that was just how the game was played. They weren’t there TO supervise, they were out taking their own walks, walking the dogs, taking out the trash, but if they saw crap behavior you got called out. When my mom was out in our neighborhood she always knew what was going on. And the benefit to that…truly, wasn’t that anyone was saved from kidnapping or saved from our own stupid selves, but we learned our actions had consequences beyond the rules of our family. And we had a whole group of grown ups we could talk to if we needed a grown up. It wasn’t perfect. Sometimes shit happened…and we learned lessons from that shit.

  24. Larry Harrison May 17, 2011 at 12:43 pm #

    People are too schizophrenic these days when it comes to kids wandering. I’ve had relatives freak out over our 8 year-old nephew walking maybe 150 yards in a very family-friendly park from one group of adults to the other.

    It seems where I live people haven’t let fear rule them much either. It’s not all that unusual for kids to be out bike-riding amongst themselves away from home–at least a couple of blocks or so–and they’re only age 8-9 or so. I have observed a child or two playing at the playground with the parents rather far off or even out of sight, as if it’s no big deal. I’m quite glad to see this.

    As for this 2-year old–stuff happens, and I definitely take exception to Marguerite suggesting that the subject of the article should’ve done more to prevent this from happening and that it was otherwise neglect. Bullfeathers. As I read the article, the yard is fenced-in and the 2 year-old managed to open the gate. Sounds to me like the adults did a very reasonable job of trying to gate the child in, and didn’t anticipate him/her jiggling open the gate. Good grief, we can’t anticipate everything.

    As the article states, rightly, nobody called the police or social services, and anyone that would do so subsequently due to judging the parents as unfit–frankly, they’re every bit as evil as criminals like rapists and thieves, and ought to be thrown in jail for 30 years for parental harassment.


  25. FiSyd May 17, 2011 at 12:55 pm #

    My Mum lost me at about 18 months on their rural property in the UK. After about 20 minutes of frantic searching she decided to drive up the (long) driveway to see if I’d followed the walk we had done the day before.
    There I was, knee deep in a fast flowing stream with the family’s rottweiler (dog) hanging determinedly onto the back of my nappy!

  26. Suzanne Lucas May 17, 2011 at 1:03 pm #

    My youngest brother was a master escape artist and nudist. At 2, he would strip off all his clothes and sneak out of the house.

    Fortunately, people in the neighborhood knew that when they encountered a naked toddler, he belonged to us.

  27. Me May 17, 2011 at 1:09 pm #

    @Suzanne HA!

  28. Frances May 17, 2011 at 1:54 pm #

    Larry — what on earth does “people are too schizophrenic” mean? You realize schizophrenia is a medical diagnosis, yes? It’s not synonymous with paranoia.

    These stories tell me it’s good to know our neighbors, at least to say hi to. Though I’d be fairly “freaked out” if my toddler went up the street. Too many cars and at least one household with toxic gardening chemicals on the front porch! Yep, that’d be a “real” danger.

  29. Cate May 17, 2011 at 2:05 pm #

    Awesome awesome site!! I grew up in the 80s! I miss the 80s when Mrs. Sue and Mr. Lawsuit weren’t very active. But did you hear yet, they will re-call the ground next coz it is hard and kids might injure their heads when they fall! Please bring your fanbase here to babycenter free range kids board and grow our community there.

  30. Clarence May 17, 2011 at 2:07 pm #

    I love the story with the older gentleman. Our kids need to experience life. I delivered newspapers at age 13 and it would be deemed “unsafe” today, but it was a huge growing experience and made me who I am today.

  31. Larry Harrison May 17, 2011 at 2:11 pm #

    Frances I think it should be rather obvious what I’m saying. I am saying that many persons go ballistic over their children being barely inches, much less feet or much more, from them at any given time, even if the children in question are plenty old enough to be allowed some freedom.

    I have seen how totally off the deep end their reactions can be at times, and it does resemble a crazy person, someone with schizophrenia. Rather obvious, I’d say.


  32. Tuppence May 17, 2011 at 4:11 pm #

    I’ve got a Toddler Wandering Off : Old Skool Version, to share. Now, it has to be said that this story comes from my older brother, who was notorious for telling his little sisters whoppers, but it SO could have happened.

    As a toddler I wandered off into the neighborhood. A couple driving by noticed me, stopped, and asked me if I was lost, to which I replied I was. They asked me if I know what my house looked like, and I said yes. So they took me in their car and drove me around the neighborhood until I saw my house. I apparently said “That’s it! That’s the one!” So they stopped and let me out.

    This was always told (and felt by me) with a combination of gloating/embarrassment – haha you got lost, and pride: You knew what you were about and had the assuredness to shout out when you recognized your house. The idea that the couple could have been creeps never figured even into the story. And of course, the concept that the couple would have called the police on my parents – huh?

    You know, people are telling the truth when they say “but the world’s different now”. We have less faith in people than we used to.

  33. Myriam May 17, 2011 at 4:26 pm #

    Haven’t you ever briefly lost a child Marguerite? If not congratulations.
    Losing a child is not per se a sign of neglect since it can happen to even the most vigilant and devoted parents. It can even happen to so-called helicopter parents! Doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to do everything we can to prevent it, in the case of toddlers, but sometimes circumstances conspire.

    And it’s not fair to bring in the point about people “allowing their children to wander” for different reasons (some good, some neglectful) since the woman in the first story, which I guess is the one you are alluding to, was not “allowing her child to wander”, rather it was a case of the old “I thought she was with you; but I thought she was YOU”.

  34. BMommy May 17, 2011 at 4:43 pm #

    intersting timing. Just today I was having a carseat inspection & there was a park right there. My son insited on playing in the sandbox & wouldn’t wait till I was done. I decided since I could see & hear him & there was a couple of mom’s over there with little ones I would let him. I glanced over every few minutes & watched him play with the other kids. Becasue of the world we live in now sometimes my first instint is to worry & hover, then my comon sense sets in & I force myself to back off. Also my son likes to play in the front yard & I really don’t want to stand out there the whole time. We live on a very quiet culdesac with nice quiet neighbors, almost no cars so I leave the front door open so I can hear him & periodically I call out to him to see what he’s doing. It worries my hubby, but I try not to go crazy

  35. Tuppence May 17, 2011 at 4:53 pm #

    @allota & ebholman — interesting comments, which I would agree with. Maybe the economic downturn in the Anglo countries will have a silver lining in that hyper-vigilant attitudes toward children will calm down.

    Unfortunately, for those of us who live in the countries where the economic future is currently looking bright, the opposite seems to be true. The Green Party of Bremen, Germany has just proposed legislation to have mandatory police checks on all adults who work with children outside of schools. And there is a HUGE policy push, across the board (each party trying to outdo the other), to increase childcare (including full-day primary schools till 4pm) so that women can return to full time work as soon as possible. With the economic upturn, the government needs all hands on deck.

    This sounds great, I know — what kind of reactionary monster could be against that? But I feel certain that the “professionalism” of childcare has played a enormous role in what has happened to childhood in the anglo countries (and why SAHMs feel like they have to act like salaried nannies themselves). And the more kids are locked up in school all day, the weirder it will become to see them “roaming” the streets, eventually even when school is not in session. Maybe this is a trade off that Germans are willing to make. But I’m fairly certain they are not cognizant of what’s coming. As an American living here, I feel like a time traveler, or a seer — I know what the future looks like! And it doesn’t make me, personally, particularly happy.

  36. Sean May 17, 2011 at 5:03 pm #

    Hail to Pitt! My hometown is indeed not too crazy most times. My experience has been that some new Mcmansion communities see the paranoid attitude much more than some that are older. This could be for a number of reasons from demographic mix to family background.

  37. Dolly May 17, 2011 at 7:28 pm #

    Storm: So sorry that happened to you. How ridiculous.

    I honestly got to say I don’t understand how the little ones get outside alone all the time. I have twin just turned 4 year olds and they have never gone outside on their own. We have a split foyer style house and we have a fairly crafty child gate on the stairs which keeps them from getting to the front door and the back door is also protected by child gates keeping them out of the kitchen. We have the child gates for their protection and our own sanity so I don’t have to watch them every second and know things are not being messed with.

    While a child getting out happens I guess, I gotta say it might help to install some kind of gate or doorknob cover or other kind of child proofing to keep them from getting out just to save yourself any future worries or problems.

  38. Dolly May 17, 2011 at 7:42 pm #

    Larry: it is not wrong or evil to call the police if you find a wandering small child and not know who he belongs to or suspect the police might need to get involved. Sometimes the police do need to get involved like if the parents were strung out on crack and the kid got out. In that case you would be a monster if you did not call the police. My husband and I found a very small child probably under 2 wandering a parking lot near a busy street. No one else in sight. We were very upset and did not know what to do. We did not have a cell phone. If we did, I probably would have called the cops because it was several minutes before finally his mother ran out of a store and grabbed him. Did not say a word to us the nice couple who stood there with her child to make sure no one kidnapped him or ran him over or making sure he did not run further off. Honestly, I think that women needed the cops called on her. How can you not notice your child is missing for that long? It was a small store so she should have noticed he left the store. Was the mom in the back room getting it on with the clerk? Honestly the situation was very weird and had us generally spooked.

    But I guess we are just terrible people for being concerned for this child. Also some people are under oath to report stuff like this. At one time I was. I was a substitute teacher and we are bound by law to report any suspected cases of abuse or neglect. If we don’t I could end up in jail. I am not going to jail for someone else. NO WAY! So some people might be more likely to report stuff to protect their own asses and that does not make them bad people. Change the law if you want, but I am going to follow it so I don’t end up in jail.

  39. Suzanne Lucas May 17, 2011 at 8:12 pm #


    You don’t understand how kids can escape because yours aren’t the determined escapist types. 4 years old is plenty old enough to scale a baby gate. Heck, I know an 18 month old that can scale a 6 foot chain link fence and hop down the other side faster than a mom can run inside to grab the phone.

    Baby proofing is great for some toddlers. Others are bound and determined to get out of the house. Add to that older siblings that may not be the best about shutting and locking doors behind them.

    My daughter never learned how to climb out of her crib, so we left her in there until she was too big for the crib. My son, on the other hand, learned to climb out of that thing at 18 months. And, I’m sure to many on this board, that’s late. I know my brother (the escaping nudist, mentioned above), was escaping his crib well before his first birthday.

    Children are different. That’s all.

  40. Myriam May 17, 2011 at 8:21 pm #

    I used to tether my youngest to my wrist for a short period with one of those lead things. All that gave me was a false sense of security.

    Few things are more shocking than standing in a shop and then suddenly noticing that there is a lead hanging from from your wrist with no toddler attached to other end. Houdini had extricated himself in seconds flat from a very securely tied lead while I had been looking inside a freezer and was now nowhere to be seen.

