A New York Times columnist on Why Kids Need to Lick Slugs

And basically get outdoors, if only  to remember “that we’re just tenants — and ones without much sway.” Here’s the piece, by Nicholas Kristof, which quotes from Richard Louv’s  classic, “Last Child in the Woods.”

14 Responses

  1. So on target. You know, the more I see this type of thing the sadder I become. Our budget for all things artistic and natural is drying up as people favor the indoors and pro sports. What is going to happen to our kids?

    We get out and hike every couple of weeks and my kids are so satisfied and quiet on the ride home. It’s like magic – and even I feel wonderful afterwards. Being there in the trees, spotting animals, listening to bird calls, pointing out flowers along the trail, interesting rock formations, and even taking moments out to look at the most beautiful vistas on the Sandias… I wouldn’t trade those moments for the world… and maybe that’s the problem… most of the U.S. doesn’t know what it’s missing.

  2. LOVE, LOVE the book Last CHild in the Woods…my 6 year old and I started our own Family Nature group here in Florida…where we pick a new state/county preserve/park to go hike and explore in and invite the community to come along with this. Louv is a fab writer 🙂

  3. Read this today and thought it was a perfect free range kids article!

  4. Yes – REAL LIFE experiences / hiking in the woods / or on the beach …

    LOST to modern youth. My own grandson told me they HATE living in the foster home and spending their after school hours in the Care Provider’s SUV. Driving around all the time / to therapy appointments / Case Worker appointments / and separate parent visits (because Dept of Human Svcs always FIRST – divides up the parents — separation is mandatory – or parents face losing their kids – so they separate “in order to cooperate” and STILL loose their kids ..

    Anyway – as a grandmother, as the DHS Agent informed me: “you are not included in this case!” — so last August – the case worker (DHS Agent) stopped all of my contact with my grandsons….

    before this “event” — the boys told me they loved being at my coastal home, because they don’t spend all their time riding around in a car.

    Nick Kristoff nailed it — and thanks Lenore for picking it up and spreading on your site. Kids NEED unstructured play time – preferably out doors, where they can use their imagination – and run around – because they WANT to — not because they face being tossed off the “team” that they were signed up for, and delivered to in an SUV…

    Children NEED exercise – both mental and physical — and being driving to and from every event in a CAR — does not provide that – even if the event is the organized soccer team … or YMCA basketball match. IMAGINATION — is so important … I think Einstein said this first.

  5. Here in CA, every time the government argues about the budget, they threaten to close all the parks. It’s so great. *sigh*.

  6. Uly – the other day I was showing an eleven year old friend of mine (whom I babysit) this site because it encourages him to think about what he’s capable of as well as me. Anyways, keep the language down please.

  7. Casey, I’m sorry, but no.

    I didn’t exactly write a profanity-laced comment there. I made *two* curse words in the *entire* comment, both of which I am certain your eleven year old friend has already heard, and probably already used. I hear worse on the bus, and there are even younger children there as well, of course.

    Now, if the owner of this blog has problems with how I post, she has the right to tell me to knock it off and I’ll make the effort, and if I felt I’d been over the top offensive and abrasive I’d feel bad, but I find it more than a little ironic that here you are, on a blog geared towards adults and with the purpose of talking about not overprotecting kids telling me to “keep the language down” to “protect the children” – your example of a child being one who no doubt knows these words already anyway, no matter how sheltered he has been up until now.

  8. Actually, no, I believe in being honest. I’m not sorry.

    Furthermore, I do not believe in the magical power of words to hurt just by existing. I did not slur anybody (well, a few unnamed parents, I suppose, but nobody here) and I was… more or less on the topic of responding to a comment.

    Regardless, even if I did think that the words could hurt, I would not be inclined to alter them on an blog written for adults. My response may have been different, however, if you had primarily written that *you* felt offended and upset by my language, rather than appealing to my urge to protect children against something that, honestly, I don’t think is harmful.

    I mean, I attempt not to curse aloud around preschoolers, but mostly to protect the sensibilities of their parents. After five or six, well, if they pick something up by listening to parents and other grown-ups and older kids (and they ALL do so), they can get the lecture that some words are best not overheard by parents and teachers.

  9. @Uly

    Thank you for your insights. I think it depends upon the case workers whim. I have been researching this since March 2007 … and across the country – I see countless stories about DHS making the familiy separate / divorce etc — and they promise the children will then be able to come home – and then — DHS goes back on their promises … and teh children are adopted out.

    AND – you are right – that DHS often leaves them with harmful people – (parents / family / grandparents) … this too is very sad.

    DHS seems able to only move the children around … generally to keep the funding dollars flowing in … the catch phrase so oft quoted in PR releases by adoption agents and gov agents “for the good of the child” is a GREAT cover up for the REALITY of the situation.

    There is no law — to support grandparents. Each state has a “version” of some gibberish that reads more or less “DHS may consider extended family” — but in reality what this means is — DHS can find an excuse and banish family .. THAT is more accurate — re what actually happens.

