The Drop-Off in Drop-Offs

Hi Readers — I thought this was just a great observation of how our kids-in-danger society is changing what it means to be a child — and parent. It’s by Matt Wall, a full-time stay at home dad of two boys, former software geek, part-time baseball umpire and Coast Guardsman — as well as “a recovering hovercraft parent.”

THE DROP OFF IN DROP-OFFS by Matt Wall

My topic today is the disappearance of the drop-off. As in, you drop your kids off at school, a friend’s house, sports practice, or practically any activity for a child under the age of twelve — and then you leave.

That doesn’t happen any more. Why not?

After all, our coaches are background-checked, we file sports physicals for the kids, and everybody on the planet has a cell phone, so emergencies are already covered. And of course parents are forbidden from interfering with coaching  — rightly so — so they’re not needed that way. I’m searching my memory for a sports practice in my youth when there was a parent present besides the coach, and I’m coming up empty. And yet, parents are required to attend practice these days, or their children are not allowed to participate.

What earthly good are we doing there?  I have never had this explained to me other than, “You need to be there in case something happens.” In case what happens? Nobody knows! It’s a generic fear of a generic something.

Of course, the real message to parents is: You are an adjunct,  parenting by penumbra, “participating” in your children’s sports event by watching them dribble a soccer ball from one end of the field to another. And I say this as someone who actually enjoys sports! What a deadly bore for the parent who does not.

Bear in mind, I’m not even getting into the subject of how kids never get to organize their own time and games. Whatever constraints or inhibitions our kids have in our presence remain.  Their experiences are never fully their own.

And I pity the poor coaches, teachers, and other organizers. It’s hard enough doing these  jobs without having your every move put under the microscope!

My kids have a range of activities, from formal to not so much, where this parental presence requirement is in effect, sometimes subtly, but often legally. My kids’ swimming lessons require us to be present, since who knows what could happen in a pool with six trained lifeguards surrounding it and another four swimming instructors in it.  I also can’t leave my older child alone in the craft section of the local children’s museum while my younger one plays in another area, because my child might go berserk with the glue gun, or fatally cut himself with the blunt scissors were I not there to supervise him.

Even more disturbingly, I have had a real problem getting other parents interested in swapping “drop-off playdates.” (I’ll resist the temptation to get into the very concept of a “playdate,” which did not exist when I was a child.) I offer  to let my sons’ friends stay with just me as supervisor of the kids all the time, but never has another family taken me up on the offer. (Nor have I had it offered in return.) This has extended thus far to birthday parties and “group playdates” (which we used to call, in their parent-free incarnations, “afternoons” when I was a kid).

As for school drop-off: I still have to escort my second-grader right to his classroom door. Really? The child of course can’t be trusted to walk fifty feet by himself? So much danger lurks that a parent can’t be more than an arm’s reach away until the child is safely delivered to the teacher?

So it has gone for Cub Scouts, the library (where I’ve been chastised on two occasions for letting my kids return their own books in my full view while I browse books from thirty feet away), gymnastics, and even giving a neighbor a misdelivered piece of mail.

The net effect is that a large portion of my life is spent being idly present in my sons’ lives, not living a little extra of my own, or letting them live their own lives in tiny, incremental pieces of independence. The subtext is that adults can’t be trusted, unless it’s your own parent.

To paraphrase a slogan of another social revolution: maybe it’s time to drop-off, drive off, and tune your kids in…to their own experiences. – M.W.

This child seems adequately supervised, for sitting on a bench. (He also appears to be the future king of Norway.)


171 Responses

  1. Wow. My daughter got into pre-K at the elementary school this year, which was great, as it’s less than a mile down the road from our neighborhood (as are the middle and high school). We walked her to her classroom the first couple days so she’d be a little more comfortable, and it was her first time in a big school.

    From then on, she did it herself. In fact, the school prefers them to walk themselves to their classroom. We drop her off in the mornings at the front of the school where there are teachers (and the principal most mornings, and the high school football team on Fridays) to help the little ones get out of the cars, get their backpacks on, and then sent on their way.

    It’s a good feeling watching our 4 year-old get out of my truck mostly by herself (the teachers will help her when she accepts it), get her backpack on (with some help), then head off into the school by herself.

    I think if we tried to walk her to her pre-K classroom now, she’d have a fit about how she doesn’t need our help and can do it herself, etc. I can’t imagine doing that when she’s in second grade.

  2. That is shocking and sad. I had no idea things like that were going on. I guess we all get used to how it is in our area. At my kids elementary school parents are strongly discouraged from walking kids in. The principal says straight up that it’s okay for the first week and then he wants to see kids doing it by themselves. My kids aren’t involved in sports anymore but when my daughter was in Kindergarten and 1st grade she did gymnastics. There was a sign out sheet right by the door. You wrote your name, your child’s name and a phone number so they could call in case your child got hurt. No one around here stays at birthday parties past kindergarten, and usually not even then. I had to make a special note on my son’s 8th birthday invitations that a parent was required to stay because we were have 25 kids and their main activity was going to be swimming and canoeing in a lake. All us parents sat up together at the pavilion and watched the kids take out boats and swim. I am very sad to hear that in other areas of the country this in not the case, and I hope the craziness does not spread to the midwest!

  3. My kids go to a circus arts school, and the school recently had to send a note out saying that parents could not come out on the floor to class with the 4 year olds. There’s a parent area where parents can watch the classes, but some parents were following their kids out on the floor anyway. It seems to me that by age 4 you should be encouraging your kid to be able to go 25 feet away from you, and I’m glad the school agrees.

  4. Completely, completely terrible. For the most part, we don’t have to deal with this (school doesn’t want parents dropping at classrooms, and my kids ride the bus anyway), but I have encountered a few parents who are like this with playdates. My younger one is 6, nearly 7, and a parent of one of her friends does not want to do just-kid playdates. She wants to come, along with her younger 2 children. I am trying to figure a way around this, because honestly, while I’m glad to have an extra child or two in the house, I’ve got plenty to do and I don’t want to have to entertain another adult.

    I do think there is a time (age-wise) when it is appropriate to be at practices and parties (and part of why we don’t remember this from our youth is that we didn’t start sports that early!). A volunteer coach or two is not equipped to deal with a team of ten 4 and 5 year olds – as soon as one cries, one has to go to the bathroom, and one hits another, it’s all over. 🙂 So I think with preschoolers, there’s a place for parents to be there to help manage things. But beyond the preschool years, I fully agree drop-off is appropriate.

  5. I have always had to drop my special needs child at his classroom door because he was a runner. I couldn’t drop him off because you never knew where he was going to end up. Unfortunately, I have been TRYING to drop off his younger brother and he won’t permit it! He likes having me take him to the classroom because I always did it for his big brother. One of these days I’m going to just boot him out of the house!

  6. My daughter (5) calls the drop off area of our elementary school the “drive-thru”. She equates it with a fast-food service that we are so quick to scorn (obesity, trans fats) but yet find it acceptable for our kids.
    Fortunately, we avoid it mostly by walking and biking to school instead. I saw another mom yesterday on the way to school who was on her bike but a distance from the school. Her 1st grader wanted to get his bike unlocked and get off on his own, like the big kids do. She let him. I am still going to hold on to parenting my kids for those “I’ve got this, mom” moments, like this mom had yesterday.

  7. I hope this is only in New York. I think it’s sad that kids are being robbed of their autonomy.

  8. I am trying to figure a way around this, because honestly, while I’m glad to have an extra child or two in the house, I’ve got plenty to do and I don’t want to have to entertain another adult.

    Hand her a basket of clean laundry to fold, a bowl of onions to chop, etc. Make her earn her keep. 😉 Honestly, I think you end up seeking out the parents who have the same sense of comfort about kid-only playdates, and sticking with them–those will be the same parents who are okay with kids walking to/from the neighborhood park without a security detail when they get older, and the same parents who can be trusted to make a lot of other sensible decisions around your child (at the beach, at a sleepover, etc.). Trying to make it work with a parent who clearly has really different notions of supervision, time management, etc., is a struggle.

  9. This helicopter parenting is exhausting. I think I might be the only one who would drop their child at soccer practice and leave, even if it was just the other side of the parking lot. I have four (now five) other kids, for Heaven’s sake. Do I leave them at home to take the soccer player to practice? Do they have *any* idea how difficult it is to entertain a 2-year-old during such circumstances? I’ll bet some of the other parents thought me neglectful.
    The punch line? My brother was the child’s coach. If I can’t drop my kid off with his or her uncle and go with the rest to the playground, what kind of world do we live in?!

  10. My oldest daughter is 10 and has swam competitively for 4 years. Now it doesn’t really make sense for me to drop her off at practice and comeback at the end. With the commute I would not really benefit that much time. So I stay at practice, but I have taken to going for a run or exercising in the fitness center for about 30 mins of her 1.5 hour practice. I also have started to go run during warm-ups at her swim meets. Swim meets can last around 5-5.5 hours total including warm-ups. So I just get her settled wherever she is going to sit and just leave. That is right I go run and leave my daughter at a high school with tons of parents and swimmers. I always tell a couple of other parents I am leaving. My daughter is mature enough to find her way. Plus the meets are so long I need something to break up the time.

    When she moves up to the next practice level and practices 2 hours a night I will start leaving her at practice like most of those parents do. If practice was closer I would leave her now.

    My thought process is if something happens to my daughter the coaches and lifeguards are much better trained than I am and they will be able to handle things. And if something serious happens they will just call an ambulance. Really what is a parent going to do if your child is seriously hurt? You are probably not a trained medical person.

  11. Our elementary school doesn’t allow parents to walk the child to the classroom. There is a drop-off spot, or you can park and bring them to the lobby. I think this is appropriate. (Although most kids are bused, so for most it’s not an issue) One woman I know, however, had a fit that she couldn’t bring her kids directly to their classrooms. (For that and other reasons, she eventually withdrew her kids from school and now homeschools). Not only do kids need to learn independence – if only to get themselves to their classrooms, I can’t imagine the chaos in the mornings if 500 kids had their parents walking them to their classrooms. ( Not to mention the disruption caused by parents stopping to chat with each other in the hallways while teachers were trying to get their classes started.)

  12. I do drop-off playdates all the time and have been doing it since the kids were about age 3. However, no drop-off birthday parties still. That one confuses me. I think some of this is microregional or something.

    Put your kid on the bus and you won’t have to walk him to the door! (My kid is currently riding the school bus on crutches. I don’t know exactly who helps her, but someone does and it works out.)

  13. I will add that she is on crutches because “something happened” at a drop-off playdate. No, I didn’t relish getting that phone call, but it isn’t going to keep me from more drop-off playdates. She could easily have been injured in the same way with me right there.

  14. “Hand her a basket of clean laundry to fold, a bowl of onions to chop, etc. Make her earn her keep.”

    That’s funny. 🙂 Really, the thing is I DON’T want to make it work w/her (she’s perfectly nice, but we aren’t terribly sympatico)….but my child likes hers. So I’m trying to figure out how to wrangle getting the kid over but not the rest of the family.

    In counterpoint, here’s a story my co-worker told me. Her daughter just turned 13 and had a sleepover, inviting 9 girls. The invitations were girl-to-girl by text message. My co-worker had never met five of the girls or their parents (these were all school friends). Of the five she didn’t know, not one called to check the details (or, I don’t know, check that there was actually a parent home for this), or came in to meet her at drop-off, or anything like that. And I think, even in the context of free-ranging, that if my child were invited to sleep over with someone I didn’t know, that i might at least want to have a conversation with that person first! Why does it always seem all (helicopter!) or nothing?

  15. Our neighborhood is mixed, most playdates are not drop off, but for me as a stay at home parent,that was fine, because it was when I got my socializing in. Drop off play dates mostly happen as a favor, while the parent runs errands, or takes care of sick sibling. My 5 year old son had one yesterday, and came home by himself (his friend lives in the same building, so he took the elevator by himself). At the school, parents aren’t supposed to go beyond the security guard at drop off. I walk him in, because he is small and struggles with opening the door, but most parents stay outside. For pick up, the kids line up against an outside wall, and must stay there until the teacher hands them off. A friend who lives on the same block as the school asked when she could stop picking up her 5 year old, thinking they would say a couple of weeks (he doesn’t have to cross a street, it is one door down), and they said 5th grade! My son does take drop-off classes, but we are expected to stay for soccer.

  16. I live in this weird situation on a military base in NJ. My 6 year old’s school (the pre-k and k) does not want parents taking the kids into the school. It was allowed the first week but after that discouraged, possibly forbidden. But a parent or authorized person MUST be at the bus stop at pick-up and drop-off times. My Little Guy cannot walk home, about 200 feet or so, on his own. I am lucky enough to be an at-home mom right now, but what of those who can’t be?

    As we live on a military base, there are rules we are supposed to follow as well. Our “housing handbook” (yes, there is such a thing!) says no kids on the playgrounds unaccompanied under the age of 12! Yes,12!! No, I do not take my kids to the playgrounds, and neither do any other parents except those with 4 and unders. I have seen some 5 and 6 year olds with their parents but I refuse to be a part of that. There is one playground I don’t let my kids go to but that’s because it’s known to have the local older kids come by and sell drugs. All other playgrounds on base here are good for my kids as far as I am concerned. I do not sit outside while my 6 year old rides his bike up and down the street, my 11 year old Girlie is left to babysit her brothers (6 and 9 years old) on occasion while me and my husband, their dad, go out to dinner for some alone time. We trust our kids and they’ve not yet given us a reason to not trust them. We’ve also been sure to teach them about what we expect of them, how they should act, what responsibility is and means, etc.

    I want my kids to experience things on their own! I want them to walk into the schools by themselves, to attend play rehearsals on their own, to attend birthday parties without me cramping their styles. I want my kids to be their own people, not just extensions of me or their dad.

  17. I am pleased to see comments from other parents stating that this isn’t the norm where they live. The initial post had me re-thinking whether or not I want to have children, if that level of commitment is required. Spending 15 years watching children practice soccer sounds so much like the third ring of Hell that I wonder if the original poster is actually dead and doesn’t realize it (or maybe i’ve been watching too much “American Horror Story”).

    I’ve posted before about how I feel as if I’m visiting a minimum-security prison whenever I go to one of the local schools for a story. I wonder what it does to children to grow up in that environment. It’s not surprising that you hear about college freshmen freaking out, being unable to handle anything on their own. Even if you raise them to be confident at home, the rest of society is bent on taking that from them. If “the norm” is that everyone you encounter in the environment you spend 40 hours a week in has been buzzed in, passed through a metal detector, escorted directly to their destination while being on camera the entire time, it would probably freak you out to be in an environment where people come and go as they please.

  18. Oh, and–can’t believe I forgot to say this–I know exactly why many kids’ activities require parents to stay. It’s a little thing called liability. Everyone is afraid of being sued, and many small groups can’t afford liability insurance. If the parent is there, it gives you some protection.

  19. @GPO…just wanted to add, your situation is sort of different. I am 35, and my father would accompany me to my private music lessons and either stay there or go to a nearby Burger King or similar place, not to be hover-y, just because it didn’t make sense time-wise to go home. They were hourlong lessons at someone’s home, always about 20 minutes from ours. I had a few different teachers. Some let parents chill out in a separate room, others weren’t set up like that.

    My sister and I also took swim lessons at the junior high less than a mile from home. They didn’t stick around for those, and neither of us drowned. I don’t think parents should be forced to stay for these things. They should be allowed to have their own lives.

  20. I agree about that situation. I stay at a 45-min lesson my 6 y o has, because no sense in doing otherwise (just read a book, or watch her) … and she takes piano, which I actually sit in on because that way I can help her at home with practice (this really helps make progress, and is somewhat Suzuki-ish) … but I think the original post is more about the expectation that you have to, rather than doing so because you want. SOmetimes dads stay at my 9 y o ‘s sports practices and sort of help out, or just hang out, and it’s not with the intent of hovering or bc they have to, they just like sports and feel like doing it. Totally different feel.