    That was a shocker I can tell you, although I can laugh about it now.

  41. Christine May 17, 2011 at 8:48 pm #

    I’ve moved from PIttsburgh, but I still follow local news. The stories about ‘wandering toddlers’ that have been in the news lately have NOT been kids slipping out the door for 15 minutes while Mom was washing dishes. There has been a string of very small children wandering the streets, and not being able to find their parents for HOURS. One story was about a 3 year old in a diaper, t shirt, wandering the neighborhood with a blowtorch, setting fires. He told police where he lived, and they took him home to find multiple fires in the garage, and his mother sound asleep. (worked nightshift) That is not what Free Range is about. Kids are mischievous, and they sometimes slip away. But toddlers wandering the streets without anyone noticing, or caring that they are gone, need police and CPS intervention. There have been news stories about kids being found, and returned home. The ones that have been removed (or parents sent to classes) have not been ‘Free Range’ kids. They have been criminally neglected.

  42. Dolly May 17, 2011 at 9:19 pm #

    Suzanne: I totally get that. Mine are somewhat dense at times about stuff and honestly I am happy that they are because it makes my life easier LOL. They did not learn to climb out of cribs till 2 and a half. They don’t try to get out of the house on their own. They just now learned how to take their clothes off. They just now learned to push stuff over to climb up stuff. So I guess I was lucky that way.

    There still are measures you can take against escapist kids. Really it should only happen once and then you take measures to prevent it from happening again. There are alarms you can install that go off when the door is open so you know when your child goes out. You can install latches up high so that only an adult could reach them to unlock the door. There are measures you can take that should prevent it from being an ongoing problem and you can take your eyes off your child without worrying about them getting out.

    The story the post was written about is good because once they realized the 2 year old could get out they fixed the latch by putting it on the outside so it won’t happen again. Stuff like that is good in making their escape a one time event hopefully. 🙂

  43. Silver Fang May 17, 2011 at 9:23 pm #

    The problem is, the helicopter types will lump free rangers together with the criminally negligent and use the stories related above (the toddler with the blow torch) to paint free rangers as no different from the criminally negligent.

  44. Nadine B. May 17, 2011 at 9:34 pm #

    I applaud this mother on her take of the situation. I am also a Pittsburgher and I do not believe in ‘rush to judgment’ mentality. My children are grown, and I agree with Lenore as to supporting your child to be ‘Free Range’. Reading “Thankfully, the local city has not succumbed to the temptation to bar adults from enjoying the same areas as children, because both my daughter and the gentleman had a wonderful time.” Thumbs up to parent’s everywhere not being AFRAID to rasie their children. Thumbs UP to “A Happy Pennsylvania Mom” …And always to Lenore!!!

  45. Uly May 17, 2011 at 10:23 pm #

    Larry, actually, it’s not pretty obvious what you meant. Schizophrenia means schizophrenia. It’s not a synonym for “Behavior that makes no sense to me” or “You’d think these people were in their right minds, but apparently not”.

  46. Meg May 17, 2011 at 10:36 pm #

    I have video of my son climbing out of his crib at 12 mo. Just sayin’.

    My story is about my third, who at the time was maybe not quite 3 (?). My husband was going to watch 2 neighbor kids while the other mom and I went to a meeting. The other kids came over, and in the midst of the chaos my daughter asked me to tie her shoes. Two minutes later, as we are accounting for everyone, we can’t find her.

    We live in a city neighborhood in Wilmingon, DE. In hindsight, I remembered that we had talked about going to my brother-in-law’s house later on. He lived around the corner, up the block, and across one street. Well, apparently she decided she was ready to go, so she left, walked up the street, then stopped because she knew she wasn’t allowed to cross by herself.

    A nice couple on a walk found her, asked her where she lived, and she brought them home. This happened in a flash — we had just started to look outside after not finding her inside. The couple was amazed that she was so cool and calm and knew right where she lived.

    She’s now 10 and rides the public bus to school 6 miles away, sometimes by herself. I tell people all the time that she would run our household if we let her. She is an old soul and very independent. I get all kinds of amazed comments about what an awesome kid she is. I would trust her more than many 20-somethings I know!

  47. Becca O May 17, 2011 at 10:45 pm #

    Great stories we had the same thing happen last year with our 18 month old, I thought our 2nd gate was locked but it hadn’t gotten latched and she wandered out. When I realized what had happened and started looking for her she was walking towards us with one of the retirees down the street. I expected a big thing but she just told my girl to bring mom the next time she wanted to visit. 🙂 so its not all bad out there. My town isn’t even small 250,000

  48. Violet May 17, 2011 at 10:52 pm #

    Thank you, Uly! It is no more appropriate to label what you perceive as crazy behavior “schizophrenic” than it is to call people “retarded.”

  49. tdr May 17, 2011 at 11:05 pm #

    This experience has without doubt enriched Gwen’s life.

    We moved about 4 months ago to an apt complex in a so-so neighborhood surrounded by woods and a stream. I let my kids 11, 10, and 7 wander around there freely so they can look back on their childhood as a time of exploring and freedom.

  50. Larry Harrison May 17, 2011 at 11:23 pm #

    Uly It may be technically true–I stress may–that schizophrenia is not a synonym for “behavior that makes no sense to me,” but I think it makes a good one, and use it as such. That’s all, there’s no need to dissect it further than that, but feel free to.

    Dolly For you, I had to refill my drink & food and settle in to get in the right frame of mind to type my response (although I suspect that, when I’m done, I will make some typos anyway).

    I vehemently disagree and re-state again that I do think it IS evil for someone to call social services or the police at every whim. That the law would entice people to think “cover my own ass” over leaving non-negligent parents the hell alone is evil by all means, but I still hold people accountable for being of the “itchy twitchy finger” mentality and reporting every petty thing. It goes to ridiculous extremes, and when the law is disrespecting parental sovereignty that is NOT in the realm of abuse, I will say I fully endorse breaking it by looking the other way and minding your own damn business. Where I come from, you basically obey the law rather than breaking it just because you don’t like it–HOWEVER, if the law is in the realm of being evil and disrespecting what is pure and good, that’s different, and laws that encourage meddling on this level are evil because they create an environment where one tends to parent with a “cover your ass” mentality in a way that goes against their own instincts because they’re scared of the meddling of outsiders who don’t know anything except how fast to pick up a phone and butt their nose in where it doesn’t belong, on account of a disagreement in parenting style NOT on account of abuse or neglect.

    And yes, I think that would apply in the case you were talking about, unless you specifically SAW that the woman was doing something nefarious like “getting it on with the clerk” or smoking a joint, your projections in your head don’t give you the moral right to butt your nose in her business. She probably came & got her child and flew off in a hurry on account of fear of the real risk of you calling if she gave you the chance. That you weren’t properly thanked–that’s because of this snitching atmosphere you advocate.

    People who do this–it makes me wish we still had firing squads, I’d fully endorse that response to it. Yes, I said it and I meant it–at some point, you go from being a concerned citizen, which is fine if you all but KNOW that drugs or molestation or flat-out negligence (not accidental slip-ups) are involved, but beyond that–it makes you a judgmental, busy-bodying bitch deserving of the appropriate response.

    Obviously if you have someone who’s a crack addict, and I mean to where you KNOW that you KNOW that they are, or the night-shift example and her child wandering the child with a blowtorch–yes, report it, and if someone did have it on good authority that someone was doing that sort of thing and they looked the other way under the premise of “minding my own business,” yes–I support charges of “failure to report child abuse.” Let it not be said that I endorse an environment where a parent can beat their child within an inch of its life, or lock it in a cage, or molest it–and nothing is done. No, no, no. That is “mind your own business” taking to a ridiculous extreme and that is also evil.

    But too often, it goes beyond that. It goes to the extreme of people calling social services on my wife simply for “holding her child like a sack of potatoes,” whatever the fuck that means. They didn’t know a fucking thing about her–like how, for instance, she’s worked in a daycare and is highly recommended in that realm, or how she’s volunteered watching kids for her church before and, again, came highly recommended. Instead, some bitch with an itchy twitchy sees something they don’t understand and picks up a phone that, frankly, I wished had one of those bad batteries and would blow up in her hands (or his, makes no difference to me).

    It goes to ridiculous extremes when my family picks up their grand-children from their daughter, the children had been playing in the mud and hadn’t been cleaned up, she receives them rather suddenly in that state, and some bitch at their church almost (but ultimately didn’t) report them to social services. Now, these grandparents are neurotic (if that isn’t the textbook definition of neurotic, I don’t care, sue me damn-it) about not ever letting their grand-children play in the mud again ever, not because they don’t want dirty clothes per se (although that’s understandable depending on the situation), but because they’re scared someone will see it and wrongly mis-judge it “neglect.”

    You read numerous posts here from people who want to leave their child in the car for a minute while they pay for gas or let their kids play outside unsupervised at an appropriate age, and the law ALLOWS it, but they STILL fear it because of nosy busy-bodies who are all too eager to butt their nose and call social services and unload an avalanche of a mess that you’d never imagine. That is the atmosphere this has created, and yes those who do what they do & help make it that are absolutely evil.

    This is the very sort of “chilling effect” and busy-bodying meddling laws like this encourage, and it sounds like you are all too eager to utilize it as a tool to butt your nose in other people’s business where it isn’t needed nor warranted. I do consider this, yes, downright evil, and think people who do this sort of thing are nothing less than evil, They’re not “concerned citizens,” they’re nosy busy-bodies who need to buzz off or get knocked off, frankly. After the tornadoes hit Alabama recently, I was genuinely sorry about it–and yet at the same time I said, “why couldn’t that tornado specifically target the homes of busy-bodies and take them out only?”

    Some say it’s sick to wish such a thing on a person and I can understand that sentiment, seriously, but it’s about realizing what is evil and hoping for some random act that makes it right in the end, justice for parents who just want to be left the hell alone when they’re not doing anything wrong.

    If you have just cause to really suspect someone might be on crack or letting their 2 year old wander the streets ON PURPOSE while they’re in a casino for hours on end, that sort of thing–by all means, I advocate reporting in extreme cases, and I even advocate the REQUIREMENT for it, but beyond that–it’s harassment, and you are a harasser for doing it, and deserve the response a harasser would receive.


  51. Larry Harrison May 17, 2011 at 11:28 pm #

    PS–Violet, enough with the political correctness here. Lenore herself once did a play on the word “retarded” that was NOT offensive, but the political correctness freaks went all over her, and it was totally uncalled for–and they were rightly told as such.

    And that is the case here.

