The Highlander Takes the Low Road

Hi Readers! I know these Toyota ads have been running for a while, but I still cannot believe that some ad agency thinks the best way to sell parents on a car is to tell them their kids despise everything they believe in and enjoy — possibly including THEM. And that the best way to show our love for our children is to chauffeur them in a TV-equipped bubble, where they can drown out anything that does not amuse them. And, of course, that driving (individual!!) kids to school is the natural order of things.

This is what I mean when I talk about the many ways pop culture molds us as parents. If we turn on the TV and it really looks like EVERYONE is driving their kids to school, that becomes the norm and, in turn, everyone starts driving their kids to school.

I know this is a car commercial, so it’s not going to say: For God’s sake, why don’t those able-bodied boys WALK to school? Or ride their BIKES? If they’re such good friends, obviously going the same direction, wouldn’t it make sense for them to amble off to school TOGETHER and talk on the WAY, instead of communicating through CAR WINDOWS? (Or if they live really far, even — hey — carpool?) When we don’t see any of those questions on TV, the only question becomes WHAT we drive, rather than WHY.

Yes, all of that is what this ad (infuriatingly cute nonetheless) got rumbling inside of me.

Meantime, the ad BELOW just reinforces the idea that cool kids get driven to and from school, losers take the bus. (Cool, RICH kids apparently also get the blonde chicks.)

I guess it’s a little much to expect a car company to embrace public transit, but still — let US at least remember that more kids are killed in car crashes than on school buses. So if you’re a parent who REALLY cares…which would you choose?

172 Responses

  1. it’s so funny you have a beef with these because the first time I saw this commercial I turned to my husband and said, ” I HATE!!!!! that commercial”.

    Heaven forbid the ‘geeky’ parents be lesser parents, and the kid who is…um 8????!! cooler because his parents have a newer car. For any elementary student who can’t really separate all of what the commercial is suggesting in humor…they’ll believe it!

    ARGHHH!!

    Sarah M

  2. I hated them on sight. Spoiled little bratlings.

  3. I really hate this movement in pop culture to portray parents (especially fathers) as clueless buffoons. I also really object to ads that feature the parents soliciting the child’s opinion on which car to buy or which insurance to buy. You know what, kid? You don’t get any input on what I drive, and what car I drive or insurance I buy does not reflect on what kind of a parent I am.

    (although I do love my Highlander…)

  4. This has nothing to do with the post (although I HATE that commercial and now have even more reasons to rail against it) My husband and I were talking the other night about statistics – how many children are kidnapped by family members versus total strangers. I totally exaggerated the number – I was very puffed up and was all “something like 95% of kidnappings happen because of a family member.” I also said that it’s more likely for kids to die in a car accident 5 miles from home than it is for them to get kidnapped. I KNOW that I’m mostly right on the kidnappings stat (more kids are kidnapped by family members) and I KNOW that more kids die in car accidents than kidnappings/murders but now I need the statistics to back me up. I don’t care if I’m wrong on the numbers, but I have no idea where to start looking – I did find the stats for kidnappings and missing kids. It wasn’t in the 90% but it was way more than the stranger kidnappings. Anyway, this all came about because we were talking about how overprotective my MIL is with her grandson (who she is raising). She’ll let him eat crap, watch tv for hours and it doesn’t matter what the kid saw the SAW movies at the age of 6 – gaining weight and hates to let him outside in a quiet, suburban neighborhood with plenty of kids and nice parents because “something could happen.” She also doesn’t like to just drop him off at the life-guard supervised pool by himself because they “don’t watch” as well as she does. She’s in her sixties and sits OUTSIDE the pool area but somehow, that makes it safer. Have i mentioned that the kid in question is 11 and doesn’t know how to do anything by himself, including make a peanut butter sandwich? Anyway, I just want to show my husband that the overprotectiveness is NOT something we want to continue with OUR kids (I’m pregnant with our first). Can someone point me in the right direction? Sorry for this long rambling comment.

  5. That kid would be sitting on the stairs a lot in my household (while I would have to quell the impulse to tan his hide like my mother used to do with me). Commercials like this piss me off but the people who make the commercials are smart about developing commercials to kids as the kids are the most likely to see the commercials more and will be more likely to have a strong brand recognition because of it. I mean really how many of us can (or used to ) recite the band aid commercial song? Kids, for better or worse (mostly worse), are a strong marketing tool.

  6. When I was in school (in Germany), most children came to school by bike or bus. Those who were driven by their parents were generally regarded as wimps.

  7. So is the problem the car or the TV?

  8. I saw a version of that commercial long ago, and I hated it on so many levels. We were just discussing connectedness with our kids on an earlier post. How the hell do you connect with your kid when he has earphones on while in your car? Of course the whole “entitled kid” thing disgusts me, and the “prestige” thing definitely does not impress me. It would be interesting to see what kind of parents would actually see this commercial and be motivated to buy that car. Ha!

    I live in one of those places where you really can’t walk anywhere unless you have all the time in the world. (No bus service for preschoolers.) So I drive my kids around, but we interact in the car (which is a 2003 Saturn, for shame). If nothing else, we all sing along to the same music. I guess my kids will be embarrassed when they realize how disadvantaged they are.

  9. Marketing to children is epidemic in North American culture. Used to be limited to toys, crap foods and soap, but now it’s everything, and it WORKS. Not in my house, though. We don’t have a TV, and if we did, you can bet there would be discussions with the kds about TV, manipulation, and marketing, but not discussions about which car to buy!

  10. Everytime I see that commercial, I think “And that kid will grow up to be a douchebag.”

  11. In our car, my 6-year old would be singing right along. When we listen to the classical music station (which is often) the kids conduct the orchestra. I guess we are SO not cool, but we are talking to each other, which I think is better. My 20 year old minivan does not have a tv in it, and some day, when we get a new car, a tv won’t be high on the list of priorities. I love our singalongs and want them to continue as long as they can.

    My kids are also not cool because one takes the bus and the other is forced to walk THREE whole blocks. Sometimes in the rain.

  12. Like pretty much everyone else, I really don’t like that commercial. My kids can have an opinion on my car, but they certainly aren’t going to determine what I buy. They’re also very proud of walking to school rather than getting a ride, because they see how long it takes cars to work through the drop off line and think it’s ridiculous.

  13. I thought they were cute commercials. Honestly stuff like this does not faze me just because it is the norm now to be driven to school especially around here. We live in a very surburban sprawl town so most kids can’t walk to school. We actually can for elementary because we live next to it, but no way near enough for middle school and high school is in walking distance but not near and no sidewalks right now. So probably not walking to high school either.

  14. As a closet Juice Newton fan, I also immediately disliked this commercial.
    I also oppose driving children door to door like they are Happy Meals.

    As the last day of school has passed, I can now say that our first year biking to school (not by choice, by budget cuts) has been an overwhelming success. Though they were forbidden to bike in previous years as the school declared it “too dangerous”, this year they were free to ride the 3 miles as it was now declared “safe” when the busing budget got slashed. They did it with very few mishaps and one squirrel funeral (slow down big, white SUV!) They actually do it better without me. This is a fact.

    In the beginning of they year, when I biked with them to help them get the hang of it, I was pulled over by the police (high speed chase with lights- I did not come to a complete stop at a stop sign), attacked by a very large dog (though he only ripped my pants), and crashed my bike into safety fencing. I let them bike ride with friends for the rest of the year, though I am in the minority as most of the school’s parents drive door to door.

    I know my kids are now more responsible. They understand gas prices and know they saved the family money and reduced their impact on the environment. They got better grades. The exercise is almost an afterthought. They play sports all year round and have endless energy. Strong quads from biking make for great soccer legs.

    Do I miss the buses? Somedays. I wish they were at least an option, especially in bad weather. They are simply better for the environment than the carline of SUVs and minivans that clog traffic. But after a year of living dangerously (supposedly, as a parent), I can safety say that I’d take 100 of my kids over that brat in the Highlander commercial any day. Kids that bike to school are cool.

  15. I really could care less about commercials. I’ll pick the car/minivan/suv that best suits our lifestyle and gets the best ratings/has the features we consider important. I really could care less about the way that car is marketed since it has no bearing on my purchase decision and I have Tivo and skip commercials anyway.

  16. I will admit to 1) laughing at this commercial (my mom just bought a new highlander) and 2) putting dvd players in my headrests. But we are a military family that is going to be doing a lot of long trips (we’re talking 14-16 hours) with only one adult in the car. We’re establishing rules about when the tvs can be used. My 5 year old actually lost all her fun privileges for the afternoon yesterday because I told her she could not watch the show in the car and she turned it on anyways. I want my kids to look outside and sing with me (this is sounding so very Goofy Movie) and learn about road sides and play the alphabet game!

  17. forgot to mention, my favorite comment from above. I’m still laughing over this.

    courtneyeschbach, on June 17, 2011 at 23:46 said:
    Everytime I see that commercial, I think “And that kid will grow up to be a douchebag.”

  18. And why is the ten year old in the second commercial interested in girls? A child that age would be grossed out by the girls! And why is the dad letting him choose who gets to ride?

  19. I’m glad I’m not the only one who bristles at these Toyota commercials. My first thought was “Well God FORBID the kid have to ride in a car that the parents can AFFORD.”

    I don’t know exactly how much a Highlander costs, but I’m pretty sure I can’t afford it. Not many people these days can. Just rub it in our faces that our kids are being mistreated because we can’t afford your stupid gas-guzzling SUV, Toyota. /sarc

    That was the first thing that really irked me about that self-important curly-headed brat. And no matter how much money I have to buy a vehicle with, I’ll NEVER have one with a TV or DVD player in it. My sons hate it, but they need to know what it means to be bored every once in a while. Learn to make your own entertainment, not get it piped in by some electronc device 24/7.

  20. Funny. We used to walk to school all the time. When gas hit $4 a gallon in late may one year, the SUVs stayed parked and several families started walking along with us.

    Most never stopped. I saw a neighbor kid, one who most enjoys the walk, complaining at his mom that she was having him get in the car because she was driving by there anyway and they were late.

    Most of the kids in cars in our area wanted to walk. Why be trapped?

  21. When I watch these commercials, here’s what strikes me:

    1) They are part of an overall message theme which seems to be, “Check out the jerks who use our product! You can be just like them if you buy it, too!”

    2) I really hate in-car DVD players. If they ever become standard accessories, Mr. Nonymous and I have already agreed that we’re having it removed.

    3) If BabyNonymous turns out to be that smug and entitled, I will have failed as a parent.

    And all of that is *before* my Free Range buttons get pushed.

  22. While not a huge fan of these commercials, I take more offense in that so many of the vans and SUVs (and some cars too, I know) have built in entertainment systems for the kids. While I often didn’t care for my parents music, when I rode with my parents growing up, I would look out the window, watch the everything go by, we’d play games, look for shapes in the clouds, people watch (when we were on the highway), I learned to entertain myself. I know that most kids do get bored after a while, and I think the entertainment systems would be great on long trips, but I’ve seen kids throw fits because they couldn’t watch (insert cartoon here) for the 5 minutes it took for the parent to drive to the store.

  23. First of all, I live in NYC, so driving is something I rarely think of doing. As soon as I saw that commercial I turned to my significant other and said, “When we have a kid one of us has to get a license and then we have to rent a car so we can sing as loud as we can to the music from our youth for a very long trip” It builds so much character and then we wouldn’t have an obnoxious snot of a kid who can’t entertain himself.

    The other day on the subway a woman was sitting with her approx. 6 year old child. The girl was just fine, in a perfectly pleasant mood when the mother brought out a book to read to her. I’m all for reading to your kids, but there is also something to be said for letter her use her mind to occupy herself. And if she is already doing that on her own, why mess with a good thing.

  24. Part of the reason this does not bother me is I barely pay attention to commercials and we don’t see a lot of them because of no cable. So I guess I am just jaded to anything like that.

    My kids don’t have a tv in the car even though my MIL bought them a DVD system for Christmas and we have yet to install it. I will only use it on LONG car trips 4+ hours. It will be removed after the car trip is over. Mine listen to kids CDs in the car to remain happy. I can block out the kids music and will sometimes even sing along. But some parents are not as tolerant of kids music as I am and I can see a need for headphones. I talk to my kids and spend all day doing stuff with them so it is not going to hurt if we don’t talk in the car on the way to an activity where I will interact with them. Kids need to learn to let their mind wander anyway and car rides can do that.

    Mine are really good in the car 99% of the time. I just started out from the get go as babies letting them know I will not coddle you in the car and they know what to expect now. I won’t almost drive off the road to hand you a toy or a passy when they were babies. I won’t pull over if you fuss. We drove 10 hours on two trips without any fussing. So DVD systems are not needed but it might help too at least on long trips.

  25. I also hate these ads, as I hate any ad that reinforces the “cool kids have all the isolating gadgets and the wimps deal with the real world” specimens.

    When I was a kid, everybody in my school either walked the distance (14 blocks in my case) or took the elevated trains. Only “special ed” kids took the bus. Now when I pass a school and see all the buses and minivans I sigh in despair.

  26. My poor kids are stuck listening to talk radio and NPR, with a bit of Classic Rock thrown in for good measure:) They do complain occasionally (especially about Car Talk!) but they’ll live! They have great imaginations and fulfilling conversations to get them through the rough spots! lol!

