“Anti-Aging Makeup” — for 8-year-olds?

Hi Readers! Remember when kids wanted to look grown UP?  Not anymore, I guess. According to this piece in The Independent, Wal-Mart is introducing GeoGirl “natural” makeup for girls age 8 and up. As revolting as I find that idea, the fact that it is touted as “anti-aging” has me holding my head together with duct tape. (An attractive look.)

So, girls: You’re too young to walk to school at the same age mommy did, but you’re old enough to worry about wrinkles. You’re too young to play in the park with your friends, but old enough to stare into a mirror and think what you see needs fixing. In short, you are babies — and babes. Got a problem with that?  — Lenore

How sad to live before GeoGirl came along!

Uh…Outlawing SQUIRT GUNS?

Hi Readers — Am I reading this proposed law correctly? It’s from Hawaii. Could it actually seek to outlaw… selling squirt guns to minors?

I’m reading it wrong, right?  Or it’s early and I’m still asleep? Or someone stole our planet and replaced it with the wacky one made out of Silly Putty? Help! — L.

Not the kind of gun Hawaii is considering outlawing.

What Is The LEAST Dangerous, Cutest Thing We Can Outlaw Next?

Hi Readers: Here we go again. For the sake of the children (somehow), schools are looking at whether they should banish class pets. After all, they could spread DISEASE! And they are (somehow) a liability! And ________________!  (Fill in the blank with something else bad they do. I know that’s kind of hard, but if you’re a pencil-pushing killjoy, keep trying. You can do it.) According to The Herald, in Everett, Washington:

…school districts have begun adopting policies that in many cases limit or even ban animals in the classroom unless they’re part of science projects.

Animals may be cute and fun to be around. But they can spread disease and cause allergic reactions in students. And students are exposed to animal wastes.

With these and potential liability concerns, the state is asking school districts to draw up policies on what animals, other than service animals, should be allowed in schools.

How about those scary animals that have clipboards and dream up worst case scenarios for every aspect of childhood? Let’s ban THOSE! But no, first we must worry more about The Children:

“You have to be very cautious about the environment in which they learn,” [Dept. of Health spokesman] Moyer said.

Students can be infected with bacteria, such as E. coli, MRSA or salmonella, after touching pets and not washing their hands, said Nickol Finch, who heads the exotic and wildlife services at Washington State University.

Students can get ringworm from guinea pigs, she said. And turtles, snakes and lizards can spread salmonella.

Germs can be passed when a child shares lunch with an animal, allowing it to take a bite of a carrot, for example, and then the child eats the rest of the vegetable.

Influenza, including H1N1, can be passed from humans to ferrets, or from ferrets to humans, she said.

No one’s saying we live in a disease-free world.  But to suddenly worry that pets are spreading MRSA is to imagine a Michael Crichton-esque scenario, at best. My son had a bunny in his kindergarten classroom and the only thing it spread was joy.

So here’s my (usual) plea: Instead of looking at life through the lens of “What if?” and Worst-First Thinking (A bunny? What if it spreads the PLAGUE?), let us step back, take a deep breath and chill. Like a lizard. — L

Okay, this is ONE animal I might ban from school. (It was filed in Flickr under "hamster"!!!)

Where Have All The “Baby on Board” Signs Gone? (And Why?)

Hey Readers — Just got this sociologically stimulating note and wanted to post it for us to chew on. So chew!

Dear Free-Range Kids: The rise and fall of the “Baby on Board” signs is a fascinating case study for our topic of Free-Ranging.  The signs became popular as a plea for caution from other drivers.  They fell when paranoid rumors regarding kidnapping spread.

I am not sad the silly signs are gone but think about the cultural ramifications.  Thinking shifted from, “If the other drivers just knew there was a child in this car, they would exercise caution to help keep us safe,” to “If those other people know there is a child in this car they will do bad things to my family.”

(I cant believe I just defended Baby on Board signs which were one of the most obnoxious and silly inventions of all time.  But, they should have been banished for tackiness not paranoia.) — A Reader

A sign of the times. Just not THESE times.

A Glass of Sprite

Hi Readers! I loved this letter from a guy named Brad. You may, too. — L.

Dear Free-Range Kids:  I happened to rabbit-hole into your blog tonight, and read it for about 2 hours, fascinated by the psychotic parents out there. I’m 27 and was raised Free-Range. I was allowed to run amok, largely unattended, for extended periods of time. I got into all sorts of trouble and suffered many life-threatening injuries such as skinned knees, bruises of various sizes, bloody noses, and twisted ankles. One time I was attacked by a clearly homicidal rose bush. And I even broke my arm when I made the unwise decision to jump off the tailgate of a parked pickup truck and tumble down a hill. My broken arm shaped the rest of my life.

