Ten is the New Two

Hi Folks! Here’s my piece that ran in last week’s Wall Street Journal. You will recognize some of my examples! – L. 

Ten is the new two. We live in a society that insists on infantilizing our children, treating them as helpless babies who can’t do a thing safely or successfully without an adult hovering nearby.

Consider the schools around the country that no longer allow kids to be dropped off at the bus stop unless there’s a guardian waiting to walk them home—even if home is two doors down.

Or how about all the libraries I’m hearing about that forbid children under age eight or 10 or 12 to be there without an adult—including in the children’s room? God forbid a kid wants to spend the afternoon reading books by herself.

Over in Europe (where I guess they’ve got nothing else to worry about), the EU just ruled that children under age eight should always be supervised when…wait for it… blowing up a balloon. It’s just too darn dangerous. A child could choke! And those little whistle things that uncurl when you blow into them? Those have been classified “unsuitable” for children under age 14. (And somehow they’re suitable for kids above 14?)

The point is: Children are not being allowed to grow up and do the normal things we did as kids, out of the fear that, just maybe, something bad could happen. As if all the good things that happen—from exercise to independence to the joy of blowing up a balloon—don’t matter at all. All that matters is the possibility of risk.

When that’s your focus, nothing seems safe enough, which is why park districts are removing merry-go-rounds (kids could fall off!). A New Jersey day-care owner I spoke with was ordered to saw off all tree branches on her property that were lower than eight feet off the ground. Why? Because kids could run into them. They might even (I shudder to write this) climb them.

Which brings us to the latest casualty in this war on childhood: Train travel. As of Nov. 1, Amtrak raised its unaccompanied minor age from eight to 13. Whereas last month your third grader could get on the train, give the conductor a ticket, and proudly ride to the station where grandma (or, more likely, your ex) was waiting, now you and your kid have to wait another five years. Thirteen is the new eight.

This might make some sense if Amtrak had been experiencing a rash of child kidnappings, or pre-teens gone wild, but that is not the case at all. The government-subsidized train service announced it was making the change “not in response to any incidents,” but rather out of “an abundance of concern…”

So Amtrak did this for no good reason? That’s an impressive management style: Change your whole policy because, uh… well…everyone else is treating kids like babies, so why not follow the crowd?

As for Amtrak’s “abundance of concern,” it doesn’t seem quite abundant enough to cover all the parents who can’t afford an extra ticket, or time off work, but who trust their tweens to get from point A to point B, as generations of kids have done—and still do.

In Japan there is a special fare for unaccompanied minors under age six. The Japanese believe their kids can function independently. But over here, even when Amtrak does allow minors to travel on their own, look at the rules it imposes: 13 to 15 year olds must wear a special wrist band identifying them as youngsters. They cannot travel after 9:05 p.m. They cannot get off at an unmanned station. An adult must be at both ends to sign them in and drop them off.

Why not just put them in a crate with a chew toy and be done with it?

There is one more requirement for teens traveling on Amtrak alone: They also must be “interviewed by station personnel to determine if the child is capable of traveling alone.” So here’s an idea: Do away with the age restrictions and go with a basic interview for all the minors who want to travel solo. If they can tell you where they’re going, how they’ll know when to get off, and what they plan to do for supper, let them ride the rails.

There’s a difference between minors and babies. But if we never let the babies grow up and have some adventures on their own, they could end up as befuddled as Amtrak officials. – Lenore Skenazy

95 Responses

  1. Ordered to saw off all tree branches less than EIGHT FEET from the ground because kids could run into them?

  2. Yes, “we” are infantilizing our children!! But let’s not forget that “we” also want them to be reading as babies and doing higher level math by age 3. Of course, they’re to be brilliant – but they are also to rely on us for absolutely every single thing. It makes me shudder in frustration!!

  3. I know we arent supposed to feed the fire of predator fears, but doesn’t requiring younger teens to wear a special bracelet that announces they are traveling ALONE make them MORE vulnerable to kidnappers?

  4. Cherubmamma – also, who do we continually hold up as the example for for our academic standards? The Asians! Who let their children ride the trains alone at age six! If we’re going to emulate, let’s emulate!

    (Of course 30% of world suicides happen in India and Asia, but sadly there’s no such thing as a perfect world where nothing terrible ever happens…)

  5. The balloon issue is simply not true, though. It’s just an addendum to an already existing rule regarding warning labels and refers to specific types of balloons. Latex balloons, to be exact, which have been found to pose some risk as choking hazards.

    The same documented also states „There’s a consensus that banning small parts in toys for children over the age of three is not justified/necessary, even though they can cause choking accidents. Therefore the ages-related warning label “not suitable for..” for these toys gets accepted for toys in this grey area, even though it it would be theoretical possible to limit this danger by banning small parts in toys altogether”. Translation mine.

    I make a guess and bet that you fell victim so sensationalist and usually anti-EU British tabloids. 🙂

  6. “Ordered to saw off all tree branches less than EIGHT FEET from the ground because kids could run into them?”

    Well, you know, they have to leave a little margin of error in case someone mismeasures and the 7 1/2 foot kids bump their heads. Or the six footers in daycare might be able to reach up and climb them.

    Because, you know, no one watches kids in daycare so even the little ones could be halfway up a tree before anyone noticed they had managed to climb something four feet over their heads.

  7. “I make a guess and bet that you fell victim so sensationalist and usually anti-EU British tabloids. ”

    yeah that was my first thought. The daily mail revels in such stories!

  8. How many of these “restrictions” are driven by the desire to prevent lawsuits? Little Jimmy falls down and skins his knee on the pavement and his parents sue the day care or the City that owns the playground. As a result you get the requirement to use rubberized pavement or to stop the kids from running around if you want to keep your liability insurance affordable.

    I belong to a fraternal organization and have served on the Board of Officers. We were looking at ways to reduce our costs so we had an “audit” by our insurer. We found out that if we removed a basketball hoop and the section of pavement under it, we could reduce our liability insurance by several hundreds of dollars per year. I was out voted and the hoop was removed. We also removed the frisbees, wiffle balls and bats, kickballs and badmitton sets that we had for the kids to play with in nice weather.

  9. I’d be scared to encounter any kids who are tall enough to run into branches 8 feet off the ground. Is New Jersey now the Land of the Giants?

    My 12-year-old son read this and asked me if all people in the States are really that crazy.

  10. I just realized that the Giants of the NFL play in New Jersey. I was referring to the old TV show and not the football team in my previous post.