  21. I am in Central NJ and I can say that it is not that bad over here. I have kids at my house all the time, without their parents. My 10 year old walk the dog alone, sometimes even at night. I have never had to stay for any of the practices. Although If I were a coach I would require it as parents tend to be very late when picking up their kids.

  22. My daughter is a sophomore in high school. I also have a 3 year old and am expecting a new little one this winter. My only real complaint with her school is that I cannot send a note telling them when I will pick her up for an appointment and have her wait outside for me. No. I have to drag my 3 year old (and soon, my newborn as well) out of the car, damn the weather, haul us all inside, go to the attendance office, sign her out, keep my toddler entertained and contained and quiet WITHOUT running or climbing on the benches (his shoes might get germs on the benches, and then someone would have to wipe them down with antibacterial wipes – I was actually told this), and WAIT while they send a special runner up to her classroom to give her a hall pass, then keep waiting until she arrives at my side, whereupon we can finally walk out together. It absolutely infuriates me! She’s going to be driving soon! She knows her way around. And she even knows the way from her classroom to the curb, where I would gladly pull up and wait for her to arrive.

    Not only do I have to physically sign her out, but if I don’t also send a note upon her return, the absence is unexcused. This is too much! The kids are not in prison, for goodness’ sake.

    It hasn’t been that long since I was in school myself, and when I was in school, not only could I wait outside for my mom to pick me up for an appointment, if the appointment was close enough, I could – gasp – WALK myself there and back to school. It’s dispiriting to watch the changes.

  23. I go as far as I dare with my kids (ages 4 & 5), including letting them be somewhere without me. But there are all these “rules.” Like at the public library – you are not allowed to leave your kid there alone until they are like 12. They do allow you to walk away for some minutes at a time, but not leave all together. The natural history museum has a hands-on room just for kids, but kids can’t be in there without a parent until they are 12. And I still worry that someone will call the cops if they think my kids are “wandering around” in a kid-friendly place without an adult at least peeking in from time to time.

  24. Duckmama, that is just nuts. Good Lord, how are we supposed to teach kids to do anything with rules like that?? Fortunately, it’s not like that here yet, but I fear most places are just one lawsuit away from the insanity.

  25. My 6 1/2 year old son plays hockey, and on Tuesdays I stay through his practice because frankly it’s not worth my time to leave and go anywhere – the rink is too far away from anyplace interesting and the practice just isn’t long enough to be worth the bother. I sit in the restaurant and work for half the time, and watch for half the time because it’s fun to watch him play.

    Thursdays I drop him at practice and leave, because I work Thursday evenings and I operate on the assumption that my husband will show up on time to pick him up and take him home. We’ve got a Plan B in case my husband is late.

    When he took swim lessons I was not required to be there, but I stayed and swam laps myself – it was a 45 minute lesson 20 minutes from home, seemed like a better use of the time.

    Duckmama, that is insane. (And of course you can’t leave your little ones in the car or somebody will call the cops on you)

  26. I’m so glad we live where we do. I’m starting to think my little area of the Pacific Northwest is the last bastion of common sense parenting. We moved here last summer and I’m so glad we did. My kids were pretty free-range in Chicago but there were actual dangers to consider (mostly traffic but gangs were another big one as they were moving into our neighborhood). Here it’s like stepping back to my childhood (minus the Chicago traffic and gangs).

    Walking kids into school is strictly forbidden here. Well, not really forbidden but really, really frowned upon. And it’s for the children’s safety (so says the principal). After the first week all kindergarten parents must drop kids off at the door, preferably without getting out of their car (because the parking lot is small, crowded and there are classrooms outside so kids are running to and from the school to the portable rooms and the streets are narrow and busy with buses). If a parent comes in they have to stop at the office (which is tiny) and check in. That takes several minutes. It takes less time for the kid to walk down the hall to their classroom and there are many teachers and older kids around that are excited to help the little ones.

    The principal went over this many, many times and mentioned he even had one family pull their kid out because he wouldn’t make an exception for them because they thought they were special (and there was nothing wrong with their kid, no special needs or anxiety, he was fine walking alone just the parents couldn’t handle it and kept ignoring the rules). Kids here walk to and from their buses on their own (unless they are a kindy kid with no older siblings). And most kids are allowed to roam all around the place, mind included.

    And I don’t give them the third degree before they leave. They just give me an idea of where they will be and out the door they go. I see middle school kids walking to and from the grocery store on their own (it’s a mile from where we live) and just hanging out at the playground. Kids run errands for their parents all the time so there are always bikes parked outside the Safeway. That seems to be the local hangout after school for the high schoolers, too. They fill up the tables inside and out drinking Starbucks and goofing off.

    My kids regularly take their baby brother for walks around the neighborhood and have since he was an infant. I just get him in the stroller and off they go (he’s 1 now so he now plays with them out front). He can also play in our fenced back yard on his own. I stay inside and watch him through the patio doors as he plays in his sandbox or with his cars.

    And drop-off playdates are the only way we do things. Well, actually I don’t do “playdates”. For the most part this neighborhood is old fashioned. When kids want to play they go ring doorbells until they find someone that can come out. Or the kids arrange a time to play together at someone’s house and then ask both parents (usually running back and forth between houses until details are determined, the parents don’t usually get involved).

    I love it here.

  27. I surprised my son’s den leader the other day by dropping him off and telling the leader he could come home on his own when they were done. I rode my bike there with him, because the meeting was in a new location and I wanted to make sure he knew where to go, but after that, I know he knows his way home. And sure enough, 15 minutes after the meeting, he shows up at home, while I got some work done. The leader looked surprised that I wasn’t picking him up, but to his credit, he didn’t give me any hassle.

  28. I think I am blessed to live in a split lower to middle class neighborhood where both parents often work, and thus often can’t hover.
    At our school they are just happy to have the kids show up on time, and they don’t really ask how they got there.
    They offer a range of after school activities and each time you sign your child up you get to check a box – “My child is allowed to walk home”, “I will pick my child up” or “My child will go to after school care”.
    Even my kindergartener is allowed to walk home by herself if I check the box that says she’s ready.
    The flip side is that legally she’s not allowed to go to the park by herself until she is 9. The park that’s right next to the school, which is right around the corner from our house.
    I’m proud of my kids’ school for doing the right thing and letting parents be the ones who determine what their child is ready for, even if my state hasn’t yet caught up.
    Around here, kids get to be kids. But reading this blog reminds me how fortunate I am, and how rare this type of neighborhood is. When I see the upper middle class worry warts moving in it always makes me a little nervous, but so far our freeranging ways have won most of them over.
    Though there are a few parents still walking their fifth graders to school – at least they are walking.

  29. This is so true. The entire thing makes me insane. People looked at me like a criminal last year when I said my son’s birthday party was for kids only (he was turning seven). Ridiculous. Sorry, I don’t have the extra cash to provide food, drinks, and entertainment for kids, their parents, and their siblings at my son’s party. The Cub Scout leader freaked out when my husband said he wasn’t staying with my son, that he had other things to do during that hour. The dh did it anyway, much to the den leader’s chagrin. Helicopter parenting is out of control.

  30. in June of 1958 (I don’t recall the exact date right now) Life Magazine published an article by Robert Paul Smith (Author of The Tender Trap and other light classics) titled “Let your Kids Alone”. It’s worth looking up (I own a copy, I just don’t know where it is at the moment).

  31. I sent mine up the hill, across two acres, in the dark the other night to take mail to the neighbors that had been in our box for a few days (we don’t check daily). I did tell her to turn the spot lights on so she could see where the baby trees were, but that was mostly for the baby tree’s sake. 😉

    I drop her at the door at school. The mom across the street from me parks and walks her kid in. She is the classic helicopter parent. My absolute worst pet peeve about morning drop off, though, are the parents that sit in the line and tie up traffic and will not move forward because they are too busy watching little Johnny walk from the car to the front door.

  32. At my daughter’s elementary school, kids can walk by themselves or parents can walk them to class. I do the drive thru and have since the 3rd day of school. I will occasionally walk my daughter to class because she wants to show me something in the classroom, otherwise she wants to go on her own.

    I’ve never had an activity where I was required to remain. I do often stay at gymnastics because I enjoying chatting with friends whose kids have classes at the same time. But I never even walk her into the building for dance anymore. Last week I was exhausted and let her walk in while I took a nap in the car.

    The thing that gets me about school is that EVERY walker or biker is accompanied by an adult. I have yet to see a single child walk/ride to school by him or herself. These are kids coming just a couple blocks with crossing guards at the main intersection. I’m not even sure that walking/riding solo is allowed since kids are kept inside the building until a parent arrives.

    And the whole drop-off and pick-up things bugs me. In the morning, we have to pull up to the door, wait for a teacher to open the door and let the child out. Why can’t my child just get out of the car and walk in the building? In the afternoon, the kids stay inside until they are called for. Why can’t the kids be released by the bell so that I can just quickly drive by and pick her up? It’s ridiculous.

    Also, the middle school bus stop is at my house. There is only one child who gets on at that stop who lives around the corner. Every day he walks to the bus stop by himself while his mother takes his younger brother to school. And every day she meets him at the bus stop and stops her car while he and she talk through the window until the bus comes. If it were an occasional thing, I’d think it was cute, but this has occurred every single day for 3 months now. It is clear that she is waiting with him at the bus.

  33. I admit that stay with my daughter at dance class two nights a week, but that is only for selfish reasons. If I stay I get to sit in the lobby and read for an hour. If I go home I have to do less relaxing stuff.

  34. “And every day she meets him at the bus stop and stops her car while he and she talk through the window until the bus comes. If it were an occasional thing, I’d think it was cute, but this has occurred every single day for 3 months now. It is clear that she is waiting with him at the bus”

    But since she has him walk to the bus stop alone, isn’t this maybe just some one-on-one time she enjoys with him? I really enjoy meeting my kids at their bus stop and walking home with them … I bring our dog, and that few minutes headed home is often when they really download about their days. When we get home, there’s homework, dinner, etc etc and yes, we still talk, but there’s something about the walk home (where there’s nothing to do but walk along and chat!) that I really enjoy in terms of connecting with them. Has nothing to do with wanting to hover over them or not believing them capable of walking home on their own.

  35. I think this person must live in an area that differs from the rest of North America. At my kids school we are not supposed to even get out of our cars for drop off, just pull up, kids hop out, drive off. We do have to drive them as it is a 15 minute drive on major roads, would be hours to walk. I did walk my oldest into kindergarten pretty much the whole year because she wanted me too and I will be there for my kids when they need me. But by first grade she would have been mortified if I even tried, and my twins who are 2 years younger than oldest never wanted me to walk them in, in fact I had to insist on the first day because I really wanted to see them go into Kindergarten for the first time:) And as far as sports go we have never been required to stay. Play-dates and birthday parties also stopped being attended by us or other parents around preschool, although there was occasionally a kid in preschool who wanted their parent to stay. By Kindergarten they were all fine being dropped off, although I have occasionally had parents ask if I would like them to stay to help or visit which is always nice.

    Very strange to here the above article indeed, not like that at all where I live!

  36. I refuse to sign my children up for an activity where I am forced to stay. I would sometimes stay for an activity that was 30 minutes or less because it wasn’t worth going home, but I would stay in my nice car not a cold bench or bleacher. Sometimes I would stay to socialize with other parents, but I would ignore my children except for five minutes when they want me to watch their new karate or swim skills.

    My 9 yo has 8 karate classes a week. I do not stay. Why would I? I go home or shop. One mom whose son has just as many classes is there every single time. Once when I stayed she complained to me about how much stuff she had to do at home. I’m thinking: Then why are you here? Go home, let the teachers do their job, and get some stuff done.

    The only activity my dh stays for is our 12 yo’s scout meetings and that is because he is one of the leaders.

  37. Wow – I’m surprised that even so many people who follow this blog are stuck in places where the playdates are not parent-free. Both of my kids have been having friends over without the other parent coming along since they were 2.5 or so (long before I realized that I was destined to be a Free Range type!). In my mind, that was always nearly the entire point of the playdate — so my kid would have something to do while I got a few things done. Not that I minded having a friend over for coffee sometimes when everyone got along. But another parent coming in to supervise a playdate at my house??? That’s just bizarre. Likewise for birthday parties. I haven’t had another kid’s parent stay at one of my kid’s birthday parties since they were about 4 years old. And here I thought I was living in an over-protective neighbourhood…

    On a quasi-related note, I’m surprised by the number of responders here who mentioned letting their kids out of cars at school drop-off. Does no one live within walking distance of school anymore, or take school buses?? My kids go to a school with 900 kids. If each of them got their own personal ride every morning, what a disaster (environmental and otherwise) that would be!

  38. @ Dean – It could be but mom generally arrives within seconds of boy – he walks a few houses down a very quiet road to the more traveled road and she joins him there seconds later. And the two times his father has taken the younger kid to school, he stopped and chatted too.

    Further, it’s annoying to the rest of the residents. These are narrow residential roads. She doesn’t pull into a driveway but just stops in the road and chats with her son until the bus comes, making it so that cars have to go around her. If I were just interested one-on-one bonding with my child, I’d find a way to do it that didn’t annoy the neighbors. And I’ve never seen these kids out by themselves any other time.

  39. As for playdates, I find that is on a parent-by-parent basis. After awhile, the family playdate people and the individual kid playdate people separate themselves.

    I’ve had some perfectly nice people assume when I asked their 2nd grader over to play with my 2nd grader that I meant I wanted all three of their kids and the mom to come over. I simply do not invite those children again. It stinks sometimes if my child really likes the other child, but there are enough children of like-minded parents here that I simply invite those.

    I’ve always assumed that the family playdaters are happily playing together as well.

    Around here parents start dropping kids off at birthday parties at 6 or 7. They drop them at practice at 9 or 10. I have stopped worrying about the library, stores, and other places that insist my children remain with me all of the time. They are school-aged and they can run get the flour and cereal by themselves.

    Happily, at our elementary school they encourage all of the kids to walk to their class by themselves from the time they start kindergarten. Unhappily, I think it is so adults who don’t work at the school aren’t in the building.

  40. This drives me crazy, especially when it comes to birthday parties. I have so many other things that I could be doing while I am sitting trying to make small talk at some of these parties. That probably makes me one of those crazy selfish Mom’s, but so be it. I also really don’t want to have to entertain all those parents at the parties I have for my kids, I am busy throwing the party! We had a drop off party for our two kids last year and of the 14 kids that came, only one parent actually left, and then they all complained I had no food or beverages for them! (they were told in the invitation that it was drop-off) now I am trying to figure out what to do about this years parties, a movie party, and a pajama party, how do I politely give the parents the boot!

  41. Ouch, I didn’t realize it got to be that bad in some places. Fortunately, I have not observed this trend in our New York City Upper West Side school . When I invited a few classmates to my daughter’s b’day party, I mentioned in my invitation that a drop-off is an option, although of course adults were welcome to stay, if they so desired. To my surprise, every single family chose to dropped off their precious kids, and simply pick them up 2 hours later. I say – good for them! Ever since preschool I drop-off my daughter for playdates, and her friend’s parents do the same.
    I always assumed that I live in a hotbed of helicopter parenting. I guess, I was wrong. Another possible factor is that my daughter is a bi-lingual second-generation American, and tends to choose similar friends (for some reason her close buddies tend to have at least one parent born someplace other then the US, and speak at least one language besides English). Maybe first-generation Russians, Japanese, Italians, and Israelis tend to be much more free-range in their parenting.

  42. “Does no one live within walking distance of school anymore, or take school buses??”

    I drive my kid to school because the bus comes at 6:50 and school doesn’t start until 7:40. I can have my child ready for the bus at 6:50 or I can let her sleep until 6:45 and take her by car at 7:30. Both of us appreciate that extra 40 minutes of sleep. She’s only in kindergarten so I can’t rely on her to get herself up and out the door. As soon as we hit that point, her butt is on the bus.

