Would You Take Your Kids To The Park And Leave Them There?
Saturday is the annual Take Our Children To The Park and Leave Them There Day (TOCTTPLTTD). Can you even fathom it? Taking your kids to the park, and then abadoning them?
What would they do?
What about the predators?
First off, they would play. And they would play without parents watching them, organizing them or limiting them, says Lenore Skenazy, founder of FreeRangeKids and the organizer of the "holiday". (She is also all-around provocateur anti-helicopter parent and the mom who let her son take the subway in New York by himself.)
And the predators would stay where they came from -- in your imagination. Because despite the awful, heartbreaking Tori Stafford case, crime rates and stranger abductions are at an all-time low.
Crime rates are even lower than when we were kids running around the neighbourhood without cell phones, knowing we had to be home when the street lights came on. But for some reason, despite the reality of less crime, our fears keep our kids tethered to us and inside our homes.
Paradoxically, letting them go outside and play by themselves gives them the tools to avoid dangerous situations. Lecturing them and keeping them close to us keeps them co-dependent and vulnerable.
My kids are in our neighbourhood ball hockey league, so we are logging some major hours in our local park. While one child plays, the other two are usually climbing the neighbourhood climbing tree, or playing manhunt in the park. We cannot see them. Sometimes we think they are gone in one direction and then they turn up coming from the other way. But if something goes wrong, they are close enough to find us in a few minutes.
It's fairly free-range for a downtown park. It's awesome. The energy, the camaraderie, and the scrapes and bruises that they get from these park adventures are the building blocks of memories. When you see a group of kids ranging from six to 12 roaming the park, throwing frisbees, hiding, climbing trees -- you know that it is the right thing to do.
In fact, it is hard to imagine a childhood without a certain degree of wildness, isn't it? But do your kids have it? Would you drop your worry ball and let kids make mistakes, climb trees, play outside of your eyesight? (Still doubtful? Read this.)
Will you take part in the Leave Your Kids at The Park Day, (doesn't have to be this Saturday, it can be any day)?
Want more chaos? Last year, I wrote about the most important person in my elementary school.