Hello, hello, how are things in your little bed? What is new, please tell me, Ned?

“Overprotection is a rejection of your power.”

–David Richo

And now it can be told: school is over and I am so excited I could throw up. I had a few moments there where I almost snapped and ran away and took the children off to the School of Life, aka Piratetry, Mexico, Hoboport, or fill in the blank.

Flack, there was flack, flack ahoy. Like a responsible netizen (oh yers I did) I did not tell you that my big kid was walking by herself to and from school every day. When I moved to this neighborhood, this is something I thought would be a possibility with the children, along with running to the store for bananas, to the methadone clinic, etc, etc. But I thought this would be a far-off future thing, since they are just now able to wash me to my satisfaction with a rag on a stick.

It came up, though, somehow, the walking, and I thought about it. It is all of a couple of blocks, no busy streets are crossed, and school ins and outs times are always broad daylight, as they say.

“Are you sure you want to do this by yourself?” I asked.


“Well, okay.”

And she went! A little scared on the first day. There was some hesitancy and some surprise from her teacher, who called me on the first day she was to come home. “She’s here and I’m sending her home now, right? Okay?” Right, okay. Her teacher is used to the helicopter parenting, which is about 47 times less amusing than a roflcopter.

And then it got interesting. The sound of chopper blades filled the air. People started cluing in to the fact that Franny was embarking alone daily on a five-minute walk. OMFGBBQ, release the hounds. A parent told her that she should not be walking home by herself, after she and I had decided it was okay and that she was ready. Did you catch that? Another parent told my little fledging independent so-proud-of-herself kid that what she was doing was not okay. Another well-meaning parent offered her a ride. This article flew around the list. Asperations were cast.

Lucky for me, I put my head together with my kid’s teacher really quickly. I also talked to my kid. Good job, my kid! Keep up the good work. Her teacher let her lollygag for a few minutes every day so she could avoid the swarming.

But she toughed it out. I tried not to make a big deal about it–she could walk with me, or alone, whatever. I told her I was proud of her, and I was. Letting her have some freedom, is the best thing I can do to let her know that I think she’s capable, because she IS. DAMMIT!

43 thoughts on “Hello, hello, how are things in your little bed? What is new, please tell me, Ned?

  1. I’ve been told on multiple occasions (in the U.S.) that my kid is walking alone, appears to have wandered off, whatever. It’s very strange, and I never know quite how to respond. “Yes, I… know he’s two aisles over getting some bananas. I told him to get them.”

    He walks alone to school, too, and takes the 30/45 minute bus (with a transfer) to his after-school activities. I think he is much less free range than I was at his age, when we basically had to be home by sundown, but still compared to what is apparently standard in the States he’s practically feral.

    I’m glad you’re letting your girl be independent. DO IT FOR THE CHILDREN.

  2. Goddamnit, as a kid I was a largely friendless loser with an overprotective mother in a boring suburb with nowhere to go and nothing to do and I still wandered all the hell over the place. The idea that other parents would get in my shit about letting my kid walk walk three blocks makes the fire come from my eyes, it does. Vinegar vs. honey, I know, but I’d have a difficult time not telling said parents not only to mind their own business, but that they clearly had no fucking clue of how to mind it, and that they were contributing to the physical, spiritual, civic, and intellectual degradation. Just saying.

    You’ve probably seen it, but if you haven’t, you must read “How Children Lost the Right to Roam in Four Generations. If not read it, at least look at the awesome picture of how the successive generation of the family had less and less freedom.

  3. Why, oh why does helicopter parenting seem to go hand in hand with this particular type of school? Why? Helllllooooooo Helicopter Parents? You picked a school that promotes independence.
    And also, yay! Look! Your kid! She can function just like a real person! Amazing.

    (And yay your school. My cousin’s school was 3 blocks from my old house and the school itself wouldn’t let her walk to and from school when she lived with me. She was 12. Let’s not forget that it was one of those fad-ish middle schools for girls. One wonders if an all boys school would have had the same policy.)

