Busybodies have been with us as long as flies, buzzing around and making life miserable. What’s new?
With the power to call the cops or child protective services with almost zero effort, they have the power to potentially disrupt, or even ruin our lives. That’s why the Utah Free-Range Parenting law, declaring it is not neglect to give our kids some unsupervised time, is so significant. It would reassure and protect moms like this one, whose email I received last night:
Dear Let Grow:Today I had what was to me a shocking experience. I don’t know why I’m so surprised it happened, but I am..I was outside with my children when my 16 year old daughter left to walk to my mother’s house, .75 miles away. My 6.5 year old son asked to walk to the corner with her. It’s five houses away, via sidewalk, in a neighborhood where the lot sizes are a quarter acre or less. I can see the corner from my house, and it’s less than a minute walk away..I gave him permission..Then my 3.5 year old asked if he could walk her to the corner as well. We walk to my mother’s house together 4-5 times a week, and I have drilled into him to stay on the sidewalk etc. I said yes, instructing them to walk her there, then come straight back, and to stick to the sidewalk and watch out for cars pulling in or out of driveways. Given that my younger son was going too, I moved to the corner of our yard closest to the sidewalk where they were walking so that I could keep an eye on them, while playing with my 20 month old..The adventure went without incident, as I had known it would, until a woman pulled her car over when my boys were two houses away, demanding to know where their mother was..My confused oldest son pointed at me, and she careened into the driveway next to where I was sitting, and proceeded to inform me that she was going to call CPS because of my neglect. First she wanted to know why I would allow my 2&4 year old to walk alone. The correction of their ages did not help. I was as polite as I could be, as I didn’t want to rile her any further, and have her make good on her threat. It was a long tirade, most of which my 6 year old heard, and now he is wondering what CPS is, and why she was so mad..We have a church with a large parking lot about 8 houses down on the other side of us, and I would love to allow my soon to be 7 year old (July), and his sister (9 in July) to ride their bikes down there, but THIS is why I don’t / can’t. The unpredictability of others who believe that they know how to raise my children better than I do, and won’t give the benefit of the doubt. I want to live Free-Range, but (ironically) I fear the repercussions from those who live in fear..
In the meantime, any snappy retorts to busybodies are also welcome. Here’s one I love:
Build your life so that when your kids are 18 they will move out and your spouse won’t.
Which is exactly what this mom was doing. – L