John asked me recently when he would be old enough to do a walking trip by himself.
Frankly, I had no idea what he was talking about. After quite a bit of discussion, I discovered that what he wants to do is go somewhere. He’s not sure where, but he wants to leave our house, by himself, and go somewhere to do something. To drop something off with a neighbor or take something to a mailbox or something.
I didn’t realize that he had never done that! Now I’m trying to come up with a walking trip for him to do and (of course) obsessively trying to figure out what’s safe and what’s not safe. This is not the first time I’ve wished for a rule book. It would be easier to be a parent if there weren’t so much judgement involved. If things were more black and white.
I found this picture when I was in Charlotte. It’s my mom and her younger brother, getting on a plane to go from Kentucky to Chicago. Alone! What are they, seven and three? Hmmmm… Could be that I’m being a little bit over-protective. Again, not for the first time. Probably not for the last.
I’ve been getting this, too! I let my 6 year-old daughter walk or scooter down to the end of our culdesac, 4 houses away but out of view, and I get heart palpitations until she returns and suspect someone might call child services on me. Meanwhile, at that age, we ran in packs in my old neighborhood and were sometimes out for hours at a time without any adult supervision. The 2 worries seem to be cars and abduction. The car risk is probably about the same. As for abduction, there’s a much greater perception of potential danger because of the 24-hour media and the internet, but the rate of child abduction by strangers hasn’t increased since then. I don’t know whether (a) the world really isn’t as dangerous as we’ve been led to believe, or (b) the world was actually far more dangerous then than we realized, and our parents really should have been more paranoid.
Kathleen, I think the worries are cars, abduction and the department of social services. I mean, is it even legal to unleash a pack of small, crazy, unsupervised people on the neighborhood?