  4. Some things make me say MOTHERFUCKER really loud. I am at work right now, so I am saying it inside my head instead. My kid walks home from school (five blocks, with a park on the way OH MY LORD) and one would think I allow him to play with razor blades and coke. Oh, and he’s 13. Parenting: give them roots and wings and then watch them fly. When I was 13 I would take the bus from Capitol Hill to downtown to go to the orthodontist all the time, sometimes coming home in the dark. So whatever, haters! Have fun wiping your 20 y.o’s ass for them because they can’t function in the real world!

    Woooooo better now

  5. Here in Germany, or at least in our village, first graders walk about half-a-mile by themselves home. My daughter walked about half that amount in the fourth grade, and now in the fifth grade, she takes a 20-minute ride on the city bus by herself at 6:55 am to school. She even goes to the bus stop by herself at that ungodly hour (I can see her from the window, though).

    It is totally normal here, but I am always amazed by how much more independent she is compared to her same-aged cousins in Texas. (Maybe not a good comparison, because you can’t get anywhere without a car and hence without an adult in the places the cousins live.)

    I have to bribe her with extra allowance to get her to run for milk, but she can. Woooo!

  6. Oops–also wanted to give you props for supporting Franny in this first step toward independence. Yay, independence!

  7. Good for you and good for Franny… WTH is wrong with those people! Educate them on the words “culture of fear” and then make them FEAR YOU MORE hahaah!

  8. So interesting! I know where you guys live (not in a weird stalker-ish way, just that I know that little area) and I know Franny’s school and I kept thinking, would I let my little girl make that walk? Any you know, I would have to let her even though my initial thought was “hell no!”. Good for you for not letting crazy fears get in the way of your daughter’s independence.

  9. Came over here from SueB0b’s — Props to you for reinforcing your lesson to her and keeping her feeling right about it. and GAAAHHH on the helicopter parents!

  10. Man, I remember when we moved to the ‘burbs back in second grade and how the neighbors used to let their four-year-old roam the neighborhood by herself. I’m not condoning that, just saying man, that would never happen today.

  11. This will be the first summer my oldest will be allowed to stay at home alone with her little sister, I’m both nervous and ecstatic about this new progression in Motherhood. If I stopped to worry about the world at large I would be tempted to lock them in their room and never allow them outside but someday I want them to be independent adults who can fend for themselves and that just won’t happen if I don’t loosen up.

  12. Yay you!

    Why, oh why does helicopter parenting seem to go hand in hand with this particular type of school?

    Because parents who go out of their way to pick non-traditional schools are parents who tend to take Parenting Seriously.

  13. Wow, thanks everyone. I think I am just venting my spleen, and I see I am not alone.

    I really can’t emphasis enough how “safe” independence is my way of telling my kid I think she is capable. Man, I know some eight-year-old basketcases, I am sorry to say.

  14. Good for you!

    My 13 and 12 year old ride their bikes all over the place and while sure, it’s hard to watch them go that first time (all their firsts, no?), it’s crucially important that they do learn independence.

    They need to learn how to function in a 7-11 without Mama nearby, they need to learn how to get around, they need that awesome feeling of FREEDOM when you can go where you need, they just need it to be normal grown up people someday.

  15. Independence is so, so, so, important to humans, IMO. I am so proud of Franny, in the kind of way that an internet stranger can be proud of someone’s super-awesome independent smart kid. Clearly.

  16. We live accross the street from our school in seattle. Private, very helicopter-ish, and so restrictive. I was told that my son could not walk home at 8 y.o. in 2nd grade! We live accross the street? I can SEE the playground from my kitchen,livingroom, bathroom,etc.. WTF is going to happen to him? We just said to go fuck yourselves and told him he could walk home and guess what? He NEVER got lost! Not even once!

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