  27. I don’t listen to kiddy music in the car. Mostly we listen to CDs of music that I like and my kids have learned to like. Our favorite is musical soundtracks. My kids have memorized the majority of the Sound of Music, Phantom of the Opera, and West Side Story. When that genre gets old, I torture my children with CDs of artists from my younger days. Or check out what’s on the radio (family-friendly stations).

    My kids have a CD player and lots of CDs at home. It’s all stuff selected with both my ears and theirs in mind. Out of that selection, they choose what, if anything, will be played in their part of the house. Based on their choices, they like all kinds of music.

  28. […] Follow this link: The Highlander Takes the Low Road […]

  29. @MidCap, Most of the kids at my son’s school, also in Germany, get there by bike, foot, bus, or train. Kids who get driven are viewed as wimps, unless there’s a valid reason to be driven (e.g. being on crutches). The only time I drive my son to school is when there’s inclement weather.

    My first thought on seeing those commercials was, “It would be almost impossible to drive a Highlander on narrow European streets or park one anywhere.” The second thought was, “Who in their right mind would want such a gas guzzler with gas being over $4/gallon on base and about twice as much off base?” Parents in Germany must all be uncool because none of my German friends have cars with TVs or DVD players in them.

    The kid in that commercial was obnoxious, to say the least. I’d love to see him instantly lose his popularity when another kid gets a new car that’s even “cooler” than the Highlander. He would then have to ride the bus with the “losers.” That would serve him right for being such a brat.

    My son can easily entertain himself on long trips without any DVDs. A German Donald Duck comic book or soccer magazine will keep him entertained for hours. He also has a Nintendo, which is good for long trips. On long trips the whole family also talks. For example, when we pass a castle ruin, we talk about what it must have been like to live in it. On a trip to Italy last year, we passed a lot of apple orchards. We all decided to imagine how we would get over the fences around the orchards to get some fresh apples without getting caught.

  30. Eh…the only reason I’m offended by this commercial is because I have “Angel of the Morning” on a CD in my car CD player and I listen to it all the time. I am actually jealous that the woman’s husband is singing along with her in the commercial.

  31. Weirdly enough, Lenore, a few years ago Mercedes-Benz (perhaps accidentally) ran a Euro-style ad on U.S. television for a few weeks, certainly not more than a month. It didn’t involve children, but it DID suggest one could be the proud owner of a Benz while taking public transit (in the commercial’s case, a trolley or tram) to work. I remember being struck by the novelty, but all too soon some U.S. exec realized “exceptionalist Americans” couldn’t possibly handle transport options as a reality. Perhaps some day Lenore’s seemingly far-fetched idea (kids walking to school, what a concept) may yet surface in a car commercial.

  32. I hated that commerical from the first time I saw it. I will never go out of my way to have a TV in the car. I try to interact with the kids when we’re driving OR they talk back and forth to each other. If they get really bored I turn on some Schoolhouse Rock and we sing along. Even when we drive 5 hours to the beach in a few weeks we won’t have a TV/DVD.
    I also hate it because that kids needs a HAIRCUT!

  33. I don’t get how this is related to kids being driven to school. The kid with the singing parents says “they’ve been singing the same song for the last 3 hours.” While they *could* have been singing it at home, the implication is that he’s been sitting there in the back seat for 3 hours listening to it. So while I hate the message – that kids need TVs in the car and Highlander provides that – I don’t see it as a FRK issue.

    That said, I do totally have a problem with TVs in cars. It buys into the theory that we need media all the time. Yes, yes, radio is media, too, but not as invasive as TV. Video media is so directed and there’s little to imagination involved. And while there’s a lot of long-distance commuting going on, I don’t think *most* people or kids spend so much time in their cars that they need video entertainment.

    A few years ago, when my son took swimming lessons (they were only 30-minute classes, so it was not worth leaving the facility), there was another mom there with her son and they were waiting for the next class. Her son was about 4 maybe and completely disruptive (and I say that as the parent of a kid w/ ADHD). He kept going up onto the pool deck, taking people’s things, throwing toys, etc. while the mom chatted on her cell. She would interrupt her call to pull him away, but it was completely ineffective. So her big threat was that he wouldn’t get to watch TV in the car on the way home. In our community, I cannot imagine that they lived more than 20 minutes away and I just found that amazing. I want more ways to keep my son from watching TV, not more ways to encourage it!

    (Okay, soap box off!)

  34. Since those commercials began, I’ve commented to my kids how jerky that kid is, and they agree.
    As for people thinking these commercials are benign, even if you don’t pay attention, someone does or the marketing to kids thing would have stuck to toys and junk food. When one commercial gets through because people aren’t bothered by it, it leads to more of these types of commercials and before you know it people start to believe that portrayal is normal since the actors appear normal and are doing normal things. It should bother people. It’s not subliminal but subconscious, imo.

  35. “Just because you’re a parent doesn’t have to mean you have to be lame.” (1st clip)

    How about–when you’re grown & can pay for a car your SELF, then you can get what you want. Meanwhile, the parents are in that role now, and they get to sing “Angel of the Morning” in whatever vehicle they chose all they want. Don’t like it? Do like the other kids in clip #2 and take the bus.

    LRH

  36. My first thought when seeing these commercials was that the people in the old “dorky” car had it paid off. Where the “cool” kid in the new car’s parents most likely when into debt to get the car. It feels like they are encouraging going into debt so your 7 year old kid can be cool.

    I loathe the ads. They make me angry every time I catch one.

  37. We will never have a TV in our car. However, on long car rides the kids do watch movies on IPods and laptops. When I started driving every summer to MA from FL I had visions of the kids seeing the country. The reality is that every year more and more of the road is lined with those high, noise blocking walls. Nothing to look at for mile after mile. There are a few landmarks we look for every year but those are mostly down on the southern part of the trip.

    For the trips around town, I make CDs from my ITunes. I use a mix of songs I know my kids like and songs I like and think they will too. The kids get exposed to lots of 80’s and musical theater and a little Lady Gaga or Weird Al doesn’t kill me.

  38. A few years ago, we planned a 17 day car / camping trip around Switzerland. Our boys were 3 and 4 years old at the time. I started looking for sales on portable DVD players. Then I started seeing blog comments about how it is good for kids to be bored (this was before I found Lenore). I decided that we would NOT do the DVD route. The boys had books, toys, and leapsters and we had a couple good kids C.D.s (SnackTime by The Barenaked Ladies was the hands down favourite). I never regretted the decision not to buy a DVD player.

  39. I absolutely HATE these commercials and this poor little kid is forever imprinted on my brain as a little snot. Thank you Lenore!!

  40. @LRH…I have the same sentiment about parents being “lame” and my kid choosing the family car. When my son helps to pay for the car, the gas, and the insurance, then he has a voice in deciding what kind of car to buy. But until then, my husband and I make that decision and he has to live with it. Fortunately, he’s very good natured and really doesn’t care what kind of car we have. If he was like the kid in the commercial, he’d be biking to school in the snow or pouring rain. Getting soaked from a bike ride in heavy rain or sleet is enough to convince a kid that his parents and family car really aren’t so lame after all.

  41. I’ve been on the receiving end of the car snobbery around here. I drive a 14 year old Geo Tracker convertible that I love. It’s our only car. I have had people refuse to let me give their kid a ride (in a car seat, properly installed, with seatbelts and the roof up) because ‘it’s just not safe enough’. I’ve had people say, “You drive your kids around in that?” in some incredulous tone, like I was pulling them in a rickshaw on the expressway at rush hour. Apparently, having a tank to drive your kids around in is the only way to be a responsible parent.

    We don’t have a TV in our house, no one in the family owns a smart phone, iPod, iPad, or iAnyotherdamnthing. On 24+ hour train rides, we will bring a laptop to watch a few DVDs (although last time I think the kids watched exactly 1 movie the whole time). Otherwise, we just… talk. Listen to the radio in the car (no CD player). Watch the scenery. Read books. Draw. Somehow, we all survive.

  42. OMG. Thank you very much!! Is it really necessary that TV be available to children at every waking moment?!!

  43. Kate, you know, reading with your kid is standard homework in NYC public schools.

    Seriously, at the nieces’ school we’re supposed to read with the kid for 20 minutes a day until they’re in the second grade… then they read to themselves. (I *already* read to the girls every day, except when I fob it off on the older child because I’m busy making dinner, but this is because we are a bookish family which really, really values reading. I know your family values reading too, but… my family is the only one I know where the cosleeping debate revolves around “if we don’t have a crib, we’ll have more space for books”. Really, it’s an affliction.)

    If you’re spending significant time getting from here to there (and you may well be, especially if your kid goes to school out of district or you have to do errands after school) about the only time to fit that in is when on the bus or train. And it’s about the only homework you really CAN fit in there, because anything with writing is just not gonna work.

    Instead of judging this woman for reading to her kid on the train, you might consider that you don’t know why she did that. Maybe, for example, she knows that if she doesn’t fit in storytime now she definitely won’t have time at bedtime. Maybe her kid was promised this book, and would be disappointed if they didn’t have time for it. Maybe the mom had dragged along a book thinking the kid would be bored, and now, dammit, it was gonna get read no matter WHAT. Maybe it’s homework, as I said. Maybe it’s just not any of your business, and I for one would like to get back to judging people for plopping their kids in front of the TV all day because tag is dangerous, thanks.

  44. OMG. Has that man in the second video been fingerprinted, polygraphed, and had a THOROUGH background check? ANYTHING could happen in a ten minute drive in that crowded car.🙄

  45. This discussion brings back a memory from long past. I was a little tot and my parents took me car-shopping with them. I told them the red car was the one we should buy. A deal was struck, and after some time, the delivery occurred. Imagine my anticipation as I waited for the new shiny red car to drive up – and imagine my disappointment upon seeing that it was BLUE! I was SO pissed off, LOL. My parents never did get a red car, but coincidentally (?) my first car was red (well, actually maroon). Ha ha!

  46. totally agree and have since i first saw the ad.

    There is so much to be learned by taking a 3 hour drive. Especially at age 10. what a great time for parents to have dialogue with kids, for kids to be able to not have to try to be consumers or act cool. I remember the freedom of being away from school and able to just have fun with my family. Talk, listen to talk radio, sing along to music, take in the passing view, play the license plate game.

    The most offensive part of the ad is that the richer kid is clearly the cooler kid. I know that is life but it is a bit overt in that ad.

  47. The other day my kids were home sick from school. As a WAHM, I had a ton of work to do, so I figured I’d have to sit them in front of a movie or two. However, I decided to play it by ear. The entire day went by, indoors, without grown-up “stimulation,” and there was not one request for screen time. Apparently the opportunity to spend the entire day imagining their own world was awesome enough.

  48. The message is terrible. I have to say, this commercial made me laugh because (as a nyc resident) when my kids are arguing with each other on the subway platform (or elsewhere in public), I say, “hmmm…you’re embarrassing me…maybe I could embarrass you.” Which my 10 and 7 year olds know means I am going to start singing. Out loud. I had used “Tomorrow” from Annie, but joked with my daughter that I could start singing the song from that car commercial.

    I actually really hate the one where a kid is being chased by bullies and the mom pulls up and he jumps in the hatch back of the SUV.

  49. SO glad I’m not the only one who wants to smack that kid. Metaphorically, of course, by driving him to school in a Gremlin. Or a Pinto. Something, anything that’s got tow trucks circling it like vultures.

    As far as TVs in cars, I understand for long trips (to be determined by parents, but the one above who said 14+ hours certainly has a case in my book). But just back and forth to school, lessons, grocery store? No way.
    And anything can be abused; I heard of a case where a parent was upset because, at a light, her children noticed the car next to them had… adult movies running and visible on the car’s screen. The question was whether there was a lawsuit; I didn’t follow it well enough to remember the outcome.

  50. My kids want to walk to school, or take the bus so bad, but unfortunately for us that is not an option. It would take my kids about 2 hours to walk to school down many busy roads and they are 5 and 7, and the school offers no bussing. This is not to say we don’t have a neighborhood school but we choose to send our kids to a Christian School, which is a wonderful community full of families who share our values, who calmly talk out issues our kids have, and teachers who love discovering what makes each kid unique, who are strict, don’t let the kids get away with crap, but are so kind and caring (oh and they are allowed to love and hug the kids). Just wanted to mention this because not all families who drive their kids to school do that to coddle them, sometimes it is for their own good, in our case the benefits of the school they attend far outweigh the negatives of them having to be driven.

    I do hate those ads, man that kid looks like a spoiled brat. We drive an older minivan with no TV although we will be getting a new vehicle due to family outgrowing our current one and I would like a DVD player for the long trips we take in the summer (I hate having to bring cords and hook up the other ones but driving for 3 days with 5 kids is just better with TV) I refuse to let my kids watch TV on short trips and in the city though, that is one of my pet peeves when I see people driving in the city from here to there with Dora on.

    Taradilon, I am going to use that one when my kids fight in public, or otherwise act embarrassing:)

  51. Taradlion-
    I have also sung to embarrass the kids! My song of choice is “Over the Rainbow” as the Wizard of Oz is one of my favorite movies (and the kids).
    I’ve told them in the past of wanting to click my heels and say there’s no place like home to escape their antics when they misbehave. The natural progression if they don’t listen is to sing that song. I have a horrible, shreiky singing voice that makes newborns cry.
    They usually behave in public.

  52. Uly said: “Maybe it’s just not any of your business, and I for one would like to get back to judging people for plopping their kids in front of the TV all day because tag is dangerous, thanks.”