  11. Well, I hadn’t known that the Amtrak age was even that low! My 15 year old rode the train (alone! horrors!) and the guy on the train flipped out when he realized (halfway along the trip) she didn’t have a parent along with her. After chewing her out, he threatened to put her off the train (alone, in an unfamiliar place) at the next stop because he’s not allowed to let her ride unaccompanied. He was quite upset and my daughter was getting nervous that he might actually put her off when a big, bad, scary stranger stepped in and calmed the guy down and invited my daughter to sit with him and chat for the rest of the trip.
    And, yes, I’d object to a wristband that proclaimed “unaccompanied child!!!!”

  12. I read this on the first day of hunting season here (in the U.S.) where my 10 year-old is legally allowed to sit in a tree stand (high up in a tree) with a gun to shoot buck (he got his hunting license at 8).
    But he can’t be trusted to be alone in a public library or ride a train?
    *scratches head*

  13. I must admit that the idea of a five-year-old riding the train unaccompanied in Japan makes me nervous, but I’ve got a Western sensibility. We should be able to live in a world where children that young can comfortably board a train and go to visit a relative or friend. Can imagine how great that must feel?

  14. Although the balloon warnings may not be true, I have been really appalled by many infantilizing rules here in the UK. My five year old daughter cannot bring glass lunch containers to school. She is also not permitted to use a knife or fork to eat her lunch with! All of these have been cited as being very dangerous. My question is, what kind of lunchroom situation do they have going on? Rioting 5-7 year olds? They have no play equipment at her school, I imagine because of similar fears of someone getting hurt while playing. I went shopping the other day and bought a pair of scissors, labeled with a warning not to sell to anyone under 18!! What in the world?!

  15. Anyone seen “Hugo” yet? What do you think of the 1920s station inspector hunting down unaccompanied children – wiggy, huh?

  16. @Jim. I wonder how much of that concern about frivolous lawsuits is just as unfounded as Amtrak’s “abundance of concern”. Google “the myth of the frivolous lawsuit for some interesting reading. It’s hard to find any info that doesn’t seem biased one way or another, but I personally an seriously concerned about any threat to my ability to petition for a redress of grievances.. that’s what lawsuits are for.

  17. Selby: If it’s true that 30% of world suicides happen in the continent of Asia, then that’s remarkable! After all, 57% of the population lives in Asia, so that means that people not living in Asia commit suicide at over 3 times the rate of those who do live there (70/43 vs 30/57 for relative rates). Maybe we SHOULD be emulating them more! C’mon StreetPass, get more people to take the 3DS with them! (In Japan it is common for people to take their Nintendo portable game systems with them places). Of course, we would be dealing with Poké-Mania 1999 all over again, but is that really a bad thing? Quite honestly, Pokémon could boost the free-range movement very much if they add certain features.

    (Note: StreetPass is a feature in the Nintendo 3DS where if two 3DS’s in sleep mode pass within a certain distance of each other, then information is shared between the systems. Users can receive bonuses in many games simply by passing someone else who owns the game; the memory card doesn’t even have to be currently in either system!)

    (Other note: There are many “closet fans” of Pokémon, especially in junior high and high school. With StreetPass and 6th-generation games, the names of these fans would “leak” out to other 3DS owners who do not play the games. Because there are so many, it would by a popularity chain reaction cause these fans to “come out”. With the seemingly increased interest in Pokémon, many non-fans would start wanting to play just to fit in with the “cool kids” [who incidentally have likely been playing for years but hiding it because it’s “not popular”]. The 3DS has a pedometer feature, so after Pokémon becomes the huge thing again in 2013 or 2014, many more kids would want to walk to school with their 3DSs in their pockets [incidentally, Pokémon literally means “pocket monsters”]. They might even [gasp!] go out of their way just to get more points on the pedometer, [double gasp!] get more exercise in the process, and [triple gasp!] discover new places and how to get around. Quite ironic that a movement spawned mostly from supporters of a “commercial-free childhood” might indirectly gain its biggest support in a long time from a corporate marketing, and even more ironically, from a video game at that.)

  18. I have an idea! Any child clever enough to recognize the amtrack restrictions as a dung heap of pernicious nonsense, and sneak aboard undetected, should be allowed to proceed without further official molestation.

  19. I love the post and agree with you. I know moms who won;t let thier 4th grader cross the street when their is a adult crosswalker. I’m afraid to think out about our future!

  20. Yep. I find it fascinating how people try to rationalize how it is not okay to let my kids do things at the same age that I was allowed to do something. My mother freaked when I said the kids can run around the neighborhood when they are older. Even though I ran all over my neighborhood when I was young. What was okay for me is not okay for my kids, even though my kids have a sibling to go with them and I didn’t, and my neighborhood has a lot more cops in it than my childhood neighborhood did. Yet, somehow it is just not as safe……..right…..

  21. “He was quite upset and my daughter was getting nervous that he might actually put her off when a big, bad, scary stranger stepped in and calmed the guy down and invited my daughter to sit with him and chat for the rest of the trip.”

    So riding a train alone is bad for a 15-year-old girl (according to this Amtrak employee), presumably because some strange man could try to take advantage of her, but going off and sitting with a strange man she doesn’t know is perfectly acceptable?

    I think my head just exploded.

  22. As to the lawsuits, judges need to start putting their collective foot down and point out that it’s NORMAL to fall and scrape a knee, that it’s NORMAL for children to need to learn about the world around them and be aware of it for their OWN self-protection learning, and to dismiss with prejudice those cases that sue over things our parents wouldn’t have batted an eye at beyond, “Better watch where you’re going next time.”


    Good lordy.

  23. “I read this on the first day of hunting season here (in the U.S.) where my 10 year-old is legally allowed to sit in a tree stand (high up in a tree) with a gun to shoot buck (he got his hunting license at 8).
    But he can’t be trusted to be alone in a public library or ride a train?
    *scratches head*”

    He should take his gun with him on the train and to the library. Then he’ll be fine!

  24. My brother used to ride Amtrak to come visit me when I was in college. Since he is 11 years younger than I am, he was only about 8 the first time he came up in 1992. He rode 50 miles on the train, with a cat pole he’d made for my kitten out of plywood, 2x4s, and 4×4. When his train arrived at Union Station in downtown Los Angeles it was NOT ANNOUNCED on the arrival board in advance, and the only reason I found him was because I headed down the tunnel at the right time for his train. He hadn’t seen me on the platform, so had trudged down the ramp into the station and met me halfway down the tunnel. Between his backpack full of clothes for the weekend and the cat post he was happy to see helping hands for lugging things! I felt awful for not being on the platform for him what with it being his first trip and all, but he did just fine on his own, and relished the trips in future semesters.