    There are a large number of walkers and bikers at my kid’s school. That is just more parent-labor intensive since apparently adults are required to walk/bike too.

  43. With the soccer, maybe it’s just an age thing. My son is 5 and a half and his cousin is 6. His dad coaches the team, and prefers that parents stay close by. At this age, they go to the bathroom quite a bit and need someone to walk with them since it’s quite a distance. They get hurt and need their parent, or sometimes they just don’t listen and goof off if they don’t have a parent there.
    Two weeks into the season less and less parents were staying for practice, but sadly it meant things were getting more and more chaotic. The coach had to ask parents to stay close by and by them doing so, everything was going more smoothly.
    I don’t think this would be so, if it was 8 year olds playing. They would be able to get to the bathroom on their own, and probably wouldn’t need their parent if they got hurt.

  44. I’m a child of the 80’s and my mom was pretty free range. When I was in middle school, if I had a dr’s appt, I took the bus there and back on my own, I don’t recall school even blinking. can you imagine?

    Now, I have a 4 and 6 year old. We are a trans racial family (so we don’t ‘match’), because I’m not ‘conspicuously’ the mom and I’m pretty free range (they aren’t on leashes and I’m not hovering over them) people sometimes think my kids are on their own out in public, it leads to some interesting reactions. This summer, I overheard two mom’s talking about my kids at baseball batting practice: “He’s a good player” “A nice kid, too.” – “it’s a shame, I’ve YET to see a parent.” (shaking their head) “Do they think this is a babysitting service”. Umm, Sort of. It’s a structured activity that I’m not participating in… OK, I was 2 feet from them in this case, but sometimes I took my 4 year old to the playground in the same park- I am sure my boy could handle swinging a bat without my help, and it was not fun to try to entertain his sister as she look longingly at the swings just 100 feet away. And SOMETIMES, I let her go swing on her own, and I sat at the picnic table between the ball field and the park and read or enjoyed a summer day or socialize with another grown up. So yeah, I do kinda think a park and a batting practice are good babysitters. And if it had been at all socially acceptable, sometimes I would have left, and picked up dinner for later or taken my daughter to a better playground nearby, but since I’m already neglecting him by not advertising that I’m his mom, I never dared. Also, I might point out, that it’s possible that he is ‘a good player’ because I wasn’t standing over him micromanaging his swing, his stance, his throw- it’s possible he’s a good player because his is having fun, so chill out George Steinbrenner, it’s 6 year old rec league baseball!

    I think the comment about liability is spot on, but it’s overkill! I already signed a waiver when he joined the team, and the coach has had a background check.

    Also, I’m single. so if I’m expected to be there, my other kid is tagging along. Our rec center and school is always asking for volunteers, I’m more than happy to do it, but my help is turned down more often than not, because I’m not willing to pay a babysitter to watch the the ‘odd child out’. On more than one occasion, I’ve volunteered to paint faces at the kindergarten play date, or be an assistant coach, but been turned down because my other child would have to accompany…. and who would supervise them? At the kindergarten play date? I figured my 4 year old would just play, too… and at 4 year old soccer practice, why can’t my 6 year old go to the playground, or help with practice?

  45. In such a litigious society, people fear the law suit. I’ve had birthday parties for my kids where parents would drop off, and pick up at their bed times (invitations clearly stated the to and from times). I have friends that are coaches that have stated the same thing, and that’s why they require parents to be there. The coach is too afraid to leave a kid alone, waiting to be picked up for all hours of the evening. He has a life, and kids as well.

  46. Just a thought, but if parents are needed–or so a coach or teacher thinks–to stay by and watch an activity their kid is in because otherwise the kids become unruly or unfocused or misbehave or whatever–then to me that’s a sure sign that the kids are not old enough, mature enough, to be in the activity in the first place.

    I sometimes walk or drive by soccer practices in our area and see really little kids–four year olds?–“practicing” soccer, and it is a sad sight. At an age when kids should be engaging in lots of free, imaginative play, they are being corralled and pushed and told to run here, run there, kick this, don’t kick that, and so on…And nothing looks more ridiculous to me, at least, than the sight of a grown man attempting to ‘coach’ tiny, little kids!

    The parents are needed because the kids are developmentally not really ready for organized sports.

    One exception to this that I can think of is swimming. I have seen children learn valuable water skills at very young ages (preschool). Parents remaining near the pool make sense because kids at that age can become clingy (or worse) pretty fast.

    Kids today are simply engaged in so many structured activities during the day, and at such young ages, that I can understand the desire to keep parents close at hand: no one, other than dedicated preschool and early elementary teachers, wants the responsibility of supervising large groups of little kids! It’s hard work, tedious, and, today, increasingly appears to expose one to liability (fair or not).

    As for a non-drop-off play date, I can’t really wrap my head around that. Unless the child is too young to separate from a parent, what the heck is going on??

  47. We just moved and went from our first grader riding to school on a scooter with a friend to having to drive her every day. On her first day at the new school (in mid-october) I saw plenty of parents still walking their kids to the door. Every morning while I’m navigating the crazy drop off traffic (almost all the kids are dropped off) I usually see some parents walking their kids (all ages) up to the school carrying their backpacks for them. I would love for her to ride the bus, but to do that I have to fill out an application and drive her to a bus stop almost as far away as the school and then wait for the bus and supervise her actually getting on. I’ve also learned from moms in the area that they perceive kids who ride the bus as the bad kids. It’s really frustrating.

  48. As for a non-drop-off play date, I can’t really wrap my head around that. Unless the child is too young to separate from a parent, what the heck is going on??

    Or unless the parents are friends themselves and like to socialize. That makes sense too, although not all the time.

    Wingsnroots, I’ve had almost that same experience! Me watching one kid go no more than 60 feet down the block and back and listening to people say “Who is WITH that kid?” “Um, that’d be me, hi!”

  49. I’ve only ever walked them in to their first day so I could say hi to the teacher – and this year, with my 6th grader, we were on our third kid with this same teacher and it wasn’t necessary. (Side note – I used to babysit this teacher and her twin brother when they were babies!) Of course my middle schooler and high schooler didn’t need me *at all*. They walk several blocks to community bus stops and my son even chose a different bus stop because his friends are there – as long as he’s on the right bus, I don’t care.

    Sometimes I even leave the house and go to the gym and they have to *gasp* get themselves ready and out the door on time, locking the door behind them…

    I have routinely dropped them off and left – from preschool, to Little League, swimming lessons, dance lessons, parties, the orthodontist. I might give a wave and a “hi” depending on the activity and the person in charge, but in no way am I made to feel I have to be there. I run errands! This is the time to go grab that brown sugar I forgot to get and drop off the insurance payment to save a stamp.

    I was surprised one day when my daughter invited a friend to her 6th birthday party and the mom stayed! I didn’t mind, but I didn’t expect her to and I did say, “You’re welcome to stay but please don’t feel like you must, they’ll have a great time!” I think she just wanted some socialization herself and we all had fun.

    Now my daughter takes herself to her friends’ house. We set time rules, make sure she has her phone, that her friend is expecting her, and off she goes – on her bike – with a helmet – reading street signs…

    Damn, I’m raising kids who can take care of themselves. Shame on me!

  50. Our sixth grader played intermural volleyball this year, and I felt like the strangest parent in the school, because I refused to go to her away games unless they were relatively near by.

    Part of it was that she has a younger brother who I didn’t want to drag around, but part of it was because I felt she should have some little piece of a life beyond us. Volleyball was her thing, and in a sense I wanted her to own it as an independent activity. Having me cheering her at every game (I went to the home games) just seemed an unnecessary attachment to us. When I was a kid, I don’t even think my mom came to more than a handful of our games in four years.

    Also, several years ago, we hired a tutor for our boy, and the rule he insisted on from the beginning was that he would not be left alone in the house with our kid. I could understand that worry very well, he didn’t want there to be an opportunity for him to be accused of something. I thought that was a sad reflection on our times, but I also thought it was a reasonable thing to ask.

    I think that is what drives much of this kind of thing. No one wants to be alone with someone else’s kid, just in case an accusation is made. You also never know what an organization’s insurance company is insisting on.

  51. People who make policies *requiring* parents to sit and watch their kids’ sports practices ought to be required to spend a month living among people who have to work a full schedule every day, in order to support (read feed, clothe, shelter, and what’s necessary to educate) their kids.

    It’s so elitist. I realize it’s not meant to be, because people simply don’t consider the fact that some people don’t have the ability to sit around doing absolutely nothing for no constructive purpose just so their children can be involved in a worthwhile activity — but it can really only work among fairly privileged people. Really, that goes for policies like “you must drive your child to school and walk him into class” every day too — what are single or dual earner parents who MUST work full time and can’t design their own schedules, supposed to do?

  52. My 7-year-old is a Brownie this year and I am expected to walk her to and from the meeting room, which is in an elementary school cafeteria. This actually makes sense to me because on the way in the kids can be distracted by the after-school stuff in the school gym and the leaders don’t want to have to go searching for them; also, the school is a long, cold walk or even bike ride away from anywhere, so the leaders want to be absolutely sure that every child has been picked up.

    HOWEVER. Our wildlife refuge visitor center recently announced “Kids’ Night,” a two-hour exploration of the center for ages 5-12. So I planned to drop my 7-year-old off for “Kids’ Night” and go shopping with the younger two, giving them some Mom time without their big sister and her some more independent time. I told her that I would wait a few minutes to be sure that she had gotten in okay because I hadn’t called ahead to confirm it. Aaaaaand of course it turned out that “Kids’ Night” meant “Kids, Parents Will Be Hovering Nearby Night.” So I had to take her shopping instead because the shopping had to get done. Note the upper age range of this event. Sheesh!

  53. email comments….

  54. I’ve never had problems with the non-drop-off playdate, but I’d think one way to handle it would be to say to the parent (in a friendly way), when you’re making the arrangements, “So, I hope your enjoy your free time! Oh, and can I have your cell phone number in case I need to reach you while Johnny’s at my house?” That puts the burden of inviting herself (when she’s clearly not expected) onto the OTHER parent, rather than you being the bad guy when she shows up prepared to hang out.

  55. I find that the activities we choose to involve ourselves in we either coach or drop off, thankfully. Swim lessons at our indoor club require parents NOT to be in the pool area and provide free child care (even if you aren’t a member) so hover parents and little kids are not on slippery pool decks. I always get a workout in (or a sauna and shower when lazy) while they swam. They even showered them (rinse only) and toweled them until the parents retrieved them.
    Coaching the kids in any sport is easier when parents aren’t around to watch. Letting them be kids and have fun (while learning to be a good sport) is the whole point of any activity. THIS is their play time and I try not to ruin it! It’s easier to do that when Emily’s dad isn’t yelling at her from the sideline to “shoot” or “keep your eye on the ball” (like she’s trying to do that, duh). Though I have requested parents to stick around when we’ve had thunderstorm threats. But that’s a just common sense reminder.

  56. I encourage parents to speak up about your needs/wants. In birthday invites, use the words, “Parents are encouraged to drop off your child for the three hours and do something for yourself!” Or, when arranging a play date, say, “I have a busy afternoon. I would love to have your child over to keep mine company while I do some things that I need to do.” These are common things in my neighbourhood, and it seems to start a trend.

  57. I would not sign my child up for a sport or other non-school engagement that required my or my partner’s physical presence. I am paying these coaches/teachers for their babysitting services.

    I teach a sport to 10-year olds and above. I always tell the parents they can stay if they like, but the great vast majority of them prefer to wave goodbye and pick up (their now tuckered out and ready for bed) children 2 hours later. I prefer this situation as I don’t think the kids work as well if they know their parents are watching.

    Mind you, I also get parents who will come up to me and let me know that someone else (a relative or neighbor) will be picking little Johnny up that evening instead of them. I always find it amusing that the parents (who I spend zero time with) think I recognize them and thus would notice if Johnny went off with a stranger.

  58. Well, we homeschool, so I have to be careful to ask about invitations for parties and such because some expect the whole family to come, and some don’t. Sometimes the moms are expected to hang around and help out and do their own socializing. (Because lets face it, we need our social time too, and doing it with strangers at the mall isn’t all that much fun.)

    But that doesn’t mean we can’t let our kids free range. My kids love it when we meet other families at a local park. There are trails all over the place and the kids can run around and go through the brush (being mindful for rattlesnakes) all they want. Meanwhile the other mom and I usually sit at a table and talk, while the kids actually come back to us and check in every once in a while. (We don’t tell them to do that, just to come when we honk the horn – we are usually the only ones there.)

    When my kids were younger, my oldest son had issues with doing age appropriate things, like, staying in the house when asked by an adult. My other two, I knew that they could use some of their good sense, and would do what adults ask of them. They got to play over more with drop offs than the middle son.

  59. “I would not sign my child up for a sport or other non-school engagement that required my or my partner’s physical presence. I am paying these coaches/teachers for their babysitting services.”

    For paid lessons, I agree. I differ only in that my husband coaches multiple teams for our kids, and he is not being paid to babysit (or paid at all for that matter). He is volunteering his time to coach. As I said earlier, beyond the preschool years (and whoever said the fact that preschoolers require managing at a sports practice indicates they aren’t developmentally ready to be practicing the sport had a good point!), I don’t think parents staying is at all necessary. But I do think parents being good partners in the situation (helping if asked; attending a “clean the field” day; picking up on time as yes, my husband and child would like to come home when practice is over and not wait around for a late parent) is the minimum courtesy required in a volunteer coach situation.

  60. This isn’t feasable to most parents, since we now live in two-income households or single-parent-working households. Chances are the only adult that has that much time free is the coach and assistants, and that should be enough. It always was before.

    I played summer league baseball for four years and I do not recall my family showing up to a game even once. Normally I say that as a rant about my parents and childhood, but in this context I mean that I survived ages 8 through 12 without any incident and there were always plenty of safe grownups to help if anything had gone wrong.

    Now I think of my sister, who had ballet class as a little girl and winter league swim team as a teenager, both of which were in a town 20 miles away from where we lived. You’re darn tootin’ my mother would drop her off at the studio or the Y then go to the mall four blocks away and shop for an hour or two, coming back at the appointed hour. Nothing bad ever happened. No one expected a parent to stay, though a window was provided in the hall or lobby to watch the kids if they so chose. My sister had fun, my mother got stuff done.

  61. Hmm . . . my kids attend coached activities every day at their daycare. Not only are parents (or other teachers) not present, but the kids do way better without the parents there. Parents are a distraction. If there were ever an emergency, there would be enough people around to deal with it – but given that the coaches are experienced with managing little kids, I don’t believe there are many incidents (if any).

  62. I think we’re talking about two separate things here. SOmeone who advertises herself (or himself) as a paid dance teacher (for example) is implicitly stating “I am competent to teach dance to X ages and to look after the kids for the length of the lesson”. Volunteer coaches (and my husband, as well as most of the volunteer coaches I know, doesn’t have a lot of free time – he works 50+ hours a week as an attorney and his dedication to coaching is something remarkable) are not necessarily advertising their competency to look after large numbers of small children (and again, by this I mean below grade school level). He’s a dad, but he has no other/formal experience with kids. The money parents pay for these teams does not go to him; it goes toward the league, the uniforms, etc. He doesn’t expect parents to stay and help, but sometimes (last week’s basketball practice comes to mind) the other parent who is an assistant coach wasn’t able to attend, and another parent said “Hey, want me to stay and help organize some drills?” and that was much appreciated. CAN he run a practice alone with 10 nine year olds? Sure. Will it be a more PRODUCTIVE practice if he’s got a helper to, for example, take half the boys to work on defensive skills while he works with the other half on offense? Yes. A lower coach-player ratio will lead to quicker progress via more individual instruction.