    I’m so sorry that you were offended to such a degree by what I said. I thought one of the points Lenore’s article was that time spent in the car doesn’t need to be grabbed up with constant entertainment. Since time spent in the car is not something that really applies to my life I thought about something that did. Certainly there could be a number of reasons why that book was read for the span of two stops. In terms of a teachable moment, I will say that the 3 train in the middle of rush hour is chaotic, and doesn’t feel very teachable to ME. But obviously, as you say, there could be so many reasons this woman had to read a couple pages. Please forgive me for drawing correlations between something I had recently witnessed with Lenore’s current message.

    As a side note, there was nothing in this specific article about Tag being too dangerous (Obviously that comes up in others).

  53. I never even make it to the TV issue for these commercials. I’m stuck on the fact that the parents driving the SUVs in these commercials usually only have one or two kids. It’s like the second you confirm that you are pregnant with your first child you MUST buy an SUV. Really? My kid does just fine in our Civic.

  54. @dmd, related to TVs in cars but a little off topic. Our kids (almost grown now, well…ok, grown) never had a TV in their rooms. A co-worker once told me that she kinda sorta regretted her kids each having an in-room TV, but that it was great for discipline! ie. taking away TV privileges. Except that she discovered her son (who was about 8 at the time) would secretly watch after he’d gone to bed at night even when his privileges had been revoked. Ummm….really?

    Of all the mistakes and bad decisions I probably made as a parent, one thing I feel I did right (for my family anyway, not judging anyone else) is keep the TVs out of the bedrooms.

  55. @Beth – I am totally with you on the no TVs in bedrooms thing. No kids for me just yet, but even my husband and I don’t keep a TV in our own bedroom. We have one TV in the living room, and once in a great while we’ll snuggle up in bed with the laptop and watch something on Netflix.

    Here’s the thing though: while I didn’t have a TV in my room growing up, I did have a couple hundred books. My parents would send me to my room and I’d be perfectly content to sit there and read. But obviously my parents were not about to tell me NOT to read, so I was a pretty difficult child to punish.😉

    And regarding the Highlander commericials: I absolutely cannot stand them. That kid is awful. @courtneyeschbach said ‘Everytime I see that commercial, I think “And that kid will grow up to be a douchebag.”’ Correction: That child already IS a douchebag.

  56. These marketing companies are smart. They all know that many parents are “heli-parents” or whatever they call it for themselves. They understand the human psychology, and pretty much capitalize on them. ie. insecurities, fear, ambition, even arrogance and self-centeredness. And they make these commercials using these psychological profiles to target the market they need. Just like any other media. The news, radio, tv perpetuates and intensifies the problems. The marketing companies capitalize on the outcome of that. And the key thing for them doing such things…DOLLARS! A lot of it. So next time you see a commercial and think you want something like that, stop to think…is it a want or a need. Just like with the things you do for your children, is it something YOU want, or something THEY need.

  57. I’m so glad nobody’s responded with, “Oh, gosh, they’re just commercials, you don’t rely on commercials to teach your kids how to act, do you?”

    It’s true that a kid who’s generally being raised decently isn’t going to be ruined by a few commercials, but really, Toyota as a corporation run by human beings has a responsibility not to send *all the worst possible messages* in their commercials. There’s line between “it’s just marketing” and “do we really need to be gratuitously idiotic, obnoxious, and anti-social just to sell cars?”

  58. In fact, between the looks-like-it-wasn’t-their-fault accelerator issue, and the problems resulting from the earthquake, I was feeling pretty bad for Toyota. But no more. I almost never watch TV (without the DVD player) so I was unaware of this until now. Now I’m really, really glad we bought a Honda when we were in the market for an import a couple of years ago.

  59. If I were that little boy’s mom he would be grounded for his rudeness. I don’t believe spanking has value, but for that behavior I might make an exception.

    Those commercials right there are why I don’t have cable or satelite or anything like that. We have a televion and a DVD player and tons of movies which have been vetted for not having hero characters who are insufferable brats.

  60. And perhaps I should clarify, the television is in the house. Given the option I will never have a car with a TV in it. If it ever gets to the point where TVs come standard in all cars, I will gently take a hammer to the screens.

    (If you have a TV in your car: I’m sure you have reasons that work for you. I don’t disparrage your choice, it’s just not for me)

  61. Now now Maggie. It is oh so uncool and unfreerange to insist that only boys can have short hair. My boys have shaggy Zac Efron/Justin Bieber hair and it is precious! We get compliments on it all the time. Their hair is prettier than most little girls we know! I am not keeping it in a buzz cut. Hell no!

  62. This is why we don’t have television reception in our home. We watch DVDs and Netflix via Watch Now through the Wii and largely avoid commercials. Occasionally they watch something on Hulu and see a few commercials, but there are fewer, and that’s a minor source of show viewing for them. It isn’t just commercials that sends kids the message that their parents are lame and should be disrespected, however – it’s a lot of kid’s television programming.

  63. When I used to tell people our family rule for DVD use on family trips they were HORRIFIED:

    IF the trip was more than 12 HOURS at a stretch then she could watch the DVD for no more than two full length movies. If it was less than 12 hours the DVD stayed packed away.

    We took a portable DVD on our cross country train trip (48 hours straight on the train), and once when we drove to the Yukon (24 driving hours in two days).

    Those were the ONLY two trips in her entire childhood that we used the DVD.

    Now that she is 17, she can’t imagine watching something other than the “world” in a car. She’ll read, but most of the time we talk and she watches the world go by🙂

  64. Don’t get me started on the cars parents have to have. I am the only parent I know who has twins and a car any smaller than a SUV or minivan. I drive a Chevy Impala I got for free for my grandfather. Could not afford a nicer bigger car. Everyone just assumes if you are a parent with multiple kids you drive a huge car. No room for their friends, no room for a bunch of junk, no room for hauling stuff. Our other car is an even smaller Saturn Ion. We could not even fit their infant car seats into that one.

  65. Eh I had a tv in my bedroom starting at age 8. Guess what?! I read more books than ANY other kid I knew my whole life too. I tested at age 8 to a 10th grade reading level. After that I still had no failed a section yet and the test ran out since it was for elementary school kids! So having a tv in the room does not mean your kid won’t read or will watch too much of it.

    I would watch it when I was sick in my bed instead of having to be in the living room on the couch or in my parent’s bed. I would watch movies in there and not tie up the other tvs. But I was also outside a lot. Also playing with friends a lot. Also reading by choice a lot. Also doing dance classes a lot. It did not hurt me whatsoever. I also never ONCE had to be told to do my homework my entire life. My mom brags about that one all the time. It was just a given that I would do it and I did. Tv didn’t change that.

    My kids will eventually get a tv in their rooms. We probably won’t have cable though. They can watch movies in there and maybe have a video game system in there. I don’t care. If they watch it too much I will deal with it. Doubt it will be a problem though, it never was with me.

  66. I have a tv in my room and I dictated what music was played on the radio in the car (still do, only because my mum likes the bands I like, but I find some of her music grating). I wouldn’t have got away with the latter if I’d been a demanding, stuck up little brat like the commercial kid, though. TBH I’d probably have got a smack.

    On the telly front, I think the real trick is not in keeping it from kids (I knew some children who grew up without television and they’re mostly couch potatoes now) but in making it an active, rather than passive, experience. In my family, we talked about what we saw on television in the same way that we might talk about a book. To this day, I occasionally pipe up with bits of information that I can remember learning on everything from All In the Family (the word psychosomatic) to Doctor Who (which I still avidly watch). Though I do wish that less of my knowledge of classical literature ended with “…I remember that from Wishbone.”

  67. Dolly, my only car is a Saturn Ion and I have two 4yo’s too. I had them rear-facing in the backseat until they were 2.5, and only recently got them boosters. We go to dinner weekly with two adult friends, meaning 5 people regularly fit in that ion even though two are in “car seats” (which take up a lot more seat width than a butt).

    When my sister heard I was adopting two kids, she said, “you’ll need to buy a minivan now.” No thank you. I’ve never felt the need or desire to own one of those.

    I don’t ever want a DVD in my car. We’ve gone on trips of 12+ hours (per day) without needing electronics. A couple of times we’ve rented minivans in order to accommodate more than 5 people, and they came equipped with DVDs. I simply elected not to tell my kids about that feature.

    I did use the DVD on a trip to DC. We were putting on a professional conference and I brought my kids along. They sat through the first hour, then needed something more kid-friendly to do. So I set them up in the break room with a DVD. It was a treat for them, so it helped to keep them happy for quite a while.

  68. I won’t have a TV in my room because I feel it gives off too much negative energy, and I don’t want that in my bedroom. That said, I work and play on the internet in my bedroom, so . . . .

  69. SKL: What Ion do you have? I have the cheapest one and the only way for the rear facing Graco Safeseats to fit in there was to have the front seats pushed so far up my boobs were on the steering wheel. That was not a safe way to drive or a comfortable way to drive. Maybe the newer ones are bigger? I have the 2004. No way another adult would fit in between them either. I am a smaller adult and I could not fit there. I can barely fit in between them now in a larger car. Its not comfortable. SO….not sure how tiny you all are but didn’t work for us.

  70. I am with you spacefall. that was how we always used TV. I will to this day pull up random information to tell people that I got from a tv show. I remember everything I ever hear so watching tv can be fairly educational for me. I also would take what I watched on tv as a child and then act it out in imagination play. My favorite movie “Labyrinth” as a little girl was acted out all up and down our street. I would put on my dress up princess dress and run all around our neighborhood. My kids are starting to do that now too where they watch like “Chuggington” and then take their Chuggington toys and act out similar storylines from the show.

    My husband and I watch tv shows together at night to spend time together and we will joke or discuss the shows as we watch them. That’s actually our bonding time. Then we talk about it later when tv is not on too.

    We do not have cable and probably never will. I just hate cable. Too expensive. Too many commercials. Nothing to watch worthwhile anyway. We watch tv through Netflix and netflix watch it now and the main channels we get for free. Also Hulu and other ways to watch tv online.

    I am scared of putting the DVD player in the car for the long trip and that is why I am avoiding doing it so far. I don’t want them watching it all the time. They are so good in the car and always have been. It is still sitting in the box under our bed. LOL! We travel on long trips at night so they sleep through a lot of it. It makes it easier on them. We are trying leaving for one long trip not at night and will use the DVD player and see how it goes. That might at least give us more flexibility about not having to leave at 2 am and instead leaving at say 6 am. I do realize you can’t expect kids to sit still and quiet for 10 hours straight.

  71. You can market cars to kids if you want but they aren’t the ones with the means to buy the car and I don’t know any parent – wealthy or otherwise – that would consider buying a car because some bratty kid thought it was cool on a commercial or because their own kid thought that they would be wimpy in a .

    On the subject of TV in the car, I wouldn’t buy a car because it had one and I wouldn’t say no to a good deal on a car because it had one. I, as the parent and driver, have total control over whether or not it would be watched so just having it available wouldn’t change anything for our family.

    That said, we do own a portable DVD player and for my son, who gets very carsick, it is a lifesaver. He doesn’t have the option to ‘watch the world go by’ since it causes him to be sick. We only take it on long car trips as he can usually stomach the driving if it’s short or he’s either riding in the front seat (or driving himself now that he’s old enough) but these are not (or have not previously) been options for him on long trips.

    We don’t really know the reasons behind why people are doing something and isn’t free-range about families being able to choose the best way of life for themselves without the pressure of society making those choices for them? If that means a TV in the car to ease someone’s illness or no TV in the car so everyone can sing along to show tunes, then that should be the choice of the family. I personally think families should make choices limiting technology and television but until I intimately know the situation, I try not to judge.

  72. I feel your son’s pain Elle. I loved to read as a child and still do but I get car sick if I try to read. So I pretty much stare out the window which will get boring no matter how pretty the scenery and what about unpretty scenery? I will probably never forgive my parents for deciding driving to Canada from Tn would be a good idea. 10+hours in the car for two days straight. All I could do was color or play one or two games. The rest of the time I just sat there really bored. If I protested at all my Dad yelled at me. I was also denied being able to listen to a CD even once that I picked. My Dad insisted on his music the entire time. He was always like that.

    I don’t want my kids having memories like that. I want them to think back happily about car trips. If that means listening to kids Cds for 10 hours that is fine by me. I can block it out. rather hear that than whining any day of the week.

  73. Well, I agree you don’t need to go for the big vehicle for the second child, but for the third you definitely do, especially now that mandatory car seat age in most states is now 8. We had to get a minivan when #3 was on the way, because #1 was short of her 4th birthday (back in the stone age when you could let them out of the carseat and into a seatbelt only booster at 4) and there was no way in Newtonian physics that three carseats were going to fit into a Horizon (yeah, I said it was the stone age!)

  74. Here’s an idea for car trips: Don’t drive 10 hours at a stretch. Why are you doing that? The great benefit of a car trip is that you can stop whenever you want to. I grew up on car trips, and 400 miles was a long and exceptional day for us. We made lots of stops and got to see much more than the side of the road as it whizzed by. The result is that we saw more of the country before graduating from high school than many of my contemporaries have seen several decades later.

    Seriously, why not take more time? Or choose to redistribute the time and look on the trip as a circuit, with a mid-point rather than a destination? Unless there is some urgent reason, like a terminally ill relative, there is no requirement that you plan that kind of schedule. It’s a car trip, not a forced march.