    The fact that my child will be deprived of a similar learning opportunity drives me crazy. We’ve already exposed him to public transit during trips to ComiCon in San Diego, when dealing with car maintenance appointments, and just making weekend adventures out of exploring the local subway system. He understands the basic concepts of bus/train travel. The fact that he won’t be allowed to do it on his own once he can read really bugs me.

  25. That’s some tall kids. As for climbing, my oldest would be furious to have that denied to her. She’s up a tree every chance she gets.

  26. Really? Branches must be at least 8 feet? And what’s wrong with climbing? It’s actually good for development. I used to go to the library alone after school. I was a well behaved child and didn’t bother anyone. It was a good place for me on days my mom had to work a little late. If the school had required her to be there to meet me at the stop, it would have been a problem as she routinely arrived home about 20 to 30 minutes after me from the time I was in first grade. And I know how to use public transit because I have used it by myself. Kids should be allowed on a bus or train by themselves as their parents deem them ready for it.

  27. So I’m thinking about Christmas presents. I just gave my kids’ toy tool set to their little cousin, and I recall that they have some junior tool kits and wood projects at Lowes nowadays. If I recall correctly, the minimum recommended age for those kits is 8. However, my kids (age 4/5) have done a bit of woodworking and I think they might be just fine with some of those tools / projects (with supervision). Maybe I will take an unthinkable leap of faith and get one or two for Christmas. After all, it used to be normal for KG kids to make stuff with wood.

  28. […] up from my last post’s ellipsis, I feel I need to address the infantilisation and outright ageism displayed by adults toward teenagers. This rather repugnant reincarnation of […]

  29. My parents let me take the Greyhound bus back in the 70’s to my grandmas house. Some creepy man sat next to me and did a lot of inappropriate touching. I would put my kids on a non stop flight – no problem. I will never put them on a train or a bus till they are old enough to tell a creep to stop touching them.

  30. Recently, we had a 10 year old over to play with my sons. I realized, however, that I had an appointment to go to. I told this boy he could either go home or accompany us to my appointment. He said he wanted to stay with us. With this in mind, I brought a laptop with a movie to keep them entertained for the 45 minutes I expected to be 5 feet away from them, inside a room just off of the waiting area. (This office is not busy and there is only one other practitioner, so I knew they would only possibly encounter one other human “stranger” in the time I was in my appointment.

    In the car, I explained to this 10 year old boy where I would be and that they would watch a movie. Unfortunately this preview of what was going to happen threw this kid into a full fledged panic. He said, “oh, no, I can’t do that. Oh, no. No way. I’m not supposed to be somewhere alone or I’ll be abducted.”
    I asked, “Who is going to abduct you?”
    “The people,” he said.
    I compassionately explained that I would be 5 feet away, simply IN THE NEXT ROOM, like I am as he plays at our house and that he would not be alone. If he needed me he could knock on the door or call out my name and I would come right out because being so close I would hear his voice. Unfortunately, my explanations made zero impression on this child. Apparently, his mother had drilled into him a fear of stranger abduction so deep that he could not fathom sitting in a room with two other kids only feet away from a trusted adult. I instead drove him home to his mother who thanked me and said she would never let him sit in a waiting room “alone.”

    This world she is afraid of is not a world I care to live in, so I don’t. I choose to live in a different world. One in which my kids can feel they are safe.

  31. I don’t think that it is good to supervise them too much. Of course their safety is important but them need to have some freedom to discover life by themselves and fly by their own wings…

  32. @RobC- Haha!
    I wonder how he can carry a gun when hunting, but can’t take a train to get to his hunting destination? Sheesh, a 6 year-old can go bear hunting in this country, but we won’t let them read a book quietly in the library alone.

    This post reminds me of two of my kid’s favorite movies-“The Polar Express” and “Matilda”. If we applied our modern-day safety strategies to these movies, those kids would never have gotten on the Polar Express (can’t ride alone) and Matilda would have never gotten to the library by herself to get her first book.

  33. I just had an argument with my aunt and my sister regarding just these kinds of idiotic things-particularly the bus stop issue. My aunt was just saying that in Ohio (where my married cousin lives) my cousin’s district now mandates an adult MUST be at the bus stop to both see off and pick up any K-1 child. Doesn’t matter how close their house is. Sister and Aunt agreed this was a good idea. We got into the whole thing about how it is really safer now, etc, etc, and they figured it was all about not knowing who was around the bus stop (waiting to abduct the kids, of course) and not about the ability of the kid to get home. I basically said-“good Lord, you’ve bought into the myth”, and had to leave the kitchen. My sister doesn’t even have kids, and my aunt raised 3 basically free-range kids, but is now “anti-free range” with the grandkids.

  34. Funnily enough, I was just chatting with a teacher friend about the first day of school (she has been on leave, and is going back at the start of our Australian school year in January).

    She said she hates the first day, because there are always games of musical chairs as class numbers are finalised. Back in the day (you know, the pre-litigious day), the students themselves moved any chairs and desks that needed to go from one classroom to another. Many hands make light work. Now, for OH&S reasons, only the GA (I think the equivalent of a janitor?) is allowed to carry the chairs and desks, so apparently a 5 minute job now takes all day.

    Yet another thing to add to the list of the nanny state gone mad.

  35. If everyone is SO concerned about a little scrape or bruise, why don’t we all just wrap up our kids in bubble wrap?

    Shh. Don’t tell the overprotective moms who think that if a child is alone for two minutes, it’s child abuse and that a campfire is too dangerous to sit within five feet of and that a responsible adult has to be with a child at a bus stop.

    While I’m on the subject of bus stops, some of the bus stops are in the DRIVEWAYS of the home.

  36. So is 35 the new 18? I just want to know because I turned 35 about 4 weeks ago…

  37. Great article thanks

  38. I am very thankful for my mother. Despite years of my step father watching America’s Most Wanted, she has no trouble with me sending my kids outside. She was commenting this weekend how, when we come to visit, my kids willingly go outside, yet my step sister’s kids, will not.

    And it is not like it is totally safe. The place is absolutely infested with loads and loads of poison ivy and tons of ticks. The kids have to bath and get inspected before bed every night when we go to visit!

