Readers! Yes, a little more perspective:
Dear Free-Range Kids: Less than 24 hours ago I was in Honduras on a service trip. We did a medical clinic in a small rural community, and were passing out vitamins and Tylenol to many of the residents. We were giving vitamins to a young girl who looked about 10 but said she was 14. Making small talk, we asked her if she liked school. She said she had stopped going to school when her mother died so she could take care of her brothers and sisters. She lived in a community with no electricity, no running water. She didn’t want the vitamins for herself, she wanted them for her younger siblings.
The residence we stayed at was connected to an orphanage that was home to almost 30 children, who are 7 months to nearly 18 years old. We visited often, and repeatedly watched the younger children being cared for and comforted by children that were about 7 and older.
While it is an unbelievable shame that these children have the burden of caring for the little ones, there is no doubt they are capable if it is required. And they are capable even in the absence of 911, CPR certifications, First Aid kits, cell phones, safety helmets, electricity, running water, education, or any of the numerous conveniences or precautionary measures we have available here.
Meantime, my 4-year-old is not allowed to go on the monkey bars at day care because they have a facility rule that you have to be 7 to use them. He uses them all the time when we go to the playground, and doesn’t understand why he can’t do it at day care, too. Me neither. The world is really perplexing. — Terry Bartick