  75. Kate: Well for one thing you have to buy more hotel rooms if you don’t get the whole trip done in one day. We don’t have money for that. Like when we go to the beach or Disney World which both are 10 hours, there is really not much money left over for extra hotel rooms for a night or extra activities, restaurants etc. We just need to get there.

    I know better than to not stop every 2 to 3 hours and let them pee and stretch their legs. That is part of the reason why they are good. I am not one of those parents that try to make good time and ignore their kids needs. My Dad on the other hand…..he never would stop so I could pee and he just wanted to stay on the road. We try to stop at McDonalds or playgrounds to let them run about a bit for like 15 minutes every 3 hours.

  76. My husband and I both are annoyed by these adds. Strange that they are trying to sell parents a car by making parents look like idiots. Perhaps they believe we will do anything to make our kids “cool”, including buying the right car.

  77. I actually don’t think this ad is aimed at kids at all. I think it’s aimed at the kind of parents, plentiful in the present generation, who want to be their kids’ friends rather than their parents, who want desperately to be thought of as cool by their own children and their children’s friends, who would be shamed by a label of lame. The commercial says to parents, not to kids, “Buy this car, and your kids will think you’re cool!” It’s the classical peer pressure method of advertising; it’s just that, before this generation, no parent would ever have considered a child to be his or her peer.

  78. Wow, look at all these replies?

    In my town, it costs $200 per child to ride the public school bus, no matter what grade, and the elementary school principal won’t let the kids cross the big street in front of the school without supervision, which there is none.

  79. I think the worst part of the commercial is that it encourages parents to alienate the kids from the family. “Get in the car, put on the headphones, watch the DVD, don’t talk to your parents or have anything to do with your family.” I know that long family drives can be a chore, but when the kids are trapped in the car with the parents for hours and can’t walk away, that’s a good time for a little communication.

  80. My boys get great street cred arriving at school on their sidecar equiped bicycle, or better still, occasionally (one at a time mind you) on the back of dad’s Ducati. At least they are not hometically sealed from the universe in their own little planet.
    One step back from the immediate issue, and what’s with the tv in the car thing anyway? They are the most destracting devices one could imagine, both in the car for the driver and for anyone else unfortunate enough to be stuck behind the them. Attention to random flashing light and movement is what helps keep you alive on the road. Having it happen constantly in your periferal vision is a nightmare! How that stuff was ever thought to be sensible on the road is beyond me.
    pw

  81. Cynthia-the principal at our elementary school in NE tried that, and a bunch of us called the school and told her where they could stick it. They have cross walks, and the school crossing only has 1 cross street-the other one dead ends at a parking lot. I live in a city of 250,000, not exactly a country hamlet, but I must be a little sheltered. What kind of mentally deficient principal would say something like that?

  82. Cars are for wussys. I ride my bike with my daughter in a trailer to and from daycare everyday. We smell the flowers, not the leather. We get sun on our skin and some vitamin D. I get exercise. We get to talk and say hi to neighbors. It’s fun. It’s healthy. It’s goes against oil companies, car manufactures, dumb little back seat tv manufacturers, junk food pushers. And she’s learning that popularity and image aren’t everything.

  83. Dolly, Do you have a free place to stay while on vacation? If not, then you are not actually paying for an additional hotel room. A week long vacation is a week long. If it takes you an extra day to get there, you are simply paying to stay in a hotel in Georgia instead of Disneyworld.

  84. Donna: Sometimes we have a free place to stay if our trip involves visiting relatives. When we go to the beach we rent a beach house which only is a week long rental. So it would be a hotel room for a night plus a week long rental. There is no way to knock off one less night the beach house to exchange it for a hotel room. So it would be more money out of my pocket. I don’t mind the drives in one day honestly. They work out fine and we have yet to use a tv. We do usually leave at 2am but I can go without sleep no problem. That way they sleep half the trip. If a vacation is about going to a certain place, then sometimes you just want to get to said place as quickly as possible.

    We take lots of smaller trips constantly that let us see the sights in the country. Big vacations are just about getting there.

  85. I have a coworker who judges me for allowing my son to ride the bus. He loves waiting with the kids in the morning and he reads on the way home. Ugh.

  86. Wow, Dolly, just wow. First you say how many compliments you get on your sons hair and how it’s prettier than most girls (of course). Then, when someone suggests that not giving a kid a TV was the right decision FOR THAT FAMILY, you respond with “eh” and how great and awesome you were even though you had a TV in your room.

    Then you have the nerve to say that there’s “nothing worthwhile” to watch on all of TV, even though you brag that you don’t have cable and barely watch TV (but having one in the kid’s bedroom is AWE-SOME) so surely you haven’t seen all TV shows that exist. And you know when you get TV from Netflix, it’s still TV and thus not worthwhile, right?

    Like many others who have commented, and who you refuse to listen to, I am tired of hearing how perfect you are.

  87. Dolly, curious as to why your kids dont take the bus? I used to take the city bus on days that i didnt want tp walk.

  88. No, Buffy, leave it – I want to see how this budding discussion between Dolly and Kate plays out! Dolly is perfect, and Kate knows better than anybody else what to do on the train and how long to drive for. Me, I’m making popcorn. Anybody want?

    (As far as Kate goes, no matter if I’m going two stops or twenty, or transferring in the middle, I pull out a book to read on the train. It’s what I like to do. And if I’m with the nieces, I read a book to them. I’d rather read a picture book than do nothing, and for sure I’d rather read to them than read to myself and listen to them ask me what I’m reading. It’s not because it’s a “teachable moment”, it’s because reading is a priority in our family. Now I’m likely on the train to make Ana read to her little sister while I read to myself, but this is only a recent development. At any rate, we can all say “Wow, DVDs in the car are so not a necessity” without also saying “Parents who ever do anything with their kids while traveling are coddling them and terrible and sucky”. That is, we can criticize the action without being blatantly judgmental. Sure, we all judge others – but it’s more tactful to make an effort to keep it to yourself, even when you think you’re not in mixed company.)

  89. Take the bus where? They are not in school yet. We will walk to our elementary school. They may or may not take the bus to high school or middle school depending on several factors that cannot be known as this time. I was not always able to ride the bus myself growing up. I did in elementary school. When I hit middle and high school we moved to a shady neighborhood and I got harassed daily on the bus plus kids got into fist fights daily regularly on the bus which meant it had to turn around and go back to school making me late to get home and late to my after school activities. So my mom drove me and then I got my own car and drove myself.

    I would like to hope my boys will have their own car and drive themselves when they are 16. It is a short drive. Or if the walking trail ever gets built they have been talking about they can bike or ride on that. Or I will drive them or they will ride with friends. Or the bus.

    For middle school it will be bus or me driving them.

  90. ps no city bus out in the country where I live. LOL that you assume everywhere in the US has a city bus. The closest bus stop around here is somewhere near the mall 15 minute drive away.

  91. Those commercials are undoubtedly evil, but they *did* inspire me and my husband the to start singing “Angel of the Morning” to our kids when they start getting obnoxious. (We only know the first four lines of the chorus, and the threat of listening to us sing those four lines repeatedly is usually potent enough to make them stop doing whatever we want them to stop doing, at least for a little while!)

  92. Buffy: I was standing up for all the kids who probably turned out just fine and had a tv in their room. There are no absolutes. If someone wants to keep a tv out of their kid’s room that is fine. But, it also won’t hurt some kids to have one.

    I was also standing up for the absolutes that all boys need short hair. Does that mean any little girl that cuts her hair short is a lesbian? See why that kind of statements is tacky? Kids can have whatever length hair they want.

    I did not say there was nothing worthwhile on tv. I said I don’t want to pay for cable because most of it is crap. We watch mostly HBO and Showtime shows and those don’t even count as basic cable. We also don’t like watching commercials (such as what this discussion started about) or having to watch the show during its air time if that is a bad time for us. Why pay for tv when you can get it for free with less commercials?! We also prefer movies which we get from Netflix.

    Its funny that everyone says I think I am perfect or something. So you have to insult yourself to be accepted on this site? Funny, no one else is doing that. LOL!

  93. Uly: I think its awesome you read on the train and with your kids. I always keep books in our car too in case we get somewhere early and need to kill a few minutes. I always have a book on me or at least try to. You never know when you might get stuck at a doctor’s office FOREVER and need something to read!!!

    I didn’t really get the complaint about a mom reading to her kid either. Isn’t reading to your kid a good thing?

  94. I’m with Sky. This is trying to appeal to parents who want to be “cool” and liked by their kids and be friends with their kids.

    There’s a radio ad in the DFW area for either BMW or Mercedes Benz that talks about how cool you as a parent will look as you drop your kid off at school in their car — and how maybe you’ll even impress the principal. I was completely floored when I heard it.

  95. Defending parents who drive their kids in this area is that sometimes it is overkill and not needed. Sometimes though they are factors involved. We have suburban sprawl with no city buses out here in the country. No sidewalks either. Schools can be very far from your actual house. So it would be bus or car. Depending on what activities your kids are in they may have to stay late after school or come early before school when the buses don’t run. So then a parent has to drive or they car pool or drive themselves. I had dance shortly after school got out and had to hurry home.

    I think people that live in big urban cities with public transportation don’t realize that. There is no subway here. No buses in our neighborhood, No train. Just cars and if you want you can be a redneck and ride your horse, tractor or 4 wheeler around.

    That is one big complaint I have about where I live. I would walk more if they had more sidewalks.

  96. What is wrong with a child being driven to school? What is wrong with having a TV in the car? You people have a narrow idea of what children should be like, and you come off as rather judgmental. You think children should only want to play outside and that watching TV is “bad”. If you were truly free range parents, you’d let your children decide for themselves whether to play outside, watch TV, read, or do something else althogether. Most children like to do all these things.

  97. Dolly, to answer your question, I have a 2003 Saturn Ion. Knowing I would have to fit two car seats in the back plus try to leave space for an adult butt, I shopped for seats that were relatively narrow. I put them next to each other, one on the right side and one in the middle. I could not have driven safely if I had a rear-facing seat behind the driver’s seat. I did have to shove the passenger seat pretty far forward, but I figured the passenger (if any) could suck it up until I turned the kids around. Because the seats were jammed next to each other, there was just enough space for a reasonably slim adult butt to sit behind the driver’s seat. I sat that way through an 8-hour drive, so it was not too bad.

    Now the girls have booster seats, and I thought this would give us more butt space, but alas, no. The 5th person now has to sit very snugly between the two high-back boosters. However, at least those sitting in front can adjust the seats any way we want them.

  98. Prudynce The idea is this–a child being driven to school ties up the parents’ time unnecessarily if the child is old enough to walk, bicycle, or if the bus system can do it instead. The perception by us freerangers, and I think it’s the correct perception, is that the personal parental chauffering is done because of this notion–an incorrect notion–that the world is so full of crime & crooks and crazies (a new “3 Cs,” I like that) that we HAVE to shuttle them everywhere.

    The thing “wrong” with having a TV in the car is this: it adds to the already overwhelming notion some have–the children often-times are the culprits, but not always–that it is our job to entertain them, when in previous generations they were expected to figure out their OWN ways to be entertained. Besides, as far as vacations go (a common situation where TVs are utilized), the idea is we’re all supposed to be putting the gadgets somewhat away for awhile so we can actually bond with each other. But if the kids are texting everyone the whole time or watching TV the same as they would if they were home anyway, it sort of is beside the point.

    Children should be booted to the outdoors because it’s just not good for them to be indoors all of the time glued to the X-box, when there’s a whole world outdoors that awaits them. Also, it gives the parents a break from their children, and there’s never anything wrong with that. It also gets back to children having to be creative & figure out their own ways to entertain themselves vs the parents being expected to be that so urce. Also, many studies have shown that children do better in school when they’ve experienced free play outdoors where they’ve had to make up their own games.

    And, again, many parents nowadays don’t let their kids play outside due to overprotection–from the cold-heat (I’ve seen my own mother-in-law say it was “too cold” for her grandkids to play outside–when it was 62’F!) and probably most of all because–again–the notion that they’re at-risk for kidnapping just from playing in their own yard, when really they aren’t.

    As for “letting the children decide?” Hell no, we’re the parents, we’re the leaders, WE decide EVERYTHING. Parents don’t need to meddle on every petty level unnecessarily, but parents are & should be the ones to make the ultimate decisions, not the children.

    LRH

  99. LRH…First of all THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH A CHILD BEING DRIVEN TO SCHOOL! Maybe some children LIKE being driven to school. And no, there’s nothing wrong walking, riding the bus, etc. Not all parents who drive their children to school are helipcopter parents. Also there’s a difference between letting a child watch TV if they want to, and making them watch TV. And it is possible for a family to bond by watching TV. I know, because my family does. It’s good to let your children play outside, but you shouldn’t force them to play outside. That’s as bad forcing your children to play inside. Young people should be given as much choice as possible, because they are humans with their own intersests and opinions, not clones if their parents. If you try to “make” your kids do anything, they will, as much as possible, try to do what they want anyway. “Free range” should mean a child being given choices, not forced to fit their parents’ ideal.

  100. I think the free-range philosophy is not just that parents shouldn’t be afraid to let kids do most of the things they want to do. It’s also that kids benefit from venturing out from the protection of home / parents. If my kid does not want to walk from point A to point B when I believe she should, then I will tell her to do it, knowing that with some experience, she’ll gain the confidence to do it without hesitating, as well as the ability to do it competently.

