There are lots of critics out there about raising kids. Usually, they’re all around you.
I even had the police called on me for child endangerment. I was getting gas at the local Mobil station and the pay-at-the-pump functionality was down at all the pumps. I pumped my gas, then went to pay for my gas inside. Kari at the time was 6.
Here is the scenario: The car was at the pump. She was buckled in her booster seat. I locked the doors. I could see her from 20 feet away in the gas station. It was 55 degrees outside. I was inside for 2 minutes. I know because I was anxious about getting to school that morning for the Science Center field trip.
I finish paying and walk outside and just then, a lady peers in and is shouting at Kari. This scares her because the lady is shouting at her.
I ask the lady what she is doing.
She said, “Oh, you’re mom! Well, MOM, I’m calling the police!”
I ask her, “What for?”
She said, “What for?!” and makes an exasperated noise
I roll my eyes and get in the car. I hear her on the phone with the police saying, “She’s getting away!”
Over the weekend Chris and I went to a baseball game with our neighbors from across the street. All of us spent our youth running around in the woods, playing with friends, and coming home at dinnertime. No one called the police.
Kari was playing in the front yard a few years ago, probably as a second grader, and a lady pulled in the driveway. I was in the garage cleaning, and I come out to greet the lady. She said, “Oh, I thought she was outside alone and I wanted to alert someone.” Kari and I both looked a little puzzled. Kari wasn’t near the street, so what was the issue? The lady was flustered by my response and drove on.
Another time, Kari was in the next aisle over in the grocery store grabbing something I had forgotten. She was 8. A lady asked her where her mom was and proceeded to grab her by the arm and walk her to me.
I remember at 7 going across the whole grocery store when my mom was at the checkout. I remember my mom running into the grocery store and locking me in the car when I was 8. I remember staying home alone for an hour or so when I was 10. No one bothered me. No one called the police.
The neighbors agreed with me that it must be this culture now. Kidnappings and awful things have always happened, just with the Internet, we hear about each and every incident now.
I wager to say modern parenting, where parents do everything and decide everything for the children, is neglectful. Children don’t learn how to handle themselves in society without parental input. Still at the college level I encounter students who need their parent to weigh in on any decisions and hear all too often, “I’ll have to ask my mom.” What a tragedy!
Can my kids not play alone in their own yard? Are you raising a ‘free-range’ kid? How should we raise independent kids?