Cop Suspects Dad Walking with His Kid of Being a Predator & Adds, “You Should THANK Me”

Hi Readers! Here it goes again – a man, a kid, a cop. Read on. – L.

Dear Free-Range Kids: Recently my youngest daughter and I had an experience that really shook me up (both of us, actually), and I wanted to share it with you. We were walking to the library together, and she was holding my hand and trying to pull me into telephone poles and whatnot as we walked, which is a silly game that she enjoys. Suddenly a police car pulled up beside us, lights on and everything. The cop gets out of his car, says “Sir, please step away from the child,” then proceeds to crouch down and ask her if “everything is okay.”

After re-asking a few times, getting a more and more nervous “yes” each time, he stands up and informs me that someone had called 911 reporting what looked like a young girl being abducted. My daughter and I both explained what was really happening, and not only did he not even apologize, he chastised ME for not being, and I quote verbatim here, “More thankful someone was watching out for my daughter.”

We did eventually make it to the library and home, but it has made me slightly more cautious and watchful whenever we walk places. Is this a normal reaction to an event like this? Has anything like this happened to anyone else here?

Does Baby Need a Barista? Nestle Thinks So

Does baby need a barista? Nestle thinks so. It’s launching new “single serve” bottles made from purest of purely pure water. The machine works just like one of those pop-in-a-pod coffee makers. According to the BabyNes website:

The single-serve portions are sealed in capsules, used in the proprietary BabyNes machine, which recognises each capsule and prepares the bottle with precisely the right dosage and temperature, at the push of a button, in less than one minute. The BabyNes machine combines state-of-the-art technology with the utmost safety and convenience, and ensures a hygienic, quick and easy bottle preparation.

Here’s the deal. I don’t want to start an argument about breast vs. bottle feeding. I myself did both. What makes this a Free-Range topic of interest is the constant upping the ante of what is “good enough” for kids. New is the notion that any water that was NOT purified in a state-of-the-art machine is not safe enough for a baby, and also that parents might not measure out precisely the right “dosage,” as if we’re talking about finely calibrated medicine!

BabyNes system uses new patented technology to prepare and deliver a hygienic, safe product for babies in a new way. At the heart of the innovation is the BabyNes capsule which contains an integrated microbiological filter to eliminate bacteria from the water. The product preparation all takes place within the closed capsule which means it doesn’t have any contact with the machine or the user before going into the bottle.

A lot of the Free-Range philosophy is looking at how society tries to convince us that we need to BUY something to be good parents — that anything we’d do on our own is for some reason suddenly not good or safe enough anymore: Better to trust a product or class or expert than ourselves. This particular item tries to make us feel our kids are vulnerable — can they really not tolerate a slightly hotter or cooler drink? — and that we are dangerously bumbling dolts: Someone ELSE does the measuring. A state-of-the-art MACHINE does the mixing.

But really: Who says anything having to do with our kids has to be this perfect?  Only someone with something to sell. – L

BabyNes capsule

Baby wants a latte!

“How a Mother Can Make or Break Their College Student” Oh Really?

Hi Folks! A publicist sent me this infographic titled, “How a Mother Can Make or Break Their College Student.” It’s about a new service called mygofer that apparently ships basic toiletries and food to college students because otherwise they would stink and starve.

“HELP THEM OUT, MOM!” reads the copy. “Clearly they cannot be trusted on his or her own yet.” (The grammar alone is killing me.) “Shop for your busy student and have the items delivered right to their campus.”  The benefits of doing this? “No off-campus shopping = more time for rest, healthful habits and studying.” I leave you to supply your own guffaw. Also: “Send them reminders of home — favorite brands and foods.” Because it’s so hard to find an Oreo once you leave Topeka. And: “More of the money you give them is freed up for fun, not necessities.” Uh…great.

“College is a time for coming of age, making big decisions and becoming independent…and while all that is important, it’s a lot for a student to handle!” (Especially if they have to spend all their beer money on food.)  “Let them know they’re loved by Mom, not snubbed by Mom.”

Because only a mom who snubs her kids would expect them to learn how to buy a bottle of shampoo without her. – L.  (who, speaking of college educations,  can’t figure out how to shrink the graphic to fit quite right, but wanted to give you an idea of it anyway)

How Should a School Respond When ONE Parent Says, “That’s Too Dangerous!” ?

Hi Readers! Over in jolly ol’ England,  there’s a man I revere named Tim Gill who runs the blog Rethinking Childhood, and wrote the book No Fear: Growing Up in a Risk Averse Society. This most recent post of his is SO GOOD — and asks such an important question — I asked if i could run part of it here. Replied Tim, “Take the whole thing!” See what I mean? A great guy. – L

WHEN ANXIOUS PARENTS ARE THE PROBLEM, WHAT IS THE SOLUTION? by TIM GILL

How should schools, nurseries, kindergartens and other education, childcare and play services respond to anxious parents? I was asked this question recently by an Australian early years educator who heard me speak a couple of months ago.

