What made 2019 such a good/bad year for parents, kids ,and anyone who thinks children deserve a little independence? Take a look at this wacky mix of sharks, dragons, muffins, and malls. And of course, the list wouldn’t be complete without white vans. We’ve got some doozies for you, so let’s get right to it.
Here are the worst Let Grow parenting moments of 2019.
WHITE VAN MANIA
No, we’re not talking about the kind you wear. Don’t even PARK near a white van, the Mayor of Baltimore warned his constituents. “We’re getting reports of somebody in a white van trying to snatch up young girls for human trafficking and for selling body parts.” Reports? The stories were on Facebook. The police, who rely on other sources, like reality, said there had been no such crimes.
MOVE ALONG, MUFFIN TO SEE HERE
Holly Curry, a Kentucky mom who let her six children wait in the car for ten minutes while she ran into a café to get them muffins, found herself reported to Child Protective Services—even though the kids were perfectly fine. The authorities came to her home and proceeded to make each child strip naked so they could look for signs of abuse. The verdict? The kids were fine (at least until they were forced to strip for strangers). Now the mom is pursuing a lawsuit.
EGGS OR LANDMINES?
Hard-boiled lawyers made sure no kids could participate in the University of California-Berkeley’s campus Easter egg hunt without parents first signing a waiver acknowledging the potential risk of “catastrophic injuries including paralysis and death.” The hunt was on a patch of lawn and involved a child picking up three plastic eggs to be exchanged for a prize.
Santana Adams of Milton, West Virginia, accused a man of grabbing her 5-year-old daughter and dragging her by the hair at an Old Navy, fleeing only when she pulled out a gun from her purse. The man was quickly found and hauled off to jail …until mall footage showed the two shoppers calmly leaving the store, going in opposite directions. The mom has been charged with making a false accusation.
THE OLD COLLEGE TRY
This isn’t what nearly 50 parents did, including celebrities Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman, to get their kids into selective schools. Instead, the college admissions scandal showed they paid a fixer who hired test takers, bribed coaches, and photoshopped the kids into water polo and crew team pictures—elite sports they didn’t play.
ACTIVE HEART ATTACK DRILL
Teachers at Meadowlawn Elemetary in Monticello, Indiana, were taken into a room, told to crouch down, and shot execution style. Then the next group was sent in …then the next. But hey, it was just a drill! And the weapons were non-lethal Airsoft guns! Terrified teachers did not know these extenuating facts at first, though. The local police department running the drill didn’t think any of this was a problem, even though the not-real-execution had teachers screaming and the not-real-bullets hit hard enough to leave welts. “They shot all of us across our backs,” one teacher said. “I was hit four times.” The practice is being reviewed. This seems like a good idea.
MOTHER’S LITTLE HELPER
Christina Behar posted a “Mother’s Helper Available” note on behalf of her spunky almost-10-year-old Sarah. Her daughter wanted to be a mother’s helper to aid local moms with dishes, laundry, and such. Six hours later, the sheriff showed up at Christina’s door. “Apparently the ad generated multiple phone calls from paranoid neighbors thinking I was using my child as a slave,” Christina said. For the record: No slavery. Just the 21st century kid willing to do some chores. (Weird, we know.)
And now let’s hear it for some good news.
JOIN THE CLUB!
The kids in one particular club at a Title I school in Texas outscored their fellow students on a statewide test in Texas. What was the club? Perfect Attendance Kids? Teachers’ Pets? Children of NASA Engineers? Nope. It was the Dungeons & Dragons Club. Teacher Kade Wells explained why in a simple, straightforward way. “Playing Dungeons & Dragons makes you smarter.”
New Smyrna Beach in Florida is called “The Shark Bite Capital of the World.” (Though probably not by the New Smyrna Beach Chamber of Commerce.) It lived up to it’s name this year when 9-year-old Maggie Crum was bitten by a shark in knee-deep water while on vacation. But the story doesn’t end there. After receiving 12 stitches, Maggie and her family returned to the beach to go back in the water.
JUST PLANE WONDERFUL
When Alexa Bjornson put her son Landon on a flight from Las Vegas to Oregon, she gave him a note to hand whoever sat next to him, as well as a $10 bill to offer as a thank you. The note explained that Landon, 7, has autism and might ask, “Are we there yet?” a lot. Which he did. But the guy next to him, Ben Pedraza, texted the mom at the end of the trip to say he’d had a great time joking around with the boy, in between all the “Are we there yet?” questions. As for the $10, Ben donated it to the Autism Society.
INTO (AND OUT OF) THE WOODS
California sisters Leia and Caroline Carrico, ages 8 and 5, went outside to play …and got lost for 44 hours in the rainy, frigid, bear-filled woods behind their home. When they realized they didn’t know how to get home their 4-H training kicked in. “They knew exactly what to do to hold on,” said Humboldt County Sheriff, William Honsa. They stayed put. They huddled under bushes to stay dry. And they drank the water that pooled on huckleberry leaves. They’re kind of little Huckleberries themselves.
BLAISE OF GLORY
When Scary Mommy writer Elizabeth Broadbent learned that the South Carolina Senate was going to vote on a Free-Range Parenting bill like the one in Utah, which guarantees that childhood independence is not mistaken for neglect, she didn’t just write about it. She found the perfect expert to address the Senate: Her 9-year-old son Blaise. In a suit and bowtie, Blaise told the lawmakers that if the state doesn’t let his younger brothers play outside with him without his mother there all the time, he’d have to play alone and “it actually word be pretty boring.” The Senate passed the bill, which now awaits a vote in the House.