When A Kid Doesn’t Come Home When He’s Expected…

Hi Readers! Here’s a little note from a mom of three named Nina:

Dear Free-Range Kids: First of all, thank you.  I have been increasingly Free Range over the past 4-5 years but I didn’t have a name for it until I found this website.  I am glad to know that  I am not the only mother left on the planet with common sense.

So, to my story.  We moved into a new house about six months ago.  I was explaining to my new neighbor one summer night, while the kids were playing together at the park, all about the idea of raising children Free Range.  I told her a movement had begun.  She listened but didn’t have much to say about it.  Months passed.

Then, one night, my son did not come home at the prescribed time (when the street lights come on).  I waited…and waited…then I went to his friends’ house where he was supposed to be. His friend said he had already left quite  a while ago.  I figured he’d gone to a park, so I started making the rounds.  My other two children were with the aforementioned neighbor.  I started to get somewhat nervous since my son was now about two hours late and not in  any of his usual places.  I figured his stomach would have told him it was dinner time by now, lol.   It was at this point that my neighbor commented, “So I guess this is Free Range, huh.”

Right about then I see my boy coming down the dark street on his bike, deer-in-the headlight eyes, because he knew he was late and he was terrified.  He was not lost, kidnapped, locked up by a sick lunatic, or lying injured on the road. He’d just lost track of time at a the home of a friend that he hadn’t let  me know he was playing with.  He was grounded for not telling me where he was going and not coming home when the street lights came on.

I did the same thing as him when I was a kid, but I only did it once.  I lost my freedom for a while and then I learned to follow the rules or lose the freedom.  He, apparently, has learned the same lesson because he has been showing up promptly when the street lights come on, without fail, ever since the grounding was lifted.  My neighbor, on the other hand, now feels justified in keeping her kids locked up where she can see them at all times.

Sometimes I feel that the whole world has gone mad. Then I see an update here and realize that just most of the world has gone mad.

I”m hanging on to my sanity by giving my children the freedom to explore. Thank you,

Nina