Thursday, January 19, 2012

Free Range?

I had a conversation the other day with my brother (who is expecting my nephew, his first child, in the next few weeks) . . . it got me thinking a little . . . and then I found a new blog about Free Range Parenting (no, it's nothing to do with organic foods) . . . and it got me thinking some more. So I wanted to write a little list to my kids, now, when I am in the thick of all that is parenting little ones - a baby, a preschooler, and a school-aged child - so that when I say the same things 30 years from now to them, when they are in the thick of parenting, they won't shrug it off and say "oh it's just Mom being crazy", like I, being truthful, probably have done to my Mom a time or 2 :)

A Little List For My Kiddos:

When I was a kid I rode in a car with no seatbelt, a lot - and carseats were not something I remember from age 3 forward

I would spend all day outside, unsupervised by parents. Safe? Not always - your Uncle Jason broke my pinky playing football and almost cut my finger off with a limbtrimmer - but I lived with some bandages . . . kinda like the kid down the street who made fun of my hair and I impaled into a brick wall and then ran home before an adult found out, his bandages helped him live too. I rode my bike without a helmet and made it through with no head injury - unlike the injury sustained when your Uncle Jason chased me until I fell head first into a brick fireplace. Are you seeing the common denominator of my childhood injuries?

Which brings me to - we stayed home alone and lived to tell about it. Though when I look back at things like taking the aeresol hairspray and lighting it on fire, I kinda wonder how - but we did!

There was no such thing as hand sanitizer and sometimes, we might've played outside and then turned around and ate without washing our hands (and fyi, I probably let you do that as a kid too, your strong immune system thanks me for it!).

We had bumpers in our cribs (this is what my brother was asking me about - the safety factor of them) but in fairness, it was probably to cover either the deadly lead paint on the crib or the fatal drop side that was on our crib. But from my perspective, they really serve no purpose other than decoration anyway, and after you change a crib sheet 3 times in one day, the bumper will go in the damn closet! Just a helpful hint :)

There were no outlet covers - and I totally stuck a butter knife in an outlet more than once! Eat that APA!!

We didn't have cell phones . . . well, until I was 16 . . . I'm not that old!!! But our tvs growing up, they were gigantic pieces of furniture!! And when I was 5 years old, I may or may not have taken my wiffle ball bat and stood at the back of the living room and charged the tv at full force trying to break it open thinking that I could jump inside the A Team cartoon and hang with Mr. T . . . unfortunately after 2 tries I had no success and then Mom got off the phone and realized what I was doing . . . see, the phone actually had a cord attached, so she couldn't go anywhere but the kitchen with it . . . but I feel like after that she got a 20 foot cord . . . or maybe it was when I got into the openly displayed match collection and tried to light some that she got the longer cord . . .

I could probably go on forever . . . but I feel that's a decent list for now. I guess just having had that conversation with my brother (in which he also mentioned a study that stated no child should be within earshot of a television in the 1st 2 years of life or their creativity will be diminished by 11% . . . oh the naive bliss of not actually having had a child!) and then today putting up a baby gate on the steps just got me thinking about overprotection. Then I stumbled upon the free range blog . . . and oh my! I think so much of it is valid - I speak for myself in saying that sometimes we can be so worried about preventing things that we stifle the experience. And at some point I find myself stopping and saying "it's good enough"!! No you shouldn't stand on chairs, but Marlie did and broke an arm, and it healed, and life went on . . . and guess what?!?! The event was so traumatic that she tried to stand on a chair again WITH THE CAST STILL ON!

There are obvious things made for protection i.e. the baby gate at the top of the steps so Evan doesn't fly down 14 steps because he truly believes he is the 8 month old version of Superman. But what about car seats?!?! I am all for them - and I will be the first to tell you that I buy top of the line $300 seats . . . but don't look at me and tell me that because my 5 yr old is only 40lbs and my car seat supports rear facing to that weight that she should be turned around!! And yes, I know the research, and in some states the laws, but no, I do not make Marlie strap on a helmet when she is riding her bike on flat ground without the presence of any other people or vehicles or bikes . . . and as a side note, a helmet would have done nothing to prevent the scar Jayson has on his chin from riding a bike down a hill and having the front wheel pop off - seems to me that we should be pushing for professional bike assembly . . . because, quite honestly, the assembler of Marlie's bike worries me a little more after seeing some of the things Jayson has "fixed" around the house! ha!

I don't know how to end my rant really . . . and everyone is certainly free to parent and screw their child up as they see fit :) But for me . . . I think a lot of times I need to take a deep breath, realize that my gut will tell me what's right, and not care so much about what other people think is "safe" or "right" - because I know that I have my child's best interest at heart and I know that I can make an educated guess at how we should parent our kids . . .


Tina. said...

You are refreshingly realistic. It's really a shame how it seems a lot of kids nowadays miss out on stuff we took for granted as kids. Many parents heavily restrict outdoor play because of stranger danger, even though it's shown to be a very overblown unrealistic fear. Sad.

Wiz said...

Before we even had kids, I told my mom that if our kids were just in the neighborhood riding bikes that they didnt have a helmet. She made some crack about brain injury or something and I said "Its lucky any of us our alive today then." I am just not that uptight about things.

Oh and Tivo! There was no Tivo growing up :) Or smart phones! And AOL was the STUFF! None of this facebook...

Fun post!