  39. My daughter was driving me crazy this weekend so I told her to go to visit a friend a few houses down. She asked me to go with her because people always stop her and question her about being lost when she goes alone. So my child is not afraid to walk down the road by herself; she’s afraid of “well-meaning” busybodies who bother her about walking down the road alone (and who then come and knock on my door because she’s walking down the road alone).

    We also went to Trader Joe’s last week. My daughter always just wanders around the store looking for the lobsters while I shop. This trip she ran into a friend. She wanted the friend to go with her to look for the lobsters but the friend’s mother refused to let her go because it was too dangerous. The store is all of maybe 7 aisles. Again, criminals are not known for their MacGyver-like antics. Sex with your girlfriend’s child while said girlfriend is at work? Sure. Abducting a child in broad daylight from inside a very small, crowded grocery store with ample very personable employees walking around passing out samples and chatting up customers? Not so much.

  40. Carla, that is so sad and strange to me. Last year when my eldest was in vision therapy, I had to bring along my youngest (then 3yo). I liked to watch the therapy in progress, so with the receptionist’s permission, I’d leave my 3yo in the waiting area (right next to the outside door and in front of the window for all passersby to see, Lord help us). The receptionist would go home around the time my kid’s therapy started, so my 3yo was “alone,” except that she was fully capable of making a noise or coming to get me if there was a problem. She is a vidiot and was more than happy to sit and watch DVDs, or play with their Lego set. When my eldest had an eye exam that required me to be unavailable for the better part of an hour, 3yo was still perfectly fine “alone.” She even (gasp) took herself to the toilet. And she didn’t do anything crazy like climb on the furniture or rip the books. I don’t think she’s the strange one. It may be that some 3yos could not be trusted “alone,” but 10yo? My oh my.

  41. What really peeves me is just as we are infantalizing our children, when they do something wrong we want to charge them as adults (ie: playing ‘doctor’ will get a 5 year old arrested and lifting a girl’s skirt in 4th grade will get you suspended for ‘sexual harrassment’.)

  42. I’m fairly sure the library restrictions aren’t about safety/concern/what have you. They’re about the fact that overstretched parents leave their kids at the library as a form of daycare. This is deeply related to the care crisis in our country — government won’t subsidize daycare, nor will government subsidize parents staying home to look after their children — so I understand it, though I’m not condoning it, since it’s throwing the librarians into a position they’re neither prepared for, nor, by and large, want to be in.

    While I agree that elementary-school-aged children should, for the most part, be allowed to spend as much time at the library as they like, some libraries have seen their time and resources eaten up by trying to rein in the dozens of kids who, instead of after-school programs or babysitters or parents, only have library staff to look after them. And the librarians are, as you know, trying to do their actual jobs while at the library. (For those of us who work outside the home in non-childcare jobs, we can all imagine how impossible it would be to get our regular work done if we were being pressed into simultaneous duty as babysitters.) So the libraries have responded in the only way they can think to, i.e. to ban unaccompanied minors. This is a non-ideal situation, but is completely unrelated to the disturbing global trend of infantilizing children.

  43. reading Marissa’s comment, I’m thinking back to my dad’s time spent alone in libraries as an 8 year old. He tells me that if anyone violated the noise rule, the librarian simply kicked them out. let alone any nonsense with bad behavior.Of course if they were kicked out, they’d wander the streets or go sit on their own doorstep till mom came home. There wasn’t the endless concern of so called child safety where everyone becomes a busy body trying to enforce “concern” onto parents who aren’t available every second of every day. A little working it out on your own, didn’t cause so much panic back then and we didn’t live in a world of such perpetual panic trying to push everyone into the same mold of protective parenting… ho hum

  44. Yeah, when I was a kid and went alone to the library, it was because I wanted to go look at some books and maybe borrow some. Otherwise I would not have been there. My mom and dad were at work, but I knew how to get along without adult supervision. Actually, the thing that bugs me is that these kids whose parents make them go to the library aren’t getting to do what they really ought to do after school – run, play, putz, laugh, show off, ride bikes, meet new friends; prep dinner, practice piano, and just plain chill.

  45. @SKL Some kids (for example me years ago) like libraries, nobody is making them go. I spend a lot of time reading there, then I took 6-7 books home and read them all within a week or so. Btw, there was no special kids reading room in there, no special program. I was sitting wherever possible (window frame, …).

    Actually, my parents had to make me to go outside, because I would rather read. Reading was chilling for me, much better then running or whatever.

  46. Except in my area, there is ample free/cheap afterschool care and activities and yet there is still a 10 or 12 minimum age for children to left alone at the library (it is not either/or; I just can’t remember which). If this were truly an issue of no government subsidizing of childcare means lots of kids dropped off at the library which leads to these minimum age requirements, then my town, where the government does subsidize afterschool activities, should not have them.

    I would guess it’s a combination of an inability to kick misbehaving unaccompanied kids out (due to the refusal to allow kids alone for a second and the fact that many were brought via car and do not live within walking distance); the inability for librarians to discipline the children without fear if mommy attacking them for daring to discipline; and the belief, often stated here when this topic comes up, that libraries are very dangerous places because the mentally ill and homeless go there.

  47. Yes, “we” are infantilizing our children! We are also infatilising our adults via the ridiculous OH&S laws. No longer can anyone take risk. We must all live in a totally controlled environment. All this is of course is done to “cover one’s arse”. It is not done to make people safer.

  48. Andy, there are some parents who do force their kids to go to the library until they pick them up after work. I used to work with a mom who did that. She always had to rush out of work at x time because her kid was waiting at the library and she was afraid to let him go anywhere by himself. This continued almost until he started driving.

  49. My 13 yo daughter (who looks like more 10 or 11 yo’s than 13 yo’s) has told me that on three separate occasions when she went to the Dollar General a half mile up the street, a male employee has questioned her. “Does your mom know you’re here? Do you live near here? Do you need a ride home?”

    DO YOU NEED A RIDE HOME?????? Is the guy himself a predator?

    I doubt it — he’s probably just clueless. (Then again, casing her to find out if anyone knows where she is, is suspicious also. But I try to give people the benefit of the doubt — there are more people in the world who think a child shouldn’t take a half mile trip to the store down a well-traveled street for candy or Christmas presents than there are predators who would just walk off their jobs.) But besides her calmly telling him that yes, I know she’s there, and she lives just a half a mile away, she knows very well that accepting a ride would be the worst thing to do.