    Again, not a free-range issue – not talking about parents NEEDING to be there for safety reasons or any of that. Most of the time it’s all drop-off and that’s all fine. But in a situation with a VOLUNTEER coach, a parent should, I would think, feel a desire to help out whenever possible. Because believe me, in my world at least, the coaches have every bit as much to do (work/home) as the other kids’ parents, but are choosing to volunteer their time in these moments to coach their own and the other parents’ kids. I don’t mean to get ruffled, but my husband’s coaching can often take time away from our time as a family, and so while I support it and what it means to our own kids, I can’t stand the thought that other parents would be cavalier about it.

  63. Asparagus – mine is in private school, so no buses. Even if she were at the public school, there is no way in hell I’d let her ride the bus and that’s not due to paranoia, but well-documented cases of rape on the bus, both by the drivers and other students – in this area, the kindergarten kids are on the same bus as the 20 year old seniors (yes, they are required to let them attend and ride the bus until they are 21.) There are fights daily and a rape report about every month.

    We do live less than a mile from the school, but it is not a road you want a child walking on. Several hills and sharp curves. As a matter of fact, there is a car in the ditch right now that has been there since Friday – straightened out one of the curves, took out a cattle gate, part of the fence, the side of the vehicle and a small tree. If we lived in an area with sidewalks, I’d probably let her walk to school, though.

    The only lessons I ever stayed for were swimming lessons and that was a combination of my daughter wanting me to stay and the fact that the YMCA where she took the lessons was 30 minutes away. The lessons were only an hour long, so not really much else to do. After about the 3rd or 4th lesson and she knew the area and the teacher and the other kids, so I would take her to lessons and then go walk on the track instead of sit by the pool.

  64. Germany is so different from the States. First of all, parents don’t stay for “play dates.” From the time the kids are about 3 or 4 (or even as young as 2), parents drop the kids off at their friends’ houses and come back at a certain time. The only time a parent will stay is when she comes to pick up her child, and that is when she is invited to stay and chat or have a cup of tea. The same goes for birthday parties. Every German birthday party where the kid is turning 4 or older is automatically a drop-off party.

    German parents stay to watch their kids play soccer when they are Bambini (ages 4-6). After that, many kids are either dropped off or they ride their bikes to the practice field by themselves. My son and a friend would ride their bikes to soccer practice together starting when they were in 2nd grade. When my son did ski training, the ski club coaches didn’t want the parents watching. Kids in the younger groups would meet with their instructors at the bottom of the local gondola and go up with them. The older kids would go up on the gondola by themselves and find their groups after their initial meeting. When my son was 9, the instructor wanted the parents to pick the kids up after training. But we told the instructor that we lived a 5-minute walk from the ski area and that my son was able to walk home by himself with his skis. She was perfectly okay with that. Sometimes my husband or I would pick him up so we could hear about how his training went.

    When my son attends soccer camp on base in the summer, he rides his bike there by himself and comes home on his own when it’s over.

    The only time German parents accompany their elementary school age kids to school is on the first day of first grade. School here starts in first grade and not kindergarten. After that, the kids have to find their classrooms on their own. Kids who get rides are dropped off outside the school building. I don’t know of any local kids who were grabbed between their cars and the school building.

    My son read the original post and decided that he doesn’t want to live in the States because people are “too weird.” He also asked me if most people in the States are like that. In addition, he thought that the video of the woman who wanted to end sleepovers on one of Lenore’s Twitter links was for real. He has been sleeping over at friends’ houses since he was 4. Most of the birthday parties that he attends are sleepovers.

  65. This is definitely not the norm where I live, thank God. I can’t imagine having to always entertain parents during playdates! And if I insisted on accompanying my daughter to her friends’ houses, the parents would think I was insane. It was normal to accompany the first playdate or two when our kids were 2 or 3, but since then, drop-off playdates are absolutely normal. My daughter (6) and her friend run back and forth to each other’s houses (around the corner from each other) constantly. My husband drops my daughter off outside our school regularly, and nobody is expected to hang around for soccer practice.

    I have noticed that this blog tends to present the most egregious examples as the “norm” across the country, when what is normal varies widely. There are still many very reasonable parents out there!

  66. At my daughters elementary school parents aren’t allowed to go to the classrooms. You bring the child to the office, the child walks him or herself and the teacher is called to expect the chid.

    Today after school was done my daughter walked to day care, signed in and was offered snack, went to art class, (in the same building), and then will walk back to day care. I will pick her up at day care. I would only get notified if she didn’t show up for day care or art class.

  67. Not only am I going to drop my middle school aged son off at basketball practice tomorrow night, I’m going to be about 15 minutes late picking him up! Whatever shall he do in a gym full of other children, coaches and parents???? Sorry, can’t rearrange my entire schedule, he’ll have to bring a book and remember to not go anywhere with a stranger.

  68. Okay fine, allow me to clarify my earlier statement to say that if the class was run by a volunteer, I would certainly not expect them to act as a babysitter without pay (any more than I would expect that of any random parent). That being said, I never experienced volunteer parents like that in my youth. If I was getting lessons, it was being paid for. I guess my Girl Scout leaders were unpaid, but then it was my understanding that girl scouts was “paid for” by the grudging assistance of the mothers who did not want to be leader being guilted into doing something else important for the cause.

  69. One parent allowed her kid to have a playdate at our house…but left her phone number (of course), the kids’ pediatrician’s phone number (? like I would call the kids’ doctor instead of her?), and her lawyer’s phone number (?!?!).

  70. As I’ve mentioned before, I am SO glad my kids are raised! Sorry to say, but if I’d have been required to hover near them for every practice, lesson, rehearsal, birthday party, and “playdate” I might not have enjoyed being a mother….

    I do remember having a birthday party for my daughter’s 6th birthday; the minister at my parent’s church did “Christian clowning” on the side (but his performances for birthday parties were non-religious), and I asked him to perform at her party. Several parents told me that their kids were scared of clowns, and stayed with them at the party to, I don’t know, protect them or something. A great time was had by all, the clown was hilarious and not frightening at all, but I had to have enough food and drink, not to mention enough room! for all the parents.

  71. I walk with my kids to and from school, but in part that’s because I volunteer in my son’s class first thing in the morning, reading with the kids. Recently, the kids have started taking off without me once it’s the time they can head to school and know that the gate’s open. If they get moving early enough, they can get there without any other parents telling them to slow down and walk with them.

    I’ve told the other parents my kids are just fine walking on their own (1st and 4th grade), but that hasn’t changed anything. I see it as a walk of about a quarter mile, with lots of parents driving their kids to school, so pretty safe aside from the crazy drivers. The school had staff out this morning because someone nearly hit a kid in the parking lot yesterday.

    The parking lot amazes me. Parents keep parking in the dropoff zone, which is a part of what they were trying to enforce this morning.

    My kids are the only ones in the neighborhood, so far as I can tell, who do still go around knocking on doors for someone to play with. The neighbors seem to put up with my kids pretty well, and the kids know that I just want to know who they’re with and where. We do have more organized playdates as well, because with some friends that’s the only time we’d see them.

  72. I belong to a wonderful’s mom’s group. It’s been a real lifesaver, as I stay at home with my two girls and I need friends to play with too 🙂 I don’t have any problem with “playdates” at least the way my friends and I do them. At least not at this time in our lives. We meet up at a friends or the park or the library or whever and the older kids play (most of the older kids are 3-4) and we watch our younger kids (infants to just turned 2). My daughter is definitely more “free-range” than other kids her age – for example she can go where she wants while we are at the park. Half the time I don’t know where she is, but she knows to 1. Stay in the park and 2. Don’t go with anyone besides Mommy. I don’t know how other moms can get their 3 year old to stay by them while they are chasing around a toddler. I guess some moms makes their older child stay close. That would make both of us miserable. Also my older daughter can take herself to the bathroom. It sounds so ridiculous even mentioning that as provocative! But few of her friends her age are allowed to, or even have the desire.
    As far as “drop off playdates” vs “stay and play” playdates, we’ve done both, although the majority are we stick around. We’re all friends so it’s a chance to catch up and chat. Plus I don’t have anywhere to go, and the baby wants to play too. But I could see how if my daughter wanted to have a friend come over to play from her preschool, it would be odd to have the parent over too, since I don’t know them and it would just feel kind of awekward and forced. I like the idea of handing them some laundry to fold if they did insist on staying 🙂

  73. As an organizer of a youth ice hockey organization, I say: YES! Parents for whatever reason choose to stay to watch practices, or feel obligated to do so, and then have nothing better to do than microscopically evaluate the performance of the children – and the professional coaches they’ve hired to teach their children! Go do something else! Pay your bills! Go across the street for a coffee! Read a book! I beg you!

  74. Well mine are 4 so they still need me to be there at playdates and activites etc. I have twins and most of my friends have twins or even more so dropping off kids at each other’s house does not make it 2 kids which is managable. It makes it 4 or more kids which is kinda a lot for one parent. The number multiples FAST! So that is one reason the parents stay but they are also little.

    I do a lot of playdates and invite lots of parents and their kids to come play at our house. I have to schedule them because everyone is busy seeing family and with jobs and activities and etc. Sometimes we do spur of the moment ones too. I have invited one friend of theirs who is a singleton to spend the night but his mom didn’t go for it. I can handle one extra kid easy enough but more than that, it can get out of hand easily. I would not knock playdates though. My friends and I really enjoy then.

  75. For me I worry no one will ever invite my peanut allergic son to stay with them. I worry parents won’t want to have to deal with that. I can just send him with his epipen, a loaf of bread and a jar of soy butter and he is golden, but a lot of parents freak out about allergy stuff or are just really ignorant about it.

  76. I agree with others playdates are more for the moms than the kids sometimes. The moms are all close friends and we get to chat and catch up and laugh while the kids play. So I am a big fan of it. My parents never really clicked with my friends when I was growing up. We did a lot of sleepovers and stuff but the parents were not close. I think I would have liked my mom to be closer to the parents or at least have some good friends with kids my age. Especially if they went to other schools and stuff. Give me more variety of friends. I want my kids to be popular and have lots of friends and party invites and the way I do that is by buddying up to the moms and I get new friends too.

  77. My kids will be walking to school daily. I have seen other kids walking and they don’t have to have parents pick them up. I just see them walking. So that must be allowed. For kindergarden I will probably walk with them. For first grade we will see how it goes. By second grade I definitely think they can handle it on their own at that point. I might walk with them just for the exercise sometimes or just to talk to them or meet them after school with ice cream or some kind of surprise and then walk with them. But you get the jist. It will voluntary not something I will feel I HAVE to do. I am so happy I don’t have to get into the mile long pick up line every morning or afternoon.

  78. Dolly, I am planning birthday party for my kids who have birthdays two days apart. We will be making gingerbread houses, but I am not going to use gingerbread because a fair number of kids who will be coming can’t eat gluten. So they will be rice cake houses instead, which I tried out last year, and were much easier to make than gingerbread. And lets face it – no one actually eats the gingerbread. I will go to the trouble to make two kinds of cupcakes so that kids can eat those too.

    One of the families homeschools, in great part due to dietary issues that they knew would be hard with people who don’t understand, and don’t have to deal with the major pain that ensues when the kids accidentally ingest it. A couple of kids are not supposed to eat gluten, but it is not the end of the world if they do, and parents would be ok with occasional gluten.

    Maybe I try harder for the sake of my kids’ than some parents would, but I bet that your son with peanut allergies will still have families who invite him over and really understand his needs. (As opposed to the family down the road that I won’t let my son sleep over in part due to his asthma and all the 5 adults in the house smoke. They said they would open the windows, and not smoke in the same room. In 800 sq ft, it really doesn’t matter. They don’t get it. Besides, I don’t want my son accidentally finding their “chemistry experiments” or “garden”.)

  79. “Re: Okay fine, allow me to clarify my earlier statement to say that if the class was run by a volunteer, I would certainly not expect them to act as a babysitter without pay (any more than I would expect that of any random parent). That being said, I never experienced volunteer parents like that in my youth. If I was getting lessons, it was being paid for.”
    I think it’s quite different to have a volunteer coach, and a soccer league that is quite affordable since it functions solely because of it’s parent volunteers. In our case (which I guess is unique) it runs much more smoothly if the volunteer coach has a couple of assistants and parents can stay by to help if need be. Practice is only 45 min and games are the same. The soccer season goes from Sept-March and is only $120, so that money goes towards rent, uniforms and equipment. Everyone who signs up know’s that everyone is a volunteer and they are suppose to help out too, so it often seems unfair when they just leave.
    I agree that you shouldn’t sign up your kid to an organized sport if they are just goofing off, but I guess you don’t know they will be like that until you try. This soccer league is also really relaxed and non-competitive…a good safe starting point for young kids to start soccer.

    With other classes that my son has been in, swimming, capoeira, gymnastics, it’s encouraged that I leave and come back when he’s done.

    With playdates, I am really good friends with all the parents that my son is friends with, and they often have younger kids as I do. So a playdate usually involves all three of us, to catch up and visit. So maybe that wouldn’t be called a ‘playdate’ but just a visit with friends?
    I’m not afraid to leave him at someones house or anything, but I guess we always use that time to socialize as parents at the same time.

  80. my gripe has always been how endless the parental involvement is at schools. I have a senior and i still get plagued by requests to help provide and walk around classes during testing times with snacks! I cannot believe that this goes on in high schools. I thought the cupcake toting era had passed me by! Bthe way, I don’t respond.

  81. I was told by another mom at swim lessons that back in the day (when we were taking the lessons) parents were not permitted to watch. I don’t know when exactly that changed. My dad would usually swim laps himself, being a former swim team member.
    My older son has a friend whose mom doesn’t do drop-off playdates yet, at least last we got together. While I enjoy her company, it does kill the afternoon. Passing her a basket of socks to pair might help her see the point. Good idea!

  82. “So a playdate usually involves all three of us, to catch up and visit. So maybe that wouldn’t be called a ‘playdate’ but just a visit with friends?”

    I guess that’s kinda the difference. If I scheduled a “playdate” for my child, I would expect it to just be the children playing, not me being forced to socialize with a non-friend adult while the children play. I know that my mother was not friends with the parents of all my friends and I don’t think that me enjoying the company of the parents should be a requirement of my child’s friendships.

    If I invite my friends over who happen to have children to play with my child, then it’s just hanging out with friends. It’s not what I would consider a “playdate.”

  83. I read this and thought about how tired my 9yo must be of phrases such as “suck it up and deal.” I don’t ask him to deal with real hurt, just marginal discomfort.

    He walks to school by himself, the whole mile. When he was asking about what to do if it’s 100* and can’t I pick him up? The answer was, “I’m working, so you’ll have to hang out there until 6 or 7 or 11pm whenever I get off. Just make sure to pee, then drink lots of water before you leave, then walk straight home.” The answer to, “but it’s so hot!” was the above “It’s Texas, that’s normal, suck it up and deal.” We only have one car so, while there is someone home even if I’m gone, they don’t have a car and *do* need to be home for the bus for our second son, and we have a 3yo.

    After about a week of sucking it up, he was quite proud of himself. After two months, he is now quite scornful of the idea that he’s not smart/responsible/mature enough to deal.

  84. When I was in high school and had regular orthodontist appointments, I was allowed to sign myself out, WALK the five blocks (across a major road, at that) to the appointment, and sign myself back in with a note from the doctor. I never got any flak about it.

    I walked home alone from elementary school and junior high every day – it was about a mile from each school. I came home to an empty house, and did my own thing (watch TV, play outside) until my mom came home from work.

    I seriously hope that by the time my 16-month-old daughter starts school that things will not be so crazy as the scenarios posted here.

