Reporting, Recording and Relaying - But Always Telling It As I See It

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Kick Them Out!

Lenore Skenazy…might be crazy. She may, however, really be unto something. Lenore proposed that this past Saturday, parents should take their kids to the park – and leave them. Unfiltered opinion would quickly cry “ARREST THIS LOON!” If you can get past media hype and message board paranoids, she has an excellent point. Basically, she contends that kids are 1) cooped up too much in the house, and 2) guarded over by their parents, rendering them unable to sort out the world on their own. Her premise, unlike the accusations cast her way, is not to drop your kids at the park and head out for a relaxing spa weekend. Rather, it is to take them to the park and get out of their way. Let them play, meet friends, settle disputes and goof around.

When I was my kid’s age, I had mastered the 16B bus. Talking it many, many days into Pittsburgh to see a movie, stop at the arcade or go to Three Rivers Stadium to see a Pirates game. (My buddy Mark and I would walk real slow past the porno shops in town…trying to steal a glance at the magazine covers.) We didn’t live in a plan, so going to a friend’s house meant hotting the streets…sometimes more than a mile away. Amazingly, we survived. We learned to find our way, avoid trouble and had adventures every time.

A couple of years ago, my kids and some friends wanted to walk to the local convenience store; which meant cutting through a few fields and walking down a fairly busy road. Of course there was some apprehension on my part but I looked at it like this. Letting them go did two things. First, it established trust between us; that they would go to the store, not act like idiots and come home without incident. Two, they learned to watch out for themselves and each other and basically figure things out (like not getting lost in the woods and how to outrun the mean neighbor who hates when they cut through his field…afraid they are going to trample the waste high weeds. I’m not a proponent of trespassing; I am a proponent of pissing people off who are mean to kids.)

Lenore may be considered a lunatic by some, but it is my feeling the people who would label her as such are the same parents who bitch to the coach that their kids don’t get enough playing time, believe their kids always tell the truth and think a bad grade is the result of poor teaching. In fact, I’d send my kids outside right now, but they just got done spanking Mt. Lebanon in lacrosse…so I am going to join them on the couch to watch some TV.

(As usual, there is always an equal and opposite reaction to things…check out this miscreant who left his kid at a restaurant to, of all things, go to a Pirates game!)


Anonymous said...

Back in the day 'my day', I left the house in the a.m., sometimes came back for lunch, then heard my Moms 'yell' of my name, so I knew it was time to come home for dinner. Never any questions asked, like 'Where were you, What were you doing, Who were you with'..I'm not saying those are 'bad' questions to ask as a parent, but I, too, believe today parents shelter their kids way too much. We, as parents need to trust our kids in some way. Let them experience a little freedom, and we, as parents will for sure find a kid who will confide. And that is what it is all about..Being trusting, until they give you a reason not to. Been there! 'C'

Dave Meyer said...

Yes, yes and yes! They need to be a little scared and a little worried and a little confused. It's all part of it.

Anonymous said...


James said...

As much as I would like to agree with you Dave, things just aren't the same here in 2010 as they were in 1980. Back then, people didn't pick up kids off the street and either keep them or murder them just for fun. Now you hear about that kind of crap almost weekly. Obviously my kids aren't old enough to leave alone anywhere, but at some point it will happen and I'm sure I'll be stressed until they get home. Of course, I'll have them tagged by the GPS on their cell phones...just in case.

Dave Meyer said...

James...I'm sure if Eber wrote this you would be in total agreement.

Anyway, I will respectfully disagree. I'm not sure the danger out there todayis any different than it was when we were kids. In fact, is it not true that Stranger Danger turns out to be one of the most mis-guided bits of info ever told our kids? Isn't it true that the vast majority of kidnappings are from family members?

Anonymous said...

The 'danger' is just more in the media...I'm sure bad stuff happened when we were kids.. I remember 'walking home from school with a friend'...we would cut thru different businesses to get home, and we passed some guy, and he called out to us..'Hey girls', and he had on a trench coat, opened it up and was as naked as naked can be...We high tailed it home..Something I never forgot tho!