  101. Oh man. Popcorn AND potato chips, I think, for this thread. I thought I’d have to wait half a month to see fireworks.

    As far as “there is nothing wrong with a kid being driven to school (because they might like that)”, I have… I have no idea where to start replying to that.

  102. SKL, thanks for giving us all somewhere to start. I will agree with you and add that FRK has, in the past, been a place many of us stopped and talked about the decline of community. You don’t build community by sitting in your car, zipping through your neighborhood. And if you can’t get around your neighborhood without a car, there is something wrong, a massive structural problem there.

  103. I have to agree with Prydence about there being nothing wrong with driving a child to school, but ONLY UNDER CERTAIN CIRCUMSTANCES. The area where I live is a year-round outdoor sports resort. There always seems to be a child who is on crutches due to a sports injury. That’s a valid reason for driving a child to school. Another would be heavy rain or hail. But kids here who have no physical problems are viewed as wimps or lazy slugs if they’re driven to school in good weather. My son was on crutches from a sprained ankle last month. He couldn’t wait to be off of his crutches so that he could ride his bike to school with his friends.

    Free range is not necessarily about giving kids choices about everything. If I gave my son a choice about what he wanted to eat, he’d have Gummi Bears and cola for every meal. If he had a choice between doing homework and playing with his Nintendo, the Nintendo would win every time. To me free range means letting kids do the same things that I did as a kid: play outdoors, go places on their own either on foot or by bike or public transportation, have some basic self-help skills (e.g. cooking simple things), stay home for short periods of time and watch younger siblings, and solve problems on their own without adult intervention. Free range parenting is also parenting without instilling fear of every stranger in your child. We free-range parents teach our kids the difference between good and bad strangers and give our kids the tools to deal with “bad” strangers. As a free-range parent, I believe that most adults are good people and willing to help a child in need. I know that when it’s time for my son to go off to university, he will be well-prepared for the world that awaits him.

  104. I found a lot of things in those ads to be disturbing and couldn’t resist writing about in in my blog.
    http://gap-runner.blogspot.com/2011/06/id-rather-be-uncool.html

  105. Oops, I meant writing about them in my blog. That’s what I get for hitting the post button without proofreading.

  106. Uly, got your popcorn at the ready? Good. Kate made an excellent point. Although I would readily say that reading is a better “brain activity” than TV, by immersing yourself in reading, you are also limiting your relationship with the immediate environment.

    As a resident of NYC you would have to be walking in a dream (or have your nose constantly in a book!) not to have noticed that a lot of people on subway trains are most certainly trying to “distract” themselves from their immediate environment. Eye contact is not the order of the day. Kate’s remarking a book being pulled out on the SUBWAY as a means of distraction, is actually especially pertinent to this blog, as it is a good example of one of the Free-range issue biggies: Fear.

    All the “avoidance” of the environment that goes on in the subway is most certainly because of fear. And the mother may indeed be teaching her child to fear the subway (at least on some level): It’s not okay just to sit there and look around darling. Look busy.

    I, as someone who lived in NYC for 10 years (and still a fairly regular visitor), have no problem imagining the scenario Kate describes. The message that Kate wonders (and of course she doesn’t know the particulars!) is perhaps being conveyed, is that subway rides, no matter how short, should not be experiences with all ones senses: Best to numb oneself to the menacing experience.

    But, the truth is (like in some many cases!) if she were to stop, look around, and just take it all in, she’d realize the subway is really no more frightening than the rest of the world. And the rest of the world isn’t very frightening at all.

    Very insightful remark, Kate.

  107. SKL: That makes sense. Thanks for the explanation. We tried to put them on the right and left sides and realized that it was not comfortable or safe for the front seats to be pushed up that high. So we had to switch cars and I drove them in my husband’s Seabring till we got a Crown Vic given to us by his grandparents. The trunk of the Ion would hardly fit the stroller either. It never crossed my mind when buying the car seats that they would not fit. I figured any car seat would fit in any car. I learned that was not the truth the hard way!

  108. Uly: Have you never been in the country? Seriously………… So I am right! Most of the people on this blog don’t understand how people in the rural or suburban sprawl areas live whatsoever. My mother lives 45 minute drive from the closest grocery store. So she is supposed to figure out how to get around without a car eh? She lives in the middle of nowhere country because she wanted wilderness and peace and quiet and trees which is a very free range thing. She loves the outdoors. The trade off is of course, you are driving everywhere! I am glad she lives in the outback country. My boys love going there and playing outside in the wilderness.

    I don’t live that isolated and do live in a neighborhood. However its suburban sprawl. Closet grocery store is about 10 minute drive. Could be walked to but no sidewalks and fairly far. I am surrounded by subdivisions and trailers and farmland. Not stores. We do happen to live right next to the elementary school and close to the high school. The middle school is very far though.

    The funny thing is if our subdivision did not have a cute little walk through to the elementary school we would have to bus or drive there even though I could throw a rock and hit it. Why? Because no sidewalks and not even a little patch of grass on the side of the road to walk on. Just ditches on either side of the road and even an adult is not very safe walking directly in the road.

    That is how we live. This is not NYC. I read articles where everyone is like use public transit blah blah blah….out here there is NO public transit! You walk unsafely most times or you drive a car. If I want to live downtown I can either live in the ghetto or I can rent one of those $200,000 dollars condos I could not afford. Not doing either one of those thanks.

  109. “The idea is this–a child being driven to school ties up the parents’ time unnecessarily if the child is old enough to walk, bicycle, or if the bus system can do it instead.”

    However, many times it’s more convenient for the parents to drive their kids to school. The bus in my neighborhood comes almost an hour before school starts, requiring us to get up and ready earlier than I want to. It also means that my child is spending a considerable amount of time at school in the morning before classes start (it is a low income school district that structures the day this way so the kids that need to can eat breakfast at school before the day starts). I have to leave for work about the time that school starts. It is much less of a tie-up of my time to drive her. At 5, I don’t feel comfortable letting her walk a mile, navigating a hospital and a very busy 5 lane road by herself so walking is not yet an option but may be in later years.

  110. Bunch of brats, and shame on Toyota for playing on that Helicopter Parent need to have our children think we’re the coolest parents in the world. We can’t stand for people to not think we’re awesome – that’s the message here. Think I’ll look for a 30-year-old Corolla instead to haul my kids around. 😛

  111. I agree, shame on Toyota. To think, there are grown adults sitting around a corporate conference table saying, “yeah, great idea!!”

    Gross.

  112. I have to agree that being driven to school is not per se anti-free range. Obvously the logistics of our neighborhoods are all different. My district is zoned such that, if I put my kids in public school, their elementary and high schools will be 3 miles from home. Our climate is not amenable to long walks or bicycling (even for adults) from at least November through April. While I think it would be cool for the kids to bike to school when the weather is awesome and they have the extra time (and they are old enough to wisely navigate the city roads), the reality is that they need a motorized transportation solution. School bus? Since my kids are on the far edge of the district, how long will they have to sit on the bus? I’ve heard of two-hour bus rides both ways each day – that is too long. I would rather drive my kids to school (or to a point near school) and figure out my free-range (and exercise) priorities some other way.

    As far as reading on the subway – my first thought would be that the kid has ridden the subway enough times that it is no longer so novel that the distraction of a book would make them ignorant or encourage fear. Personally I don’t encourage reading in a moving vehicle because of carsickness, but I don’t actively discourage it during what would otherwise be a boring ride. As a working single mom who tries to give my kids quality experiences when I can, I can also relate to the idea of trying to get some homework done in transit, so there is more time for other stuff at destination. For example, when my kids get homework, I encourage them to finish it during idle time wherever we are – like waiting for our order at a restaurant. It’s better than skipping our evening plans so they can sit at home tracing and copying stuff.

    I have a problem with the school district assigning homework to “me,” but that is another rant for another day.

  113. “It’s good to let your children play outside, but you shouldn’t force them to play outside.”

    What do you mean by “force”? Beat them and then push them out with a cattle prod? I don’t “force,” but I most certainly require. Just as I require them to limit sweets, take their vitamins, go to school, and do their chores. I don’t believe free range means leaving your child free to make ANY choice in ANY circumstance. Free rangers may want to give their children more responsibility than average, but we do recognize they are still in training for adulthood.

    Here is how I “force” my children to play outside: “That’s enough Wii time, go outside and play.” “NOOOOOO!” “Yes, go outside now, or you won’t get to play Wii tomorrow.” And then they’re outside. And what do you know, they have fun.

    I believe in giving my kids a range of choice, but free range to me does not mean letting them repeatedly choose unhealthy options on my watch. It means letting them “free range” outside the house – i.e wander around, take some risks on the playground, take on responsibilities (like making their own breakfast even while quite young) in the house, etc. It doesn’t mean – you make all your own choices at age 7, even if that choice is three Twinkies and three hours of television in the afternoon.

    Now, when it comes to TV, I pretty much do let them make their own choices in terms of quantity, because they self-regulate well. If one of them would choose to just sit in front of the TV for over two hours straight, however, I would not let them choose that. I don’t let them freely choose their shows, either – I give them a RANGE of options (i.e. – I put a bunch of approved shows on the Netflix list – watch whatever you want from that list whenever you want, provided you don’t watch too much in one day).

    I don’t think there is anything wrong with a kid being driven to school, provided they are not within walking distance, or the walking route is unguarded at very high-traffic crossings, or there is no school bus. Even if there is a school bus, in some circumstances, if there are problems on the bus (i.e. bullying) or it takes an excessively long and time consuming route that means inconvenient timing for the parents or too much wasted time for the kid, I can understand parents driving the kids.

  114. Dolly, I said I was curios since you said that the neighborhood is so sprawling that the kids have to be driven to school. I couldn’t believe that there is no school bus – although lack of bus service is apparently a problem. I asked you. I said what I did – take the city bus. So, your original post was that kids have to be driven, and now you say your kids will walk. Since you aren’t there, this really isn’t even a topic for you, yet you opined anyway! lol!

  115. Well, it’s certainly not the sort of vehicle I would buy (or even want to be seen driving). I thought that the first commercial was kind of funny with the other parents singing so badly off key. It really was painful.

    I think that a lot of people commenting on here are being very silly. What, exactly, is a family supposed to do on a long car trip? When I was that age, I would have loved to have had a television in the car. As I recall from my youth, we mostly rode in silence. Mom would usually fall asleep and dad would drive and change the radio to the next country music station as we drove out of range of the previous one. I think that people have all of these romantic notions about what things are supposed to be like, and then are disappointed when these ideas don’t quite work out.

  116. “As far as reading on the subway – my first thought would be that the kid has ridden the subway enough times that it is no longer so novel that the distraction of a book would make them ignorant or encourage fear.”

    It’s understandable that one would think that. But there’s always “avoidance” behavior going on for the majority of passengers on the subways at any given time, and they certainly can’t all be tourists. To this end, you could say the mother in Kate’s story was teaching her child to be a “good” (typical, anyway) New Yorker.

    As I believe Kate herself said, and I reiterated – naturally, the particulars (homework needed doing, etc.) are not known. Seems like when Kate read the comments that people had written about TVs for children in cars, she shared with us a similar thought she’d had — about people not letting themselves “just be” in the situation they are in, without “distraction” — that had occurred to her when she witnessed that scene in the subway. As a former NYC resident and someone who, even now, rides the subway, I think this an astute insight.

    Insisting that her perception of that particular scene wasn’t accurate (and it should be mentioned – claimant also can’t know for sure), and therefore the insight itself is wrong, is, to my thinking, committing the logical fallacy of “Argument from fallacy”. “Argument from fallacy is the formal fallacy of analyzing an argument and inferring that, since it contains a fallacy, its conclusion must be false (Wikipedia)”.

  117. Eldo, if you have more than one kid, the kids will interact during a car ride. I agree that if you only have one kid on a long drive, it could get boring, especially if the kid gets car-sick when he reads. Even then, the parents could get a little creative and suggest something for the kid to do with his brain – such as find out how many different kinds of trees or colors of leaves or types of wildlife he can spot. Ultimately it’s up to the parent, but I think what bugs people is not the fact of a DVD in a car, but the attitude that kids NEED that because their brains have no idea what to do without constant man-made stimulation.

    Personally I have two daughters who are very close in age, so they do not need any help keeping their minds busy. Sometimes it’s good medicine to force them to sit next to each other for a long time. (They have it better than I did as a kid, with 4 kids fighting over the space in the back seat, who gets the window seat, bla bla bla.)

  118. I think there’s a big difference between long trips and jaunts around town. I have no issue with kids watching a movie or two on a long trip. We’re taking a long road trip this summer. I’ll bring along a dvd player and some movies to break up the monotony (and to give me a break since my daughter will talk to me nonstop otherwise). But a kid should be able to run errands around town without Dora.

    That said my friends had a baby who screamed non-stop in the car until they discovered baby crack (aka Baby Einstein videos). For awhile they played those things every second that child was in a car.

  119. You go, kid. Revenge is sweet. For all those times your stroller got pushed by a parent yakking on the mobile phone – instead of to you. For all the BS created by all the adults who should have but didn’t know better. For the fact that you created none of this, but will sure be punished for it in your young sweet life. For the fact that perfect strangers can hate and despise you for the superficial reasons they don’t want to admit, understanding nothing about the nature of your heart. For their not realizing that as a human being, you are as easy to manipulate as they are…and the consequences of that are perfectly understandable from a distance, and impossible to recognize from within a domestic swamp. For the prison stripes of suburbia and the fact that “for the sake of the kids, honey” has very little to do with your sake, at all.