  85. C.S.P.–Here is a link to the article you mentioned. GREAT article, btw!http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2011/04/leave-those-kids-alone/8398/#

  86. HURRAH!! This is one of the things that BUGS me most about our culture!

  87. At the school I teach at, parents are not allowed to enter the school to drop off their children. It’s been like this at every school and board I have worked in. I find that if for some reason, the parent gets in the school, you end up with a kid who can cry a good show which now interrupts class time. Doing the drop off outside, meant less tears and more teaching time.
    We even have a line painted on the pavement where we ask parents not to cross when dropping off their kids. Reason being: Teachers on duty didn’t know who all the adults were and it made our job more difficult knowing/not knowing who are staff (supply teachers or board personnel) or strangers (we’ve had multiple issues with non-custodial parents on site). The parents hate the line but it has meant the kids play with each other more and solving problems without as much adult intervention. Parents aren’t hovering over their kids or criticizing the teachers for (God forbid) discipling a child.

    I’m writing report cards and this cartoon totally fits:

  88. “I would not sign my child up for a sport or other non-school engagement that required my or my partner’s physical presence. I am paying these coaches/teachers for their babysitting services.”

    That statement, frankly, is outrageously disrespectful. I am paying coaches/teachers for their coaching/teaching, NOT for their babysitting. If I need a sitter I will hire one, and I will have entirely different expectations.

    I did lots of outdoor activities as a child in the 60s and 70s; and my folks, who were by no means helicopters, often volunteered to be the parent helper. Partly because they liked to be involved, partly because the help was needed, and partly because by being involved they got to have some say in how things went. I can remember more than one occasion when this was a very good thing, common sense not being a lot more common 40 years ago than it seems to be now.

    So far, I go to all my 3-year-old’s playdates and his little friends’ parents come to ours. We are building a community of like-minded families and given that everyone has busy lives, this seems to be the best excuse to get together. And many parental eyes makes supervision-from-a-distance easy. I expect this will change as he gets older; certainly I plan to have the kind of backyard and basement where his friends will be welcome.

  89. @goofygoalKris: seriously? Kids selling drugs on a military base?

  90. @Wingsnroots – loved your comment about the other adults not knowing your child had a parent close by! Our family is also made up of different hues, being multiracial, and at a recent parent/teacher interview I turned up to meet my son’s English teacher. She looked up at me and said “Sorry, you’ll need to wait, (son’s name)’s parents are next”! This in spite of the fact that my son, who has a Chinese name, is so obviously not a full-blooded Chinese (looks more Malay maybe, if anything)…Hubby and I both had a good laugh over that – and so did she, after she got over the embarassment!

    Guess it shows though that we must all be relatively free-range – she has obviously nver seen us together before….

    And, again wildly off topic, but if any of you want a real laugh, and happen to have a blond-haired blue-eyed child, try getting Asian friends to take them for a walk/trip to the supermarket, then trail behind them and watch peoples’ reactions….. Very adolescent I know, but fun:-)

  91. This is all so crazy to me. My daughter is only 6 months old, but I’m an older mum and ice seen all my friends raise their kids and thought how weirdly overly present they all are. My only frame of reference is my own childhood where I was free to roam the neighborhood when I was 7, and the whole city by the time I was 12. Id never heard of a “play date”, and could never understand why EVERYONE must go to EVERY game of soccer, field hockey, basketball, softball, etc. It’s nuts! And just recently I picked up my 4 year old nephew from preschool and wanted to take home with me to the farm where I pick up my milk. I told his mother he’d just sit in the car while I ran in to get it, as it would literally only take me 1 minute, and she forbade me from leaving him in the car. She said he’d probably freak out because he’s never been left in the car alone before. Never? Not for 1 MINUTE LITERALLY? And he’d “freak out” about it? Really? My niece had panic attacks last year when she found out she’d have to start taking the school bus and it drops her off the next street over. 1 street away! She’s 12 years old! Not to sound like an old fuddy-duddy, but my bus stop was 7/10ths of a mile away when I was her age (uphill both ways, in the snow…)
    What has this world come to??? How I avoid falling into this horrible trap with my wee one? I imagine it only getting worse as she gets older. God help us all.

  92. Every time I hear your stories I wonder how different Europe still is is from the US. Sure, in Europe we have helicopter-parents and the like, and sure, we’re not going in the sole free-range direction anymore 😦 but still…

    We arrange for drop off at birthday parties and other kids events between moms/dads – some go this way with various kids while others go that way with the first set of kids’ siblings. With multiple kids per family and multiple activities on the weekend, it does save time and gas. Plus, we’re not constantly hovering around our own kids 😉
    I’ve never been to my oldest (11yo) son handball practices – 3x/week- but we choose to go to the weekend games; I go to my children’s swimming practice 2x/week , though, because while they’re at lane 2, 3 and 4, I’m at lane 6 or 7 swimming on my own 😉 otherwise I’d drop them off/arrange with other parents for the coming and going.

    I don’t feel I have to be physically present at every moment of their lives – and the more they grow, the less they want that physical proximity (and the more they crave the emotional re-connection we have at home, at bedtime sometimes…)

    My 11yo walks to and from school on his own/friends. Here children are allowed to leave school during lunchbreak (1h30 or 1h45) when they go to the 5th grade (that’s already middle school here), provided their parents sign a written authorization at the beginning of the schoolyear. We live in a central district in the city but there’s a public park in the middle of the neighbourhood and that’s where most kids end up when they leave the school (during lunchbreak or afterschool). With no adult supervision.
    Granted, we’re seeing the curbing of this type of healthy upbringing more and more, but I think in the States it has already completely disappeared…
    I’m glad there are still people reclaiming the free range ways of the past!

    Marta in Lisbon, Portugal

  93. In our homeschool world, family friendships are the norm (that is, whole families are friends with each other.) So getting together usually means the bigger kids are outside/in another room/etc as weather appropriate, the little tinies (3 & under, roughly) are with the mommas, and when dads aren’t at work, they’re wherever they choose. For that reason, my 5yo dd has seldom played at a friend’s house w/o me being there, but it’s a byproduct of her friends being the children of OUR friends!

  94. Katie, we homeschool, as well, and I totally agree with you! It’s just the way it is. Whole families are friends with each other. Some may view always being close by as hovering, but it isn’t anything like that. You are there to visit with your friends while the kids visit with theirs. I imagine a lot of non homeschoolers are in the same situation. It’s actually closer to the way the world used to be. Whole families were friends with each other and moms would sit on the front porch sipping tea or helping each other out with household chores while the kids would be running around the yard/street playing together. Everyone kept an eye out. It wasn’t like all the parents were shut up inside, alone while the kids ran the neighborhood. (Well, I’m sure in some cases it was, but I believe the healthiest situations were where the adults socialized, as well.) I like to call it free range families. 😉

  95. My daughter walks to school every morning and back again. She’s six and the walk takes her about thirty minutes. She goes with two friends, and all up there are seven kids this age from this street doing the same walk, although not necessarily together. Her school sends out a newsletter to parents at the beginning of every school year reminding them not to drive their kids to school.

    And in my street, the kids can often be found outside or inside (I’m not always entirely sure which garden or house my daughter is in, but I know it’s one of three different houses) for a whole afternoon.

    Welcome to Switzerland!

  96. I also take issue with some comments that have shared experiences that they were “not allowed” in their child’s school or watching a lesson. That’s REALLY wrong. It’s actually anti free range, when you think about it. As free rangers there is a general agreement that we are the parents and we are in a situation to know what is best for and what our kids are capable of handling and WE should be trusted to make those decisions. Being told by someone else what I can or cannot do when it comes to my children is not something that flies in my free range world. I am the mother and I reserve to right to make these choices. It’s like someone else saying they know how to raise/handle my child better than I do. I don’t agree with HAVING to be present for these activities/school drop off, but I also don’t agree with BANNING a parent’s presence.

  97. Sarah — not necessarily. When parents are not allowed in school settings, it is not necessarily that they are implying that you don’t know what’s best for your kid.

    It’s that they know, from long experience, that having the parent there is a distraction, or that they don’t have room or facilities to accommodate people staying and watching while still being able to provide the instruction that you’re paying them to provide. It’s more about what’s best *for the teaching they are trying to give,* than some larger idea about “what’s best for your child.* If you’re paying them to teach, I’d think you’d be willing to accede to their judgment about how the teaching should be done, including whether it’s appropriate to have non-students in the classroom.

    If you don’t choose to have your kids participate in activities where you can’t watch, that’s an understandable choice, but I think it’s going a bit far to suggest that it’s undermining your parenting for a teacher to say, “I can’t teach this as effectively with non-students in the classroom.”

  98. For a brief time, when I was 11, I was on a girls’ swim team that had a male coach. This would be in the early ’70s. Most of the parents dropped their kids off for swim practice and then picked them up afterward. One girl’s father stayed because they lived fairly far from the pool, but he was the only one who stayed. So everyone’s parents trusted 2 men (the coach and our teammate’s father) with their 10 to 12-year-old daughters.

    After my short stint on the swim team (I had more of a gymnast’s build than a swimmer’s), I took guitar lessons. The music school gave private lessons and parents were discouraged from attending the lessons with their kids. The instructors didn’t want any distractions. They felt that they could teach more effectively one-on-one with their students. I was alone in a room with my 30-something male guitar teacher for my 2 lessons a week. The only thing that happened was…..music lessons.

    What were my parents thinking, dropping their daughter off to be taught by men? They must have been thinking that not all men are perverts.

  99. I am an Assistant Den Leader for my son’s Cub Scout pack; under the Wolf rank (first graders), parents are required to be there, and encouraged to participate (we call the parent a partner). We have very active family involvement in our pack, very few parents drop and go, and on our camping trips families are welcome to spend the night, which wasn’t the case when I was a Cub Scout (we never went camping as cubs until the weekend before we advanced to Boy Scouts)

    But what bothers me is dropping my son off at school; he’s a second grader, and since Kindergarten, all he has wanted to do was be independent. I park my car across the street from his school (and my bus stop to commute to work), cross the street with him, and we split at the corner; he goes into the school and I go to the bus. But there are many parents who double-park in front of the school and not only escort their obviously older children to the door of the school, but also open the car door and unbuckle their seatbelts for them. How will these kids ever function independently?

  100. “I would not sign my child up for a sport or other non-school engagement that required my or my partner’s physical presence. I am paying these coaches/teachers for their babysitting services.”

    I signed my kids up for just such a program. First, I do no view it as babysitting, I want them to learn a skill (soccer.) I view this program as family promoting, because unlike many soccer programs, we meet only on Saturday mornings, all ages at the same park. I save gas, time, confusion of getting 3 kids to 3 places. Yes, I volunteer because at $8 a kid, the coaches are not getting paid, and each parent takes a turn as an assistant coach for each of their kids.

    When it is done at 11:00, we have time to do stuff around the house or with Dad. We can hike, canoe, camp or do other things that having a full day taken with soccer (and a bunch of afternoons) we couldn’t do.

    Also, along with not paying a couple of hundred of dollars for each kid, I also don’t have to worry about them being cut, being insulted by other parents or dealing with the age innappropriate stuff that tends to happen at the more expensive groups. My goal for my kids is for them to have fun, learn a few skills, and see their friends. If I need to help out some, that is fine. The days I am not helping, I am usually chatting with other parents. (Not hoovering over every move my kid or the coach makes.)

  101. “That statement, frankly, is outrageously disrespectful. I am paying coaches/teachers for their coaching/teaching, NOT for their babysitting. If I need a sitter I will hire one, and I will have entirely different expectations.” – FrancesfromCanada

    Well, okay…if you bring your kids to my class, though, I’ll assume that what you want is to be able to hit the grocery store or finish your novel or actually get some clothes folded and put away…and incidentally some training for your kids. I’m not demeaning that skills that kids might learn from coaches; heck if you read the rest of my post you’d know I am a coach. Would I demean my own worth? No, but I also have a healthy understanding of my place on the spectrum. I am a babysitter (well, for any student under the age of 12, that is). As part of my babysitting services I offer very specific sports skills, balance training, confidence, good sportsmanship and learning how to take a hit and not crying about it. I also offer games, social interaction, lots of running around and amusing (to me anyways) commentary. As a free bonus, I have educated my students on a range of topics that randomly come up during our lessons; from anime to extinct Australian fauna. A lot of this is stuff I would expect to come up in an evening spent with a babysitter (fun, games, laughter, etc.)…I just provide a slightly more focused itinerary.

    Regardless, this thread is about whether you think it’s safe to leave your kids alone with someone who is going to engage them in a potentially dangerous sport activity. If you brought your kid to me I would teach her (okay, I wouldn’t teach her for another 7 years, but…) to hold a sword, beat people with it, and take a beating herself. Are you okay with not being there for that? Are you okay with dropping your 3-year old off on one of the playdates you discuss and not staying to be an extra set of eyes? If not, how is that situation different from you leaving your kid with a babysitter? Why is one situation “safe” and the other not?

  102. “After all, our coaches are background-checked”
    I suspect Jerry Sandusky of Penn State was background checked. Background checks only work if you’ve been convicted. I believe in giving our kids autonomy and room to grow, but with limits. Just because someone is background checked and in a position of authority over kids doesn’t mean they aren’t a rapist of children. My kids do have drop-off play dates. However, if I don’t know the parents well, I will ask all the hard questions first. Will there be other adults in the home while my child is there? Is there smoking in the home? Are there unlocked guns in the home? I tell them flat out that my children are not allowed to play in homes where there are unlocked guns. And although no one has ever asked, I answer those questions about my own home before we host a friend for the first time. And for that first play date, I do stay and visit with the mom for a few minutes, and invite them to do the same when I host.

    Yes, kids should be able to play without their parents hovering. But as parents we owe it to our children to make sure they’re playing in a relatively safe place.

  103. I personally think of coaches as a step above babysitters (a few notches, actually.)

    Right now we are involved with an ALE in WA, where my kids take classes once a week. Some of the teachers are certified teachers, some are parent coaches. As part of this program I am required to watch any of my kids who are not in a class, and I am also required to volunteer. Volunteering can be hall monitor, cleaning up at the end of the day, or helping an instructor.

    When ever I can, I like to schedule if possible, to have all three kids in a class at the same time so that I can go shopping. Because I homeschool, it means that I rarely get to go shopping on my own. I love the chance to do something on my own.

    Other parents who sign their kids up for all these activities that all kids are “supposed” to do, may have a very different attitude. They work all day in the office. They want to connect with their kids, but are also under pressure to do those things because we are supposed to “enrich” our kids, and from a very tiny age, send them away to learn to do things. So they connect by staying at practices. The activity becomes a “family” time thing, even though the parents are not interacting with the kids. It makes them feel good that they are being, according to our society standards, good parents.

  104. If this letter made me this angry, I’m wondering how angry it will make the future generation of the 70% of our children who are suburbanized?
    I live inner-city urban – and kids still don’t live like this (and I’m so glad mine grew up before this insanity was unleashed.)

    America’s children are more drugged than practically the entire rest of the planet’s offspring combined? Why? The answers are interesting.
    First – we invented Big Pharma (Nazi Germany notwithstanding.) And HMO’s invented a delightful way to make us rich enough to afford the “fix.”
    Why are they drugged? Because we’ve invented childhood “diseases” that are a figment of overactive psychiatric imaginations. Why do they do that? To make money.
    Who is in direct collusion with the profiteers? Schoolteachers. Why do they so readily comply? Because the kids’ behavior pisses them off. Why does that happen? Because childhood itself has become a disease.

    Children don’t have childhoods anymore. They have extreme at-risk liability episodes.
    Why do we as a society so readily comply with all this nonsense? Because it creates viable job opportunity for a whole plethora of service-provision, so desperately needed, because it’s either that or dead-end McJobbing, (or at the other end of the pay scale – financial snake-oiling, take your pick.)

    The lives of our children may be the canary in the coal mine, I dunno…
    They seem to survive this abuse well enough so far – until they “age out” to become slavishly indentured to usurious educational debt.
    We, as a society, don’t seem to like kids very much, do we?
    Wondering why, it occurs to me that the fact we’ve turned them into little walking time bomb liabilities might have something to do with it.