She explained that her setting’s outdoor space was very small and sparse, but that it was located in some more extensive school grounds. She was keen to take the children into the grounds, so they could play games that they do not have room for in their own yard. She wanted to do this, not only because of the extra space, but also to prepare the children for the transition to the ‘big school’ that many of them would soon be joining. She continues:

Unfortunately, one parent has refused permission for their child to have anything to do with the school, because “she’s not going to that school next year”. I’ve spoken to my managers, and there’s nothing I can do about one parent preventing all the children from going to the school. I am not able to ask the child to stay home on those days. I am not able to leave her with one staff member at the setting. I am not able to leave her at the school office. And when I appealed to the mother she said that it is my problem.

It is amazing that one parent can determine what all the other children will be able to do! I asked my managers if they could make it a compulsory policy from next year’s enrolments that parents give permission before enrolling to access the school grounds. However, they said no, as I am supposed to engage with our community, according to regulations.

They did say they would look into it, as they hadn’t come across a parent like this before. I said they should, because there’s always one parent! If a parent doesn’t give permission then it’s certainly to their child’s detriment, but to affect everybody else’s rights to go on an excursion or to do an activity that is deemed beneficial and educational is not right.

Note the real problem here. It is not parents as a group. It’s that because of the policies and procedures of the setting, the views of a single parent are enough to derail things.

baby-knee-padsParents, like the rest of us, are on a spectrum when it comes to their attitude to risk. At one end of this spectrum, some parents apparently feel the need to protect their children through against all possible harm, even the harm from crawling on a hardwood floor.

All too often, systems and procedures effectively give risk averse parents a veto. Schools, services and settings feel under pressure to set their benchmark at the level of the most anxious parent. Often, the result is that all children lose out on some vital learning experiences.

My take-home message to services – and especially service managers – is simple. If you want to allow all children the chance to spread their wings a little, you cannot set your bar at the level of the most anxious parent. In the nicest possible way, you need to be assertive with the ones at the fearful end of the spectrum. They should not be allowed to think that they have a veto on what you offer to children.

Readers: How about you? How worried are you about the influence of anxious parents? What messages do parents get about your values – for instance, in your publicity materials, or your mission statement – and how well do these values square up with your practice? Have you succeeded in winning the more risk-averse over to the idea of expanding children’s horizons? Or do your procedures get in the way? I would love to hear your views and ideas. – -T.G.

Me too! – L.S.

P.S. You might want to check out the comments on Tim’s blog. Some good ones! 

 

Help Needed: Do Kids Mow Neighbors’ Lawns Anymore?

Hey Readers — Here’s a query from reader that I’m curious about, too. Weigh in! — L.
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Dear Free-Range Kids: My name is Stacey Gordon and I have noticed that I never see children doing the things that we did when we were kids.  They seem to be supervised at all times and never have any “just kid” time.  Nothing seems to be expected of them. It is as though they are treated as infants right up until the time that they are expected to wake up one day and magically become adults… without any practice.
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I caught a thread in our local neighborhood Yahoo group.  Someone was asking if there were any kids that did yard work for summer as they would love to hire one.  People fired back answers. One person suggested that kids were spoiled by their parents. Recently, in this same neighborhood, someone called the police when they saw some unsupervised kids IN THEIR OWN YARDS.  My response to the thread was along the line of, “If the police are called if children are playing in their own front yard unsupervised, imagine what kind of trouble the parents would be in if they let the kids mow the lawn!” So my curiosity came from this neighborhood conversation.
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As children, we would hustle for money any chance we got.  In the city of Yonkers, on those rare snow days, we’d get out and shovel and help clean off and dig out cars for the folks who had to get to work.  They were always grateful and would throw us a few bucks. In summer we would go to the local grocery store (one of many we could walk to) and stand outside and help customers carry their bags to the car for tips.    We would later pool our money and go to the local pizza joint and chip in  for an entire pizza and a pitcher of soda.  If there was money left over we went to the candy store for treats and baseball cards.  Making our own money made us feel independent and grown up.
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It seems that in many locations that children are no longer able to be unsupervised while playing in their own yards. Do kids still do these things? There are no kids (a few infants maybe) in my current neighborhood so I have no way to judge. Does anyone still see children mowing yards for money anymore? By “children” I’m thinking anywhere from age 9 and up.  I recall in years past, in the suburban neighborhoods, my cousin and other kids would go door to door soliciting yard work.  Would a kid even be allowed to touch a lawn mower now, much less seek gainful employment in the neighborhood?  Is it fear on the parents’ part? Is it laziness on the kids’ side?  Are kids just spending too much time being scheduled, or playing on computers? What’s the story? – -Stacey, who writes the blog SouthGeek.

Sure, kids can use TOY lawnmowers. But what about the real thing?

Is Your Child Safe ENOUGH? Take This Summer Safety Quiz!

Hi Folks — Now for something completely different. This piece of mine recently ran in the Washington Post.  Enjoy!  – L.