    I think if it happens one more time, Dollar General’s going to lose her business to the Family Dollar 100 yards farther on. In fact, I’m going to tell her to tell the guy that her mom said that she shouldn’t shop there any more if he keeps bothering her.

  50. This past summer, we were camping with the in-laws at a campground in Wisconsin. The next campsite over had three boys, one around 8, one about 5 (my son’s age) and one around 3. The 8-year-old and two 5-year-olds spent hours running around the campgrounds together, including over to the field/playground next to the restrooms about three sites away from our two sites.

    At one point one afternoon when the other two boys weren’t there, my 5-year-old announced he needed to go to the toilet. I could see clear through to the restrooms from the site so I told him to just go. He had been playing hide-and-seek over around there for 3 days … and my MIL had a complete meltdown. She didn’t have any problems with him running around everywhere but OMG GOING INTO THE RESTROOM WAS DANGEROUS. Given that the campground was actually mainly empty and I hadn’t seen anyone but us and the campers from the site next to us in the restroom at any point, I kind of blinked at her as she went off about kidnappers and such hiding in restrooms.

  51. Pentamom – from the time I was 5, my parents gave us our allowance on Saturday mornigns and we were off! The nearest store a couple blocks away, but by the time we were about 8, we used to prefer going to a more distant one (a couple miles?) that had cooler stuff. Sometimes we went together, sometimes alone. Nobody thought anything of it. I mean, yeah, some of the shop owners watched us like hawks in case we were tempted to pilfer. Can’t blame them for that. But it was not about our safety at all. People assumed that if we had enough brains to get to the store, we must have enough brains to get back home.

  52. I have been leaving my daughter (now age 10) in my dentist’s waiting room since she was 7. The first time I tired to bribe her with a toy but instead she took the toothbrush the dentist offered to her. I introduced her to the stranger (receptionist) and said to be quiet especially if the phone rang.

    No one took her in the 20 minute appointment. She played with her toys, talked to the receptionist, and another gentleman waiting for his appointment, looked at fish, and waited for me to be done. She said I should have gotten a toy for being good but otherwise it wasn’t a bad experience.

  53. “the inability for librarians to discipline the children without fear if mommy attacking them for daring to discipline;”

    It’s not and should not be the librarians job to discipline children. They are not babysitters!

  54. My son just turned 10, and for one of his gifts we decided to get him a pocket knife. He had been begging for one for a long time. My husband went to a good knife shop nearby, and told the salesperson he was buying our son his first pocket knife. The guy proceeded to pull out what amounted to pocket butter knifes, with a rounded “safety” tip. My husband protested that he wanted an actual knife, at which point the sales guy said “but he could poke or cut himself!” “Good”, said my husband, “then he’ll learn to respect it.”

    My son is now the proud owner of a nice, sharp Buck pocket knife, and he hasn’t cut or poked himself yet. He has even taken time to show adults how to properly handle it, because some of them don’t know (maybe their parents never thought they could handle one?). If he does cut himself, he might need a few stitches, and that’s about it. Ten year old kids can do so much more than they are credited with.

  55. I guess my childhood librarians didn’t get that memo about discipline – they had no trouble telling kids to be quiet, stop playing and get out when all else failed. And yet unaccompanied kids were still very welcome. When did a librarian saying “shhhh” to children who get too noisy become “babysitting” and outside of the librarian job description?

  56. Donna — maybe when the more of the kids frequently started needing more than “shhhh” and didn’t always listen when the librarian did correct them?

    I’m quite willing to believe this is more of a problem than it used to be. Whether that’s really the issue driving the restrictions, I don’t know. But it seems very plausible to me that the situation has gotten to where the librarians really can’t supervise kids and get anything done at the same time.

  57. I think all these overbearing rules and decisions by parents are just meant to make us feel better as parents. If we’re not actively parenting- hovering and protecting- then we’re not parenting at all. And if we’re not parenting, how can we consider ourselves *good* parents? If we’re not good parents, who are we?

    My youngest is 4 and can deal with a lot more freedom lately, and a lot less parenting. Since I’m ok with letting both my kids “off leash”, I have a lot more free time. To me- that’s great- I get more of my life back! I can still be a good mom and have my own hobbies.

    To others, they’ve defined themselves as “good” parents. Ones that constantly look out for their kids. They can’t let themselves out of that role for even a few minutes- who would they become? They are “Super Parents”- the only ones capable of keeping their kids safe. That must make them feel like really good people.

    I just regret that they think I’m a bad mom for letting my kids out of my sight. But I’ll live.

  58. Pentamom – I agree but I think that it falls into the general belief that we can’t do anything to make children behave mentality that has grasped America. In other words, if children were kicked out of the library for failing to listen to the “shhh” of the librarian, they would start listening to the “shhhh” of the librarian if they want to be in the library (and if they don’t, no loss). But if the librarian dared to kick a child out of the library for being to noisy, there’s at least a 50/50 shot that the parent would come to the library and scream at the librarian for doing so. We live in the world we create.

    But little of this has anything to do with these regulations. If it did, ALL children would be banned from the library without parents. The teens in my local library are not substantially more quiet, well-behaved and in need of less shhhh-ing than the under 12 set, and yet they are allowed in the library sans parents and the under 12 set are not.

  59. I think also that at some point, kids decided it was fun to aggravate adults such as librarians. Probably around the same time that certain parents decided nobody was allowed to correct their kids.

    When I was little, I wouldn’t dream of “intentionally” disrupting the library or irritating the staff. Most likely I did so unintentionally once or twice, but was mortified upon being reminded to be quiet. At some point bugging adults became a fun idea, but I’d never go to a library to do that. I’d save it for someone who went out of their way to pick on me first. Somehow a library was always a place of quiet, respect, and order in my mind. Not sure why that has changed. Maybe the addition of fun “children’s areas” that detract from the once-sober atmosphere. I know it’s hard to expect my kids to be perfectly quiet and still when there’s a huge play area with tons of toys right in the middle of the book collection.

    The more I think about it – the library was never a “hang-out” when I was a kid. If you wanted to read or borrow a book, you went there. You didn’t do anything else there. It wasn’t some kind of community center like some of them are nowadays. Folks with an agenda other than quiet reading would not be in there in the first place.

  60. Our library has been updated and has a padded area with climbing walls, mushrooms stools (a la Alice in Wonderland), and other padded benches. There is a sign that says “no climbing” and “don’t take shoes off”. They also have a train table, a great big doll house, and a puppet theater with tons of animal puppets. If they expected children to keep quiet, they shouldn’t have created the kids room of a Chickfilla.

