“The Seemingly Inexorable Transfer of Authority from Parents to the State”

Hi Readers — As you know, I am a big fan of helmets. Have been since I first started this blog, as you can see right there, on the left of this post. I also make my kids wear helmets when they ski and snowboard.

BUT I am also a big fan of this helmet veto, just signed by Gov. Brown of California, for the very reason he cited. Voila the actual letter. And here’s what it says:

To the Members of the California State Senate:

I am returning Senate Bill 105 without my signature.

This measure would impose criminal penalites on a child under the age of 18 and his or her parents if the child skis or snowboards without a helmet.

While I appreciate the value of wearing a ski helmet, I am concerned about the continuing and seemingly inexorable transfer of authority from parents to the state. Not every human problem deserves a law.

I believe parents have the ability and the responsibility to make good choices for their children.

Sincerely,

Edmund G. Brown

I applaud this because when the government gets to decide how we parent, it sometimes criminalizes things IT considers “unsafe” that a lot of US do consider safe, whether that’s allowing a child of a certain age to stay home alone, wait in the car, bike to school (yes, I’ll address that Tennessee case very soon),  operate a lemonade stand or play unsupervised outside.

I am all for child safety, but I am also for parent safety. And when parents can be criminalized for believing in their kids or community, we are all at risk. — Lenore

Ski-Range Kids?

Hi Readers — Here’s a nice little letter from the slopes!

Dear Free-Range Kids: I wanted to share a wonderful experience I had this weekend.  I was skiing at a local Colorado resort called Eldora Mountain, about a half hour outside of Boulder.  When skiing it is common practice for “single” skiiers (those skiing without a partner — regardless of marital status) to pair up on two-person chair lifts, rather than riding up alone.

That day, I was skiing alone while two of my sons were in ski school for the day.  I was pleased to discover a number of children ages eight and up skiing by themselves and without the slightest concern about jumping on a chair lift with a complete stranger.  I should point out that I am a late-thirties male — at that point with a few days’ beard growth — practically the poster child for “STRANGER DANGER” that they drill into kids today.  Not one kid as much as blinked to jump on the chair lift with me, and in every case we had nice conversations on the way up.

I was even more surprised and pleased when a mom who was skiing with two kids asked me — the unshaven stranger —   to ride up on the chairlift with her seven year old daughter. That’s a (literal) high! — Jason B.