Monday, February 11, 2013

Leash Life

When I was 5, my mom bought me a soccer ball. I used to go outside to the small soccer field and kick the ball from one side of the field to the other. Then I met some other kids, and we started making up teams. My parents could watch us from the living room window, but they didn't do that often. Later, when I started going to school, I never came home after school. When school was over, we'd put our schoolbags by the goal posts, and play soccer until it got too dark to see the ball.

Which is why this thread (from 4chan, I believe), got my attention.

The story, to sum up, is that a guy let his 9-year-old kid play outside unsupervised. At first, one mom shows up at the guy's door to see what the problem is. Then, when she's told there's no problem, she comes back with a posse of other moms. They're holding the kid and refuse to let him go back into the house, because he obviously suffers from neglect. The father then calls the police, and the moms get arrested.

I wouldn't trust too much of the stuff that comes from 4chan, but whether it's real or not, I think we can agree it isn't that far-fetched.

I feel my kids are too young to be outside without supervision, but what happens when they're nine? I'd like to think I'll act like the 4chan dad, but maybe I'll be afraid? Maybe I'm anti-leash, pro-independence only in theory? Maybe I'll be the one complaining about unsupervised kids and neglectful parents? And what about my girl? If I let my boy play outside by himself, do I do the same with his sister? Or do I follow the current universal thinking: that safe space to wander exists only for males?

4chan leash life
Large image here



  1. When I was a kid,the rule was we had to come home when the street lights came on. If we wanted to leave the court or go inside a friends house, we had to ask first. I'm struggling with this now with my 8 year old. Letting him have freedom and independence and keeping him safe as well. At what point is he old enough to ride his bike out front of our canton row home without me there too? When is he old enough to go the playground with his friends to play football?

    A couple of years ago, a woman tore into me because I let him go to the bathroom alone at Great Clips because tamp, don't I watch Dateline?

  2. Amazing, despite the curse words, I absolutely agree with dad. I used to walk to school (didn't have to worry about being driven), played outside until the street lights came on and could stay in my yard and play after dark (catching fireflies with neighbors kids) and also biked/roller skated across town, even without "proper" sidewalks on the road. Every parent knew each other and knew the names of children on the block and watched out for everyone's child as if they were their own. I hate to see children nowadays... everything will make them sick, destroy their brains, get them molested. No wonder we are building a society of idiot-prone, hypersensitive, whining/bratty/spoiled/self-indulged children who can barely fend for themselves. I think I even had a small paper route around 10 or 11 as a GIRL! Leashes, cell phones with GPS, might as well put a buzz collar on them while we're at it... I think there were as many sick people "back then" as there are now but we are giving them the power by cowering in our homes and freaking out about our children. I distinctly remember that if anyone was 'caught' trying to mess with children back in the good-ole-days they disappeared for a while and may not have reappeared, depending on who was settling the score. Now we bow down to the perverts of society. It was never like this. We stopped choosing independence for our children and telling them things like "Don't take candy from strangers" and opted for GPS chips.

  3. Where I live, kids walk barefoot to school. After school, they walk barefoot to the beaches, swim, play, run with no particular supervision. My son is three, so I always keep him in sight still, more or less. But by age five or six, he will be walking to school with all the other kids, quite barefoot, very possibly in the pouring rain from. He will not only survive it, he will thrive for having done it.

    (We live in New Zealand, by the way.)

  4. It's something I have been thinking about a lot lately... my eight year old has a friend in our development that I think its time that I am able to let him go and see by himself instead of having me walk him there. I don't know what we are afraid of. He's a smart kid that would nevcer approach any strange people and we live in a pretty safe neighborhood.

  5. I know what you mean. It's easy for me to say my kids will come home for dinner, but I don't know what I'll do when my kids are old enough. And then, even if I let me boy be outside by himself all day, will I act the same with my girl?

  6. You're right about everything you write there. And funny about the curse words--I really don't mind curse words. I use curse words all the time. But in this case they just seemed gratuitous, so it actually bothered me too.

  7. It's funny--there are a few kids in this neighborhood, maybe 10-year-old, who walk around unsupervised and cause trouble. Everyone here hates them, but I just get nostalgic...

  8. But see, there's the difference between knowing logically that kids needs space, and actually doing. it. I don't know what I'll do. I like to think I'll be able to trust my kids and everyone else in the neighborhood, but who knows... A "what-if" always creeps in.

  9. I've got a very pretty 10 year old girl and it's tough to draw the line. I want to make sure she's protected without having to hover over her. Out here in L.A., you see lots of crazy stuff and as infrequent and random as it is, you still imagine how devastated you'd be if something happened to YOUR kid. I disagree with Rhonda. I think there are a lot more crazy, creepy and predatory people out there than there used to be. Worse yet, they're bolder and more prone to act-out than they may have been in the past. I don't know how accurate the dad's version of the events described are, but I wouldn't get so offended by the fact that my neighbors are keeping an eye out for the safety of my kid. What he describes is obviously wrong, but it's hard to give the guy the benefit of the doubt when his initial description of his neighbor is "some fat bitch...".

  10. Oh, he's definitely not a role model for off-leash parenting or for any type of human behavior... But I'm not sure about the more crazy people part. I read somewhere that statistically it was the opposite, but since news travel faster and the world is getting smaller, we're just more worried. That's not to say people shouldn't worry. Maybe we're not just more neurotic, but actually wiser about the safety of our children. I'm just happy I don't have to put my ideals to the test yet, since my kids are too young.

  11. I had the run of the farm we lived on when I was 8 and my brother was 6. As long as we stayed together and were back home for meals, we had the run of the place. It was huge too. I often think of this when river is complaining that he is bored. I wish I could just shoo him outside to play rough and get dirty. Not here though. Maybe when he is 8 and we, hopefully, live somewhere a bit more rural than suburban Baltimore.

  12. I know. We'll have to see how we do when our kids are older. Right now I don't feel bad about keeping him home, but when he's 8, I hope I can just keep an eye out from my window...



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