First of all, I was 10 years old. I was playing unsupervised outside in the summer with my band of heathen friends, a group of about five boys in my neighborhood. I don’t even remember what we were doing, or why I was climbing on the truck, much less why I jumped off it. I realized something was wrong when my arm was really hurting a different kind of hurt than I was used to. I got on my bike and rode home one-handed. I told my mom what happened when I got home and she sat me on the couch and got me a Sprite.

Soft drinks were a special treat when I was a kid and so Sprite was my mother’s first line of defense if something was wrong. Bad day at school? Sprite. Cold/flu? Sprite. And, apparently, broken arm=Sprite. I sat there watching TV and sipping sullenly, but when my arm was still hurting after an hour, we went to the ER. X-ray later, I was diagnosed with a fracture of both the humerus and radius, a cast was applied, and I was to follow up with my regular doctor in two weeks.

I learned a lot in the six weeks I was in a cast. I learned that I was far more capable one-handed than I has previously thought. I learned that a bent wire hanger was the perfect scratching implement for under-cast itches. I learned that I had way more friends than I thought, judging by the sheer number of signatures my cast acquired. I learned that broken bones suck, but life goes on. My parents didn’t freak out, so I didn’t freak out. I really think it was the first time my little brain followed the whole decision-action-consequence-adaptation continuum from inception to resolution.

I’ve since grown up to be a paramedic. I love what I do. It’s fulfilling in a truly indescribable way, but I’ve noticed something that troubles me. I make a lot of calls for “panic attacks” that don’t stem from a medical disorder, like clinical depression or schizophrenia. They’re panic attacks born from the inability to deal with life. There’s a college near where I work, and we make calls there all the time for kids that don’t know how to deal with the stress from being away from controlling parents. These are kids that crumble at the slightest bump in the road. They make a C on a term paper, their boyfriend/girlfriend breaks up with them, they don’t like their roommate, whatever. They panic, hyperventilate, and sob uncontrollably. They don’t sit on the couch and drink a Sprite because no one ever taught them how.

I like the Free-Range philosophy. It’s promoting a way to make kids self-reliant. Teaching them to fish, so to speak. That way, when they leave the nest and forge their own path they have the tools they need. My parents let me face life head on when I was a kid. They let me fall, but they helped me dust myself off and get back up. I’m a stronger adult because of it.

My mom always used to say “If you cry when you burn the toast, what to you do when the house burns down?” That stuck with me.

So did the Sprite.

Sincerely, Brad

Things go better with...a little self-reliance.


How Very Welcoming!

Hi Readers! Here’s the sign a nature center director is about to take down from the local preserve where, for the record, there are no cliffs, no plunging ravines, no standing water, no wild animals beyond the usual squirrel-type thing, no snakes, and no evil trees. There IS some poison ivy. Anyway, as he put it, “It is really a welcoming sign, isn’t it?”

And a tank battalion, when possible.

A Bouncing Bundle of Kidnappable Joy

Hi Readers! Feeling a little sane and optimistic today? Shame on you! It is your DUTY, as an AMERICAN to live in a state of CONSTANT FEAR for your children starting the minute they pop out! To that end,  here CNN explains how to avoid the scourge of baby snatchings.

Well, maybe scourge is not exactly the right word. Eventually the network admits that baby snatchings happened all of once last year, and three times the year before (in a country where about 4 million children are born annually). But, hey! That’s no reason to EVER let down your guard. Because “HALF” of all these snatchings — i.e., I guess, half of the baby last year — occur in the mom’s own room! So please, new mom, for God’s sake never go to the bathroom “EVEN FOR A SECOND” (thanks, CNN!) without bringing your baby with you, or summoning someone to GUARD the little snatchable.  Because your distrust of EVERYONE at ALL TIMES must NEVER LET UP!

What happens when you DON’T pay close enough attention? Well, if it isn’t immediately clear to you, you silly sap, here’s a note from a reader that should open your all-too-trusting eyes:

Dear Free-Range Kids: Speaking of doctor craziness. 3 weeks ago I gave birth to my 3rd child. I thought I had seen it all, until they gave me a card with several blood dots on it. They gave me a sealed sample of my newborns blood “in case he gets taken, you have a DNA sample for identification.” Um… So congratulations on your baby, here’s a DNA sample for the foregone assumption that one day he’ll be kidnapped and killed. WTH? Why are we so freaked out that we’re providing DNA samples at birth now? It wasn’t done 5 years ago when I had my last baby. Culture of fear. — A Reader in Oregon

So, new  moms, here’s the drill: GUARD your baby at all times. SUSPECT EVERYONE of nefarious motives. ASSUME your baby is the focus of the world’s evil intentions. And remember: Your darling could STILL end up in a ditch.

But don’t forget to coo at their tiny little toes! — L.