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


Hi Readers! Get a load of this lovely piece by Time Magazine’s Bonnie Rochman! And don’t forget: The holiday is this Saturday! Take your kids (age 7 and up) the local park at around 10 in the morning and hopefully a lot of other kids will be gathering, too. Then leave! Details in that great Time Magazine piece.

Now if only they’d put a photo of me on the cover with a breast exposed…

Or maybe not. – L.

Letting your kids play by themselves at the park is not radical!

A Sweet, Simple Free-Range Success Story

Hi Folks! In the midst of all the usual nuttiness, let’s celebrate a nice little moment, courtesy of a  mom of four in Nebraska. You’ll note, she takes a lot of precautions because this was a first. Eventually, she won’t need them and neither will her kids because they’ll all be more confident and competent,  which is pretty much the Free-Range goal! — L.

Dear Free-Range Kids: Just wanted to send a little note about our own personal Free Range Success story. Our family recently moved from the Northern Virginia/DC suburbs to a small suburb of Omaha, Nebraska. It is much easier to be Free Range when all of your neighbors are doing it too! Kids walk and ride their bikes to school here by themselves, roam the neighborhoods, etc.
Anyway, my kids were always trying to find ways to spend their allowances, but I was sick of the clutter they were bringing home. So I suggested that they think about using their money to attend a movie. We have four children, and taking everyone out to a show is cost prohibitive. But if two of the kids wanted to spend their own money to go by themselves. . .
We decided on The Adventures of Tintin, as my older two (boy age 9 and girl age 11) have read the comics and it’s not a movie that my younger two would want to see. I picked a matinee hour, gave them notes to keep in their wallets in case someone questioned them or they needed to call me (similar to your “I am a Free-Range Kid” note), and we talked about the various scenarios that could go wrong and how they would handle them (movie never starts or is cancelled for techincal problems, I’m not waiting for them outside afterwards, etc.). I made them come out after buying their tickets so I could check that they had purchased the correct showing, and they went skipping back in to buy their snacks and watch their movie.
Needless to say, they had a wonderful time. They shared a popcorn and pop and enjoyed the show. They realized my son’s wallet was missing, and asked for the lost-and-found. When it wasn’t there, they returned to their seats and found it wedged between the seat and the armrest. They came running out to find me waiting for them and to tell me all about it. My daughter had expressed surprise (and maybe disappointment?) that no one had questioned them. I told her that if they behave like adults, they will be treated like adults. They thanked me for letting them go. They were obviously very proud of themselves and I am obviously very proud of them.
When I posted this adventure to Facebook, my brother commented that he and my younger sister were similar ages when they went to the movies by themselves. He said they sat in the front row and he spilled their pop all over the floor. Twenty years later, it’s still a fond memory for him.
I would never have done this were it not for the Free-Range encouragement. Thank you for  making our society a saner place to live. – Nebraska Mom

Maybe it's time to let your kids escape to the movies...by themselves?