Free range kid
Scanning Facebook , I learned yesterday that I am a free range mom. My friend gave me the title which I am glad to accept. As the story goes, a lady in New York decided to give her child permission to take a subway without adult supervision at the age of 10. As a New Yorker, she taught him the ways and means to safely get from point A to B in the complicated system. He was given extra money and a phone if needed. It became a hot button topic as she was labeled by many in the country as New Yorks's worst mom. NBC ate up the publicity knowing that the topic would not soon be done being discussed. The fact that her son made it home alive wasn't enough for most rather they wondered what if he hadn't made it home OK? One hundred miles north, I would become a mom also under the microscope. I have run with my son to and from school on occasion for two years now. It is a wonderful time for both of us. We enjoy the crisp mornings, finding treasures along the way and sharing time that really belongs only to us. When we do this, he enters the doors of the school energized and ready to learn. There have always been people that cheer on his efforts, but never so much that I ever see any one else giving it a try on a regular basis. With every journey we have taken together, we have learned something about dealing with the nuances of the roads. After two years of embarking on these regular runs and rides together, we would road test him so he could graduate to doing this journey by himself. He couldn't wait to have permission to take the leap himself. As September neared, he would practice the trip to school countless times with me. He would have to show me his knowledge of turn signals, defensive cycling and generally safety. Following that, he would be tested by his dad as he would give the final go ahead. The day finally came when he would ride away from the house independently. He would be lit like a Christmas tree and have a bright yellow backpack to make him more visible. While I fully understand the dangers that lay ahead of him, we had done our best to prepare him. I waved goodbye, despite the lump in my throat. Out of this experience, he would gain confidence and the ability to conduct himself in public. It would make the difficult transition to middle school successful because he was finding himself on his own terms. His bike would be the only one in the bike rack. I have received some phone calls of concern and yes, I do have concern. What good mother wouldn't? Inherent dangers will always lurk around the corner and on strait stretches too; it's how we deal with them that makes the difference. I tell people that what Peter does isn't groundbreaking, it's been done forever. Kids have been walking to and from school for eons. Most parents don't experience these nerves until their child gets behind the wheel of a car. For me, the nail biting begins earlier. However, by the time Peter drives, he will truly understand and respect the road in a way most 17 year olds won't. My worry will always be there for him but if he is to grow up unafraid of the world, than this is the path that will get him there. He's a free range kid in a world where people are so cooped up. Maybe that's why he usually wears contentment so well. For his sake take it slow on the roads, it could be your kid out there.
10/1/2011 12:28:32 am
Again, you're doing it all wrong! You're supposed to cover him, protect him, smother him, keep him safe from harm by locking him in a closet, and above all, take that bike away from him! In this way, he will grow up free from kidnappers and perverts. The only issue you will have to deal with will be his paranoia...and we have little white pills that will take care of that.:)
10/1/2011 06:40:15 am
Inspiring! Its a tough balance to let them grow and be independent, fighting that urge to protect.
10/1/2011 07:36:21 am
Patsy...Like always we live on the edge to keep aunty on her toes. Love You!
10/1/2011 07:38:24 am
10/2/2011 12:22:15 am
Great job with both of your kids Jen! It is so nice to see kids OUTSIDE enjoying life these days. I lived on my bike, exploring when I was a kid. I often rode it or walked to school - even though we were on the bus line - and even then there were not many bikes in the rack (it was a full rack but there was only one rack). Once while walking home a man stopped and offered to give me a ride. I had been taught well enough to say no. Pete will do great! :)
10/2/2011 04:17:21 am
I am 55 years old and thats how we were all raised I am still here and all my brothers and sisters are confident sucsessful adults because we had a mom like you! !! !!! One day he will make you very proud.
10/2/2011 09:37:32 am
Good parenting, period. We need more like you!
10/2/2011 10:27:40 am
Thanks for the support everyone. I think this is a huge issue, but I am never sure how to approach it. I just try to do the best I can with my own kids and hope for the best.
10/4/2011 01:38:08 pm
Hi Jen - I know my sarcasm may have been a bit obtuse, but I don't apologize, either. You and I both know people who overprotect their kids, and we both know how the kids turn out. You are a terrific mom, but more importantly, you are a brave mom; it's not easy to let the kids go. Just remember...you're doing the right thing for your young man.As time goes by, you will see the confidence that you have instilled in him will pay off in the long run.
Leave a Reply.