Perv Alert! Man Seen Photographing Boy at Park!

Hi Readers — This just in! A creepy old guy was seen taking pix of some young boy in Idaho. The cops were called! The media alerted! Hearts pounded, rage burbled, all because…

Um, a grandpa was photographing his grandson.

He left when some crazy lady started yelling at him. Here’s the story.  — L

Is a Child “Unaccompanied” if the Parent Is Close By?

Hi Readers! Here’s a recent letter that makes me hot under the collar (but not hot enough to turn on the A.C.). — L. (who can’t figure out how to get rid of this LINE!!)


Dear Free-Range Kids: Well, I did it again: I sent my 4.5-year-old inside the library to walk the 20 feet to the elevator and make it to the children’s floor without me… and, like the last few times, I was twenty seconds behind him.  But this time I was accosted by the librarian at the check out desk: “Was that YOUR little boy?! He MUST be ACCOMPANIED!”
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I replied as calmly as I could, “Thank you for your concern, but it builds his confidence to navigate a bit by himself.” She looked angry and then pounded the desk with both hands (I’m not kidding!) while announcing, “Under 13 must be ACCOMPANIED. It is POLICY.”
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Now, I didn’t drop him off and go to the grocery store, I simply let him out, parked the car in a very close parking spot, and walked directly inside. It’s also not like she’s never seen us before, we’ve been at that library several times a month since my son could look at the books without chewing them.
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Then, I got upstairs and found my son had been detained by a police officer and told to sit and wait for me! Again, not kidding.
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Now, these are my questions for you and for the readers: First, while I understand that it is policy that under 13 be accompanied, was my son really unaccompanied? Does being twenty to thirty seconds behind him count?! Second, what do I do with that pit-of-the-stomach feeling that I had been caught doing something naughty and was going to the principal’s office? I know intellectually that teaching my son to navigate in simple situations (like a familiar library) is a good thing, but it took me several hours to get over that feeling. Also, my son was clearly confused by the situation and thought I had instructed him to do something wrong. How do I handle THAT?
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I need some clarity as this is the first time I’ve had my Free-Range Parenting challenged. — L.A.
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Dear Rattled Mom: My sympathies and suggestions. As for the policy at the library, see if you can talk to the head librarian. Tell him or her that you find this rule a little anti-literacy (at least I do), in that it discourages all children under 13 from coming to the library on their own. Ask: Were there problems with some disruptive kids? If so, suggest the library’s rules be changed to address that — “Anyone disruptive will be asked to leave” — rather than forbidding anyone under puberty from using the library solo.
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Also ask to talk about the idea of accompaniment: Does the adult have to be physically attached to the child for it to count as “accompanying”? If not, then how about some sensible leeway?
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As for the pit-of the-stomach feelings, all I can say is: I get those, too. I’m not sure they’re avoidable, but if you CAN possibly engage the police officer in a chat about his own youth, you MAY be able to get him to remember that no one’s mom was expected to be as hovering as today. And once he’s all jolly about his reminiscences, tell him that’s just the kind of childhood you want to give your kid, too. The kind his mom gave HIM. Leave him to chew on that (not a book).
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And remember: You ARE a good girl and did nothing wrong. It’s just our crazy, terrified, anti-community, eager-to-blame culture you’re up against. That’s all. — L

Past puberty? Then YOU can enjoy the library without your mom. 

(Public) Bathroom Humor

Or really, just public bathroom stories. That’s what I’m looking for, readers. As I start pondering the idea of writing another book (and, more to the point, FILLING it), I’m going to be asking for anecdotes from the real world, from YOU. And what I need first, believe it or not, is bathroom lore!

Specifically: Can you tell me about the time you let your kid use a public bathroom WITHOUT you? Was it a big deal? A small one? Scary? Surprising? Wonderful? (Or at least as wonderful as something like that can be?) What age?

Moreover: Kid reaction? Onlooker reaction? Spouse reaction — if any (and printable)?

That’s it. Thanks for any and all stories — we’re on a roll! (Ha ha.) — L.

Help, Daddy! A Grandma Smiled At Me! Will She Kidnap Me?

Hi Free-Rangers!
Just though I’d share this little note I got from Australia this morning. Makes you realize it’s a small world after all: A small,  paranoid, danger-halucinating world.
This is from a lady named Vivienne:

Walking in Ikea.
 
I am a pleasant-enough, smiley grandmoter of 9. A man with his daughter of about 3 or 4 parks her near me as he steps to look at a shelf.
 
I smile as I step past and the child screams.
 
“Don’t leave me Daddy! Someone is going  to steal me!”  I almost pass out with shock.
 
Today,  walking into a ladies toilet, a child passing by asks her Daddy if she can go in.
 
“No,” he says, “someone might take you.”   I don’t even dare suggest that I take her in.
 
 I can’t stand it.
 
It’s as if parents have joined a mad cult. What’s the pay off?
 
I had five free range kids. They’d walk down to the wool shed with lunch for Jim  and a mile to the school bus each morning . They walked to visit Granny three miles over five steep ridges, and they now  live all over the world, which was always my intent for them .
 
Is it that children are now regarded as possessions?
 
Lighten up.
 
#

We’re trying, Viv! — Lenore