  61. Lou,
    It doesn’t matter what you or I believe, it is what the insurance company charges. I personally know of three incidents where children were hurt while doing something stupid and the insurance company settled to avoid a lawsuit. One of those is why a local park doesn’t have a skateboard area anymore. A kid was trying to do a stunt that he saw in the movie Jackass and got seriously hurt, but, it was the County that got sued. It is also why my company had to hire a “lifeguard” for the pool where we had our company picnic even though I volunteered to do it. I’m an ex-Navy SAR swimmer with a current EMT rating and the pool was 4 feet deep.

  62. Amtrak is too expensive anyway.

    And eight foot branches? There’s some big kids at that daycare.

  63. Are we so sure that today’s kids are really that much worst than the previous generation? First of all, our expectations on the kids behavior are stricter in some way:
    * running almost everywhere is considered bad (used to be normal),
    * being more than 5 meters from parents is considered misbehavior (used to be normal),
    * play-fight between two kids on the playground is bad (used to be ignored),
    * climbing trees is serious misbehavior (used to be normal),
    * climbing higher than some artificial minimum skills for age based line is bade (no one used to care),
    * there is a notion of ‘proper play on playground structure’ which prescribe how exactly you should use playground (never existed before).

    If the previous generation kid slightly altered route on its way home, nobody would ever find out. The same goes for a ton of other behavior that is considered ‘risky’ or ‘bad’.

    Today’s kids are different, of course, but I’m not that sure they are so bad. They are non-stop watched under microscope and we were not. Plus, there is an optimistic memory issue. if you were good student with respect for teachers you remember that. Often you do not remember other kids who were not.

    I have two good examples and one weak example for that:

    1.) According to statistics, youth criminality fallen down in between generations. They are less violent than previous generation and take less drugs. But as with the danger, we still believe opposite.

    If they are less violent but little bit more annoying sometimes, I consider it a good trade off.

    2.) Look at the Amtrak case: according to the company, there was no issues with kids only ‘abundance of concern’. However, most of the discussion by people who do not travel was around misbehaving kids. People that do travel by train, claimed that they had no bad experience with alone traveling kids behavior.

    In other words, a lot of people assumed that kids misbehaved and centered discussion around it while people with actual experience had no problem with kids behavior.

    3.) This is weak argument: Donna who goes to the library claims that kids are OK. Other people talk about problems with kids behavior but do not claim to have an experience with it. I know that this argument is somewhat weaker. But still …

    Second, my experience with random people disciplining kids was almost always in ‘do not climb tree’, ‘do not run’ and ‘you are too far from parents’ category.

    Parents have been fine with the behavior as was all other adults present.

  64. Lou Doench

    This link is for you. 🙂


    Motorized bicycle on a bike path that prohibits motorized vehicles. Riding in ice and snow on a bicycle.
    What ever happened to personal responsibility and assumed risk?

  65. “Other people talk about problems with kids behavior but do not claim to have an experience with it. ”

    I’m not sure where this comes from. I agree that for the most part, the libraries aren’t free-for-alls full of screaming hooligans.

    But I never said that I had “no experience” with libraries, or with kid behavior. I HAVE seen kids act up quite a bit in libraries, as well as other places, to the extent that I made a reasonable judgment that there are too many kids who would create problems, to say that it shouldn’t be a problem for librarians to keep them in line.

    Also, the “the reason we think kids won’t behave in libraries is that we try to restrict them too much on playground equipment” should have gone under your “weak arguments” category. Even if it were true that the problem is that we just want kids to sit down and be quiet everywhere, kids are SUPPOSED TO sit down and be quiet in the library, so the fact that they don’t, IS the problem. Expecting quiet, orderly behavior IS appropriate in the library, so if we don’t see that in the library, that IS a problem.

    I’ve seen enough kids, in all settings, to know that too many of them don’t respond appropriately to the expectations of the setting they’re in, and don’t respond at all well to correction by adults, to dismiss the idea that librarians would be *legitimately* burdened by having to control kids all day long without supervision — not every single kid at every single moment, but enough throughout the day that it would seriously interfere with the actual job of a librarian. And even Donna agrees that it’s not that this is a non-issue, it’s just that it’s set up by wrong expectations and lack of appropriate limits all around.

    I didn’t just make this up by not going to the library.

  66. Andy, are you sure the reduction in youth violence isn’t because we now try kids as young as 12 as adults?

  67. I think the problem with kids in the library is that too many parents refuse to discipline their children when they misbehave. I’ve seen many kids act up in public places where they should be minding their manners. And I’ve seen parents totally tune their kids out when they misbehave, to the point that kids start actually doing damage to stuff.

    I worked in a bookstore for five years and some of the things I saw parents let their kids do were just astounding. One woman brought her three-year-old son into the music department. She put on headphones and closed her eyes and listened to music while her little darling pulled the bin cards out of the entire bottom row of CDs in that section. This was about a 25-foot-long row and he threw roughly 200 cards on the floor. I rounded the corner to find this and my jaw dropped. The mom saw me, looked at her little darling and the piles and piles of cards and said, “Are you getting tired, baby?” Then they left. I spent the rest of my shift picking those cards up and putting them all back where they went.

    Another coworker was redoing a spinner rack of 8×8 books in the kid’s department. A six-year-old kid was trying to spin it while she was arranging it. She asked him to wait so she could put the books away and then he could spin it. He stopped for a moment, and as she leaned in to put a book away, he spun it with the force of the Incredible Hulk. It hit her in the face and her nose started bleeding, and all the books flew out of the rack. The kid’s mom looked over at my coworker, holding her bloody nose, standing among a pile of books and said, “Oh, look, he’s trying to help!”

  68. Absolutely agree great post!

  69. I remember that when I was a kid and I went (alone!) into stores, there was often a sign: “you break it, you buy it.” Not sure how they would have enforced that against a kid who got 25c weekly allowance, but at the time it was an effective warning.

    If I’d broken or trashed something in a store as a kid and my parent was there, my butt would have been the next item to be busted.

    I do think times have changed. But on the other hand, where I live anyway, most parents are pretty “traditional” about those things.

  70. @SKL The reduction in crime came slightly sooner before that change became so popular. It is topic of the book framing youth which came out 2002. Popularity of trying of kids as young 12 as adults is more recent I think.

