De-Normalizing Normal Human Behavior

Hi Readers! In response to a post about schools and camps outlawing hugs (for legal and fear-of-perverts issues) a reader named Melanie wrote this:

When will society as a whole stop modifying, changing and politicizing every single normal human action? The rules are becoming so numerous and far-reaching that it’s difficult to know how to act when outside your own home! Are we breeding a society of unemotional, anti-human, mini robots with all this nonsensical, fear-minded thinking?

It hit home with me, since I think everything from baby classes on how to “clap,” to new contraptions to “help” non-disabled children learn to walk, to whole books on the “right” way to talk to your child  in every situation are making us all forget that things can unfold pretty normally and they’ll be okay.

From jokes to hugs to talking, walking and eating, let’s devote a few days to (in the immortal words of Irving Berlin) doin’ what comes naturally.  Happy weekend! L

A Normal Day at the Park (It Can Be Done!)

Hi Readers! Here’s a nice note about a normal day — so normal it deserves comment. THIS is the kind of thing I’m talking about with,  “Take Our Children to the Park…And Leave Them There Day.” Fun, sociability, community. NO BIG DEAL! Read on!

Dear Free-Range Kids: The past few times I’ve written to you, I’ve shared stories about anti-Free-Range experiences that I’ve had: the background checks now being done on visitors to the school my daughter will eventually attend, the mom at Target who seemed to want her daughter superglued to her side, instead of being three feet away from her with me standing between them…you know, the typical depressing stuff that makes Free-Range Kids sound so appealing to those of us who want to raise normal human beings, rather than “teacups.”

Fortunately, this is not going to be one of those stories. :o)

I took my two-and-a-half year old daughter to the park today. We sat at a dirty, splintery and very uncomfortable picnic table to eat our lunch, and didn’t care too much that there was really nowhere to wash our hands. I let her climb the curved metal ladder on the back of the slide–something I would have been too scared to do, even when I was much older than she is–and the jungle gym. I let her check out the creek up close, to see if she could spot the frog we spooked when we first arrived.  We talked to a dad and his two young sons, who were also playing there, even though they were all complete strangers.

But the best part–speaking in terms of Free-Range Kids, at least–was when I saw three UNATTENDED children (I’d guess their ages might have ranged from about 8 to 11 years old) come riding down the big hill on their bikes. The oldest one wiped out on the gravel path and scraped up her elbow, but she barely even batted an eye about it. No screaming as though she was about to die from her very minor injury. When she decided a little while later that ignoring it probably wasn’t the best thing to do, she walked right up to me and asked me if I had a Band-Aid. Ridiculously excited that she wasn’t afraid to approach me–a stranger!–I told her yes, I had a first aid kit in my car, if she wanted to follow us over so I could get it. She did, and I cleaned up her wound, stuck a bandage over it and then told her to wash it more thoroughly when she got home, before sending her back to her brother and sister.

And no one even reported me for “luring” a young girl back to my vehicle. Score one for the Free-Rangers! :o) — Kim