    You don’t like that I used that word? No offense was meant, you are merely SEEING it where it doesn’t exist, and if you don’t like it, frankly–I don’t give a rat’s ass.

    I said “schizophrenic,” and I meant it–and I will say it again. I do not change my language over concerns of political correctness. To do so would be totally retarded and schizophrenic.

    I am NOT trying to be deliberately offensive, but that say–don’t like it? If you are Lenore (as this is her site), I respect that–otherwise, I don’t give a shit.


  52. Steve May 17, 2011 at 11:42 pm #

    How many parents have stories about being scared to death that their child was abducted, only to learn that the kid is safe inside sleeping under the bed, or in a closet, or at a neighbor’s house?

    And I’ll bet police could tell you they get calls from frantic parents everyday, and then discover the child was never really gone, or was easily found. Only these stories, and thousands like them, are never told by the media.

  53. Larry Harrison May 17, 2011 at 11:45 pm #

    If I am over-posting, forgive me, but I wanted to try & not be all negative.

    To wit:

    Becca O That is very beautiful. Isn’t it great that, from this small temporary scare, you actually met a friendly person as part of that? And in a city of 250,000, to boot. I don’t think it needs to be said, but I will–don’t beat yourself up over it, it was not intentional, it was totally an oops, those things do happen. It’s what Lenore is, I think, trying to make sure we understand–sometimes things do really JUST HAPPEN, and that’s all there is to it, no need for you to beat yourself up or let others judge you harshly. I am glad neither of the two happened, that’s just great.

    Silver Fang That is absolutely correct, and it’s why you have situations like people calling social services over kids playing in the mud, thinking they’re being neglected, when they’re just being allowed to be kids vs being stifled and having all of the fun sucked out of life.

    Oops, I’m getting negative again. Hold on, time to right the ship:

    Myriam Exactly, again, stuff happens, kudos to you for not beating yourself up over it.

    BMommy Good for you!

    Tuppence That story you told was wonderful, and PRECISELY the type of atmosphere, I think, that Lenore is advocating–I don’t want to specifically speak FOR HER, but it SEEMS to me that sort of environment is what she is encouraging. I think it’s just wonderful myself, and a great reflection on how sane things can be when schizophrenia doesn’t rule the atmosphere.

    Mike I agree 100%, and would further add regarding the “teenager having to hold my hand to cross the street” (my words there), not just insanity, but schizophrenia and it is also–yes–retarded.

    Later! (And pardon the typos in the earlier posts, I see them!)


  54. Myriam May 17, 2011 at 11:53 pm #

    Larry, I’m going to join in with the policing of your metaphorical use of “schizophrenia” as well. The accepted dictionary metaphorical use is:

    “A mentality or approach characterized by inconsistent or contradictory elements”

    Obviously this has nothing to do with the clinical definition of schizophrenia and I understand the argument that this usage leads to stigma and misunderstanding of the disease. However, I don’t know if this is actually true or just something that Susan Sontag made up.

    My father died of cancer, but I wouldn’t get upset if someone said “helicopterism is a cancer spreading through society”, for example.

  55. HappyNat May 18, 2011 at 12:09 am #


    Why keep the kids out of the kitchen? Ours have been getting their own snacks since about 2 years old. They know their shelf in the fridge, with water and healthy snacks, so when they are hungry we usually say go get it yourself. Note, we do have to hide the “treats”, but the 3 year old now knows how to move the chair from the other room and get to the treat cupboard.

    We did minimal childproofing, but used it as a way to teach them things were/could be dangerous. However, our first managed to break most of the childproofed items by the time our second was moving around, but she was also very good at teaching him what he couldn’t touch. The only time we use a gate now is to keep the 2 year old from wandering downstairs in the middle of the night and getting confused. We still put it up but I’m not sure we need to anymore, he knows where we are.

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  57. Larry Harrison May 18, 2011 at 12:24 am #

    HappyNat Believe it or not, I will agree–a little, anyway–with the “keep the kids out of the kitchen” mentality. I do most of the cooking in our house, and when I do so, I am really “in the zone” and, as a man who can’t multi-task (ha ha), any little distraction can lead to a cooking disaster, or a burn disaster where kids get burned on the stove etc. (Mine are 2 & 4 years old.) At such a point in time they’re what the older generation calls “underfoot” (e.g., underneath my feet to the point of being a nuisance) and it’s aggravating.

    However, like a lot of things, you try to balance that with the understanding that doing so you may run the risk of them not knowing how to be age-appropriate-independent, at least if you take it too far. I try to let mine be in there during “lulls” when I don’t require a lot of concentration, and l even explain what I’m doing–they’re curious and want to learn, and it’s a learning opportunity you want to take advantage of.

    But when it starts getting chaotic, at that time I do shoo them out, and if I have to use a gate to make sure it stays that way–so be it. Again, it’s a balancing act, part of what parenting is all about.

    Myriam If you don’t take offense to “cancer spreading through society,” that is great that you’re not succumbing to that form of political correctness run amok. I would merely submit the same applies to schizophrenia–and yes, retarded as well. I am not going to stop saying it to avoid offending silly sensibilities. When people say something like “man, that restaurant sells Mexican food but doesn’t offer chips & salsa–that’s retarded”–I find no offense in that, and I think those that do are being ridiculous, frankly–it makes me want to say it over & over just to piss them off, even though the idea isn’t to provoke people just for the sake of doing so, the idea is merely to be free to reasonably say what’s on your mind without succumbing to silly sensibilities.


  58. Elissa May 18, 2011 at 12:48 am #

    I think a lot of the concern over a toddler wandering on the streets depends on where you live and where this toddler is wandering. I live in Phoenix and in my neighborhood, we are not front yard people. Why? Because no one has a front yard – they are cacti and rocks and not at all inviting to play. Grass is a temperamental and wasteful plant in these parts and if someone has to choose front or back yard to grass over – they choose back yard because its bigger. Its also very hot here, and people don’t tend to walk the neighborhood during daylight hours – dogs are let out back and walked when the sun goes down and the temp drops to double digits and that’s when families stroll to the park (which is the only sizable chunk of grass in a 5 mile radius). At high noon on a sunny day from May – September, my street looks like a ghost town with only cars speeding through at 45 MPH.

    If I saw a toddler wandering in the streets, and that kid couldn’t tell me where they lived, you’d better believe I’d call the cops. If I got there and the parents appeared to be drugged up, drunk or generally neglectful (which is fairly common in my hood) you’d better believe I’d call the cops then too, and thank God the child had been wandering in the front yard and not escaped out the back and found at the bottom of a pool.

  59. Elissa May 18, 2011 at 12:50 am #

    *wandering out the front door (not yard). I wouldn’t worry about a kid in a front yard no matter how prickly the cacti are.

  60. Myriam May 18, 2011 at 1:08 am #

    Larry, I was trying to defend you (in a round about way). I agree with you that it’s legit to use schizophrenia as a metaphor (even though you had used it in a bit of an unorthodox manner). The word schizophrenia does not only refer to the disease.

  61. Paul May 18, 2011 at 1:37 am #

    Can you imagining traveling to our present time from 20 years ago and reading a sentence like this: “Thankfully, the local city has not succumbed to the temptation to bar adults from enjoying the same areas as children”??? You’d think you were on another world!

  62. Larry Harrison May 18, 2011 at 2:02 am #

    Myriam Oh okay, my apologies.


  63. Dolly May 18, 2011 at 2:22 am #

    Larry: You are absolutely insane. You say the most crazy things so that I think you are schizophrenic. My mother and our house and many of my friends were in those tornados. Friends of friends died in those tornados. It is pretty sick that you even mention them in that way. I don’t wish anyone to die in such a way. It is insensitive that you even said that in such a light manner.

    We are not all knowing. Sometimes there is a gray area between oh they are obviously on crack and well I am not sure if they are being negligent or not, it seems there is some neglect here but I really don’t know so I will make the call on whether to ignore it or call authorities. There are so many cases of abuse like one where the all the kids were being starved and the family came to church every week and nobody ever got involved and did anything about it. They had to notice!!! But like you, they all claimed they didn’t want to be busybodies. So there is gray area and you seem to fail to see that.

    Calling CPS for mud or how you hold a child, not valid. Calling CPS for a under 2 year old wandering a parking lot for several minutes without a parent anywhere in sight-gray area. It could go either way in my opinion.

  64. Dolly May 18, 2011 at 2:29 am #

    I am like Larry with I am not a great cook and I almost stab myself or cut myself or burn myself daily and the last thing I need are kids in my way. It would not end well. We also did not want to have to childproof entire kitchen like putting cleaners up and sharp things up etc so we just keep them out of there unless we are in there. One son can get that gate open know if he wants but he is old enough know to stay mostly out of trouble. When they were little I could not have my eyes on them 24/7 so I would rather childproof and be able to potty in peace knowing they are not into something, than have to always be following them around.

    Haha Now they go get their own snacks too, without my permission for giggles. LOL

  65. Dolly May 18, 2011 at 2:38 am #

    Larry: So I guess we should have been busybodies and just walked on by the baby and not stopped to make sure he didn’t get hurt or waited on his mother? How long should we have waited out there with nobody showing up before you think acceptable to call the cops? 10 minutes? 5 minutes? 15 minutes? It was long enough that we discussed what we would do if nobody showed up and we figured I could stay with the child while he goes and finds a phone and phones authorities. We were worried about if we left with the child to get help someone might accuse us of kidnapping! So it goes both ways!

    Would you honestly expect someone to stand out there for long periods of time just waiting for the parent to show up? Interrupting our day? Making us worried? We did what any decent person would do. We stayed with the child till the mother finally showed up. This baby was so little it was not really even talking. It was one of the spookiest experiences of our lives because we were just in disbelief about the whole thing.

    Hubby was about to go off to get a phone when mother comes rushing out and whisks him away. I still don’t understand how you could be missing a child that young for that long. I really really don’t. You know kids that young need supervision. I still to this day don’t get it and I had two kids that age once to watch out for and never misplaced them. It was just crazy, but next time I will remember to walk on by and not stop to help less Larry send a tornado down to get me.

  66. Donna May 18, 2011 at 3:14 am #

    Dolly, how about you actually take the time to try to help the child get back to the parents and THEN if you believe there is an issue – once you actually have FACTS to support your belief – with neglect you call CPS? Obviously, there are cases that are clear from looking at the child that there is a problem – toddler with a blow torch – but many you could actually try to help the kid get home and see if the parents are crackheads before you accuse them of being crackheads.

  67. Larry Harrison May 18, 2011 at 3:29 am #

    Donna Again, exactly. Going off half-cocked is exactly what the problem is, and the whole “guilty until presumed innocent.”