    Add to all that (as if it isn’t enough) the fact that Big Brother/Sister Child Industrial cartel (the CPS/ DFS complex) is waiting to swoop in and kidnap the offspring of the non-compliant for (you guessed it) future profit opportunities, and it’s a perfect storm.

    Does a “playdate” spring from the same vernacular as a 37-word vessel of de-caf (what used to be known as a cuppa coffee?)
    Is any self-respecting child capable of deep suspicion anymore, that their lives have become magnified miscroscopically, and presented for inspection upon the ubiquitous petri dish?

    What I mean to say is, many parents and most grandparents can remember a time of social order when childhood belonged to the child – not analysts, specialists, litigators,
    Ersatz “protectors”, meddlers, and a vast array of snooping, poking, peeking, prying, praying micro-managers.

    We’ve been wandering around lost in this dark forest long enough, apparently – that we’ve forgotten somehow that it’s still just a bunch of trees.

    But you know what? If the glorious day ever does arrive, where kids are allowed to just hang out unsupervised, non-controlled by dogpound supervisors and death camp guards, and all the rest of the stupefying socially sanctioned smotheration – I’m hoping that they throw off the mantle, and actually produce a generational lash-back, kick out the clowns, tear down the three-ring circus and ride it out of town on a rail.
    Either that, or they’ll most certainly vote in a Braver new World. – by texted thumb

  105. Our older daughter is 4 and we’re just on the edge of being able to drop her off at playdates and birthday parties. I can’t wait. Drop-off playdates are definitely the norm here unless the parents also are friends and want to hang out. Now, hanging out with the other parents can be a great way to make new friends, but I can’t wait for the free time. Drop-off birthday parties are also the norm for the pre-school set. I expect most parents to stick around this year at her 4th birthday party but next year, at 5, I expect no parents, except maybe the ones we are friends with. I was at a 4th birthday party recently where the kids who were closer to 4 1/2 or 5 got dropped off.

    In terms of activities, it seems to depend. We drop our daughter off at ballet. Sometimes my husband stays and gets work done, but otherwise the parent who drops off runs errands. I’ve noticed that a lot of other parents stay. I’ve heard that at soccer practice, the parents are expected to stay nearby. This does seem weird to me!

  106. I would look at whether soccer practice is run by volunteer parent coaches or by a professional organization. If the latter, it would seem strange that a parent needed to stay nearby. If the former, at that age (4), it makes all the sense in the world.

    An earlier poster mentioned she would be 15 minutes late to pick her middle schooler up from a practice and he would just have to deal, as would the others around him. Of course a kid that age can be unattended for 15 minutes – but the parent should make explicit to the coach that s/he doesn’t need to wait with her child until pickup. Otherwise, the coach will likely feel obligated to wait, and whether paid or volunteer, that’s not the coach’s job.

  107. ” Because we’ve invented childhood “diseases” that are a figment of overactive psychiatric imaginations. Why do they do that? To make money.
    Who is in direct collusion with the profiteers? Schoolteachers. Why do they so readily comply? Because the kids’ behavior pisses them off. Why does that happen? Because childhood itself has become a disease.”

    Really Jp Merzetti? and you know this how?

    As a parent of a child who is ADHD and diagnosed as such by someone with and MD PhD who is qualified to make that diagnosis, nothing gets me hotter than someone saying it is not real or it is just an excuse to control their behavior.

    I call BullS**T, I saw this child with tears of frustration because he could not focus, was always in trouble for talking, fidgeting, etc, and was trying his damn best to remain focussed and attentive during school, to no avail.

    Now he is on the medication, and is focused, intent and a straight A student.

    Do I think some of the kids on the medication are on it for the wrong reasons? You bet, do I think that some teachers pushing for some kids to be on it are doing so for the wrong reasons, you bet. But a teacher is not qualified to make such a diagnosis, they are however with the child all day, so they could suggest testing, as was done with our son, and we did have him tested, and ADHD/ADD is real.

    Before you shoot off your mouth, get a little knowledge.

  108. ” I think it’s going a bit far to suggest that it’s undermining your parenting for a teacher to say, “I can’t teach this as effectively with non-students in the classroom.” ”

    Pentamom, I just wanted to speak up and say that, as a teacher, I personally have always found it extremely helpful to have parents around. Most good teachers do, especially at the younger ages. It’s difficult to individualize all of their needs and when you have parent volunteers around, it’s wonderful to get them involved and helping out. It’s either an insecure or prideful teacher who would not be happy to have involved parents in the classroom.

  109. Kimberly, I don’t disagree with that point — but you want parents “involved and helping out,” not just parents who insist on being there because “they know better what’s good for their children than you do” and resent that you are making this decision “for them,” right?

    My point is that if a teacher thinks it’s better not to have parents hanging around while she teaches, that’s not an affront to parenting, that’s an expression of the teacher’s desire to run the classroom that the *parent* has acceded to putting the teacher in charge of. If the teacher likes having the parents around, that’s fine, too — but it shouldn’t be because there’s some inherent parental right to hire a teacher to teach your kids something, and then insist on dictating how the teacher runs the classroom because “you’re in charge of your kids and know what’s best for them.”

  110. JustaDad, I think what Jp was trying to say was that the reason that the kids need the drugs is because of the format of our schooling system.

    My son also was diagnosed by the same types of people as your son with ADHD. But we homeschool. He doesn’t have to be a certain way for other people so that the whole class can learn with out him distracting them. (Not that he would mean to, he just would.) But he could learn to a certain extent, without treatment. And the treatment that he did need, (and should have been noticed by the expensive doctor) was that his eyes were not working together, and vision therapy was what he needed for his learning issues, which the Dr also did not pick up. (I am glad I did not pay out of pocket for that evaluation!)

    But anyhow, because we homeschool, I can teach my son in a manner so that he learns best. Our schools are not catering to the individuals, only to the group, so all kids must fit into the group. If they don’t they will have issues with knowing that they are different and suffer socially and mentally because of it.

  111. I’m a Daisy Girl Scout leader (grades K and 1). My co-leader and I assumed from the beginning that Daisies was going to be a drop-off/pick-up event, which it is. Occasionally we have needed a parent to stay because one or the other of us will not be there for part of the meeting (GS requires two adults present at all times) or because we are doing something messy/involved and need the help of another set of adult hands, but we actually prefer it to be just us and the girls.

    However, when it comes to pick-up, the policy of our local council is eye-to-eye pick-up. We can’t let a Daisy leave the room/building to walk home or walk out to a parent’s car. We have to have three ‘sets of eyes’ present in the transfer, a leader’s eyes, the girl’s eyes, and a parent’s (or approved guardian’s) eyes. All eyes have to be able to see each other. At the beginning of the year we have to have a form signed by the parent saying who is allowed to pick up their daughter. Yes, this is for liability reasons, but at that age range it makes sense. They do relax the rules as the girls get older.

  112. Very surprised to hear what it is like for you. Most kids are dropped off at our school from a car line. My daughter and I usually walk and I say goodbye to her about where the cars drop off. On occasion she walks by herself, but not often because I enjoy the walk with her and the conversations we have on the way. We have drop-off playdates all the time – usually the kids make plans at school and emerge from the classroom with a plan to go to so-and-so’s house, and so they are handed off to that parent right at the school. People also drop off for sports practices and dance classes, unless the commute is such that there is no time to go anywhere before turning around to pick up. My kids are mostly in carpools so that’s usually not an issue for us.

    Individual parents definitely differ in how much freedom they give their kids around here, but there are always at least a few kids who walk to school on their own, or bike to a friend’s house to play, or walk downtown for lunch with their friends.

  113. Interesting, isn’t it, that the kids who need to be working their way towards indepencence get too much supervision (ages 5-12), while the kids who need more supervision (12-18) get almost none.

  114. @Pentamom, @Sarah and @Kimberly: I think the issue you are debating here is not that parents should not be in the school but that there are certain times that parents should NOT be in the school, like drop off time or testing times. Kindergarten teachers would prefer a quick drop off outside the school gates, rather than 25 crying kids (one can set off the rest) and their parents (with split families and grandparents you can easily get to 100 bodies in one classroom).

    I’m a teacher and I allow parents to come in to my room to help, but the moment I find out they are there to help their child alone, monitor my teaching, or gossip about students, they are fired. For the most part, parents don’t NEED to be in the classroom and too many parents hover around their child, creating a bigger issue and with young students, separation anxiety.

    My last school I taught at had a policy that all parent volunteers were welcome and could volunteer in any classroom, EXCEPT the one their children were in. We lost 75% of our volunteers because parents were there spying on their child and on their child’s teacher. There was a rumour that we had a few pregnant teachers and parents were trying to find out if their child’s teacher was. It was really none of their business and would find out when the teacher was ready to tell their students.

    For many children, it just does not work for the child to have their parent there. It is a distraction for them, the other children and for me. I’ve had parents comment on my teaching style in front of my students while teaching. Would you do this to your spouse? You just don’t undermine the authority of an adult in charge of children IN FRONT of the children. It never helps the situation and certainly teaches a child the wrong thing. If you have an issue, I’d rather you come to me in private and we can discuss it as adults in a professional manner.

    When I do have a parent volunteer, I usually give them the tasks I need doing that gets them out of the room (like photocopying, or collecting resources). One volunteer last year, was asked to help students with their work and keep them quiet as I did reading assessments with individual children. Instead, she was talking to the kids about her son’s upcoming birthday party (which obviously got them off task), snooped through his son’s `girlfriend’s’ agenda, and then put on a CD (which would usually be fine but I was listening to students read!!!).

    I’ve had fabulous volunteers and rotten ones. A few of my former parents are now friends and we meet for tea. If you plan to volunteer in your child’s class, you need to explain to your child that you are not mom or dad but Mr. or Mrs. and that you will treat them the same way you will treat the other students. Ask the teacher what they need done, no job is too menial (we’d do it ourselves if you weren’t there!) and we appreciate your help. If you really want to make the teacher happy, bring a coffee! 🙂

  115. I drop of my son at school, He has never been walked in not even in kindergarden.
    His Karate class it is easier to stay because by the time I take the bus home I have to turn around and come back. I suppose could go to Timmies and get a dougnut but I haven’t ever been one to hang out at the doughnut shop.

  116. I can’t personally say what drop-offs are like for my local school district, as my daughter is only 2 1/2, but I know that the district runs buses for (I think) most students. I do know that a parent or older sibling needs to be present for a younger (k-2nd) student to get off the bus.

    Play dates seem to be as much about the parents socializing as the children, so there are a lot of “non-drop-off” occurrences there. I probably wouldn’t drop my daughter off quite yet, as she doesn’t always do a good job of sharing and listening. By 3 1/2 or 4, assuming behavior is better, I’ll happily let someone else keep her while I run errands.

    I do stay at her dance classes, because I really don’t have time to go anywhere else, and I enjoy socializing with the other moms, many of whom I’ve known since I took classes there myself. As soon as she has activities long enough for me to either accomplish something in town or go home during, you can bet I’ll be dropping her off.

    Growing up, my parents were at some of my activities and not others. Dad would sit in the car and read or listen to the radio during dance classes that lasted 45 min or less (we lived 15 minutes from the studio, so no time to drive home and back), but once I started having multiple classes on the same night someone would drop me off and come back to pick me up. Dad was at most of my softball practices, as he helped out. I can’t ever remember more than 3 or 4 adults there, though. That seemed like a pretty good ratio for a team of 12 -14 early elementary kids. Mom was at every Girl Scout meeting, but she was the troop leader, so that made sense. The few years of music lessons I took involved drop-offs and pick-ups.

  117. At my younger child’s school there is a drop off line. Kids get out of the cars and go in the school on their own. There are older kids who open the car doors to keep the drop off line moving and one teacher to oversee things. I drop my kid at her tumbling class and go run errands. I drop her at playdates, girl scouts, birthday parties, etc., and leave. Occasionally I stay if parental help is asked for or I don’t have anything else to do (which isn’t often).

  118. Drives me crazy that I feel like I can’t leave my 3yo in the car, locked and with our family dog, while I run in to the store to grab a quick item. Not because I’m worried something will happen to my son, but because I’m too worried someone will call the police on me! He’s perfectly safe, and often would rather just stay in the car playing with his toys than be dragged around on errands.

  119. Our youngest daughter is involved in a youth theater program that asks for parent volunteers for shows, costumes, etc, BUT does not allow parents at classes (each child takes a class per quarter in dance, music or drama) at all. Our middle daughter on the other other hand is involved in a dance program that insists that a parent sit for an hour and watch the class and it drives my husband and I crazy. Although I love watching my kids perform (I have a football player, a volleyball player, a dancer and a “drama queen”), I would prefer to see the finished product and not sit through hours of practice each year. The drama program has been a blessing as it gives us a two hour block once a week where we can do something with one of the other kids while the youngest is entertained and learning very important skills as she has learning disabilities and self-confidence issues and drama is a healthy expression for her. It also allows her to be free of the pressure of doing well in front of her parents or siblings. She loves it! More programs need to be like this.

  120. Mollie.. again, that’s LAZY parenting. I can’t understand why people have kids and feel it’s their right to leave them in the car because it’s inconvenient for them to haul them in the store. Ya.. may I remind you he’s a human baby…not a 2nd dog. Unbelievable!

  121. (I haven’t read any of the comments)
    I’m not a parent yet, but I want to raise my kid without hovering. The th
    ought of being with them 24/7 fills me with fear. I want to be a parent without having to lose apart of myself to a fear feed parasite. I would love to have a card or pamphlet that had statistics of how safe it is along with some citing some studies of how fostering independance is good and hovering is bad. That way when someone tells me I’m being a bad parent, I can whip it out, give it to them and walk away…

  122. Jenn, I understand exactly what you are saying, but I also know that there are times when parents need to be allowed to observe classes, and banning them is not helpful to the parent, student, teacher or class. (By observe, I mean to sit in the back of the class and not interfere in any way.)

    My son had special needs. I wanted to observe the classrooms to ensure that he was placed with the teacher who would be most at ease with his constant movement, auditory processing delays, and still be respectful of him. But, because of one kinder teacher (whom my daughter had) I was only allowed to do this if his speech therapist took time from her schedule and came with me. As a result, we didn’t do the observation, I filled out the form asking for type of teaching he would do best with, and it was ignored completely. He was given to the same teacher his sister had, the one who belittled the kids when they misbehaved, told kids in speech therapy to not talk like babies, and had many other “tricks” for control that were inappropriate for kinder.

    I understand that the school was in a bind – they had a bad teacher who everyone tried to transfer out of as soon as possible. She was tenured. But they made the process so hard to try to get appropriate classrooms with the system that they set up, so that it was impossible. When schools will not let parents observe, when there are issues, or to prevent issues, that sends up some red flags for me. Parents actually know a lot about their kids and what may help them learn best. I am not saying that every parent should be at the back of the classroom for every kid, but when teachers send home notes that there are issues, then parents should be allowed to look in, and point out that perhaps Johnny needs to be away from the window or door, or closer to the teacher or board, or away from that kid he had issues with in preschool or the year before.

    As far as walking kids in, I took my oldest in the day before kinder to meet the teacher. I was going to put her on the bus like my mother did my siblings and I, but when I got in I was met with confusion by the teacher, who expected me to come in the next morning, even though I had never actually gotten anything that said it was expected. So, no treasured photo of the 1st day of school getting on the bus. (We do have 2nd day.) That was the only time I walked her to class.

  123. Cheryl, I agree with you. There are definitely situations in which parents should be allowed to observe. It would be a yellow flag if parents were shut out to the extent of never being allowed to see what goes on in class or how the child’s doing. Every activity I’ve sent my kids to that requested that parents leave, had designated “observation days” where parents were invited to stay and watch. And schools, of course, should let parents come in and observe once, particularly if the child has special needs and the parent has useful input to give.

