Commonsense Rearing Its Uncommon Head. Yay!

Hi Readers — You’ve probably seen this story, closely mirroring the one in England where the two moms sharing a job TRIED to share babysitting duty, too — and found out this was against the law. Here in the States, a Michigan mom takes in the kids of three friends each morning before the bus comes. Suddenly, the mom — Lisa Snyder — was informed this is illegal, as she is not a licensed day care operator.

Amazingly, she did not go to jail. The case got the attention of no less than the governor, who immediately instructed the child welfare agency to draft some kind of law making normal human decency legal again. Imagine that.

Meantime, my friend Chris Byrne, editor of timetoplaymag.com, had this to say:

It seems to me that what’s happening is that the very legal system that is supposed to establish and protect community standards is being so narrowly applied that it undermines them. The utter lack of common sense and the insistence on applying the letter of the law indicates much more than just misguided application, it’s a deterioration in the ability of people to think about the realities of a situation. Keeping a kid at home for an hour is not daycare!

I have always said, “Those who don’t read Dickens are doomed to live it.” This is the hidebound attachment to literalness that he decries as soul-numbing in “Hard Times.”

Well, I have to admit, I have not read Hard Times (I did read David Copperfield!), but I feel in my icy bones exactly what he’s talking about: The idea that using your own brain and heart is verboten, and that bureaucracy must be exalted. It’s the same thing we see when parents get hauled in for “negligence” for leaving their kid in the car when they go to return a Blockbuster video. Same thing we see when a parent is not allowed into the kindergarten Christmas party because her background check has yet to clear. Same thing we see when a teacher is chastised for hugging a pre-schooler. Rules were not only made to be broken, there are a lot of stupid rules out there that should never have been made at all.
Kudos to the governor of Michigan for wrestling this rigid rule right away, but how many more are lurking? How many parents will be persecuted because of draconian laws and brain-dead bureaucrats? (That’s a rhetorical question, of course. I guess the real answer is, “A lot,” which would be dull way to end this post but…we are moving today and it’s chaotic around here and my brain is in some box with our cooking utensils. So — talk to you again soon, readers! We are off to beautiful Queens, New York!)  — Lenore

Outrage of the Weekend: Authorities Threaten Mom for Helping Other Mom

Hi Readers! Glad a few of you sent this one in. I’m not sure it has to do with Free-Ranging exactly — it sounds more like regulations gone wild. Moreover, I bet it’ll be rectified soon. But in the meantime, let’s hear it for neighbors helping neighbors (rather than neighbors turning IN neighbors). Here is the article in its entirety from WZZM, the ABC TV station in West Michigan:

MIDDLEVILLE WOMAN THREATENED WITH FINES FOR WATCHING NEIGHBORS’ KIDS 

A West Michigan woman says the state is threatening her with fines and possibly jail time for babysitting her neighbors’ children.

Lisa Snyder of Middleville says her neighborhood school bus stop is right in front of her home. It arrives after her neighbors need to be at work, so she watches three of their children for 15-40 minutes until the bus comes.

The Department of Human Services received a complaint that Snyder was operating an illegal child care home. DHS contacted Snyder and told her to get licensed, stop watching her neighbors’ kids, or face the consequences.

“It’s ridiculous.” says Snyder. “We are friends helping friends!” She added that she accepts no money for babysitting.

Mindy Rose, who leaves her 5-year-old with Snyder, agrees. “She’s a friend… I trust her.”

State Representative Brian Calley is drafting legislation that would exempt people who agree to care for non-dependent children from daycare rules as long as they’re not engaged in a business.

“We have babysitting police running around this state violating people, threatening to put them in jail or fine them $1,000 for helping their neighbor (that) is truly outrageous” says Rep. Calley.

A DHS spokesperson would not comment on the specifics of the case but says they have no choice but to comply with state law, which is designed to protect Michigan children.

By all means, let’s protect them from being part of a helpful, friendly community! Phew! — Lenore

P.S. THIS JUST IN! A strikingly similar situation in England! Two women with girls the same age share a job. When one is at work, the other watches both kids. Now the government is saying this is illegal unless both women register as child care providers and undergo inspections! Best quote, by an onlooker opposed to this bizarre policy? “Something akin to a kind of anxiety-driven psychosis seems to have engulfed government policymaking in the realms of children and family life.”