    As to my response “would you honestly expect someone to stand out there for long periods of time” etc etc? You darn right I do, before you go throwing out accusations and meddling, you darn well better. If you have a responsibility to get involved, you have a responsibility to get involved RESPONSIBLY, as opposed to being so quick to pick up a phone & meddle in a situation that may well haven’t warranted it to start with.

    And that’s what we have in our society–it’s why my grandparents won’t let their kids play in the mud, because “people will call CPS.” Some will say the grandparents are partially to blame for giving in rather than being strong leaders, and there is a legitimate argument there somewhat because I’ve been through MUCH worse than that, but it doesn’t stop me–if anything, it emboldens me with MORE determination that I will be damned if anyone interferes in my family.

    But, still, I place most of the responsibility on those who are so quick to judge without knowing all the facts. If you know that the parents are crackheads and are doing things like gambling in a casino for hours while their kids are wandering the streets or locked in the car, by all means–pull the trigger, make the call, pronto. But if you don’t know, stay out of it–because yes, you very well may be causing problems and helping no one.

    Simply enough–there is just as much risk of harm coming from over-involvement as their is under-involvement.


  68. Dolly May 18, 2011 at 4:46 am #

    Donna: Well since that was probably a once in a lifetime thing I don’t think I have to worry about it again. You don’t find a baby/toddler wandering a parking lot everyday. The store the mother was in was literally so small you could walk the whole store in about 20 seconds and we stood out there at least 5 minutes before she came out. So it is not like she could really lost him and been looking for him the whole time. Not only would you notice the door of the shop opening you would be able to see the whole store if inside. So she very well might have been in the back doing the clerk. It was very very weird.

    It was a fish store with blacked out windows so we couldn’t see anyone inside. We didn’t see anyone period so we just stood there with the child. We were afraid to move with the kid lest we get accused of trying to kidnap said kid. I just don’t see how she would not notice a child that young missing for that long in such a small store and not even notice the door opening????? It was weird.

    Then to not even thank us, apologize to us, or make any explanation to us, just grab the kid and run back into the store-again very peculiar behavior. It is not my job to watch your kid or find you if you lose your kid. It is your job not to lose your kid in the first place. I will stay to protect the child but I really don’t owe their parent a darn thing.

    I didn’t involve the authorities but I am still not sure I made the right decision. My radar was going off that something was not right and something bad was going on and my radar is usually right.

    Larry seems to have a hard time realizing the BIG difference between a baby/toddler wandering a parking lot alone and a kid being muddy. BIG difference. One is negligent and dangerous, one is harmless. And big shock Larry didn’t apologize to me for offending me with his insensitive tornado comments. Why am I not surprised?

  69. Emiky May 18, 2011 at 5:54 am #

    This was a great story. I love hearing the happy stories.

    My husband and I are trying to make a habit of going for walks after dinner. With warm weather finally around, plenty of people are outside: adults, kids, and sometimes even combined together.

  70. Kawaii May 18, 2011 at 6:42 am #

    On a tangential topic. What is wrong with cactus? My sister in law is moving back to the desert with her two (4 and 6) and my mother in law has rejected many a house because it has cactus. I finally asked her if the kids were so stupid you couldn’t point out the prickly ones to them and tell them to stay away from them.

    The tot and I were playing with the kids across the street one evening and ended up near some cholla (chain fruit variety). The older kids were barefoot and the 6 year old ended up stepping on some. He might have said, “Ouch.” but otherwise calmly asked his sister for assistance back to an area that had better lighting where he sat down to ascertain the damage (and negotiate the removal without becoming a human pretzel like the person in the story I had just told them). On the way to the the light, the tot somehow got some cholla in his ankle, and without saying a word sat down too. After observing that the 6 year old was managing with the help of his sister, I glanced at the tot and saw that he was examining his own barbs without saying a word about it! I doubt he would have been so calm if the 6 year old had been hollering about the barbs in his foot.

    Also, why does the lack of a front yard prevent people from hanging out in front of their houses? We have a porch, two steps, a sidewalk and a dirt parking strip and spend some part of each day out there. Chalk, sticks, trains, trucks, rocks, tricycle. My rules are quiet voices before 8 in the morning, don’t leave things where a pedestrian could trip on them (that means move yourself out of the way if you see someone coming), and if something goes into the street I’ll get it for you. If he doesn’t want to involve me in his play, I put a chair in the shade off to the side and read a book.

    I don’t know when I’ll feel comfortable with the tot playing out front by himself. We will cross that threshold when he demonstrates that he is capable of doing so.

    I suspect, as someone else said, it is a class/money thing. Those that have money, or aspire to a lifestyle based on money require very strange things on behalf of their offspring.

  71. Elissa May 18, 2011 at 7:31 am #

    @Kawaii – There isn’t anything wrong with cactus. They just aren’t fun to play around – kinda like a nettles patch or briar patch. Ours also are home to fire ants so they are particularly nasty. But if a kid gets a kick out of them, by all means, go nuts.

    We don’t have a porch, or front steps, nor do the houses in my neighborhood. There is a concrete path surrounded by 2 inch river rock from the driveway to the front door.

    No one plays on driveways here because of the heat. When its 115 outside, a sidewalk or driveway that has been sitting in the sun all day (because we really don’t have shade from trees, they don’t like deserts generally) its HOT, they say between 130 and 180 degrees F. You can burn your feet very quickly if you walk barefoot and you can feel the heat through the soles of your shoes. It is kind of neat though to throw water on the driveway and watch it evaporate like a time lapse but in real time.

    Our summers are kind of like the rest of the country’s winters. This is when we hibernate or wait until the sun to go down to come out…and even then – when its 98 out at 9pm, the only reasonable place to be is in a pool (and our backyard diving pool usually maintains a temperature of 95-98 during the summer).

    When it cools off here, everyone comes out and its great! But that usually coincides with back to school and the kids are in school during the day and then it gets dark so early to play outside, or kids are doing school work or other after school activities.

    We still get together here, we just don’t do it in our front yards, which – brings me back to my original point – is why it would be so unusual and odd to see a toddler wandering around my neighborhood.

    And not all neighborhoods in Phoenix are like mine. Some were built without a thought to water preservation and have lots of trees and grass in the front yards. Which is why I say that it all just depends on where you live as to whether or not it would concern you.

  72. Elissa May 18, 2011 at 7:35 am #

    P.S. While I don’t disagree with the class/money issue, in Phoenix, its often those who can afford high water bills or irrigation who have the front yards and trees. My neighborhood is mid-income and 40 years old. It has a lovely park right in the middle of it, which is a gathering spot, but that doesn’t see much action until the sun goes down, which is often too late for the little ones to come out and play.

  73. Mdema009 May 18, 2011 at 7:55 am #

    When I was a kid, I got lost in the woods behind my grandparents’ house. My brother and I were out exploring, and it started to snow. I wanted to go in from the cold, but I got disoriented and turned around. I found my way to the street, and because I couldn’t tell which way to go, I sat down on the wall running along the street. I figured if I waited long enough, someone would come looking. A few minutes later, a man came walking down the street. He stopped and said hello, and asked me if I was lost. I said yes, and told him my grandfather’s name, and it turned out, they were good friends. He walked me to his house down the street, where his wife made me hot chocolate while he called my grandfather to let him know where I was. After I finished my hot chocolate, he walked me back to Papa’s house, where he was profusely thanked and sent home with a basket of cookies. All in all, a good day. For a very long time, Mr. Kee was a hero in my mind.

    When I think of this story now, I think of how, nowadays, it may have ended much differently. That nice man may not have stopped, for fear of being thought to be a child molester. He may not have taken me to his home and called my grandfather. He may have pulled out a cell phone and called the police. I may have been taken to the police station, where my mother would have been berated (at best) or, at worst, accused of neglect for letting my brother and I wander in the woods alone. In fact, given today’s climate, my mother might never have let us play in the woods alone.

    When I think of these things, I just feel sad for kids. That’s a cherished memory for me, and I still think fondly of Mr. Kee. The sheltered, swaddled, over-protected kids today probably won’t have those kinds of memories. And I feel bad for people like Mr. Kee, who can’t help a lost little roadside waif out of fear of prosecution. In the zeal to PROTECT THE CHILDREN at al costs, we seem to have sucked the kindness out of society. I feel bad for us.

  74. Cheryl W May 18, 2011 at 9:17 am #

    A few weeks ago, my 11 year old daughter came in the house and said “there is a little girl in a diaper walking up the road.” We live on a private road, that is dirt to boot. I didn’t quite recognize the girl but figured she came from one of two houses. She would not come with me when I tried to walk her home, and I didn’t want to pick her up and have her cry (not because I was scared someone would accuse me, but because I figured she would cooperate more if she wasn’t crying. Anyhow, she had a plan of where she wanted to go, so I had my daughter run over to the most likely house and ask the mom to come. At this point, we were in front of another neighbor’s house, a sheriff deputy.

    Sure enough, she belonged to them. The rest of the 5 members of the family had been working in the garden and the toddler was taking a nap. Sister had just checked on her, and when she woke up, she went out the front door, not the back.

    Our biggest problem with the whole thing was not having phone numbers on hand for our neighbors.

  75. Sera May 18, 2011 at 10:34 am #

    Larry –

    Here’s a brief breakdown of a few things you probably need to know.

    1) People with disabilities – especially mental disabilities – and those who work with them tend to get extremely upset if you either make fun of their disability or equate behaviour that you find silly and undesirable in non-disabled people to their condition.

    The behaviour you are witnessing in the people who are paranoid about their children ever getting muddy or leaving their sight is optional and due to bad influences and bad thinking. These people may grow out of it or be talked around by someone like Lenore.

    Schizophrenic people do not have the option to “behave normally”. They will never grow out of it. They’re stuck like that. It’s also not voluntary. By referring to the people who are simply being stupid as “schizophrenic”, you’re kind of implying that people who HAVE schizophrenia are behaving that way voluntarily and optionally.

    2) “Schizophrenia” is a recognised medical diagnoisis at this time. It’s the name of a specific mental illness, like “Autism” or “Depression”. “Retarded” is no longer a recongised medical diagnosis. For the entire time I’ve been alive, it’s been considered extremely, extremely offensive to refer to anyone who actually has a mental disability as “retarded”. It’s also in common use as an insult and has been for some time – “schizophrenic” has not. Please don’t start the process of making it into a common insult.

    3) It’s never a good idea to make light of disasters that have killed a lot of people. That tends to upset people as well.

    It’s sort of a social responsibility to try to minimise the hurt you may spread out by the way you communicate. There are plenty of ways you can express the same feelings without going into territory that is specifically offensive to certain groups of people. It also helps you to get your point across a lot better – people tend to feel that an argument carries more weight if it’s done politely and calmly and shows no signs of bigoted or fanatical reasoning: you’d never get anywhere if your posts contained the word “nigger” as part of your wording, for example.