    But that’s not quite the same as, “It’s MY child and I get to decide whether I stay and watch a class on a regular basis, because *I* know what’s best for my child.” Oh, really? Then why are you paying someone else to teach them music or swimming or coach their soccer team or whatever? Don’t YOU actually know best about that, too?

  124. Lazy and bad aren’t necessarily the same, bmx. Believe it or not, if it’s safe enough to leave a dog in the car, it’s safe enough to leave a kid there. (And vice versa, naturally.)

  125. On the swim lesson comment, I had a mother of younger children (under 5) have to rescue her son one day. He couldn’t swim, let go of the wall and went under and the lifeguard NOR the instructor were aware. She finally jumped up and grabbed him out herself. She saw another class of 6ish aged kids, same thing happened to a little girl. This gal was the only one who noticed the kids was under and not coming back, jumped in and got her out. Unfortunately, they thought she was ok but had water on the lungs and died that night. So, yes, I stay at swim lessons and I don’t read or anything, I watch my kid. there have been times the instructor was at the other end of the pool and my kid got too brave, did something he wasn’t supposed to do and I got up and told him to sit and wait.

    I’m sorry but in these days, I would not let my kid walk to school unless I could watch her the whole time.

    Organized sports, I don’t understand why the parent has to be there.

    In a bookstore one day, a 15-18 month old was left in the children’s section alone while the parent was in the coffee shop feeding her older child. Parent couldn’t see the baby. I could’ve easily walked off with that child. Not to mention, the baby was harrassing my kid and I wasn’t comfortable correcting her. God forbid you correct someone else’s child these days.

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  127. Jenn, do you by any chance teach in Cupertino? I have friends whose school instituted that painted line last year, and the parents do hate it — for good reason. It’s incredibly insulting, and as far as I can tell, its sole purpose is to protect teachers from the inconvenience of having to interact with parents. If parents are getting in your face too much in the morning, you can just ask them to make an appointment with you for later, but believe it or not, there are times when we really need to talk to you. “Free range” doesn’t mean abdicating all responsibility for our children at the playground threshold.

    –Virginia, burned by teachers who treat parents as an inconvenience.

  128. I’m sorry but in these days, I would not let my kid walk to school unless I could watch her the whole time.

    Sboyce, what do you mean by “in these days”?

  129. More to Jenn: When parents want to observe their kids in the classroom with their own teachers, you call that “spying”? Wow.

  130. CherylW , Not everyone can homeschool,or wants to, and each kid is different, and My son needs the medication to get through the day with the minimum amount of frustration, for him, not others, I could give a rat’s behind what others think, His needs are different than other kids who are ADHD, there is more than one type and each one is handled and treated differently, as he gets older, he is learning skills to cope, and his dosage is adjusted (lower Yay) to reflect how he copes, is it easy no, is it working yes, and he likes the way it is working out.

    plus his full blown ADHD came right at the time my ex and I separated. making his situation worse.

  131. It might not be as bad as perceived. Just take a look at organizations like Boy Scouts. Tons of independent, barely supervised activities. Tons of things that teach self-reliance (setting up camp, planning and cooking meals, etc.).

  132. “When parents want to observe their kids in the classroom with their own teachers, you call that “spying”?”

    That’s not what she was saying. She said that she had issues with parents actually coming in literally for that reason: not to help, not to observe any particular behavior that had come up in parent-teacher conferences, but to try to figure out if their child’s teacher was pregnant, to chat with their child’s friends, gossip with other “helper parents”, etc. especially under the pretense of volunteering in the classroom. If schools didn’t enforce it, I think in this day and age of hovering parents, some would just never leave and would spend as much time in school as their kid does.

    It’s not just the elementary grades. Several years ago, I read an article about a new policy Colgate University had to institute, where the sole response to any parent complaints about housing, professors, grades, etc. would be to explain to the parent how they could help their child work it out for themselves. They put the hammer down after getting a call from an irate father wanting to know what the school intended to do about the bad plumbing his daughter encountered while studying abroad in China.

  133. @Sboyce did you wanted the kid?

  134. Justadad, the point was, if the schools were set up different, then most kids wouldn’t need medication. Of course there are some kids who may need it during times in family life and would need it regardless. But if the schools were set up differently, then many who only need it during school would not need medication.

    PART of the problem is that schools used to be set up for boys to learn best. Now schools have switched to methods that help girls learn best, and when boys don’t act or learn like girls, then it is a “problem.” That is why grandpa, or great-grandpa says things like “in my day we didn’t need medication!”

    There are many ways that school COULD be done, but in the US there are only a few options and the main ones are not the best ones for kids with ADHD. We COULD have schools that work for different types of learners, but for many reasons, politics, fear, tradition, etc, we don’t. That is all I was trying to say. Not that homeschooling works best for everyone or that everyone should homeschool. There are lots of philosophies about schooling types, yet in the US we only subscribe to basically one or two.

  135. When I was in the lower grades–might even have been K–some boys “got the jumpies in their feet” regularly. The teacher sent them into the central cafeteria/gym/auditorium to run circuits until they felt tired. Then they came back in and were able to settle down.

    But standardized bubble tests were just beginning to get a grip on teachers’ priorities, “seated and silent” was long in the future, etc.

  136. It sounds like U.S. schools are really in a bad way if it’s actually NORMAL for parents to come into school with kids and either help or watch. Here in Australia that doesn’t happen. Throughout the entirety of my schooling, including kindergarten, we did not have parents in the classroom at all. We had teachers, sometimes prac teachers, and aides when there were special needs kids that required them. That’s all. We got along fine. If there’s an issue in the classroom, children tend to tell their parents about it. The parents can then set up a meeting with the principal or whoever to start a dialogue and get it resolved.

    Generally, one considers that half of the POINT of having institutionalised schools is so that a few can educate many, leaving the parents of the many to get on with their own jobs or whatever. Another important role of school is getting younger children used to life without constant immediate parental contact.

    I can’t even begin to imagine the problems that would arise if parents really did come into the classroom and start finding “issues” like “Johnny needs to be away from the window or door, or closer to the teacher or board, or away from that kid he had issues with in preschool or the year before.”. That’s ridiculous. If every parent did THAT, then EVERY child would have a convoluted set of “special” needs. School is about coping. Actually, school and higher education is MOSTLY about coping. Life doesn’t stop because your kid is sitting next to somebody he doesn’t like, and you can’t optimise everyone’s schooling. The place would be a bureaucratic nightmare for everybody if you tried. Sometimes, unfortunately, you need to be able to put up with distractions and not being able to sit up the front.

  137. This is my first visit to the site. Thank HEAVENS there are other parents who are ‘slackers’ too. Little did I know when growing up how important it was to have a mom who didn’t do it all for me!

  138. After years of agonizing over all this stuff (children not allowed to do anything on their own, everything being “dangerous,” etc.), I have finally solved the problem in a most insanely happy way. I found a “true” Montessori elementary school outside the city. Kids are using power drills, real handsaws, and sharp needles (for embroidery), climbing actual trees, riding skateboards, coming in off the playground on their own to get a drink of water or use the restroom. The first time I saw all this, my jaw dropped. My son now wants to be totally independent at home (getting his own snacks, putting his dishes in the dishwasher) because this is what he does at school and the experience has been liberating for him.

    I didn’t know much about Montessori before this (except the preschool stuff), but I’m a true convert. For anyone who can afford a private school (which we honestly can’t, but we’re finding a way), I urge a visit to a “true” Montessori elementary. Some places (esp. some public Montessori schools) are Montessori in name only, so you have to find a school that is running the real program. You will never look at education the same way again. If you have a child who is bored in school, sick of endless worksheets and useless homework, getting in trouble for tapping a pencil on the desk or kicking a ball too hard on the playground–investigate Montessori. My 7-year-old went from behavior-problem-to-be-managed in public school to a serene, successful, free, and happy child in Montessori. And it happened literally overnight. He begs to go to school, and I am waaaay happy to no longer be initialing behavior charts and sending in bags and bags of “school supplies” designed to keep the kids busy in their seats. At our Montessori school, the supply list included work gloves, rain boots, and a fishing pole. !!!! I know all Montessori schools are not as great as ours (they can’t be!), but I’m sure a good percentage of them are outstanding.

  139. Sera, the reason I gave those examples of what the parent might observe and be able to help the teacher, is because the teachers ARE expecting the parents to “help” with the classroom management. For some kids who can’t sit still, concentrate, etc, they are sending home notes, behavior charts (see above) and such to “inform” parents of what a behavior problem their kid is. Some of these kids the teachers want to remove them from the room constantly (sending to the office) until it builds builds into suspensions. (I am talking early elementary here.) Or, the teacher scoots around recommending that the parent get the kid evaluated for ADHD, or other issues. Now, it may truly be the kid has an issue, and having the parent there to see it can be helpful for the parent to get done what may need to be done. It may also mean that the parent can suggest things that are helpful for their child, that they do at home.

    Sure, if things are working well, there is no reason for the parent to be in the classroom unless the teacher wants the help. Perhaps schools are structured differently, taught differently where you are than many are here. I have to say, schools have changed a lot since I started school in the 70’s. Some things are good changes, others, not so good. I never would have expected a parent in the school when I was a kid. Of course, maybe that is why they published the book “Why Johnny Can’t Read.”

  140. LAB, now that is what I was talking about as a school that is structured differently so that kids can succeed! It may not fit the learning style of every kid who has ever gone to school, but it certainly can help those who were having issues with the more traditional style.

  141. My school has a 30 min limit on parents observing teachers. It has saved other teachers who had parents trying to interfere with teaching. It helped me when parents thought I was being mean to their kids. I was teaching technology. Kids told their parents Ms. Herbert just sits in her chair and tells me to keep trying. She won’t help me. (Note most of these kids had very limited if any experience using a computer).

    When the came to observe they saw me in a rolling chair. Moving behind students guiding their hands in using the mouse. Then rolling to the next student. I had to use a rolling chair because I had taken a nasty fall the first week of school (It was installing a printer and moved a box and I tripped over it and slammed into the floor) and hurt my shoulder. I could not stand and lean over the kids to help them without pain.

  142. When my kid sister was going into KG at 5 (July birthday), I took her there on meet-the-teacher day. On the first day of school, she rode her bike (about a mile, across 3 streets) to school with some neighbors. I followed leisurely on foot to confirm that she did the right thing once she got there (parked bike correctly, went to the correct room, and got going with the day’s activities). She had, and when she saw me, she simply asked “what are you doing here?” and went back to her “work.” After that, she was on her own.

    Maybe my kids are weird, I don’t know, but they get distracted and act silly or clingy when I’m intruding into their classrooms. If I really want to know what’s going on in there, I have to peek when they are unaware. Then, they are totally fine, as are all of their classmates (save for the one or two with emotional / behavior issues, on occasion).

    I actually find the teachers nowadays pushing too hard in the direction of parents hovering. My daughter gets KG homework most nights. Since we often go out in the evenings, I instruct my daughter to do her homework at school before pick-up (KG is at daycare with after-school care). I felt rather proud that my 4/5yo had enough responsibility to do this. But recently her teacher told me “I don’t want them doing their homework at school. I want them to take it home to do it as a lesson in responsibility.” Whose responsibility, I wanted to ask? You can see where this is going. Teacher wants me to rearrange my evenings so that I can spend unnecessary time hand-holding my capable child. No thanks! (To the Dollys of the world, no, it’s not that I don’t like spending evenings with my kids. It’s just that I would rather do so at the museum, park, library, or rec center than at home.)

  143. I notice several comments from parents re teachers and classrooms and then the teachers responding. Back when I was a kid,there was little if ever any complaints about teachers. I think parents simply felt that the teacher was in charge no matter what. Nowadays we don’t operate like that and for good reason I guess. I think what is sad, is the divisive way we seem to act now. If the adults could stop acting like kids maybe the kids would see better role models in us.

  144. good for you Dean. enjoy your walk home with the kids. Freeranging is all about choosing how we spend our time with our kids rather than what others dictate we should be doing…

  145. New to this site and I haven’t read all 144 comments, but I have a few comments of my own. I’m not a helicopter parent; I hate micromanaging my kids. But my experience with kids organizations like cub scouts and our church youth group is that some parents just don’t provide any discipline or instruction at home; and therefore it makes it the coaches/leaders/teachers/instructors job to discipline AS WELL AS lead the activity.

    One of the reasons we have a “no drop-off rule” in Cub scouts is we follow “Two-deep leadership” in our meetings — meaning that the one adult present doesn’t want to be left alone with your scout and you shouldn’t want your scout left alone with just one adult. So, we ask that a minimum of two adults be present at meetings (Exceptions are 1st graders because they need the extra assistance and focus).

    At our AWANA club, we have several kids that don’t need much adult supervision. They play nicely, they talk nicely, they don’t cause disturbances and they participate in the activities. There are always those kids who like to stir it up — name calling, squirming in their seats, poking or prodding others, talking (or singing), etc.

    No one wants to have the parent at their elbow overriding their decisions or telling them how to coach. That’s not my job as the parent who stays at the practices or meetings. If I’m not the leader or helper at the meeting, my job is to make sure my child follows the family code we’ve set up for him/her. Everything from “no running” to “stop poking” to “no, you may not have another cookie”. Sure that sounds like my kids have no fun and they never get away from me but I know it makes the leader’s job more about fun and learning than about discipline.

  146. Paige Roper Norman: “my job is to make sure my child follows the family code we’ve set up for him/her. Everything from “no running” to “stop poking” to “no, you may not have another cookie”. Sure that sounds like my kids have no fun and they never get away from me but I know it makes the leader’s job more about fun and learning than about discipline.”

    I guess I’m not getting it. If you HAVE to be there for your kids’ activities (after the age of say 4) then what’s the point? As a SAH mom of 3 I always regarded activities like dance as times when I expected to be off duty for that child, even if I’m just out in the lobby reading a book because it’s too far to go home. (Of course, I’m available if my child breaks her leg or something so don’t jump all over that.) Otherwise you may as well be at Mommy And Me. Which is for babies and toddlers.

    Activities and classes are times for my kids to try out their “family code” on their own, to follow the rules or not and experience the consequences. And for that matter, I always thought that was the point of being a leader or teacher for an activity, that the teacher/instructor/leader was there to teach AND enforce the behavior required for that activity.

    This volunteer parent-intensive activity scenario that so many describe here actually proves the point rather than disproving it. Why are so many parents so extremely PRESENT in their children’s activities? Why are so many kids apparently in need (or thought by their parents to be in need) of a parent super ego to keep them from busting loose and trashing the joint? Why are activities in which a pack of supervising parents are a requirement so normal for today’s children?

    I can see monitoring my child’s behavior at say, a potluck supper or some other family-inclusive social event but at regular classes and extracurricular activities? That definitely seems like hovering and micromanaging for any elementary aged child.

    There is a time and place for shared activities but seeing parental supervision as the norm, as a requirement for kids past preschool is … well … creepy. Can’t think of a better word for it.

  147. Off topic, but remembering that post about 12-and-unders having to be accompanied to the church potty – I just sent my 4yo off to the restroom alone during church today. She complained of a belly-ache and it seemed best to deal with it right away. She went off confidently and returned within a reasonable time.

    This also reminds me of Sunday School – the ultimate drop-off activity. God bless the people who put up with that whole room of preschoolers for an hour a week. But hey, that’s what they signed up for. That’s my weekly “me” time. Nobody has ever implied that they’d like parents to hang around. (They actually have a special-needs adult in the room to help out. Awesome idea.)

    But seriously – I don’t believe it’s disrespectful to expect paid coaches, etc. to maintain discipline without parents around. I expect that to be part of their expertise. An important part, at that. I have to say that I am very impressed by the kiddy coaches’ skill in motivating the right behavior with such young groups of kids. That’s why I am happy to pay them year after year. (My youngest is not fond of following others’ suggestions, but her coaches manage her better than I do.)

    (As another aside, I also let my 4yo handle her own piano practice half of the time. [She still needs some guidance from me between lessons to make it worthwhile.])