    What I recall from what I read, youth crime declined in some places and became more dense (raised) in others. It declined overall and declined for middle class ‘average’ kids. It vent up in those real bad places (gang ridden neighborhoods).

  71. Oh yeah, if kids broke anything in our bookstore, they were not required to pay for it. We just took it back and took the loss. Parents would regularly give their babies and toddlers stuffed animals or board books to chew on and them hand them back at the cash register. Great, thanks.

    I remember accidentally breaking a lamp in my own home when I was about six. I had been jumping around near the lamp and knocked it off the side table. I had been getting a $2-a-week allowance ever since I was two and always put the money in the bank. My dad took me to the bank and we withdrew the $25 or so from my account to go buy my mom a new lamp. It was devastating to see my savings disappear!

    If I’d ever broken anything in a store, I’m certain I would have been spanked right then and there.

    The best instance of this I’ve ever encountered was in a book when a guy and his daughter went to the store. The daughter starting messing with glass soda bottles on the shelves and the dad told her to stop. She didn’t and she broke a bottle. A stockboy came to clean it up and the dad asked for the part of the bottle with the UPC so he could pay for it. The stockboy looked at him like he was crazy and said he didn’t have to pay for it, but the dad wanted to teach the daughter a lesson. He told his daughter, “We’re lucky that this only cost $2. What if you’d broken something that cost $2000? We have to pay for things that we break and we can’t afford to pay $2000. This is why you have to be careful.” He said she never broke anything in that manner again.

  72. kiesha — good point that kids act that way UNDER their parents’ eyes. So that’s a good reason why “librarians can’t be babysitters” isn’t a good reason to restrict unaccompanied kids.”

    But OTOH, that it’s not a good reason, doesn’t mean it’s not the reason! Institutions make policies that aren’t always logical — are we surprised?

    And FWIW, those were some horrible stories about parents letting their kids damage stuff (and people!) without caring.

    SKL, I think the “youth crime” statistics are compiled by age, regardless of whether the kid is charged as a juvenile or adult.

  73. @Lollipoplover
    I too have wondered about the rationale behind putting toys and puppets in the children’s room at a library, and then expecting kids to be quiet. I always taught my kids that the grown up section has rules about being quiet. So the second we stepped out of the children’s section I always said, “Remember! Grown up section rules!”

    But when I was little this wasn’t a problem. The kids section had books and comfy chairs – that’s it. If you wanted to play, you went to a friends house. If you wanted to read, you went to the library. Sometimes I find it frustrating that my kids are more interested in fiddling with the toys than perusing the books – isn’t that the point of the library?

    If you give kids toys, they will make noise with them. So why be surprised when kids actually play and make noise with toys in the library?

  74. Kiesha, I’ve done that too. When my kids’ foolishness resulted in a busted-open yogurt, I made a big deal out of buying the busted yogurt and serving it up to my kid the next day in place of what she normally would have enjoyed eating. The clerk said I didn’t have to pay, but how else was I going to teach my kids a lesson? I’m thankful that so far, the yogurt is the only thing they’ve broken on someone else’s turf.

    If my kids are going to be free-range, I have to trust them to not terrorize whatever territory we are in.

  75. I’m kind of amazed (and impressed) with the parents that allow their precious darlings to attend… summer camp! I have worked at Boy Scout camp for five summers. My sister who ran the Handicraft area would give a “Finger Carving” award each week to the Scout who suffered the worst injury in her department (I think there were only two incidents that required stiches or something that couldn’t be handled in our first aid area).

  76. Even Sesame Street was once free-range. *sigh* Alas, gone are those days.

  77. Spot on, Andy. And purely anecdoctal, I know, but the time I saw a librarian voice concerns about unaccompanied children in a library (even though one of them was at least 10 and the other school age) because “anything could happen”, and then go on to chastise the mother when she turned up 20 minutes later, the children in question had been sitting perfectly quietly reading the whole time. I went back to the library the same evening and some children who were slightly older and therefore OK to be unaccompanied were having chair races on chairs on casters and nobody was saying anything to them.

    Wrong, wrong, wrong.

  78. @pentamom Also, the “the reason we think kids won’t behave in libraries is that we try to restrict them too much on playground equipment” should have gone under your “weak arguments” category.

    I never told, wrote nor meant that. Also, I did not wrote that it is OK to play chase in a library.

    I wrote that we have different and often higher expectations on today’s kids behavior that was usual in previous generation of kids. So, in general it looks like they are much worst than we have been even if it is not the case.

    It is completely different argument and little bit different topic. It is more about our perception of their behavior and less about library rules and consequences.

    Btw, noisy kids in a library are not a new development. Neither are spoiled kids. Previous generation had them too.

  79. “So, in general it looks like they are much worst than we have been even if it is not the case. ”

    Point taken. However, one doesn’t have to walk around with a prejudicial, counter-factual, externally formed idea of “How kids behave” to see a bunch of kids in the library not behaving, and decide that they’re not behaving well enough to burden the librarians with trying to monitor them. Yet you seemed to suggest that the externally formed idea, and NOT our own observations, were what created our view. I think that’s rather hasty and doesn’t give enough credit to the people you were addressing. That’s really what I meant.

  80. I don’t agree that we have higher behavior expectations of our kids at all. Maybe some groups of kids at some ages (like tween boys during hours when they are out of school), but certainly not little kids. All I ever hear is how it’s “age appropriate” for tots and preschoolers to scream, bite, kick, and speak rudely to their parents all day long. How it’s impossible to prevent it so bypassers (and librarians) can just suck it up. The last time I took my kids to the library, there was a tot screeching her head off for an extended time period, and nobody did anything about it. Never would have happened when I was a kid, no way no how. That kid would have been out of there if she truly could not control herself.

  81. I’ve noticed that toddlers and babies get a free pass because they’re babies.

    But woe betide the normal kids once they get to be school age. So many people have gotten used to kids sitting unmoving and playing with hand held devices that anything other than that is ‘too wild’ and brings comments about ADHD.

  82. SKL — when I was a kid, it *might* have happened.

    And when the mom and kid eventually walked out of the library, everybody left would have been expressing how appalled they were to one another. And there would have been dirty looks all around as long as the show went on.

    That is to say, stuff like really spoiled kids happens in every age. But it used to be the *exception.* Now it is much, much more common.