  76. Larry Harrison May 18, 2011 at 10:54 am #

    Sera I appreciate your detailed response and respectful tone about the matter, but I stand by my position that the people taking offense are being overly sensitive. The list of what you can’t supposedly say because of this group & that group etc is getting ridiculous, although “trigger” I can understand. (And you won’t hear me calling Jews “crazy kikes” or Mexicans “spicks” etc.)

    It never ends. I recall in the mid 90s Shaq made a Taco Bell commercial showing him on fire depicting how hot the tacos are. Burn victims complained that it was disrespectful to them and their pain. I was like–oh c’mon! Heck I was a burn victim myself a few years prior to that, I didn’t lose my head & act all retarded about it.

    Lighten up, enough already.

    Android 2.2

  77. Jen May 18, 2011 at 11:07 am #

    @HappyNat, I’m with you wholeheartedly on minimal baby-proofing. We put latches on a total of 3 kitchen cabinets between my house and my moms. 2 hold chemicals, and 1 at mom’s holds glass bakeware. Other than that, Gwen has the run of both kitchens. She adores pounding on pots and pans, gets her own snacks, and “helps” with meals as much as possible. We quit using baby gates at about 13 months, when she started climbing them, and she moved to a toddler bed at about the same time. Two nights running she climbed out of the crib. I decided then that a toddler bed was better than a midnight concussion. We’ve only recently started having issues with door knobs and the fence latch, though. Door knobs have only been a problem at night, when she wants to climb out of bed half a dozen times to wake my husband and I up. The fence latch was only a problem once, since we fixed the issue, we *hope*. She’s very much a Houdini child, and probably smarter than me, too. 🙂

    I would rather “world-proof” my baby than try to “baby-proof” the world.

    @Marguerite, I am highly offended that you decide based on a couple of typed paragraphs that I am a neglectful parent. You’ve never met me, never seen my child, and have no other background, and yet I’ve been convicted of neglect by you. Guilty until (and even after) proven innocent.

    I’ve tried to type a continuation of a reply to your horribly judgmental post several times, and just can’t come up with anything else that does it justice.

    I’ve been on both sides of the “over-involvement/ under-involvement” fence before, too. I worked as a substitute teacher in an elementary school, and it was explained to me that as a teacher, you are legally required to report anything suspicious. Otherwise, you can get sued, blacklisted, and held legally responsible for the abuse the child suffers as if you were the one causing the abuse. I always found that to be both over-kill and personally terrifying. The “what-ifs’ caused by the threat of being sued because I failed to report something were terrible. As a parent, I do NOT want anyone scrutinizing every cut, scrape, bruise and bad day my kid has because it MIGHT be a sign of abuse. Child abuse is very bad, and it needs to be stopped, but let me tell you, if that had been in place when I was a kid, my folks would have been on CYS’s 10 most wanted list. I was ALWAYS cut or scraped up, since I was clumsy and tended to trip. i also spent as much time as possible outside on a bike which I wrecked, a skateboard which I wrecked, hiking with thorn bushes etc.

  78. Larry Harrison May 18, 2011 at 11:42 am #

    Jen “I would rather “world-proof” my baby than try to “baby-proof” the world.” That is most excellent, for what it’s worth I like that very much.


  79. Frances May 18, 2011 at 11:57 am #

    Larry: why have you decided to respect the sensitivities of Jewish or Mexican people, but not those with mental illness or developmental delay? Isn’t the principle the same? Mental illness already carries enough of a stigma with it, we don’t need to make it worse by using diagnostic terms as insults. Besides, how does it harm you to adapt the way you use words?

    What I hear you saying, repeatedly, is that if you want to do or say something, you will, regardless of how others around you might feel about it. I wonder what that kind of rigidity is about.

    And lest you think this is just about being politically correct, it’s also about the shrinking of the English language. I read someplace that 4th graders used to have vocabularies of 10,000+ words, but now it’s only about 4000. Some of us apparently choose to use imprecise language, but it seems our kids won’t know how to speak (or think? I hope not) any other way. That makes me very sad.

  80. Frances May 18, 2011 at 12:06 pm #

    I should point out that back in the sixties, when I had a series of unfortunate events (broken arm, broken collarbone, other healed broken collarbone showed up on xray of the first one, concussion from an iceball, stitches in my chin…I might have missed a few) my mother WAS questioned by the good folks in the emergency room.

    I was not abused, just a little adventurous. My mother was happy to answer the questions, and that was that. Isn’t this how the system should work — that if doctors or nurses or teachers or caregivers see a string of injuries like that, that questions should be raised? Isn’t that how a community protects — not smothers — kids?

    Of course I fully agree that something is wrong with a system where investigating triggers as much fear as it seems to in the US, judging by what is said in these posts, anyway.

  81. Elaine May 18, 2011 at 1:04 pm #

    There comes a point in life when you have to learn to live and let live. However..when a toddler in a saggy soaked dirty diaper (i believe he was under 2) is walking around the neighbourhood (in 5’C) playing in snowbanks, dirty gritty puddles and is blue with cold..then yes by all means call the police (which we did when this happened in my area in march because we had never seen this child before) . There comes a point though that people just jump to conclusions that the child is lost, or has escaped from the yard/ daughter now 11 is a free-range kid..not as much as she’d like but thats another tale..from the time she was 3 she went to the playground alone, we live 2 houses away and I always knew she was there..she sang the whole time ..also i could check up on her by looking out my kitchen window if i strained a bit. I was hardly ever fearful of anything happening to her..the neighbours closest to the park listened for/to her…the renters of the shops in the strip-mall across the back-lane watched/listened for her…I never asked for them to do it..but they did. She knows all these people by name now and knows if anything were to happen she could go to them if i wasn’t available for whatever reason. If this had been my old neighbourhood? never would have happened..first time my son (26yrs old) was at the school playground alone (at age 8) the police were called! some parent panicked at the sight of a child w/o a parent around…and this was in the early 90’s. I’m just glad that where we live now my child is comfortable enough to feel safe (and no we don’t live in a “good” neighbourhood..but we live in a neighbourhood where we as a community are actually communicating with each other and are aware where the other kids live and keep an eye out for them.

  82. Elaine May 18, 2011 at 1:06 pm #

    sigh…my son was age 8 …don’t know what happened to get the glasses sun..but hey..its cute anyway!

  83. blablabirdie May 18, 2011 at 6:46 pm #

    Ha, reminds me of a story of my nieces, they were 2 and 4 at the time. At 6am one Saturday morning the 4 year old convinced the 2 year old that they should walk to grandma’s house on the other side of town.

    They packed a wagon full of things they felt they might need and headed off. Half way across town, a police man drove by and picked them up. They told him they were on their way to grandma’s so he drove them there.

    Turned out grandma was on vacation. Officer told them he would drive them home. He called their parents and the conversation went:

    “This is the police, we have your children, but are on our way to you now.”

    “They aren’t ours, you are mistaken. Our children are sleeping.” she replied and hung up – convinced it was a wrong number.

    15 minutes later my SIL is awoken by a knock at the door – a police officer returning her two daughters.

    They all had a good laugh – the wagon packing list is legendary today (really clever 4 year old) and the cop, even with the dismissive phone call, did not report the family for any of it.

    This happened 5 years ago.

  84. Martin May 18, 2011 at 7:56 pm #

    How is this for sensible…my son IS mentally challenged and I DO find offense to using the word “retarded” in reference to chips and salsa. Your lack of sensitivity to others is quite annoying. Just because you CAN say something doesn’t mean that you should “just to piss them off.” Actually, it’s malicious.

  85. BMS May 18, 2011 at 9:59 pm #

    The whole baby proofing situation reminded me of a former coworker. He had twin daughters who were not only extremely clever, but were quite good at working together. Collectively, the two of them figured out how to defeat every baby gate, door lock, and cabinet latch he and his wife purchased. They went so far as to work together to move a very heavy bench (at age two) so that they could climb over an extra high gate to get into some forbidden zone. The man came in daily, completely exhausted, gray hairs popping out before your eyes as he related the latest tale of what his little twin Houdinis had pulled the night before. They survived (both twins and parents) but they were proof that all the parental diligence in the world can be overcome by sufficiently determined kids. Complete control is an illusion. All you can do is be extra cautious with the really dangerous stuff (he put a combination lock on the cabinet full of cleaning supplies) and hope for the best.

  86. Larry Harrison May 18, 2011 at 10:15 pm #

    Martin I am sorry for your son’s deficiency and struggles in life associated with it. I am sorry for what you as a parent endure in terms of the extra work etc that goes with, along with the plain fact that it’s got to be heartbreaking to learn such a thing about a child of yours for whom you only want the best out of life. That is sad, and I do mean it.

    If I knew you in real life, I would most certainly be compassionate towards your situation, and I can promise you I wouldn’t greet your son by going “hey, what’s up retard?” Where it regards respecting the person in speech to them, or speaking in regards to them personally per se, I agree.

    I sure don’t tell my friends “that section of town is where all the gooks live.” Phrases like “Lenore Skenazy may be a Kike, but she’s alright anyway”–nope, not part of my vocabulary either, nor part of my attitude towards such persons in my heart either anyway. Not to be dirty or baudy (did I spell that correctly?), but the first woman I was ever intimate with was a Hispanic woman, and I was head over heels in love with her. I dated a Korean, a couple of African-Americans (one of whom was British & ate Indian food), and a couple of other Latinos before I was through. All of them were treated well by me, and not just because I wanted to “get to 2nd base” with them, but because that’s just how I was, and still am.

    BUT, the thing is, I am one of the persons who thinks that this whole “don’t offend that group by saying this” etc has gotten a bit out of hand, and frankly I think it’s ridiculous. Examples are forthcoming, but I will also say this: it’s one thing to get upset if someone greets your son by saying “hey, what’s up retard?” I’d agree with you in principle if you ended up socking that person in the nose (I wouldn’t ENCOURAGE you to do it, but if you did, I’d say they got what was coming to them). However, when someone says “that’s a retarded question” instead of “that’s a stupid question’ and you make the decision to choose to get all up in arms about something as silly as that, that’s where I part company.

    I am only 42 years old, but I remember well when people could just joke or talk in such ways, and they were not trying to be offensive or rude towards a group of people in a prejudiced way per se, and no one made a big deal of it. When a person says “that mexican place that doesn’t sell chips & salsa, that’s retarded” it was not meant to put down people like your son, it NEVER was, but people like you MADE it about that, and pressure people to say something else–when there is no need to, never was, and shouldn’t be such a need now. It’s not the same as saying “that building there is a home for retards”–by the way, my father worked at such a place, and I always admired him doing that sort of thing for over 25 years 8 hours every workday, and never poked fun at his “clients” if you will.

