Remember when we were kids? Remember what we did all the time? Well, around my house, there was a policy: Clean the house or get out. We got out. When my cousins would come for a few weeks in the summer, we explored every inch of my hometown, walking everywhere. Our favorite day ever, we walked down to the movie theatre, watched Air Force One, walked to the other side of town to see our grandfather at work, then walked up to the grocery store for snacks before returning home. (For full disclosure, we got brownie mix and cookie dough...and we cooked for ourselves.) Never were we guided around by anyone considered an "adult." Sometimes we were watching baby siblings. We were still left alone, and we were at no point unsafe.
Now, no one lets their kids galavant about town unchaperoned. Now everyone seems to be constantly panicked about what could happen to their children. Last week, Liv went on vacation with her grandparents and cousins, about 700 miles from home. Mike's coworker said, "No way I'd let my kids go away without me! Especially at Liv's age!" Um...she's not camping in the woods, hunting for wild game. She's in a condo with three adults and five kids. Oooooooh...scary. But that's what life is like now. People are scared to death of everyone and everything that comes near their children.
Enter Lenore Skenazy, who is attempting to get us all back onto a calmer track. In her book, Free Range Kids, Skenazy walks you through all your worst fears, explaining how unfounded they truly are. Are you aware crime rates are declining?! That's a statistical fact. But many people inevitably respond, "When something bad happens to your kids, then you'll understand why we protect our children so well!" And that would be a good challenge, except...
The worst has happened. I have buried a child. And there was nothing at all I could do to save him.
Does that sentence just freak you out, helicopter parents? Yes, I did everything I could to make sure my son was healthy and safe, and BOOM, something bad happened. So many people have this same horror story. I read the books, I got enough sleep, I abstained from shellfish...and still. And so many of those same people (myself included seven months ago) feel the need to now overprotect their living children.
Yes, I've felt this fear. I feel fear every day for my little daughter. And this is exactly why I feel such determination to raise Liv as a Free Range Kid.
"Huh?" you say. But really, it makes perfect sense. Call it aversion therapy, if you will, but I think the best way to combat my fears is to let my daughter live an independent and confident life. To let my children know all the adventures the world has for them. How horrible would it be for me to let my fears limit her experiences in life, just because her brother's life was far too short?
So, Lenore, I'm rededicating myself to your cause. Reaffirming my faith in the Free Range Movement. Because I have seen the worst, and there was nothing I could do to stop it. I can, however, stop the fear from taking another life.