Tips for Keeping Your Child Safe. Very, Very Safe 

It’s summertime, which means it’s time for parents to think about safety — only safety. That’s what all the parenting magazines and Web sites will tell you, as will every TV news report that begins, “It was a beautiful summer day until . . . ”As a result, you know how important it is for your children to avoid all swimming pools, playgrounds, lakes, camps, parks, bugs, balls, hoses, horses, exercise, soap bubbles, sunbeams, sand, sugar and, of course, other children.

If you are still considering allowing your child to play outdoors this summer, go right ahead, you risk junkie! But first, heed these tips. Some were gleaned from reliable sources, others I might have made up. It makes sense to take some precautions, but can you tell the difference?
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1. Limit children’s sun exposure between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
2 . Children should watch TV or text during peak sun hours.
3 . Discourage children from moving rapidly when they see insects — movement encourages insects to bite.
4. If an insect alights on your child’s arm or leg, remove that limb.
5. Do not let your children dive.
6 . Do not let your children lift anything heavier than a wet towel. 
7 . Touch your toddler at all times to check body temperatures.
8. Touch your child’s wrist at all times to check for a pulse.
9. Use softer-than-standard baseballs and safety release bases to reduce baseball-related injuries. 
1 0. Use charades to pantomime football plays to reduce the possibility of concussions.
11. Avoid dressing your child in bright colors or flowery prints.
12. Choose clothes that cover your child’s shoulders, arms, fingers, legs and face.
13. Sweat and body heat bring on the bugs. Bathe the kids before heading out and try to keep them calm.
14. Give your children sedatives at breakfast and as needed throughout the day.
15. Check out a camp’s play equipment for cracks and dents.
16. Check out whether your child’s day camp is located at a federal prison.
17. Make sure your children come inside after 30 minutes of play for 15 minutes of water and snacks.
18. Make sure your children remember the rule “Step on a crack, time to eat a snack.”
19. Avoid gardens where flowers are in bloom.
20. Enjoy gardens where flowers are dead.
21. Never let your child wait in the car, even for a minute.
22. Always wake your toddlers to drag them across a busy gas station, for safety’s sake.
23. Avoid sweets during picnics.
24.Serve only bran-based desserts.
25. Make sure all home swing sets have nine inches of wood chips beneath the playset.
26. Remove all swings and replace with ottomans.
27. Make sure kids do a series of warm-ups and gentle stretches to get their muscles ready for action.
28 . Do not allow your child to play tag before being assessed by a medical professional.
29 . Stay away from very cold drinks — they can cause cramps.
30. Serve Popsicles at room temperature.
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Answer Key:The odd-numbered tips come from actual parenting resources. The even numbered tips don’t . . . yet.

Tip #7: Touch your toddler at all times to check body temperatures. REAL OR NOT?

“My Brush with Predator Mania” – Guest Post

Hi Readers!  Just realized (it IS summer) I posted this story earlier. Sorry! Stay tuned for something new in a little bit! Or re-read and get mad all over again! L.

My Brush with Predator Mania by Nicholas Martin

I took my 9-year-old daughter and two of her friends to swim today at Brookville Lake, an Indiana state park. I was shooting pictures of them from the beach with a telephoto lens when I was approached by two park guides who asked if I was photographing my own kids or other people’s.
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I responded that I had the legal and constitutional right to photograph anyone. I asked if there was a complaint and a female guide responded that one beachgoer had motioned them over to question my picture taking. The guide said that she was just ensuring the safety of the children. I said that it was ridiculous to think that a man shooting with a large camera and lens on an open beach was a potential threat to kids, and pointed out that probably hundreds of people on the beach had cell phone cameras that could take pictures without being noticed. I told the guides that they should tell the complainers that anyone had a right to take pictures at the beach. The guides were unfailingly cordial and respectful and we bid each other a friendly goodbye.
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Minutes later the ladies next to our beach tent pointed out the woman nearby who had made the complaint to the guides. She was with three other women, all apparently in their thirties and with no accompanying kids. Seconds later one of the four women lifted her cell phone and began taking pictures of one of her friends standing in front of the water. Or she could have been taking pictures of the children behind her for all I know!
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I approached the woman who had complained and asked if we should notify the authorities about her friend’s picture-taking. She responded by asking me if I would want a stranger taking pictures of my child at the beach. I said it would be fine with me since it presented no threat.
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Later my kids heard some people in the water complaining about my picture-taking. One of them said, “He better put that camera away.” It is not far-fetched to imagine a mob of people driven by a sufficient frenzy to inflict “justice” on a photographer at that beach. What if I hadn’t had any kids with me and was just shooting some beach scenes, with kids, adults, and lapping waves? The American mania regarding sexual predation is not to be toyed with.
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Perhaps area photographers should show up at the beach for a Photo Freedom Day to publicize and defend the right to do photography. – Nicolas Martin
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Lenore here: I like the idea of a Photo Freedom Day. If anyone organizes one, please let us know how it goes! – L 

What kind of disgusting pervert takes a picture like this?