Clown Teaching Kids to be “Berry Berry Safe”…Except from Berry Berry Creepy Clowns

Hi Folks — Let me state upfront that I agree with this, uh, guy: Teach your kids never to go off with   stranger.

But is there anyone stranger than this blue-haired, baby-tawking clown who keeps showing up out of nowhere?  The lesson he seems intent on teaching kids: Never go anywhere without a possibly imaginary, predator-obsessed prig in a blue wig.

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?
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.
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?

Best Sign!

Hey Folks — The Hallmark Channel is or — since I can’t seem to find a 2012 hint of it — WAS  having a Funny Sign Contest, and this one is their poster boy. LOVE it. – L

What Happened at the Air Show

Hi Readers! I posted this yesterday because I loved it so much and it seemed so perfect for the Fourth of the July. Here it is again, ready for a little more attention after a day off work and, for many, off-line. Enjoy.  – L 

Dear Free-Range Kids: I take my nephews to airshows. The first thing that I do is to take them to the biggest plane there (usually a C-5) and tell them that if we get seperated go to the big plane. I will be there waiting for you. We’ve never had a problem. Several years ago we were at the Wings Over Pittsburgh show. It was a hot day and we went into a hangar to get out of the sun. The boys were acting up so I told them to settle down and stay near me. A voice behind me said, “Just let them go wear themselves out.” When I turned around it was the Commanding Officer of the squadron who’s hangar we were in. He said, “I have people in place to make sure that they can’t get into trouble, just let them go and have a good time.” When I found them a bit later, they were sitting in a raft in a big water tank, wearing pilot’s helmets and having the time of their life at the Survival Equipment shop. The oldest went in the Navy and is now a helicopter pilot. – Jim Collins

A Lemonade Stand Costs HOW Much, According to a Parenting Magazine?

Hi Folks — We all know that magazines exist to sell things, but this example seems particularly outrageous: A parenting magazine lists all the things your kids need to run a lemonade stand — from name brand ice cube trays to an actual, store-bought stand, to a juicer  to squeeze the lemons (has no one heard of hands? Or lemonade mix?)  — and the total is pushing $300. If you want the breakdown of all the costs, here it is! – L (and don’t diss me for vlogging! I am trying to embrace all sorts of new things!)

EVERYONE Gets Separated from their Kids at Some Point (Even Prime Ministers)

Hey Folks — Here’s a little anecdote to start your day. Apparently the British Prime Minister, David Cameron, left his 8-year-old daughter in a pub. It was (almost) the usual kind of mix up: He left with his bodyguards and assumed she was with his wife and the other kids. Mom (or, I guess, “Mum”) assumed the girl was with daddy. In fact, she was in the bathroom and emerged to find her family gone.

While the Associated Press reports the parents were “distraught” when they realized she wasn’t with either, they called the pub and learned she was fine. She’d been separated from the fam for about 15 minutes. So why is any of this worthy of anything more than an amused smile that we’re all in this together?


In Tennessee, a woman who couldn’t find her kids for a short while was thrown in JAIL after she called 911 for help locating them. By the time the cops arrived at her house, so had her kids. Point is: These temporary blips are not evidence of BAD parenting, they are evidence of PARENTING, PERIOD.

We’ve all had those heart-stopping moments of wondering, “Oh my god, where did ________ go?” It’s no fun to live through them, but it’s not proof that we did anything wrong. LIFE IS NOT PERFECT. Parents are not perfect. Even Prime Ministers are not perfect (and no getting into politics here!).

When we criminalize everyday parenting foibles, we are ALL CRIMINALS.

Okay. Enough with the CAPITALS. Have a great week! And we shall talk soon about my FREE-RANGE KIDS PICNIC COMING UP THAT YOU ARE ALL INVITED TO ON SATURDAY, JUNE 23. (Okay NOW no more capitals.) – L

Prime Minister David Cameron will be charged with abuse and neglect for losing track of his child for 15 minutes. Oh wait…no he won’t. That’s the story UNDER THIS ONE.

Someone at Capri Sun is Thinking Free-Range Thoughts

Hey folks — Let’s not get into a discussion of whether any child NEEDS to be drinking a foil-pouch drink. Let’s just enjoy this ad. I did! – L.

A Public Grammar School Where Kids Can Build Forts at Recess

Hi Readers! You’re not dreaming. There’s a public school — albeit in Australia — where a few years ago the kids noticied some leftover building materials  and started spontaneously building forts during recess. And, as Time Gill notes on his fab Rethinking Childhood blog:

To its credit, the school reacted not with alarm, but with interest. Staff could see that good things were happening. Some made connections with their own childhood memories of playing in the creeks, bush and vacant lots of their neighbourhoods.

Read more about the effort here. And let’s hope this movement BUILDS! (Yes, pun intended. With me, puns are almost always intended.) – L

We Interrupt This Blog to Bring You the 1970s

…Via this fantastic commercial. Actually, I’d never heard of the advertiser  before — it’s Halfords, which, according to its Twitter feed, is the U.K.’s “leading retailer of automotive, leisure and cycling products.” It also seems to be a leader in supporting Free-Range Kids! (And, okay, nostalgia. But it’s legit!)

Let’s hope seeing all the fun that kids can have outside, on their own, reminds everyone to celebrate Saturday’s holiday: TAKE OUR CHILDREN TO THE PARK…AND LEAVE THEM THERE DAY! Spread the word!

Anderson & Me (Yes, Anderson Cooper!)

Hey Folks — I”ll confess. Sometimes I Google myself. Today was one of those days, and darned if I didn’t find this lovely little clip of me on Anderson Cooper from a couple of months ago. On the couch with me is Phyllis, one of the moms I worked with on my show, “World’s Worst Mom” (airing in many countries, though not yet sold to America. Keep your fingers crossed!).

Anyway, when I first met Phyllis not only would she not let her children, aged 10 and 12, walk across the quiet, suburban street, she actually went into the bathroom STALL with her daughter when they were out together. Not just the bathroom, the stall, she was that worried.

And all I can say is if you watch this clip you will see a 189% happier, calmer mom. I visited the family again about a week ago and everyone is just so much more joyful. The kids go to the park now, they ride their bikes,  meet up with their friends — stuff their mom had been too afraid to allow before my “intervention.” Now she’s thrilled with their independence and I”m thrilled with her! What a change!

So here’s the little clip. And yes, Anderson is just as handsome in person. – L.