    That’s the problem I have–it gets taken too far, and it’s as if there is NOTHING you can say that doesn’t run the risk of offending this group or the other LOOKING to be offended at EVERYTHING people say. The 90’s Taco Bell commercial with Shaq on fire from eating a hot taco is a good example I’ve mentioned–I mean c’mon, burn victims complaining that the commercial disrespected them & others who have been the victim of burns? That’s the kind of thing I am referring to.

    It’s one thing to look at a person with a metal issue square in the face and say “hey what’s up retard,” which is HIGHLY offensive, or look at a a homosexual and say “where you headed off to now, faggot?” That’s directed straight at a person, to their face, denigrating them personally. But when someone says “that song is so gay” or “I’m tired of all the schizophrenic reactions of parents needing to know where their kids are every second,” to find offense in that sort of thing–I’m sorry, that’s just ridiculous. I’m tired of hearing about it, and I’m not going to go along with such ridiculous demands. Others in the public eye are so quick to go “I am sorry if my comments offended that group” in such silly circumstances, but I never would–not even if it lost me millions in endorsements. It’s ridiculous.

    I love watching the old “Sanford And Son” episodes, especially one entitled “And Sister Makes Three.” At the end, when Fred Sanford threw someone out of his house, and this person had earlier given him a “colorful” looking jacket to him, he threw the jacket back to them yelling out, “hear–take this faggoty jacket with you.”

    The person wasn’t gay, Fred wasn’t so much meaning to put down gays as a group, he was just describing what the jacket was like, and the thing is this–people laughed, NOT making fun of a group, they just laughed at the context & humor of that clip, and without calls coming in from GLAD or MADD or whoever expressing outrage–and that such calls happen now doesn’t mean people are “enlightened,” it means they’re oversensitive wimps, frankly. That clip is on YouTube, and comments such as “those were the days when we knew how to just laugh at stuff without making such an issue of everything, those PC people have ruined modern TV”–such comments DOMINATE the comments on that thread, and perfectly echo my sentiments.

    So, anyone who was offended at my comments about schizophrenic etc–that is all on YOU for CHOOSING to take offense at something that was NEVER directed at you, at anyone you know, at people with a mental illness or struggles etc. No disrespect was meant, I have no feelings of hatred or denigration towards someone based on their race or mental challenges or physical challenges. It wasn’t meant at anything I said, and never will be–but I’m not going to stop saying it because YOU find it to be when it isn’t.

    This isn’t me calling an African-American a “trigger” or an Italian a “spaghetti whore” or whatever. Lighten up, get over it, stop making something out of nothing, because it is nothing, and I’m not going to change.


  87. Uly May 18, 2011 at 10:23 pm #

    Larry, I’m not digging through all the comments anymore, but look. It’s not about “being too PC! whine whine whine!” it’s about basic manners. Somebody tells you you offended them, it doesn’t matter what you think of them, you say sorry and move on. Or are you so petty and childish that you can’t do that? If I’m walking down the block, and somebody goes “Oh, be careful, don’t let your kids pick my flowers!”, even when they were nowhere near the flowers, I don’t just go picking them out of spite.

    “Oh, there are so many words I can’t say!” Get over it. There’s lots of words polite people don’t say all the time, many of them referred to with circumlocutions when they HAVE to be mentioned, such as “the f word” or whatnot. It doesn’t take very much mental effort to think “Hey, I should try to use terminology that doesn’t malign people who already have a tougher time in life than I have”.

    Then to not even thank us, apologize to us, or make any explanation to us, just grab the kid and run back into the store-again very peculiar behavior.

    Maybe they were embarrassed. Maybe they had another child inside the store they had to attend to. Maybe you’re not actually a good judge, Dolly, of peculiar behavior.

  88. Uly May 18, 2011 at 10:32 pm #

    1. Larry, bawdy.

    2. Gosh, look Larry, you’ve effectively derailed the conversation.

    You think “that’s so gay” isn’t offensive because it’s not directed towards a person? But isn’t it saying that being gay is a bad thing? (Why yes, yes it is!) You think “That’s retarded” isn’t offensive because it’s not directed towards a person? But that’s something ELSE saying that being retarded is a bad thing, and helping to stigmatize people with mental retardation. You think saying “That’s schizophrenic” does anything other than convey the impression that schizophrenics are something to be mocked? You’re wrong, Larry, you’re rude and you’re wrong.

    And what you’re saying doesn’t even make sense in terms of common parlance. You’re the only person I’ve ever seen try to use the term in that way. It’s not as though you said “That’s so gay” and tried to justify it with “Well, everybody says that!” It’s more like if I said “That’s so Larry” and tried to use the same defense. It quite simply doesn’t make sense.

    3. You’re right in a teeny way about people being more willing to speak about how offensive you are than they were in the past. However, this isn’t a bad thing.

    Every culture has its own set of taboo words and subjects. In the Netherlands, for example, you can actually curse people out by calling them a cancer patient or saying they have AIDS. It’s like saying “A pox on your house!” but today. In the 1800s, in the US, the really “dirty” words were all religious – damn, hell, god. That’s why people said things like “Goldarnit!”, because they wanted to curse but didn’t want to. In more recent times, the curse words in the US were all scatological or sexual – damn wasn’t something you should say, but it’s a lot milder than “fuck” or “asshole” (a word which in Korea is about as bad, in translation, as “poopyhead”. Even the babies don’t say that because it’s so silly!)

    Nowadays we’re moving to a new set of taboo subjects based around not insulting each other. We’ve been doing that for decades. Get with the ever-loving times and stop whining.

  89. Uly May 18, 2011 at 10:33 pm #

    Edit: I think it’s the Netherlands. It’s one of those countries anyway.

  90. Dolly May 18, 2011 at 11:46 pm #

    That’s right Larry it is always everyone else and never you that is wrong. You know, I detect that kinda being schizophrenic…

  91. curiositycat May 19, 2011 at 12:48 am #

    I love this story. Thank you for sharing. We lost our middle child TWICE (but he’s fine now thank you). The second time I nearly called the police myself before he finally turned up (asleep in a walk-in closet, in a box of fabric scraps, with the light turned out, door closed, and the hanging clothes pulled in around him, completely hidden). It was my five-year-old who found him that time. My five-year-old who was alone in the house while I canvassed the neighborhood looking for the two-year-old.

    My youngest child was once returned to us by kindly neighbors before we even realized he was missing.

    Every time I see a story in the news about toddlers on the road, I cringe–it could so totally be me in the news.

    Thank goodness for kindly neighbors and sane citizens. And kids who have the good sense to keep looking for their brother in the house, and people like you who have the sense not to freak out every time a toddler escapes a parent’s supervision for a short while.

    Kudoes. 🙂

  92. Suzanne Lucas May 19, 2011 at 2:11 am #

    curiositycat, you reminded me of when I “lost” my child. She was 3. All the doors to the house were locked and I could not find her. I was sure she must have died somehow, stuck behind a couch or something.

    I looked in every room, opened every closet, looked under every bed. I could not find her. I was frantically yelling her name. I was just about to run next door to get my neighbor to help me when I found her.

    She was in the guest bedroom–a room I’d been in multiple times. She had taken the pillows out of the pillow cases and put one over her head and the other over her feet and lay at the top of the bed.

    She was very pleased with herself for finding such a good hiding place for hide and seek. I then explained that you had to tell mom before you hid that you were playing hide and seek.

    Took forever for my heart rate to go down.

  93. Larry Harrison May 19, 2011 at 2:39 am #

    Nope I’m not going to “get with the times” if I disagree with it. I say what I think is right, simple as that. If I don’t agree with the change I don’t go along with it. Not all change is good and I and I ALONE will decide what’s appropriate to say. Political correctness (not to be confused with politeness, which I advocate) is pure schizophrenic and I will have no part of it.

    Android 2.2

  94. Dolly May 19, 2011 at 5:11 am #

    But that is just it LARRY, you are not polite. It is not polite to wish infertility on someone out loud which you have done. It is not polite to wish a tornado to come kill someone out loud, which you did. If you think those things in your head, fine. But to actually say them and then stand by them. It makes me worry about your sanity.

    I was in those tornados as were many of my friends and family. One did not even directly hit us and yet it was a terrifying experience. For the ones it did hit, it cannot even be described with words. One of my friends is a nurse and worked on a woman who woke up in a field with a 2 by 4 through her arm and her fiance missing after the tornado hit her. For you to wish that publically on anyone and then stand by it. Well its sick.

    Heck you didn’t even wish it on pedophiles or murderers or robbers- you wished it on busybodies. Sure busybodies suck but I can think of so many worse things to be. So if the busybodies get blown away by tornados then what happens to the murderers? I am honestly curious.

    Also just to add: I know A LOT of parents and never have any of them had CPS called on them. Yet you have had it called numerous times on you from the way you talk about it. So that honestly makes me wonder about your parenting. Sure CPS gets called unjustly on some people but multiple times by different people? I don’t know about that. I doubt that happens very often. So the only thing I can think is either you have a lot of enemies or your parenting might be honestly lacking.

    I don’t worry about CPS being called on me ever. Even though I practice some free range stuff or at least will in the future. You know why? Because I know I am a good parent and I know everyone else knows it too. I literally have zero worry about it. Yet it seems to be something you stress a lot about. Why is that?

  95. Sera May 19, 2011 at 7:05 am #

    Wow. He actually called someone’s mentally disabled son “deficient”.


  96. Larry Harrison May 19, 2011 at 7:35 am #

    Dolly No there haven’t been a TON of calls to CPS on us, only a couple which basically went nowhere ultimately–but to me, that was a couple too many. There should NEVER be any calls EVER unless something serious has happened, a scratch or a ding here and there and occasional mud from having played in it are not legitimate calls to make.

    As for busybodies vs murderers/rapists etc–I consider them all one & the same. Seriously–someone who is a busybody to the point of potentially breaking up a family, even if temporarily, I put them on the same level of unethical nature or whatever as I do a murderer or rapist.

    And yes, if a murderer or rapist had been blown away in a tornado, that’s fine by me. But that’s not what we talk about here, the predominant theme, or one of them, are meddlers calling CPS over things where it’s not warranted, and especially people altering their free-range parenting styles because of it–and that is an atmosphere that ought to not be. If this were a blog about the outrage of murderers who walk etc, then I would’ve mentioned them specifically in the tornado bit.