  120. We all have different lives, and what works for some doesn’t necessarily work for others. We could probably all do with a little more popcorn and a little less projection of our choices onto others.

    That said (as he gets his projecting voice on) I think we all (certainly myself) have room in our lives to make choices that increase our family’s well being. It’s easy to fall into convenient. Or what everyone else is doing.

  121. Dolly, the question isn’t whether or not I’ve ever been in “the country” or “suburban sprawl” – two terms that to me seem to mean different things, so I’m not sure which YOU mean.

    You can go “Oh, don’t you know there’s no public transportation here at all???” all you want, my observation is not that there is and you don’t know it (I mean, that’d be great, but I doubt you know so little about your own area), it’s that there should be. There should be sidewalks! There should be accessible buses! There should be bike lanes, and there should be options! You shouldn’t have to live without choices!

    And the fact that there isn’t is a problem. You shouldn’t have to move to have basic, basic amenities.

    Tuppence, I don’t read because I’m “scared” of the train, nor the other people on it. I read because the train is flipping boring. Well, unless we’re above ground, but typically we’re not. That’s why it’s the SUBway, after all. And, you know, there’s nothing wrong – morally or otherwise – with wanting to entertain myself on a train ride, even for a short trip.

    And my objection to the post wasn’t that I think everybody should read on the train to their kids. What do I care? It’s that reading to your kids, at any time of day, isn’t a bad thing that we should outright condemn, especially when this comes with assumptions – both on your part and the OP’s – about the motivations involved, motivations you have NO way of knowing unless you’ve suddenly become a mindreader.

  122. Uly, right, you have no way of knowing what the motivation was. I don’t think Kate thought she KNEW either, she simply hypothesized about what she witnessed.

    A lot of people were pointing out that it seems adults nowadays assume children need constant (external) input/stimulation. And people were also wondering why. Do parents think children need constant distraction?

    Everyone seemed to be thinking in terms of TV. I found what Kate related interesting and insightful — usually when we talk about this constant external input we’re thinking of “bad” TV. But how about other input/stimulation? How about the “good” stuff like books? Because we automatically think of them as a good thing, do we fail to recognize that they too are being employed in much the same way? Interesting idea. Made me think.

    How what Kate wrote could be contrived to suggest that she thinks reading to a child is something to outright condemn confuses me. That wasn’t my take away at all.

    N.B., Kate, I don’t recall, suggested anything about fear. That was me. I took her idea, and expanded it to the why: What could motivate a parent to want to “distract” a child with a book on the subway? Also only hypothetical.

  123. Uly: I agree there should be sidewalks and bike paths etc. I am with a group trying to turn an old railroad into a walking/bike path that would make it easy to walk to high school they are zoned for and even other places. Big shock, the government is fighting it. With large areas there is no way they could put sidewalks in everywhere out here. The nicer subdivisions have them. Ours doesn’t but has wide streets and grass to walk in and little traffic so its fine. The main roads however have ditches on both sides and no sidewalks and off leash dogs that will run or growl at you (Hubby walked to Walmart one day and it took almost all day and 2 dogs tried to attack him).

    Till all that stuff happens in this area, people will continue to drive. It is just a given everyone here has a car and drives everywhere. Before we had kids we did walk a lot because we lived near stuff and we almost got run over a lot too and honked at and looked at like we were crazy. Just because NO ONE walks around here! It is considered odd. Part of the reason because we are not pedestrian friendly anywhere but downtown and party because of how spread apart everything is. We just happened to live right behind some shops on a main road. Now we don’t.

    Others pointed out very good reasons why a parent might drive a kid to school. There are valid reasons for doing so that don’t make you a wuss or lazy or helicopter.

  124. In Memory of Mary Duval

  125. The highschool that my daughter attends is a 35 mintues ‘yellow bus’ righ, OR a 30-45 minute city bus ride (plus the wak to the stop, and depending on the time of year – service being reduced when University isn’t in), OR it is a 30 minutes walk, OR it is a 10 minute drive/taxi ride… though you have to add wait time to the taxi!

    I will drive her to school on two conditions: 1. I have a car that day. I don’t own one, but do rent when I need one for work, and 2. She wants to be at school at the time I’m leaving the house. Mostly she walks, or if the transit schedule lines up reasonably, will she’ll take that if it is snowing or raining. If she is running late she will pay (herslef) for a cab… if she can get one.

    Free Range to me means that she knows ALL of her options and is capable of deciding which one fits her needs best that day. AND that she is capable of using all of them independantly.

    For me it is about teaching her to make rational decisions about her choices. Sometimes that means restricting the choices until she learns that she is competant to do things different ways (see DVD restrictions above), but it sure doesn’t mean dictating which choice is “right” or “wrong” on any particular day.

  126. Peanuts & popcorn indeed

    Prudynce There is no need to be so defensive. You asked a question, I gave thorough & polite answers which, I think, weren’t snotty or judgmental. No need for the all caps or !! marks.

    But I will say it–as the parent I am in charge & yes their job is to fit MY world, not for me to turn mine upside down to be their personal taxicab if it’s not really needed. If it is, fine–but if it’s not, then what they want is irrelevant.

    Yes they have their own opinions & desires and it’s fine to indulge them some things, but it’s my life–they’re just a part of it. The idea is how to fit them into MY world without being nasty about it if it’s not necessary for me to be so. I like to swim, so I go–if they like it, then I enjoy watching them share in our joy, but if they don’t–tough. They don’t get to make that decision.

    I like to play basketball, so when we go to the park, we go to ones that have basketball goals, that’s the priority, NOT what they prefer, unless I don’t feel like basketball at the time and I feel inclined to spoil them. I have made it clear–we will NEVER go to Disneyland, because I don’t want to spend an hour in line for anything if I can help it.

    So if the child wants to be driven to school but I don’t feel like it & other options exist–then I don’t drive them. If I have no choice, then I’d do it–obviously I’m not going to deny them an education just because “I don’t feel like it,” but I’m not going to endulge them either if that’s what it amounts to.

    Also, hardly ever is the TV showing “Dora” or “Barney” because–you guessed it–we don’t like it. A little of it is fine, but every home I’ve seen where that idea is entertained–it’s on CONSTANTLY. No thank you, not opening that can of worms–it’s OUR television, OUR living room, OUR environment.

    Yes, it really is about US and what WE like in terms of my wife & I. Yes the kids are considered, sure, and yes their NEEDS are always taken care of & love and fun and playtime is given in abundance–of course–but the priority is what WE want. When will they be the priority? On their birthdays, I’d say–otherwise, not until they grow up & do it themselves.

    And I don’t apologize for any of it.

    LRH
    Blackberry 8310

  127. As someone who has lived all over the country, and has ridden any number of subways, I have this to say: I haven’t found riding them inherently interesting since I was a child. Same for riding the bus, which I do every day to and from work. I read because I like to read, and that time would be boring otherwise.

    Now, that doesn’t mean I refuse to interact with other people. I’ve had conversations with strangers on the subway (yes! the one in New York! OMG!), and the bus I used to ride had a community of riders who, due to personal inclination and bus design, rode up front and talked on the way into work.

    But when I read, I’m not avoiding you, I’m entertaining myself, because I don’t expect you to do that for me. If it turns out that we want to talk, that’s great, and I put the book away.

    Meanwhile, this is the funniest thread I’ve read on this blog in years. Sign me up for popcorn, and I’ll bring nachos.

  128. Thank you Tuppence for seeing my point of view.

    I also want to point out the general population here that KateNonymous is the one that suggested not taking 10 hour car rides.

    I certainly was not condemning reading to children. Heavens knows as a kid I read walking down the stairs on the way to the bus, read on the bus, read walking down from the bus, shoving my way past commuters, and read as I crossed streets to get to school. Perhaps not the “safest” way to get to school, but my peripheral vision was pretty good thankfully.

    I thought about writing more, but I really have said what I meant to on this topic so far and what I haven’t Tuppence has reiterated very well. (It did not occur to me that there was a factor of fear involved, but that is a very good hypothesis.)

  129. Did all the kids who got a ride home from their friend’s dad make sure to call their parents and inform them who they were going with so that their parents could perform an extensive back ground check on the driver? And we should notify the police because an adult male just allowed an unaccompanied underage girl into his vehicle. (Yes, I am being sarcastic.)

  130. Fair enough, Dolly, but I know far too many people who, as kids, hated car trips because the driving days were too long. As for expense, I grew up in a single-income military family, so we were on a strict budget and found ways to make it work. (Camping–still cheaper than a motel, and available in Orlando.) Again, most people are looking at destinations, not journeys, and a little creativity brings a lot to the experience. It can make it a whole different experience.

    Oh, and to tie it tenuously back to the topic, we didn’t need anything remotely like a Highlander to do it. Tricked-out cars may make a lot of things easy, but they’re hardly essential.

  131. I don’t agree that there should be sidewalks and frequent bus access everywhere. It would not be cost-effective to extend either to every remote place. (There are alternatives, e.g., a commuity-based mini-bus operating similar to a car-pool, that would make sense if multiple people needed to go the same way at the same time.) And also, some people choose to live in the boonies so they don’t have to see and hear the trappings of urban life, believe it or not.

    But if you lived in the boonies and believed in free-range kids, don’t you think your kids would have other opportunities besides walking/being bused to school to exercise their free-range privileges?

  132. SKL I hear you about living in the boonies. I do that. It’s great. We ourselves have about 3/4ths of an acre that’s “ours,” but the landowners (we rent, for $50 a month–yes, $50 a month) own all of the surrounding woods as well, about 80-odd acres in all–and with only our family & 2 others there, and those other two for whatever reason having no interest in the woods, we have all of that 80 acres of woods basically to ourselves.

    So yes, they get to freerange big-time. I get to do things like letting them play outdoors for an hour or so by themselves in a fenced-in area. It gets hot here sometimes (it was 105’F today!), but it’s noticeably cooler at our place with all of the shade. There’s almost no traffic noise, you hear frogs and crickets and birds, you’re surrounded by greenery–we love it.

    You better believe, as they get older, I look forward to just letting them explore the woods themselves in a “come back when it’s dark” sort of way. While Lenore decries GPS tracking I wonder if maybe, come that time, I should only let them explore that way if they have one, or a walkie talkie etc. I know the woods really well, but it’s vast. How much of it should I let them explore, at what age? Right now they are restricted to our yard, & I’m often-times outdoors doing my thing close-by–I’m not ALWAYS indoors. (Also, I’m pondering getting a “nanny cam” for the fenced-in area for when I am indoors. See, even we freerangers think through safety aspects within the realm of freea-range freedom.)

    Our 4 year-old’s school is only a mile or so away. They do bus service. We’re about 100 yards away. When she starts going to school I am curious as to how it will work–will we be able to let her wait for the bus & just stay at home herself, or will she be too young for that? It really is quiet and “low profile” here, it’s not like leaving her alone in the city I’d say–but I’m not sure what’s ok & responsible within still being “free range.” I don’t envision driving her though.

    When school is out at 3 and we’re at work until 5 or so, what will that look like? Interesting to ponder how we will “free-range” all of that & be responsible in doing it without having to be ridiculous about it.

    Ah, the ponderings of responsible free-ranging in the boonies.

    LRH
    Blackberry 8310

  133. Ugh, I hate typos, or the like.

    When I mentioned the school & said we’re about 100 yards away, I meant from the highway the bus travels down & makes its normal stop at. If nothing else, when our 4 year-old starts going to school & is picked up by the bus, to be sure it will be ok for her to just up & run to the bus herself vs me having to escort her everytime (although I probably will the 1st few times initially).

    Assuming one of us is home when the bus brings her home, it would certainly be ok for her to walk that 100 yards down the dirth path to our home. I would be upset if they have some dumb rule about an adult having to be waiting for her there when we’re all of 100 yards away & 1 of only 3 houses anywhere nearby.

    But being in the woods? Totally loving it & the kids love being allowed to enjoy sticks & dirt and tire swings free of worry.

    LRH
    Blackberry 8310

  134. kate: LOL our car is not tricked out either and my kids are good in the car. Mostly because I let them listen to Tangled soundtrack on repeat! I think I as the parent would be the one wanting a tricked out car. But alas, we poor so not going to happen.😛

  135. SKL: Exactly! My kids really get some free range experience when they go to my mom’s house out in the middle of nowhere. They see wild animals. They run free on the property without worrying about a car running them over. They are out in nature. They get to ride the neighbors’ Gator vehicle all over. That is something that a lot of kids never get. They never get to just run outside with no cars or houses or buildings. Totally worth the having to drive if you need to go somewhere.

  136. LRH: Walkie talkies with long range is a good idea for woods exploration or a cell phone that gets reception. My grandparents used to also live out in the middle of nowhere and my grandfather was getting up there in age. He still loved to be outside and walk to the lake and mailbox every day. Mailbox was like 3 miles down the road. My grandmother started making him take a long range walkie talkie with him so that every 15 minutes or so she could make sure he had not fallen or had a heart attack, etc. She would make him answer her back and if he didn’t she would call one of the neighbors to go find him or go find him herself in the car. Luckily nothing bad ever happened but it put her mind at ease and still gave him independence.

