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Research Overdrive


When I am curious about something, I research.  When I wanted to become a mother, I read books.  When I wanted to be the best mommy out there, I read…I read…and I still read books, and listen to podcasts, and read blogs…and columns.

Mostly, I listen to parenting podcasts while I’m doing my family keeping.  I am less curious about mothering because I’ve been coasting along on my gut instinct and all the research I did when they were toddlers.  Plus, I have other stuff to research.  There was the year I read about homeschooling…then the year of adoption research, I read about puppies, and sewing, and cooking, and marketing, organization, family keeping, menopause and premenopause, healthy foods, gluten intolerance and celiac disease..Sometimes I circle around back to topics when I’ve forgotten the details.  It happens.  I research, and when I don’t use the information…it leaves my active memory.

So when I started noticing that Mr. Fox was sitting more than running, more wandering inside his head than with his whole body, I started fidgiting about it.  Cooking it in my brain.  Why am I so afraid to let him wander away from the house?  I remember vividly going down to the library by myself on my bike…or walking.  If I was riding my bike, it would take 15-20 minutes…if I was walking…who knows how long?  Once I got there, I would spend hours there.  I would sometimes ride directly home…sometimes I would wander through the neighborhoods looking at other people’s houses.  I would ride my bike to my Grandma’s house that was even further than the library…by twice.  We would go down to the park at the end of our street alone.  Why can I not allow my children the same freedom?  Is our city that unsafe?

It turns out, no…our city is very safe.  But I grew up during the 80’s, when Adam Walsh was abducted.  I know there were others, but this is the one that sticks out in my mind.  I watched the Adam Walsh movie every time it was on TV.  There were kids faces on our milk cartons at school.  It didn’t really effect my childhood, but now that my children are getting to be the age where I should be letting them wander and roam, I loose my breath at the thought.

Back in 2009, I was listening to my newest episode of Manic Mommies and heard the interview with Lenore Skenazy, author of Free Range Kids.  It was very interesting, but back in 2oo9, my kids were still too young for this idea to apply to me.  I filed it away and went about my life.  This summer, Mr Fox is the age where he is starting to babysit his sisters for longer lengths of time, but we still don’t allow him to ride his bike to the library or his friend’s house.  Why? because he has to ride on a 2 lane thruway that does not have sidewalks or a bike lane.  Up until this year, he has never walked home from school.  Why? because he has to cross a different 2 lane (non-residential) street that does not have a crosswalk light.    He does ride the bus to school, but if he misses the bus, he waits for me.

I decided I needed to get over my fear and figure out a way to give him a license to wander.  He has a phone.  He doesn’t answer it that much, but he has one and it is almost always with him.  So, I read the book.  It was my first in the pile of research I’m starting on raising a teenage boy.  I’m afraid of being a helicopter parent.  I want my children to be self-sufficient.  I want them to be able to take charge of their own lives.  I’ve been told that we have a very ‘Montessori’ approach to parenting.  I feel I’m doing Mr. Fox a disservice by being so terrified for him.

So, I read Free Range Kids.  I read it with a salt lick and a snark.  There were some good points here and there, like how a lot of the reason we are soo terrified about our children’s freedom is because of Americas’ Most Wanted, and the doom and gloom of the daily news.  (I’m also paranoid because of the Islamaphobia in America also, but that takes a backseat in my reasoning here, because I’ve never run into it in our city.)  Also, it is better to empower our children with the tool bag of how to deal with the world, and people who are outside of our bubble of safety…instead of sheltering them from life.  Oh, and raw cookie dough.*

*Raw cookie dough, we consume it and LAUGH in the face of danger.

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