  97. Dolly May 19, 2011 at 10:14 am #

    Larry: you missed my point. I don’t think having CPS called on you even a couple of times is normal from just the many parents I know that have never had it happen nor do they even worry about it happening. So like I said, you either have a lot of enemies (which would not surprise me if you talk to people you know like you talk to people on this board), or your parenting is lacking or at least appears lacking to the outside world.

    Heck I took my kids to the pediatrician today for their check up and both of them had tons of bruises and cuts and scrapes that they pick up from playing outside and he did not even ask about them. I really don’t think people call CPS at a drop of a hat that often. Maybe they do, but I have never experienced any of it first hand or even by hearing of that happening to someone I know personally. I mean is that really that common?

    And even if someone does call CPS, so what?! It is not like they would be able to find anything unless there were valid concerns.

  98. Larry Harrison May 19, 2011 at 10:25 am #

    Dolly Maybe things are different in different regions of the country, I don’t know. I have heard accounts of persons around here talking about how CPS became involved–and was quite threatening–when their child got a bruise above their eye playing a Little League game. Someone thinking of calling on my mother-in-law just because her grandkids had a little mud on them, maybe it’s too hot around here and people are crazy from the heat, I don’t know.

    I don’t verbally shred “in real life” as I do on message boards, for me message boards are a great “venting outlet” which helps me be much more pleasant to people whom I know in real life. Some say a person should be as pleasant online as in person, I disagree, I think having the outlet is great and I do go with the “it’s only the Internet” type of thinking. It’s one of the things I dislike about Facebook, stripping away the “alternate reality” of the Internet there, I totally don’t like that at all.

    Before I close, let me say–I think many others would agree with me in disagreeing with your “so what” about people calling CPS. The very idea of an outside government agency coming into my home nagging me about my parenting is insulting. To me, I shouldn’t have to answer to anyone else–not even in the government–about how I parent my kids, especially as long as there are no hideous things going on like molestation, beatings etc–needless to say no such horrific things occur in our home. I also oppose seat-belt laws and motorcycle helmet laws for adults as well, I consider it communism.

    So to outsiders, especially in the government, I’m like–leave me alone, and leave the others alone too.


  99. Frances May 19, 2011 at 12:18 pm #

    Wow, Larry, did you really just say that it’s ok to shred people on the internet because it helps you to be nicer in real life? Huh?

    So, um, if you can’t see someone they’re not real and not worthy of courtesy, let alone respect. You’ve got to be kidding.

  100. Larry Harrison May 19, 2011 at 1:47 pm #

    Frances Yes I am saying that, most certainly. Well let me put it like this–I am NOT promoting politics here, but I am told Rush Limbaugh is a very nice & respectful person in-person, even to liberals–and he even has liberal friends whom he is very respectful to, even though on his radio show he blasts them. That’s how I approach this, and again, I am not at all promoting his “ditto head” views, but rather that he, I am told, is “unleashed” on his show which is sort of his “outlet” yet is very respectful to all in person.

    It’s also how some of is will scream at other drivers who bug us, we are in our cars and don’t see them nor them us, but don’t scream the same way when we are more up-close. I may rant about an old person driving too slow yet I can’t imagine verbally shredding an old lady face-to-face. I think we ALL do that. That’s what I mean.

    (But in real life I do use “schizophrenic” the way I did in-here.)


  101. Dolly May 19, 2011 at 9:54 pm #

    Larry: I am a libertarian so I agree I don’t like the government invading my privacy or telling me what to do either. 100% agreement there. However honestly if CPS showed up at my door right now, I would laugh about it because that is how silly it would be. I am not bragging but I am one of the best moms I know and people regularly tell me so too. So if CPS showed up I would laugh, invite them in, give them some lemonade and welcome them to look at how spoiled our kids are. They are spoiled when it comes to toys. They have more toys than any kid I know. Same with books. We gave up our dining room for their playroom. Pretty much you can tell we live for our kids. I have no problem admitting they are spoiled. They are not helicoptered but they are spoiled. They aren’t brats though either. They are very well behaved at least out in public and really in general of course all kids act out at home some.

    So CPS can come right on in, laugh about how stupid the whole thing is and then leave. I can tell refer them to my background in child development and childcare. I can give them 100 people to call to tell them how great of a mom I am. It would be a freaking joke. So no, even as a libertarian I would find the whole thing a funny funny joke.

    I actually do have some enemies in real life. My inlaws hate me. Some other moms hate me. But even my enemies don’t think to call CPS on me because even my enemies respect my mad mom skills. I apologize if this makes me sound like a stuck up conceited butthole.

  102. Donna May 19, 2011 at 11:11 pm #

    @ Larry – As you said, Rush Limbaugh blasts people on HIS radio show. People who tune into Rush’s show do so to hear him rant and blast people. I’ve seen him be respectful on other talk shows on which he’s been a guest (although frequently the point of having him come on is to be “Rush” so we see less courtesy.)

    Insult people all you want on YOUR blog. People can choose to read it or not. Insulting people on SOMEONE ELSE’s blog is exceedingly rude.

  103. Donna May 19, 2011 at 11:22 pm #

    @ Dolly- I seriously doubt that you would laugh if CPS showed up on your door to inspect you as a parent, regardless of how good you think you are. I think that I’m a pretty good parent as well and don’t think for a second that my daughter would actually be taken out of my house for any reason. But taking time out of my day, being questioned, having my home scrutinized, having others questioned about my parenting, etc. is stressful and nerve wrecking regardless of the outcome.

    I feel the same about having my car or home searched by police. I know there is absolutely nothing illegal in either place and absolutely nothing will come of their investigation. But that doesn’t mean that I want police sticking their noses in my business.

  104. Larry Harrison May 19, 2011 at 11:27 pm #

    Well Dolly people compliment me on my parenting as well, especially on how I still have energy left-over (because I don’t neglect my own self in it, more on that later) and on how well behaved they are. My 2 year old son can be the fussy sort somewhat, but he is much less of that around me–either because he’s “bonded” to me or because I have a zero-tolerance attitude towards fussiness for any reason other than scrapes etc. His tendencies towards fussing over every little thing are something I broke him of, at least in my presence, and people notice that.

    I would say that if things are going that well for you, that’s all the more reason CPS should leave you alone. It’s an insult, and in too many cases it goes beyond just insulting someone’s parental authority to the point of even undermining it. If you are able to laugh about the whole thing, great, but me–I’m hostile about it, because it’s an insult–as a parent, I should be above questioning, as long as there isn’t molestation etc going on. They’ve only showed up a couple of times in more recent times, and we have our 2 kids totally free & clear, but even those 2 times are 2 times too much for me. This is MY home, I shouldn’t have to explain anything to them about what we do here & why we do it. That “innocent kids live here too, Mr Harrison” is irrelevant in my opinion.

    If they limited their existence to dealing with the extreme cases, that would be fine–but in my experiences & others whom I know, they don’t. That you haven’t experienced this–good, and I hope you never do. Keep up the good work.

    Part of it may be–I don’t know, but MAY be–that I don’t spoil my kids. I am not judging your parenting, but I do not & will not spoil my kids. I LOVE on them, sure, but I don’t spoil them. In our home, our marriage comes before them. We had our kids “cry it out” for naps and bedtime rather than coddling them to pieces. We do little childproofing, our attitude is–it’s OUR house, and you better control your curiosity impulses and stay out of our stuff, especially when you have your own toys to occupy you. (Obviously, we don’t leave rifles and guns laying all over the place, or gasoline cans etc.)

    Also, things like–our 4 year old, last year she loved going to the lakes and splashing around, this year–for some reason, she’s taken a disliking to it, out of nowhere. However I have always loved going to lakes etc, as does my wife. So guess what–we still go anyway, and that she doesn’t like it–tough cookies, sweetie, we aren’t staying away because YOU don’t like it. We’re the adults, we’re in charge, you’re here to go along with OUR pursuits, not for us to hijack ours to make it all about you and your brother either (although he still likes the lakes etc).

    Also, the 4 year old generally dislikes having her picture taken–and I’m a hobbyist photographer, how about that–and when she acts ugly about it, she gets disciplined for it, and playtime etc taken away for her attitude (whereas if she cooperates, even just for 2 minutes, she’s “released” to free-range play, and rewarded for it as well–she loves donuts).

    Other parents advocate “respect” being that if she doesn’t like her photo being taken, then respect that and don’t, and hey–they’re kids, they don’t care about photos, they want to play, leave them alone. My response–we are the adults, who are in CHARGE–they aren’t–and after all, anyone who knows me will tell you that I allow for a HUGE amount of free-play, and even engage in it with them on occasion as well. I facilitate a LOT of play, very free-range as well, they’re allowed to roll in the mud ad nauseum (did I spell that right?) and, the lake deal aside, most of the playtime are things the 4 year old likes, and for the 4-year old to be selfish & not want to pause for 2 minutes to let daddy, who likes to take photos, take a nice photo of his little girl–that is selfish, and it isn’t going to be tolerated.

    We’re your parents, you’re the child, and your job as the child is to do what you’re told whether you like it or not, and FROM THERE we will accommodate certain of your preferences (that’s why, even though other kids we know are ok with me photographing them for long periods, with her–if I she is cooperative for a mere 2 minutes or so, I let that be enough, I leave it at that and she gets the aforementioned free-play & treats etc).

    And I PROUDLY speak of how I am that way, and I do know that attitude rubs advocates of a “child-centered home” the wrong way, so that may have something to do with it, I don’t know, because I do know a lot of people think that when you have kids your own needs & likes etc are now considered irrelevant, you’re supposed to cater to their every whim and NEVER impose your will on ANYTHING (other than, maybe, preventing them from getting killed running out in the street), and we don’t do it that way at all.

    By contrast, a relative of ours, for instance, if all of us as a group are proposing that we all hang out & such and such a place, she will say “my kids don’t like it”–NOT that it’s not kids-friendly or good for kids in general (we’re not asking this person to go to a club at 2 a.m.and get smashed etc), but my kids don’t like it. (I know for sure she isn’t the perpetrator, though, she’s very respectful of the differences in-style, and we are too.)

    The way I was raised, adults wouldn’t have flinched–they’d gone anyway, and we kids would’ve adapted to THEM, not the other way around. As I always say, I love Lenore Skenazy and her free-range philosophy, but I’m also a disciple of John Rosemond too, a parenting pundit who is real big on moving away from a child-centered type of home as you see a lot of nowadays. (He actually praised Lenore for “not succumbing to society’s silly worries” or something like that, back in 2008 during the initial “Subway Incident” deal.)

    But a lot of people disagree with that attitude nowadays I find, and maybe they seek to meddle, I don’t know. Whatever, as long as CPS stays away and people “live and let live,” they can “hate” all they want. I don’t agree at all with the “spoil” approach you see a lot of nowadays, and I speak out against it–but I would never meddle either.