    Unless one has a HUGE pile of money to buy a lawyer — one cannot participate in the court proceedings in a meaningful way. So – in effect – the government can take your children – and you can do nothing at all about it. No legal representation for grandmothers — she is “not included in the case” as the CW told me in court last Nov.

    I am living this nightmare. I KNOW what I’m talking about …

    ps — I’m not an alcoholic / a child beater or any other negative label you referenced in your post. I support peace / have a college degree and am active in my community. DHS “rules me out” because CASA does not like my politics. See:
    http://www.newportnewstimes.com/V2_news_articles.php?heading=0&story_id=346&page=78

    f y i ….. to say they “try very hard to keep families together” is PR spin. The reality is that only 11% of funding for child welfare is used to keep families together. The rest goes to child warehousing (they call it foster “parents”) and to adoption agencies.

    IMBALANCE OF FUNDING IS CREATING CORRUPTION
    Foster care funding represents 65% of federal funds dedicated to child welfare purposes, and adoption assistance makes up another 22%.
    Funding sources that may be used for preventive and reunification services represent only 11% of federal child welfare program funds.

  10. Uly – this particular child I am talking about is in no way sheltered and has free access to the internet as his parents trust him. He no doubt has heard the words you used in your post and in fact the other day while we were at a park, we had a good time trying to find other ways to interpret the graffiti on the walls and such.

    In any case, I’m sorry that I didn’t mention that I was offended by your post, but I thought that was implied. I use those words all the time and am planning on teaching my 7 month old daughter that there is no harm in words but that some words are not age appropriate. With that said, those words are not necessary on a blog that is as you said “for adults” who should be mature and capable of intellegent conversation without being vulgar and profane.

  11. Ana, I also know what I’m talking about. I know kids who have grown up in foster care, and I know kids who really should’ve been in it but who the foster care system decided were better off in the informal system set up for them (I’m still fuming over a few of those) and I know people who have foster kids now or who have had their kids taken for the long term. And I know some people who were investigated who I do not think merited it.

    I don’t know you, and I don’t know your situation. I’m sure you’re being accurate and correct when posting here, but it’s not jibing with my own experience. I can only say that it’s a big country, with a lot of states and a lot of systems and a heck of a lot of people working for CPS. The level of corruption you suggest would mean that most people working there – for low wages and long hours – are doing so with only their interests at heart, and no concern whatsoever for the kids. While that’s possible, it strikes me as unlikely.

    My view of the system is tempered by what I’ve seen of it. Certainly not all of it (or even most of it – but a lot of it was going too far in the OTHER direction, from what I’ve seen) good, but a lot of it run by good people who are doing their best with what they have, which just isn’t much. Your talk about PR spin doesn’t match the evidence of my eyes showing me that kids were being placed back with their families, sometimes for good and sometimes not. It doesn’t match me visiting my foster sister (who mostly stayed with her only living relatives anyway) and seeing her caseworker’s other kids and that caseworker on the phone begging the kids’ families to keep in touch.

    I suggest that your view of the system is tempered by your experiences. Your grandkids are being yanked around, you’re not seeing them enough, and you’re upset.

    So maybe there is a conspiracy to get money at the cost of kids and families, in your area or in the whole country. Maybe what I’ve seen is the exceptional bits, and your experience is the more normal one. But I can only speak for my own experience.

    Incidentally, I want to tackle something. This isn’t an attack against you, but against a general attitude which is damaging to… well, to abused folk everywhere.

    You say:

    ps — I’m not an alcoholic / a child beater or any other negative label you referenced in your post. I support peace / have a college degree and am active in my community.

    Now, I have no reason to doubt you. I was thinking of somebody in particular there, and she doesn’t even live on the same coast as you 🙂 However, plenty of alcoholics, plenty of child abusers, plenty of unpleasant people have college degrees. Plenty of them are active in their communities. Unfortunately, community standing never has meant that ones behavior is actually above reproach – although many victims have found that their charges go unheeded because the person harming them is a pillar of the community.

    Now, I don’t know about you. It seems more likely than not that you’ve never hurt a child and never abused a drug in your life and are every bit as upstanding as you say. Why should you lie? (More to the point, I don’t really care, and I’d rather assume you’re nice than otherwise.) But you could be the scum of the earth and still make those claims, y’know?

  12. With that said, those words are not necessary on a blog that is as you said “for adults” who should be mature and capable of intelligent conversation without being vulgar and profane.

    Well, we’re just going to have to disagree. Those words have a purpose in life, and that purpose isn’t *just* so you can make language lessons out of graffiti. They express strong emotion. I felt strongly, and so I used them. Twice. It’s hardly an excess, and I stand by my choice of language.

    When the day comes that I make a post containing nothing BUT profanity, or directed at a particular individual, you can go ahead and accuse me of not making intelligent conversation or of being vulgar or profane. At this moment, I do not think I have been.

    (You see now? There are a number of ways I could’ve said that a lot more succinctly, in two words or less! But I’m trying to respect your delicate sensabilities.)

  13. There’s also a good one in the New York Review of Books about the lack of wilderness wandering by kids now.

  14. Jennifer, what part of the state are you in? I’m in Florida too and that sounds like fun. You may contact me privately if you wish.

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