  148. “it makes it the coaches/leaders/teachers/instructors job to discipline AS WELL AS lead the activity.”

    Ummm, hasn’t that ALWAYS been the coaches, etc. job? It is not like children were perfect little angels 24/7 before this generation. Kids have always tried to push the boundaries a little when away from parents. Adults have always had to discipline children in their care when parents were not present. This is not something new, nor should it be something unexpected for anyone working with children.

    And, frankly, if your child is such a discipline problem that he/she can’t be trusted to behave when out of your presence to such an extent that he/she makes it too difficult for the coach, etc. to do his or her job, then your child should not be enrolled in these types of activities at all.

    “I hate micromanaging my kids.” “Everything from “no running” to “stop poking” to “no, you may not have another cookie”.”

    Really, you hate micromanaging your kids? Apparently you truly love it because that is exactly what you are doing. Hovering over your child at a scout meeting to monitor the number of cookies he eats is the height of micromanaging.

    Off topic, I let my child walk a few houses down to a friend’s house to drop of a thank you card from her birthday. A neighbor followed her and then came and knocked on my door to tell me she had just gone down there by herself.

  149. Donna makes a good point. If your child can’t behave for kiddy coaches or the like (without you there), maybe s/he’s not ready for the activity. For that matter, one could ask whether we’re asking for trouble by filling soccer leagues with kids who are still in diapers. Pretty sure that is a fairly recent phenomenon. What exactly are we trying to accomplish?

    In my case, I put my kids in preschool activities to give them some exercise and variety of experience. But, I spoke to each coach in advance about my youngest’s “limitations” (she can be headstrong) and made it clear that if they felt it best, I’d take her out of the activity and wait until she’s older. The coaches tend to view her as a worthwhile challenge. But, she doesn’t “disrupt”; she just putzes if she’s not in the mood. On the rare occasion that she broke boundaries, the coaches handled the situation quickly and effectively. I heard about these moments later (from my other kid, LOL) and reinforced the importance of respecting the coaches and following the rules.

  150. Funny, my children have always behaved BETTER when Dad and I were not there. As a kid, so did I. I knew what to expect as punishment if I misbehaved with them around, but not anyone else!

  151. I live in a fairly free-range community. There are no early school buses in the village so kids in 4th grade and up have to walk/ride bikes/find their own transportation to school and home and I’m really excited to see a lot of children walking home from school in the afternoons. That being said, parents seem reluctant to leave children at sports practice alone. They call the parents who don’t stay for practice “drop and run” parents. Having been a den leader for cub scouts and coached t-ball and soccer, I have to say I’d prefer it if the parents just dropped their kids off and left. The kids get distracted by the parents more than anything else. The best thing ever is the wrestling team, whose coaches actually told the parents to leave the kids and get out of the gym because the coaches and the kids don’t need the distraction. I’m all for that because staying at practice really just kind of seems like a waste of time for parents.

  152. Jenn, I am so sorry you have had bad experiences with parent volunteers. I am reaching the point of retiring in the next couple of years, and I can honestly say I never had a parent volunteer that hasn’t worked out. We’ve always been able to work out any issues with dignity and mutual respect and usually become great friends. I’m obviously lucky to be able to work in a school that values families and parent/child relationships. Our school is ranked in the top 20 in the nation, so so involving parents definitely works. I can’t IMAGINE having a rule that you can’t volunteer in your own child’s classroom! Or FIRING volunteers? We love our parent volunteers here and welcome ANY parent that wants to come in to observe their child. (We would never call it spying here.) I am truly blessed to be able to work with such a wonderful school system and I hope you decide to be a light in your school instead of adding to the parent/teacher hostility that apparently exists. Parents really DO know their kids best and getting their input and assistance is a great way to become an incredible teacher. 🙂

  153. I would even go farther and say that parent disciplining children during an organized activity can easily undermine coaches authority. What the coach say must be a rule. If the coach said yes you can, then you can. If he said no, then you can not. He is the boss for the moment.

    Every time the leader needs a parent to discipline children, he looses a little bit of authority. If it happens too often, he will be seen as weak and it will make his job much harder.

    School topic: teachers sending notes home are not USA specialty. It happens in most countries. It is a communication from teacher to parent, not an attack. If there is a problem, teacher send a note to parent so the parent know about it (and can talk with the child, punish it or whatever).

    Parent coming to school to observe are unheard of around here, but the notes are common.

  154. Oh, geez, you’re talking about me… but I don’t hover. Do I stay at the playdate, practice, or whatever else it is sometimes? Yes. Why? Because it’s my only FRIGGIN’ chance to have a CONVERSATION with someone who’s butt I’ve never had to wipe! Seriously, yes, there are hovering helicoptery bulldozer parents out there. And then there are the moms and dads who would just like a chance to chat for 30 minutes without needing to hire a babysitter to do it. To talk about the game (and I mean Bruins, Red Sox, Patriots, or Celtics, not little Johnny and Jane’s). To catch up on gossip (because some of us live in places that would put Peyton Place to shame). To check in on how someone else is handling an elderly parent’s health crisis, or very unfortunately, how some of the moms are doing in their treatments for breast cancer. To organize dinners and fundraisers and make sure someone can give my kid a ride home.

    Our parent pickup at school used to be like this. They revised it; they didn’t like the moms hanging around in the school. Guess what? We now have a horrible time getting the word out about events. We have to work twice as hard to find volunteers for PTO functions.

    Besides, sometimes I just need to sit in my car with no one talking to me, put on some decent tunes, and read a book or magazine. You all remember what those are, don’t you?

  155. @WorkingMom, why would you assume that none of us know what books or magazines are?

  156. Andy — your first two paragraphs are extremely well put! Disciplining your kid in front of another adult who’s supposed to be in charge, is just as bad as being the “unofficial volunteer assistant coach” that I see parents doing. Of course if your kid is REALLY acting up and causing a problem where you need to take him out and deal with it so the coach or teacher can focus on the other kids doing the intended activity, there might be (rare) times when it’s appropriate. But if eating too many cookies is such a big deal that you have to enforce the rule in a situation where you’ve allegedly entrusted your kid to other adults for the duration, then BE that helicopter parent you really want to be, keep the child at home where you can supervise 24/7 without getting in the way of someone else’s planned activity, and leave the scout leader or whoever out of it.

  157. I love drop off playdates! We started them only recently when my oldest was nearly 4. I was reticent to do them earlier because I had an infant and was a little overwhelmed and didn’t really feel like I would be able to reciprocate by having the other kids over to my house. Now we do them once or twice a week and the older kids love it. They love the independence of going over to a friends house and of having their friends over to play.

  158. @Kimberly- I’m surprised that in your entire career you’ve never had a troublesome parent volunteer in your classroom and am impressed that you have a parent community that all disputes are resolved with dignity and mutual respect. That is not the case with the low income urban school that I am currently in. I have some wonderful involved and caring parents. But I also have parents who are drug dealers, prostitutes and more that have CAS involvement due to a variety of reasons. I’ve also taught at an upper class school where the norm is to have a two parent household where dad has a career and mom gave up her prestigious career to become a career mom whose job is to oversee every minute detail of her children’s lives. I also treat my parents with dignity and respect (which is one reason why I’ve been nominated as a Teacher of the Year for my region several times) but I am not always treated the same way back. The thing is, you have to keep in mind that not all parents are volnteering in the best interest of the classroom’s needs and when things are going on that hurt the climate in my classroom, I need to find a way to fix it. My principal has fired volunteers and I’ve offered to parents to help in other classrooms when they prove to be more trouble than help. It was then my principal’s decision based on input from our School Community Council (PTA) that parents could only volunteer in a classroom that their children were not in.

    As for me saying that parents were spying, that is what they were doing and I explained that parents actually said to teachers that the only reason they were going to volunteer in their child’s classroom is because they wanted to know if their child’s teacher was pregnant. I would consider trying to extract private information about my child’s teacher is spying. You wouldn’t go to your doctor to visit for the sole purpose of finding out if they were pregant so why would you think the same for a teacher?

    I love what I do and want to point out that most teachers do. There are a number of people who had bad experiences when they were in school and they come to school with their children carrying their baggage. Please keep an open mind. The school system has changed vastly since many of us were in school and your child’s teacher does actually like (or even love!) your child. We don’t spend our day dreaming up ways to make life miserable for you or your child (my colleagues have been truly accused of this). Most of us aren’t teachers because of the summer holidays, and spend our summers planning, prepping, learning and more. I’m open to parents coming to observe and they all walk away wondering how on earth I (and my colleagues) do it.

  159. This has always been an issue for us because of the size of our family. With four school age kids, and four under 5, the requirement that a parent attend practices has made it nearly impossible for our kids to be involved in organized sporting activities. It started earlier than this, because our 4 oldest are so close in age (a set of twins in the middle of the pack). We often were “required” to be at three or four different gyms or parks simultaneously. The officials were not responsive to our obvious need for an exception, so we just had to stop trying, or ask for help from grandparents and neighbors.

  160. I remember when my older son turned four and he invited about six of his nursery class to a party at our house. The parents brought the kids into the house, but didn’t leave. I didn’t know what to do! They just sat down. I didn’t know how to ask them to leave, but I had planned a party for a bunch of four year olds, not a bunch of adults.

    I also had a woman insist that she stay when her kid came for a playdate, because she knew that I didn’t stay in the room while the children played, so she came along to supervise.

  161. I drop my kids (8 and 5) off at sports practices, playdates, and the carpool line at their schools, as do most parents. Either this post is a huge exaggeration or it’s a local problem there.

  162. Fantastic Post!! Seriously…what is interesting about an 8 year-old’s soccer practice? Especially if it’s the 20th one that season? Yet there you see the contingent of moms with their spectator chairs, sitting at the perimeter and watching every move their kids make. It’s a great time to corner the coach and give him some constructive criticism (you should give my kid more playing time!) or work in some gossip about the parents that do drop-off (it’s neglectful!). Can we all wake up and realize that nothing has changed – the world is no more dangerous than it was when we were kids. How the heck are these kids going to manage a college campus?

  163. Great article Matt! I totally agree with you, and yes, it is very frustrating! I have a rule in our house: parents do not attend any sports practices. There is no reason for this. Coaches have a wealth of cell phone numbers if God forbid, “something” should happen. I also tell my kids when they decide to play on a sports team, “I will get to as many of your games as I can, but I will not attend all of them. This is YOUR sport, YOUR interest, you should be able to enjoy it and the time with your friends without me there.” End of story. I have two teenagers, an 11 year old, and a 6 year old, so I cannot be at everyone’s event. My kids understand this, the problem is, the parents sometime don’t! I know there are people in our community who CANNOT believe that I did not go to all of my 11 year old’s football games. I hate football, number one. Number two, my 6 year old would simply not make it through some of those games. Number three, part of me wants the 11 year old to understand that sports are not a priority in my life. Keep doing things the way YOU want to, maybe some of it will rub off on other people along the way! But it is SOOOO frustrating!

  164. Since my child turned 7 I have been more than happy to drop him off outside the door of a weekly activity he takes part in and go home for the 45 minutes – I can’t believe the parents that sit out in the waiting room that whole time (we’re not allowed in to view the activity). Boring! At summer storytime at the library I would drop him off for the hour and spend my time in the rest of the library. Now they’ve instituted parents MUST stay with their kids in the story room until they’re 10! What the….? Birthday parties, I drop him off, but most parents stay. Another “what the…?” Moms really need to hover around and watch a bunch of 7-8 year old boys play? Honestly.

  165. My niece (7) had her first slumber party this weekend. (She has had plenty of 1:1 sleep overs) One group of parents stayed for 3/4 an hour. Sis was prepared for that, because they are from niece’s new school. Then they announced they were all coming back at 9:30 to check on the girls. Not call come back.

    This made my lark BIL grumpy because he would normally be asleep. Night Owl Sis was going to stay up and supervise till the girls settled down some.

    BIL got nephew (4) ready for his sleep over walked out and came back in very grumpy. The returning parents had left their cars blocking the driveway! Sis and BIL couldn’t get out. This led to Sis calling me. One of the kids (without helicopter parents) is medically somewhat fragile. She has life threatening food allergies and a heart condition. Sis was raised with the rule that NO-ONE blocks in our cars because we might have to rush Kimberly to the ER. (Honestly my sister’s broken bones trips to the ER is a close 2nd to my life threatening allergic reaction trips. At one point in JH she had me beat).

    So I got the call to come over. Totally understanding where sis was coming from I went over, and helped out. (Grown up niece swung by and took her baby brother to the sleep over).

    9:25 the girls are happily having a dance contest. 9:30 the parents arrive. 9:35 the parents start asking the girls aren’t you going to be afraid to wake up in a strange place – you have never been away from mommy and daddy all night. 9:38 My niece explodes with disbelieve you never stayed at a friend’s, or your grandma’s, your grandma hasn’t ever taken you to (list of vacations she has been on with her grandmother). The part of the party that is older family friends (sleep overs since they were infants AKA babysitting for date nights), and old school (sleep overs since they were in PK) joins in.

    Of the 4 families only 1 left with a hysterical child (who unfortunately was deemed a baby after she left – Least they have all of next week off for it fade in their memories) The other 3 sets of parents left their kids, but were very upset at being “rejected”. Sis and BIL couldn’t get their jaws off the ground. I wonder what the other parents would have said if they had been flies on the wall when I asked Sis – hey can I take your kids over spring break up to Georgetown to go to the caverns. (granted that will probably just be a day trip it is only 4 hours 1 way).

  166. I’ve noticed this too and it already annoys me – and my daughter is only 4! I do take advantage of when I can drop off my daughter at an activity (the YMCA’s “parent participation” clinics drive me crazy) and fortunately I’ve found some other parents who do drop off playtime. I think the invention of the playdate has come since so many women work full time, if you want daytime playtime you have to set it up. I have had a big challenge finding a playground where kids are. So many after-school activities, no time for fun!

  167. I live in this world too! So sad. My daughter just turned 7 and still half the parents stayed for the 3 hour plus birthday party and brought their siblings! I still see many of her 1st grade classmates being walked into school when the school has a very nice drop off system and most of her classmates have been going there for the last 3 years already. Aside from the lack of freedom these kids are not learning to play, fight, makeup and reinvent. We are always watching and “helping”. It’s horrible and the parents too never get a break.

  168. Weird, because as a youth soccer coach (U11 & 10-12) I’ve always felt like a babysitter, with not a parent in sight.

    Which, given the circumstances, I’m not complaining about! Go free-rangers! 🙂 Perhaps though it was because it was on a gated military post overseas…

    Having the parents stay close must be another liability thing. I know we had one diabetic kid whose mom stayed and watched just in case he had an incident.

  169. I laughed the entire time while reading this post. Hilarious! My husband and I are in awe of the # of parents that stay and watch football practice. What a huge commitment, 3 nights a week and sometimes a Saturday morning (in the summer its 4 nights a week!). We decided this past season that we would drop our boys off and come back 1/2 hour before practice would end. Our oldest has a cell phone (he’s 10 years old), and every parent there has our phone number in their contact list. Sometimes we felt like we might have missed out because parent meetings with the coach were held in the middle of practice and not at the end, but we relied on our boys to listen and relay any important messages that were missed (imagine that!).
    No such thing as a drop off anymore.

  170. It is actually sad what this world has come to. This has proven that the innocence is dwindling away. I can just imagine what caused all of this to happen. I don’t think it is the children that can’t be trusted to be by themselves walking to class or without their parents during baseball practice as it is the school that doesn’t want to be held accountable if anything happens to your children. Years ago if a child disappeared you would find him at the candy store or in the cafeteria now a days who knows where they are and who would be the first to blame but the school and why they did not watch children properly. It really is sad that it has come to this.

  171. […] Hi Readers! I have a feeling many people can relate to this comment (which came in response to “The Drop-Off in Drop-Offs” post). I know I can — something very similar happened to me. […]

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