  105. Larry Harrison May 19, 2011 at 11:36 pm #

    Oops, PS–Donna, I like you a lot and agree with you on almost anything you say, but I’m not aiming to insult anyone personally here. I do take huge issue with political correctness creating an environment where using the word schizophrenic as I did to describe an atmosphere (the atmosphere of people freaking out over imagined dangers) becomes twisted to mean that I’m putting down people with mental deficiencies, issues, handicaps. deviations–what word is it okay to use anyway?–when that never was the intention.

    I get tired of all of this sensitivity don’t offend this group stuff taken to such extremes, I absolutely cannot STAND such political correctness, it rubs me the wrong way. That said, insulting people PERSONALLY is wrong–I am not saying I did that (maybe I did, I hope not)–but I do agree that insulting people PERSONALLY is wrong.

    Using schizophrenic in the way I did and having this retarded-stupid-idiotic-unnecessary (whatever) firestorm over it, though–that was ridiculous, and reminded me of how posters here had a fit when Lenore sometime back did a play on words with a post about flame retardant pajamas. She did a play on words to where it sounded like she was calling that whole hysteria “retardant/retarded.” I think we can agree that Lenore is not a mean-spirited or insensitive person, but was treated as such.

    That sort of over-touchiness is what I am meaning to criticize, not a person personally. If I did #2 vs #1, then I guess I need to tweak my approach a little perhaps.


  106. Donna May 19, 2011 at 11:50 pm #

    @ Larry – Personally, I don’t care about PC, schizophrenic or retarded. However, saying that you are happy that certain people are infertile, killed in tornados, etc is a bit over the top. As are long rants about how you can say whatever you want to say on other people’s blogs and don’t care about courtesy because you are on the internet. If you don’t care what people think about your use of the term “schizophrenic,” use it as you wish and ignore the naysayers. The endless justification just makes you seem like an a$$.

  107. Frances May 20, 2011 at 12:07 am #

    What Donna said.

    But Larry, I think if you were the person with schizophrenia or a developmental delay, then you might feel insulted personally. So, yeah, maybe you do need to change your approach a little.

    This idea of the internet as a “vent” disturbs me. Who did you take it out on before you could blast away online?

  108. Larry Harrison May 20, 2011 at 12:45 am #

    Frances What I did before? I don’t know–played a lot of basketball? (Which, in fact, I still do.) That’s what I like about the Internet, except in the Facebook realm–you can really say what’s on your mind in an “unleashed” manner, in ways you’d never do–or WANT to do (even in my case)–to people you know in the flesh. I love it. In photography forums, opinions can run high on why this camera is better than that one (you would be surprised how “high strung” those conversations can run), and I play along–I can give my opinions (sermons?) about cameras in ways I would NEVER do to people I know in real life who are into photography, and in “real life” I harbor no ill will towards the differing opinions of such people–but in those forums, I–and many others–let it rip.

    I have meant to give examples of where people COULD be politically correct, but refreshingly haven’t yet become–and how I think the examples here are no different than those could or would be, but I will save that for later. (Maybe another post that follows this one, but I don’t want to annoy Lenore either by making her “you have a new post” alert go off 30,000 times solely because of “yet another Larry rant,” ha ha.)

    But yes Donna, at some point, you can come off as an ass, and I don’t want to do that–really, I don’t. The examples you cite MAY be a bit over-the-top–MAY be, and I will say this–if I read right, it seem to recall you saying that you have infertility issues, and I mean this when I say this–I hate it for you. I read somewhere also, if I say it right, that you once had a miscarriage–and again, I am sorry for you. I really am. I am NOT going to NECESSARILY say that my rant about celebrating my relative’s infertility (one who has a judgmental attitude towards other parents & even has a tendency to sick CPS on them maliciously) was wrong, because I am not WISHING for something to happen, it has, and I’m merely suggesting that maybe it’s karma at play–but that said, I surely don’t wish for a condition as it has happened to you, and I really am sorry for the pain and heartache etc it has caused to you.

    It’s really an extension–maybe an overblown one on my part?–of how, for example, a friend of mine–a really good all-around guy who is so full of love and compassionate and is a great husband & father to his family–this guy suffers from migraine headache outbursts that, at times, are so bad he has to stop work & lay down on a couch with sunglasses to block out light. (Luckily his various jobs are flexible with him on that.)

    I see & hear of his experiences, and I really hate it for him so bad, and in the days when Saddam Hussein & Osama were still with us, I couldn’t help but think–why should a great guy like my friend have this? Shouldn’t people like Saddam & Osama be the ones with such ordeals instead of a wonderful guy like my friend?

    So my comments about the tornado etc are an extension of that, somewhat–but maybe, just MAYBE, it’s an OVER-extension of that which flirts with being tacky. I just know that I get tired of seeing bad things happen to such good people, and can’t help but think (and vent?) at how I feel it in terms of other people who would be FAR more deserving. It’s hard to accept sometimes that it’s not my call–or our call as the human race in general–how these things are decided.

    But anyway….

    (Is that a mis-use of the ellipsis, ha ha!)


  109. Larry Harrison May 20, 2011 at 1:12 am #

    I know my “rants” in this thread have at times become rather long and repetitive, and I am going to try & keep this one shorter and, as a nod to Donna (whom I do really respect) not have it turn into an “endless justification that makes you look like an ass.”

    Regarding what you said, Frances, about “I think if you were the person with schizophrenia or a developmental delay, then you might feel insulted personally,” while I sort of see what you’re saying, I think we take it too far. Again, I know I’m repeating myself, but I cite the early 90s commericial Shaq did for Taco Bell depicting him as “on fire” from eating a hot taco. I heard that people who were victims of bad burns etc took offense to that, but again I myself had been the victim of a bad burn but I got the point of the commercial. There was no griping & whining from me about how “insulted” I was nor was there this statement from me along the lines of “it is regretful that Taco Bell and Mr O’Neal, as role models to the community, have chosen such a tasteless analogy as ‘being on fire’ from eating a hot taco to merchanside their product and their name. We would hope that someone like Mr O’Neal, seen as a role model to many kids, could choose a better example that doesn’t disrespect persons who have had their lives dramatically damaged as the result of a REAL burn” etc.

    That’s the sort of thing I am talking about.

    In photography articles & discussions, when a cheaper model is introduced as a cheaper-alternative to a previously-existing more expensive one, it is very common for the writers of those articles to refer to the new model as a “crippled” version of the more expensive one, or that it’s a “dumb-downed” version of the other one. Not once have I heard of persons complaining about the usage of the world “crippled” in that context, and I know that many in other realms take offense to the usage of that word, but thankfully no one has made a federal case of it in this realm.

    Other times, they’ve spoken of a certain large-sized camera as being “overweight” and when a newer, smaller model is introduced they speak of how it “trimmed the fat.” Imagine the field day people, you’d think, would be having with that, in terms of how it stereotypes overweight (or fat) people, but it doesn’t happen. The same thing happens in certain cultures, a very nice product is talked about in terms of being “phat”–you know, “that’s one phat ride” etc, but I’ve never heard of fat-advocacy groups throwing a hissy fit about it.

    Back in the photography realm, when they introduce a camera aimed at “soccer moms,” they will use the term, and usually no one takes offense to being stereotyped as a soccer mom, although–yes, on some occasions they have, and yet when they have I’m often-times not alone in saying in reply “oh good grief, quit making a fuss over nothing.”

    That’s the sort of thing I am talking about. I think this whole “as a fat person” or “as an uncle with a developmentally-delayed nephew” or “as a person who knows someone with actuall DOES have schizophrenia” etc etc–it goes too far. That’s the whole thing–no one is trying to DELIBERATELY offend a group in what is said. To cry fowl at me saying “parents running around like schizophrenics when their children are 2/10ths of an inch away from their apron strings” is a bit much, I think, and I mean no disrespect towards someone who has a friend-family member etc actually suffering from that illness, I mean no disrespect at all–but just because they tell me the term offends them and I decide I think they’re being a bit ridiculous and continue to use it anyway doesn’t mean I am purposely disrespecting their plight, just their exagerrated sensitivities.

    Hopefully I’m stopping before it becomes too long of an “endless justification” post. Just trying to explain, but enough of that for now.


  110. Dolly May 20, 2011 at 3:52 am #

    Larry: The way you describe your parenting policy actually sounds very reasonable that you do expect them to obey you and respect you, etc and that you teach your children they are not the center of the universe, etc. I agree. I do that too with my kids. Having toys everywhere does not mean we don’t do that. I was an only child with a whole playroom full of toys and a bedroom full of toys too. But my parents made me behave. I make mine behave. So you know spoiled does not have to mean bratty or ill behaved. It just means they got a lot of stuff. Maybe priveledged would be the better word.

  111. Larry Harrison May 20, 2011 at 5:38 am #

    Right on Dolly, that makes perfect sense to me. And that figures too, I know a lot of people who say their children are “spoiled” but they still discipline.


  112. miriam May 20, 2011 at 8:54 am #

    My abby is a very much “do-it-myself”. She got into a drawer and found a bag of jelly beans and opened it herself… I worry a lot about her opening the front door (because she wants to go “out”). Fortunately she can’t reach the deadbolt (yet)– there is a street with a blind corner that cars come around very fast and there are no sidewalks.
    I reiterate that the “child wandering” cases here have been kids where they couldn’t find or wake the parent who was supposed to be watching them. Fortunately, our neighbors (and crossing guard) know her well and would probably get to her first if she got out! It takes a village…

  113. Maggiec May 22, 2011 at 1:38 pm #

    It was the early 1970s. I lived in my birth place, a small city in the East just outside of NYC. I was walking home from my high school when a small child, a wee lad of perhaps two years of age, ran in front of me. No adult was in sight.

    I bent down to speak to the toddler , and then luckily, a police car drove by.

    I waved down the patrol car and explained to the officer that I didn’t know the young boy, that he just appeared.

    The officer, rather young himself, said, “Let him walk and guide you. He probably knows where he lives. We (meaning, I guess the police) have seen this before.”

    And, so I did. The toddler walked back down the block and in moments, a frantic man came running out of one of the homes on that urban block. I was holding the baby’s hand as said baby was guiding me down the street. The patrol car was trailing us.

    The father raised his voice for a moment -I think directing a bit of anger at me, but the officer stopped him and said, “She found him walking up the block”.

    Well, it all ended quite well. The father asked me to come into his home wishing to thank me and the police officer made no report because, I reckon, small children do get loose once in a while. No Child Protective Services were called and I wasn’t arrested for kidnapping.

    It all just became a family story for me and I am sure a family story for the parents of the wee lad and perhaps for the family of that very young and very wise police officer.


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