A Free-Range Soul (So to Speak)

Hi Folks! I loved this response to the post a few days ago about strangers helping out with tantruming toddlers! This comes from reader Kristi Blue. – L.

Dear Free-Range Kids: We were stationed in Germany when I gave birth to my twins in 2002.  I am twin, whose mother is a twin, whose grandmother is a twin and whose great grandmother was a twin.  Five straight generations of twins, and from the moment we found out we were having twins, all I could think about was being able to fly home to my great grandmother and place those precious things in her arms.


Two weeks after they were born we received the call that she wasn’t doing well, and that if we were coming, it needed to be now.  My husband was training so unable to accompany us.  I boarded a trans-Atlantic flight with two nursing newborns and a heavy heart.  The kids both started crying at the same time and as I was fumbling, trying to comfort two infants in the limited space of coach, I see a pair of hands reach over the seat, take one of my babies, and proceed to walk up and down the aisle singing to her as I feed her sister.  It wasn’t until the third lap of coach that I got a good look at the stranger who had my baby.  He was the oddest little man wearing a wide lapeled suit coat, boots with heels and a pompadour, while singing “You Are My Sunshine.”  To this day, my girls still love to hear the story about the time James Brown sang them lullabies! – K.B.

Travel (with Kids) Advisory

Hi Readers! I am on board with this (even though I am guilty of some of the “don’ts” myself!). The list-maker, Darreby Ambler, is a writer and mother of 3 from Bath, Maine. – L. 

Dear Free-Range Kids: Thought you might like  this old list I found in a drawer yesterday.  When I read the first sentence, I thought immediately of Free-Range! These were the travel rules we used with our kids when they were smaller.  They are now 15, 19, and 21, and travel independently and joyfully around the world. (You can tell from the rules that it wasn’t always this way!  Hang in there, parents!)  — Darreby, in Maine
Ambler Family Travel Rules and Responsibilities
  1. It’s good to talk to strangers.  The outside world is full of them.  The place you don’t have to deal with them is at home, which is where people who can’t cope with strangers will stay next time.
  2. Each traveler is responsible for finding things to be excited about, and sharing that enthusiasm.
  3. If the enthusiasm of others embarrasses you, pretend otherwise.  Being cool is dull, except in a sports car.
  4. Unusual foods are part of the point.
  5. Staying home is usually more comfortable than traveling, but traveling is more interesting.  Prioritize well.
  6. Travel disruptions are normal and a good way to show your readiness for more challenging adventures.
  7. Remember that your dislikes do not make interesting conversation.
  8. Wash your hands.  You have no immunity to foreign germs.  Throwing up is not interesting.
  9. You have travel in your future that you can not even imagine.  Adhering to these guidelines makes you eligible for such travel.

    Kids: If you travel nicely, you get to see things like THIS. (From one of my favorite countries: Turkey!)

A Sweet, Simple Moment (That Nonetheless Made Me Cry)

Hey Readers — Just a nice summer note from a gal named Lynn:
Dear Free-Range Kids: So, last week were were out camping at Chincoteague, VA, and my kids and a man with four kids ranging in age from about 5 to maybe 10 or 11 were in the pool.  The man with the four kids had a son who was about the age of mine, and they ended up playing together.  I’d give them the “go” and they’d jump in the pool at the same time, seeing who could jump furthest.
Anyway, in the course of this game, the man and I made eye contact, and grinned at each other and struck up the occasional short conversation.  In time, I heard him telling the kids that they needed to get out of the pool because they had to go move their campsite.
The kids didn’t really want to go, but were good about doing as he asked.  So I offered to watch his kids in the pool while he went and did his thing, and when they were ready to go, I’d bring them back.  He was surprised at my offer, but said that if I didn’t mind, that would be great.  So he told them that if they wanted to stay in the pool that I was in charge.
On signal, the kids kind of pulled together and played in the shallower end where my kids were, and eventually, when they were ready to go, we headed back to their campsite.  No problem.  Nobody drowned.  Kids were happy to play a bit longer.  I was happy to be able to help.  The dad was happy to be able to go move the campsite without having to haul the kids out first.  Kids made new friends at the site.  Win win.
Also while camping, my 6 (almost 7)-year-old, usually very much a “Please do it with me, mummy”-type of kid, asked if she could go to the camp store and buy milk.  By herself.  So I handed her some money and sent her off to get milk and to bring me the change.  Which she did, coming back as pleased as punch with herself.
Perfect place for independence. I mean, really.  A campsite.  A family campsite.  The lady who ran the store had seen us in and out all week and recognized my daughter.  Even though I could see the store from our site, I just did my thing, trusting that she’d be all right.  And she was.  In a way, that’s what communities should be like everywhere.  People recognizing each other and wanting to help each other and keeping an eye out for each other.  Too bad it’s not like that everywhere. Free-Range?  Love it. — Lynn