    So something like that could work for your kids and the woods. You check in every so often or they check in or if they get lost or hurt they can contact you. I hate that my boys won’t be able to roam my mom’s woods at her country home. They have some bad wild animals like bears, coyotes, wolves, cougars, out there so it is not advised for anyone without a gun to go to the woods alone. They can roam all abouts around the house though and we will probably do the walkie talkie thing with them too.

  137. We moved to the boonies when I was 12, and while we were relatively free-range in the city, we had even more freedom in the boonies. The big fear in the city was that if we wandered into the wrong area, someone might not like our skin color, or the fact that we might have something they didn’t, and we could be attacked. (FTR, this was not an unreasonable concern.) Out in the boonies (at least our boonies), there was a lot less tension between races or other demographics. Yes, some communities tended to hang together, but there were no barriers or nastiness (on either side) and certainly no violence like where we came from. And also, beyond about a mile in any direction, there was hardly anyone to contend with besides benign critters and overgrown foliage. We were literally allowed to go wherever we wanted without informing our parents, provided we were home by curfew. We walked or biked miles and miles in every direction.

  138. When I walk my kids home from school, the kids on the private bus (paid for by parents) almost always wave and laugh at my kids. It used to bother them, until I taught them to wave back and say “See you later, you lazy paranoid kids!!”

    About a quarter of the kids at our school, which is a 20 minute walk away, live in our condo. Out of probably 50 kids in the building, I’d day 5 or 6 others walk. The rest either drive, or pay for a private bus.

    Last month I had three “concerned mothers” knock on my door because apparently I was being delinquent by actually letting my kids play outside BY THEMSELVES!! BEHIND A FENCE!! With the only outside access through a security gate. THE HORROR!!

    Parents need to chill out and cut their kids umbilical chords before they leave for university.

  139. We’ve been seeing a lot of fox activity around here lately. Not sure about letting my 4yos play outside in/near the woods without me nearby, but only because of the critter factor.

  140. @Kate, I know, it’s weird right? How by accident or design, the meaning intended can be so misconstrued. For instance, I actually said the subway ISN’T scary, but come to think of it, people act like it is (avoiding eye contact, shoving earplugs in immediately, etc.). And yet responses to that notion — firm denials of being personally afraid of riding the subway — suggest that I said the opposite; that subways are scary. And therefore, I must be disabused of that belief, with assertions of ones own fearlessness as “proof” that it isn’t really scary. But I said, the reality is the subway is nothing to be afraid of.

    And your remarks continue to be taken by some as an affront and outrage to all those folks who like to get good nose-in with a book; necessitating impassioned defense thereof, requiring detailed accounts of the hows and whys of their own personal reading habits, revealed with triumphal aplomb. Accident or design these misunderstandings? Who knows?

  141. LRH, teach your kids about deer paths. My brother was taking me out in the woods when he was 10 and I was about 5, maybe a year younger than that. We would look for deer paths and follow them. They tended to lead to water, and we could always backtrack. We also learned that streams flow downhill, and downhill tends to lead eventually to a town. My parents did do some walking with us – my mom was a biology teacher and wanted specimens for class, which was totally awesome.

    By the time I was 10, I was roaming all over the place with my step siblings in all weather. We knew how to check the ice, and what to do if we fell through a snow bank into a hidden stream – run like hell for home so you wouldn’t get frostbite. The worst thing that ever happened was my step brother getting stuck in a snowbank a couple miles from home and we had to get the parents to help get him out with boots. The best was finding old dump sites and digging for old bottles and such.

    At worst, go through the woods with two cans of paint and paint some trees on one side with a splash of paint one color, and on the other with the other other color. That way they know what direction they are going and can head toward home. (Which is how many trail systems work.)

    I wish I lived where there were woods so my oldest could take out the youngers. But we are in a desert area, so no much luck there. I guess I need to take them to the sand dunes.

  142. I really don’t get the vast bulk of you who seem to have gotten the idea that TV is wrong and evil and will rot your kids’ brains and turn them into lazy mush.

    TV is not going to do anything horrible to your children if they watch it during any (or in fact all) of the duration of a long haul car trip. Yes, it’s a generally accepted fact that children watching TV for long, multiple-hour stretches per day is bad for them – but that is when that is the usual circumstance, and the children have the option of doing something productive or something physical. Your child does not have the option of running around while in the car. Your child generally does not have homework to do while on a car trip. I think it would also be fairly valid to assume that a multiple-hour car trip is not something that happens to your child on a daily basis.

    So, basically, there’s the option of watching the scenery of the roadside versus television. Let me tell you: in most places I’ve been to in Australia at least, there’s not much value at all in watching hours and hours and hours of scenery going by. Usually, this scenery is fairly limited, bland, and often consists of half of the view being filled by the road and the traffic on it, at any rate. (The other half – paddocks full of crops or livestock). Highways and freeways (which is the environment you will spend most of your time in) are generally not built with scenery in mind – it’s all budget and efficiency. I really don’t see how denying your children the distraction of television purely on the basis of “TV is bad and more value can be gained by watching the scenery go by” is valid.

    Also, on the basis of your child interacting with you – if you need to lock your child inside a small steel cage with you with no distractions in order to get a decent amount of interaction with them, you’re doing it wrong.

    In short, I don’t think there’s really any validity to the tune of “I don’t want my kids watching TV in the car because TV is bad and they should be spending all their time looking out the window or talking to someone”. I think anyone who takes that tack is being petty and deciding that because they couldn’t watch TV in the car when they were kids, or because they can’t now as they’re driving, the kids shouldn’t have TV either. There are plenty of valid reasons to not want a TV/DVD system in your car, but that isn’t one of them.

    On reading – I have never been able to read on a car. After one minute of trying to read any text inside of a car I will become extremely nauseous and remain that way for the rest of the trip – and/or vomit. This does not apply to a majority of people but is a fairly common affliction. I would have given ANYTHING to have been able to read in a moving car when I was 8 and my parents took me and my 4-year-old brother on a 2 month long trip around Australia, mostly by car. It was HORRIBLE for us, especially driving across the Nullarbor (big desert in the middle). There was nothing at all for us to do except fight with each other. There ISN’T any scenery in the Nullarbor, because it is a DESERT.

  143. I’d like to show a counterpoint from the other side of the Pacific – this ad screened in Australia and New Zealand. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G_R9XhRPaNA

  144. I am with you Sera about long car trips. I don’t think watching some tv will hurt on long car trips. I don’t want my kids watching it everytime they are in the car and I don’t think that is good for any kid, but for long car trips it is harmless. It also probably makes everyone’s trip more enjoyable. As I said when we went on long car trips when I was a kid, I could not read without getting car sick. I had no siblings to interact with. My parents would not really play car games with me or even talk to me that much. My Dad refused to let me listen to any music I wanted to and just blasted his the whole trip which by the way was not soothing or decent music either, techno and disco. It was incredibly boring sometimes and it gave me bad memories. Not doing that to my kids. Mine are great in the car for the most part but I also try to travel during the time they would sleep most of the time. I plan stops often for them to run around a bit. I let them listen to what they want to listen to. I will let them have movies on long car trips. I want them to not remember their mom being a hardass about car trips like I remember. My mom was actually way cooler about car trips but if our Dad was with us it became so much worse. Never stopping so I could pee. I had to pop a squat on the side of the road often because he would not stop at an exit and then I would start crying because I was about to pee myself so he would pull over and make me do it on the side of the road. There was no reason for him to be such a butt about it.

    That is why I try not to throw my weight around with my kids. Just because I can make them listen to MY music the whole car trip, doesn’t mean I should. I take their happiness into consideration. Sometimes I will tell them “Its mommy’s turn to pick a CD” and they accept it, but that is only because I am fair and let them pick CDs too. There can be a happy medium.

  145. awwws that commercial with the babies driving the car is precious! How cute are they!?

  146. Just so that I can add my statistic to this, I also hate HATE this ad. When the ads first appeared I was completely annoyed, and I didn’t even have kids then. I am pregnant now and the ad appeals to me even less. I don’t care for any of the ad ons and bells and whistles it has but its up to a buyer to make those decisions. I just really hate the ad. I hope I never make an important decision solely to alleviate the embarrassment of my child. I want to be motivated my ration and logic and the wellbeing of my child.

  147. “I hope I never make an important decision solely to alleviate the embarrassment of my child. I want to be motivated my ration and logic and the wellbeing of my child.”

    You know, any parent with a brain would think that if their kid thinks the way the kid does in those commercials, they should probably go out and buy the ugliest beater they can find, put on embarrassing bumper stickers, and then buckle down to dealing with whatever it is that has their child’s priorities and sense of family so screwed up. Then when they’ve dealt with the fact that the kid’s values were screwed up, maybe they can get a nicer car.😉 Of course, any parent that takes that approach wouldn’t be the parent who sits there smiling while the kid acts like the car belongs to him and sells seats for personal gain.

  148. What parents need is the glass partition in the car, that way when they start whining you don’t have to listen!

  149. Sky wrote: Here is how I “force” my children to play outside: “That’s enough Wii time, go outside and play.” “NOOOOOO!” “Yes, go outside now, or you won’t get to play Wii tomorrow.” And then they’re outside. And what do you know, they have fun.

    We have two boys, 9 & 10. They are both “solid,” you could say; they love food and tend to gain weight. They are also obsessed with riding, rolling, and ramping on wheels of all sorts. When we blended our family, my husband and I made different sorts of vows to each other.

    “I do solemnly swear, no matter how much whining from the kids, social pressure from their friends, or purchasing cues from society we get, we will have neither a TV nor a gaming system, portable or otherwise, in our home.”

    So we don’t. They get it at their “other” homes, friends’ homes. Nearly all parents think having video games is unavoidable. It’s not. It’s like smoking: don’t start. The kids whined a bit in the beginning, but half-heartedly. Since there isn’t much to do indoors on nice days, they head outside. I don’t have to cajole them. On crappy days, there’s a room for roughhousing, but you’d be surprised how easily even crappy days can be gone outside in.

    With any sort of wretched excess, be it toys, food, stuff, cars or “supervision,” I say it is parents avoiding conflict, either within themselves or within their families, and caving in to the fear of not belonging. Consumerism thrives on this fear most of all.

    We simply won’t cave. The kids are relying on us.

  150. A better ad would have been the car “speeding out of control” and some Toyota safety device saving he and his “idiot” parents from death.

    I remember my mother had reservations about letting my daughters watch the “rugrats” cartoon years ago. In that cartoon as in all pop media today parents (especially men) are constantly portrayed as ridiculous idiots who just don’t understand.

    Is it any wonder children act out and become confused? Can anyone else connect the dots and understand why today’s kids have absolutely no respect for other people?

  151. Nancy Disgrace (cute name, btw) – I do see it. My kids watch almost no TV, but they do get screen time and exposure to other families’ standards at preschool. Today the Sunday School teacher had given the kids a second (significant) handout of candy as I went to pick up the kids. This was after the kids were already sugared up (donuts, juice, etc). And my eldest 4yo, who weighs maybe 27 lbs, is very sensitive to sugar.

    I told my girls to hand over the candy packages to me. My eldest held hers out of the way and demanded with eyebrow raised, “but what are you going to do with it?” My response: “Excuse me, I think I am the mother here and you are the daughter. Hand me the candy.” Which she did.

    The attitude obviously comes from somewhere, because I am certain I haven’t taught my kids to believe they have veto power over what I do and say. Granted, the sugar makes my kid a little obnoxious, but that idea came from somewhere.

    Someone gave us the Disney film “Tangled” and I let my kids watch it. They definitely learned some lovely rudeness from that. Since then, I’m trying to help them notice how their thinking is affected by what they see, and also declared that they won’t be watching Tangled again until I’m convinced they understand respect.

    My kids also compare what other kids are allowed to do. “But __ is allowed to chew gum.” My response: “I’m not __’s mother, but I am your mother.”

    Sometimes I feel like I’m fighting an uphill battle when it comes to respect and politeness. It frankly isn’t all that common in their age group. Some of their classmates still throw long, shrieking fits when they dont get their way, or completely ignore their parents/teachers’ commands, and their parents/teachers act like there’s nothing unusual about that. Personally I think 4 is too old for the “just ignore it” tactic, but I’m in the minority on that, it seems.

  152. What the heck is wrong with Tangled? That movie is all pro free range! The mother won’t let her go outside and lies to her and confines her and controls her. She breaks out finally and lives her own life and learns she can handle herself. That is a good moral! I think some people read too much into stuff. My kids LOVE that movie and they are boys on top of it! if Rapunzel mouths off to her mother, her mother had it coming. Actually a lesson I want my kids to learn. That sometimes even someone in authority needs to be told off if they are wrong and have it coming. People should stand up to tyranny!

    My boys also are very polite and well behaved and don’t mouth off. If they do mouth off, they get swiftly punished and don’t try it again for a good while. I don’t blame the movies or tv for how my kids turn out. They turn out well from the example we set for them and the lessons we teach them.

  153. Well, Dolly, I don’t know, maybe the fact that my kids are adopted made them take it differently. If you look at the dialogue from that perspective (“you took me from my real mother bla bla bla”) you can see how it could stir some emotions.

    And no, I don’t agree that it is OK to tell off one’s mother in that way, even if you think she is as wrong as can be. Sometimes my kids catch me being wrong, but they are not entitled to spew that kind of nonsense at me, no way no how. I understand this is just a fairy tale and all that, and yeah, a kidnapper isn’t actually your mother, but a four-year-old brain processes things differently.

    Honestly, I think “modern” kids’ films generally suck because the producers forget how kids think. Or more likely, they don’t care.

