Lenora Skenazy describes Free Range Kids as “a commonsense approach to parenting in these overprotective times” with the ultimate goal of raising “self-reliant” children.
The fault I see with her definition is that “common sense is the most widely shared commodity in the world, for every man is convinced that he is well supplied with it.” (Rene Descartes).
And so we do what we do best. We sit high on our thrones, judge others based on and freely dispense our common sense.
I admit it. I have rolled my eyes more than a few times at parents. At parents wiping bums of kids who can spell diarrhea, at parents who don’t allow their kids to do simple chores like sorting the cutlery for fear their six year old will impale their wrist with a butter knife or when parents baby proof their home to the extent even they are not able to open drawers, go freely down the stairs or plug in the toaster.
But those cases deserve eye-rolling (because c’mon, that’s just common sense!)
For the most part parents whom I know are not depicted in Skenazy’s show Bubble Wrap Kids, which has a tendency to focus on the polar extreme and just plain absurd.
I let my 5 year old take out the garbage without my watchful eye lording over his every move from the front door. He is more than capable to walk to the end of our drive (which I could easily spit to) and I am happy to download this chore onto someone else.
The boys open the front door to visitors when I am home, they run ahead of me on the street. They do not use public washrooms without being accompanied by an adult they know. We will not let them drive in cars with most other adults.
I don’t feel by doing these things that I am raising particularly bubble wrap or free-range kids. I feel like I am just being a mom, making decisions that feel right to me.
My common sense tells me that a child needs to learn to be independent and resourceful. My common sense tells me that some times those lessons are learned best through experience.
A bubble-wrap mom, I am not. A free-range mom, I am not.
A tissue-wrap mom, I am.
I want to wrap them in tissue, just like the precious gifts they are, to preserve their innocence and fragility for as long as possible. After a delicate gift is unwrapped, the tissue can never be re-folded to its original virtue and the lid of the box never completely closes as it did before.