  83. Obviously, we’re all observing different children, in a different country in my case. I don’t know, perhaps American children are really badly behaved. All I know is that Andy’s and BMS’ observations correspond to mine perfectly, vis-a-vis UK children at least. And yet, people here are always complaining about how badly behaved the “kids of today” are. I always feel like saying “how do you know how kids of today act, you hardly see any – they’re all inside, either in house or in cars”.

    I absolutely believe in quiet in libraries and in people teaching their children to take people around them into consideration, I do and I wouldn’t want it to swing too far the other way, but I’m afraid it’s got to the point where I feel relieved on the very rare occasions when I see other parents let their children run around in “inappropriate” settings.

  84. I do agree with Andy in that I’m sure that SOME of our perception of children as being worse today is false. It is the difference between participant and observer. If you ask my child if she listens, she would say that she listens 100% of the time, never argues and is the perfect specimen of a well-behaved child. She also may tell you that I’m a harsh disciplinarian that doesn’t want her to have any fun. Neither of those things are remotely true. So, yes, there is a definite difference in perception concerning how well-behaved we believe children were and how strict we believe parents were when we actually were those supposedly well-behaved children and our view now as adults and parents.

    That said, I do think parents are more lax in enforcing proper behavior now. I think is particularly so when dealing with our children’s interactions with other adults. When I was a child, an adult was someone you obeyed, regardless of connection. Today, way too many parents automatically jump to the side of their child against any adult who dares to discipline them. This isn’t just my perception but the perception of teachers, librarians, coaches and anyone with regular interaction with children – including those who were adults for the previous generations of kids.

  85. At the bookstore, we had two escalators, one up and one down. Parents would teach their children to JUMP off the escalator at the bottom. Fun fact: When our escalators received enough of a shock from the weight of jumping, it would shut down. Then we’d have to pay a technician to come out and fix the thing. And while it was broken, we’d have to turn the other escalator off and use it as stairs for both directions. It was a long hike. The employees would call out to kids, “Don’t jump on the escalator!” They usually ignored us. Their parents would give us dirty looks. Parents would also sometimes encourage their kids to do dumb shit on the escalators, like walk backwards or go down the up or vice versa. We’d call out, “Please don’t play on the escalator!” and get those same dirty looks.

    The best/worst day was when a kid’s Croc got eaten by the escalator because he was screwing around.

    Fear and respect the escalator.

  86. Abundance of concern? Why is Amtrak deciding how the parents should raise their kid? Because practically what they’re saying is “If a parent CHOOSES to let his 9 year old ride a train on their own, we’re concerned about that and will not allow the parent to do so”. How condescending. They’re parenting the parent. They’re a TRAIN company.

    Remember when we grew up, how we didn’t even have cell phones? We were let outside – at 6, 7, 8 – and then we came back for dinner and all was well. How many kids did you know that died, got kidnapped or got scarred for life then? I know zero.

    I want to read more of this blog but it’s bringing me down so I won’t. Sorry. It’s because you’re good at what you do 🙂


  88. In defense of the library policy, I think that’s as much or more about people dropping their kids off and expecting the librarian to act as daycare. My SIL tells tales of having to call the state police because the library was closing, the parents hadn’t picked the kid up, and she was legally forbidden to tell the kid to leave. While I feel badly for all involved (I know some parents have no other options), librarians are not and should not be daycare providers.

  89. Is this (link below) what happens when over-protected kids become nominal adults?

  90. Darrin: Sure looks like it, although these sorts of abuses have been going on since well before helicopter parenting became common. FIRE does good work, “even though” the majority of the people they defend are expressing opinions that I’d consider truly reprehensible (but that’s just the price of defending free speech, knowing that if “my side” got to impose certain restrictions, “my enemies” would also get to do so). Note, though, that from what I can tell about this particular case, the professor was expressing opinions (to the extent that he was, as opposed to teaching actual historical facts) that I’d perfectly agree with, even if they might make certain delicate types squeamish.

  91. Happened to encounter this article … the Amtrak thing is just as stupid as it seems to be! I’ve had to ride the Amtrak as an unaccompanied minor four times between the ages of twelve or so and fourteen (you stop having to do this when you turn fifteen). It’s indescribably stupid, and impractical, especially in large stations.

    They read out this entire list of things you can’t do at the Customer Service office (It’s especially irritating when you end up with an agent with an attitude), and once you get on the train the conductor seems not to have any idea that these are rules, probably because they’re so impractical. You aren’t allowed to be an unaccompanied minor after a certain time, as was stated above. You need a cell phone in case of emergencies, as far as I could tell. You can’t go alone if you have a peanut allergy. You have to know exactly who is picking you up / dropping you off, and have to have adults at either end with identification to sign that they picked you up. You can’t go anywhere at all without someone going with you. You aren’t even allowed to go to the restroom without the conductor’s permission, and you have to sit in the cafe car so you can be supervised all the time. The restroom is right next to you (at the end of every car) and the conductor sometimes isn’t there.

    Actually, the whole signing you off thing is the stupidest. They require photo identification on both ends, and there are three copies of a form you have to fill out – one for the adults on each end and one for Amtrak – that details the information of all of the adults. The single thing they don’t ask for is the child itself’s identification. I never had to sign anything, or show any ID, though I did get that stupid wrist bracelet that has your name, train number, adult, and stuff. They don’t care who you are, though – you’re just cargo. As long as you’re signed in and out correctly at each end, they don’t at all care who the child they’re taking is.

    Mind you, the first time I traveled unaccompanied, the conductor dropped me off in a random seat next to a woman I didn’t know and only went to get me right at the end – nobody tried to interview me! Yet, somehow I wasn’t abducted.

    This all seemed particularly stupid to me as I had rode on that same train about fifty times in my life with my parents

    And don’t forget the time I was nearly left on a train in Pennsylvania because the conductor forgot to get me to let me off and the (rude) woman at Customer Service had strongly stated that I was under no circumstances to get off the train without their permission.

  92. Jim, your story clarifies the picture.
    And what a lovely picture it is….we can somehow (still) afford the $billions we waste on Nascar, Vegas weekends, the proliferation of private jets and yachts…..but somehow, coverage for our children’s healthy upbringing is just too damned expensive.
    As always, the propaganda peeks out behind the message. The solution? Get rich, and you too can just provide all the goodies for your child…..privately.
    Ultimately – we privatize everything….just as surely as the cell-phone user three tables down in a “public” restaurant.
    Commodified kids must be “cost-effective” too.

  93. have the people making these rules never gotten injured and gotten over it without any lasting damage?

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