    As an adoptive mom, I have noticed that a very high percentage of favorite kids’ books and movies are about orphans, or kids who for whatever reason were not raised by their parents. From Heidi to Harry Potter. About 2.5% of American kids have been adopted. While orphans / adoptees make great heroes, people need to be cognizant of the fact that actual adoptees will tend to see themselves in those stories, at least to some extent. For all the sensitivities we’ve developed with respect to gay people, slow learners, people of color, etc., we seem to be behind when it comes to adoptees.

  154. When I lived in Massachusetts, I never believed that I would ever be completely car dependent. I walked or biked everywhere in the town I grew up in and when I got older and wanted to go further I took public transportation. Then life took us to Southeast Florida…..

    Many places have no sidewalks and even when they do, the speed limit on those roads are 40-45 MPH (so most people are driving 50-55). It’s like walking on a highway! Add in the fact that for a large chunk of the year it’s like living inside someone’s mouth (98 degrees, 100% humidity) This week, the front page story was that we had the worst air quality in the nation. Add in crazy stuff like alligators in the ponds and canals and I find myself in my car all the time. (While not in my neighborhood there have been 2 (!!!) escaped tigers. in our county in the nine years we have lived here. Seriously, TIGERS) I even joined a gym for the first time in my life because working out outside just wasn’t safe due to heat and air quality.

    While it would be great if every child could walk to school sometimes the environment just doesn’t support it. My daughter tried riding her bike to middle school but had to give it up. She couldn’t ride in the heat hauling her 30 pounds of books. In the cooler weather, it was dark by the time she got out of her clubs. It became easier to drive. Now that she’s at a charter school 8 miles away from home she takes a bus.

    Apparently, the fact that I’m able to get her to take the bus amazes many other parents. But that’s a a topic for another post.

  155. Hi, I’ve been following your blog awhile. I don’t know if I like it or not – some of the stuff you take on I’d rather hide from. Remember the valentines cards (from the 70’s) that had one card with a ostrich with his head in the sand . . . that’s me. So when I read this blog – I found it interesting because of a recent event. We moved to a rural town of 1,000 about 15 years ago. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that the bus picked my kids up daily (10 miles out of town) Recently, I visited the city I’m originally from and waited for my business appt in the parking lot of an Elementary school and witnessed first hand the long line of cars going in (one kid in the back) the school parking lot and a harried, tired, wired-in parent leaving the parking lot. I thought I was watching an episode of a cartoon. I think my lucky stars I don’t live in the city. My kids would be complaining that I’m “weird” for making them ride the bus or ride a bike to school

    I have fond memories of my half hour walk to school each day. Crunching ice under foot when it was cold or climbing a tree (we even named her) in the cherry orchard through which we passed. Our school was appropriately named Cherry Hill. Now-a-days I doubt any kid going to that school knows there house is built where a huge cherry orchard use to be.

    Oh, the good old days.

  156. First of all, some of the cars my first wife and I schlepped our two daughters around in back in the 60’s and 70’s were so “uncool” as to be in single digits on the Kelvin scale. The girls actually liked the Model A Ford, because I could make it backfire, which was especially amusing when I did it in the lower level of a parking structure. (nowadays, there’d be a SWAT team, ATF agents and the bomb squad showing up). Driving them to elementary school was not necessary; we lived about a block away, and they just went out the back gate and walked along an abandoned railway line. And we didn’t have a TV in the house for many years; I would say that TV in cars is a “just because it CAN be done, doesn’t mean it SHOULD be done” situation. Finally, regarding “Angel of the Morning”: Forget about Juice Newton, the original is by Brooklyn native Evie Sands. She has even sung it for me at live performances, along with “I Can’t Let Go” (“Here are two more that BOB requested….”)

  157. This has just bought back a memory from my childhood. My father using a hand crank to start the car and my sister slipping down in the back seat in case any of her friends saw her. You think singing parents are embarrasing? Try that on for size! I’m “only” 45 by the way, not 102. Not sure what sort of car that must have been.

  158. Why the hell do kids need a TV in the car? We survived just fine back in the late 80’s and early 90’s without a TV in the car. Nothing like going on a long vacation stuck in the back of a 1980 Malibu Classic with no air conditioning, windows that didn’t roll down all the way and just looking out the window wondering if my clothes being stuck to my body from sweat was worth seeing whatever it is we would be seeing. We would read books and play blackjack. My dad taught us how and my mom hated it.

    As for driving kids to and from school? Only those morning or afternoons when we had to visit the dentist/doctor. Otherwise, we rode the big yellow submarine, just like all the other kids. I’m quiet shocked by this phenomenon of parents driving their kids to school when they could walk or take a bus. It’d make sense if the busses don’t come out to your part of the county or whatever, but everyone? Nonsense.

  159. On the rare occasion I drive my kids to school ( it is on the way to my train station and is a special treat) I always laugh at the High School kid who lives across the street from the High School Middle School campus – honestly – across the street – and he stands there and waits for the bus to pick him up, drive 100 ft, make a left and drop him off.

  160. @Myriam I’ m also 45, and my dad had a hand crank on his Peugeot 504. It was a backup to the electric start, but came in handy when the battery went down. It also had a hand pump on the carb to prime it if you rant out of gas. Which, since the gas gauge didn’t work, dad did a on a few occasions.

  161. I hate that ad.

    My kids would join us in singing… or at least keep quiet as they roll their eyes… (depends on their moods and the song, I suppose). We like each others’ company. Sad, but true. My 7 year old and I sang, “Oh, oh, oh, Ice cold milk and an Oreo cookie” (if you remember that old ad…) on the way home from karate. Fun times.😉 Remember that ad?

  162. Rich, I think I need that car! All of my previously used cars seem to have a bad gas gauge at some point. And a crank when the battery doesn’t work? Wow, no need to find some one to hook my cables to!

    I have to wonder what my step siblings think of these commercials. My sister in high school would have my mother drop her a mile from school for football games so that no one could see the 1966 Chevy Impala Station Wagon that we had that was about 4 different colors, two of them primer. (We rode the bus otherwise.) When my brother was in the Airforce, his friend’s car broke down and they had to drive the station wagon (then my car that I drove with pride) back to base. Before entering base, he switched with his friend, and he hid on the floor when they drove on! My step brother now has a nice truck for his contracting jobs, but my step sister has an older compact beater.

    If my kids ever complain about how old our cars are, we will start explaining the economics of why we have them – paid off, lower insurance, repairs that my husband can do on his own without a computer, big enough for everyone, decent milage and ability to use bio-desil should we have access to it again.

  163. Hi Dolly et al,
    I’ve been watching all your comments with interest. Know it happened 130 years or so ago, but when you talk about long car journeys, I can’t help thinking of Laura Ingalls Wilder and her sisters, in one of the books – can’t remember if it’s Little House on the Prairie, or The Shores of Silver Lake (might even be the Plum Creek one) where she writes about Kansas being one big circle, that day after day for months (or so it seemed to a child) they couldn’t get out of the circle that was the Kansas Prairie. No tvs for them, and no complaining either, LOL! Just sore, sore bottoms from the wagon seats. Personally have no tvs in our cars, but I’m not in the US, and could imagine that if I had to drive my kids for days across country I might look at getting one….certainly would in Australia, if I lived there – once you’ve seen the first 5000 kangaroos and gum trees, the scenery gets rather boring, LOL! In NZ the scenery changes every few minutes – though I’m sure visitors would get sick of our sheep and cows!- unless you have to cross the Canterbury Plains, where you might just want to keep a shotgun handy – very much like Laura’s Kansas!

  164. Some days I avoid eye contact on the bus. Here’s why: I work with people all day. I get home and I am “on” to a toddler, immediately. I want a break. I do not want to chat with people I don’t know, and I do want to read my book, in which I am interested, and for which I will have no other time. I’m not afraid, I’m not actually bored, and I am not antisocial. I am practising virtual privacy. We all need some downtime and sometimes we have to take it in public places.

    And I figured that out during a very interesting discussion with strangers about why people talk on the bus in Jamaica and they don’t in my city. Said discussion happened, yep, on the bus.

    We drive 10 hours across Saskatchewan regularly to visit family. It’s flat, the scenery is kinda similar for miles and miles and miles, and there are loooong stretches with nowhere to stop. I do what my folks used to do with us, back in the day when we had neither AC nor radio reception: we count cows. We count hay bales, and horses, and rainbows, and look for ducks in the dugouts. Trains! Wheat fields change colour. So do the clouds. We take the iPod, just in case, but rarely use it. Am I blessed with a child with imagination, or is it just that I had a good example and a lot of practice?

    I hadn’t actually seen these ads before; I thought the first one was kind of funny (I mean, c’mon, who hasn’t been trapped in a car with bad sing-a-longers?) though it didn’t inspire any desire for a car with headphones. The second one is both appalling and stupid. The kid’s hair is cute.

  165. Living in Australia things are fairly spread out.
    Most of my highschool was made up of boarders, my first boyfriend took 12hrs to get home. Many others took two or three days. And these are 11yos! Entertainment for some of it would be appreciated by all.

    As far as driving long distances? Between work and house is over 100kms – IF Im working at home station, otherwise it can easily be up to 400kms.
    To get ‘home’ is an 800km trip. With one 24hr truck stop halfway, no motels, nowhere I really want to stop for a long time. Better to just keep swapping drivers. Or be extra viligant in being awake if Im driving by myself.
    Not ideal, but thats the issue we have living in a country with long distances.
    We recently did 2000kms in two days to get to a wedding (three drivers, although two were on restricted licenses so that was slow going). No children, but the adults had mobile phones and gameboys (no radio, some horrible person broke my antennae just before we left).

    On the plus side, most country Aussies are well versed in long distance driving.

  166. You know, I was wondering, though, with all the new laws about kids needing to wear carseats until they are 12 or so, don’t people need huge cars now? How the heck do people carpool anymore? I only have a baby now, so I assume I’ll figure all this stuff out, but how do you take your kids and their friends to the beach or someplace if they each need their own carseat?

    And what if I end up with 3 kids? How will we fit them in the station wagon?

  167. Nicole: You are right. Carpooling with the new car seat restrictions and the massive size of the car seats has become something very difficult to do. I cannot drive any of my kids friends around with my kids. Not in our sedan. I might be able to fit one more kid in there, but it would be tight. Depending on size of the kid and the car seat, it might not be doable. A lot of my mom friends have full cars with just their kids inside. I have wanted to take my friend’s kids off their hands for awhile or do sleepovers or carpool but it is not possible unless one of us has a suburban or some kind of giant car with tons of seats and seatbelts in the back.

    Once the kids are out of boosters all together it gets easier because they can ride in the front seat at that point and that frees up more room. Still technically if you only do one person per seatbelt as you are supposed to do at most I can only fit three extra kids in my car and that would be with two sitting in the front bench seat next to me. Not an ideal situation. They tell you to keep kids out of the front seats now because of the air bags knocking them out or in some cases decapitating kids.

  168. Excuse me if this has been said by someone else, but I need to point out that although I find these commercials beneath contempt myself, they are very effective commercials.
    The ad company did a really good job of doing this ad to target the proper demographic, the group most likely to buy one of these vehicles.
    There’s a pretty big trend now for parents to be cool in the children’s eyes rather than be parents in the children’s eyes, and this commercial plays directly to that.
    They may be annoying, but they’re well done. Remember, a commercial is effective if it’s remembered, not just if it’s liked. The key to a successful campaign is to have consumers remember your name.

  169. […] The Highlander Takes the Low Road (freerangekids.wordpress.com) […]

  170. It’s nice that you all live in areas where there are not drug and violence problems on the school bus. Not everyone is so lucky.

    And the fights started in elementary school. The drugs–middle. The explicit talk about sex–elementary. (First girl to get pregnant in my school–5th grade!)

    School buses were for the kids whose parent didn’t or wouldn’t arrange some other form of transportation.

    My parents both walked to their elementary school. I couldn’t because it was across a 5-lane road and past a really bad neighborhood. The 5th grade campus would have been a 1.5h walk, the middle school about 2 -2.5 hours. We moved when I was in high school. The 9th grade campus was only 45 minutes from home. In elementary, I was in aftercare. In middle, I was at the same campus where my mother worked. So high school was the first time I had to get home by bus or by walking. I walked unless it was raining. Among other things, I didn’t like being groped. The 10th-12 grade campus was only a mile from home, and I walked until I had access to a car.

    You folks are also mostly from the North. You don’t have 100 degree days starting in February, and the temp when school lets out isn’t more often over 90 than below it. I loved using my grandfather’s car. I wasn’t so bathed with sweat I had to take a shower as soon as I got home.

    As far as the educational quality went, it was better than just about any school I’ve seen of heard of before or since. Our teams would go head to hear with the east coast boarding schools–and win. 🙂 We just also had a large high poverty population in the same schools who chose not to avail themselves of the opportunities that were available.to them.

  171. ARRRGH! Thank you, I DETEST these commercials. I cannot stand that snotty blond kid and it infuriates me how much of the marketing and the entertainment (which is just disguised marketing) directed at kids have this theme of entitled, cool kids and their stupid, clueless parents. Ugh.

  172. I would NOT LIKE my beautiful blond daughter being kidnapped,
    raped, and left for dead! So yes she will get a ride. Or maybe the police,
    Could patrol the school routes, instead of getting their free cups of
    Coffee in groups of 4_6?

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