The Overprotected Kid

They really don't want to walk with me anymore.
They really don’t want to walk with me anymore.

My kids are finally old enough that I feel like I can breathe one of the first sighs of relief. They are old enough that together they are able to stay home while we run errands in town, or they’re able to come home from school and get their homework started on their own. This is a big step and has allowed us to finally let go of the daycare costs that we were being crushed under.

I celebrate this new found independence because I believe strongly that kids should be able to learn how to make their own decisions, they should know how to navigate the complex waters of social interaction without an adult present to jump in.

I am grateful that new community we live in allows us an environment where I feel my kids can thrive and learn to be independent without an abundance of danger. I do not subscribe to fears surrounding stranger danger and have undeniable proof that there are more monsters living in the average home of a child than there are roaming the streets.

It wasn’t until recently that I learned that there’s a name for this set of beliefs I had: Free Range Parenting. And while I’m not sure I’m comfortable yet labeling myself as such, I do know that I believe strongly in the movement.

I’ve found that my biggest obstacle to completely embracing this attitude is not that I fear for my children’s safety, but rather that I fear the repercussions of not following the society’s accepted norms. Will other parents call the police claiming I’m neglecting my children if I leave them home alone after school? If I let them walk around town on their own will I be labeled as the crazy mother that obviously doesn’t care enough about her children to supervise them? I think as parents we are so cruel and judgmental of one another.

This article, published last year in The Atlantic and titled The Overprotected Kid really struck a chord with me. It was shared with me on Facebook by a childhood friend whom I knew had recently lost her young son. I decided to read it knowing that despite her loss she could endorse it, then surely I should give it a try.

The article gave statistics comparing the number of hours kids spend with their families or in an adult organized activity now vs. when many of us were kids. The statistics are alarming. Despite the fact that we’re doing many activities with our kids because we love them and want them to be well-rounded, we may in fact be failing to give them what they need the most, a chance to think for themselves and interact without us.

This philosophy however will never replace worry. I will always worry about them.


Queen of the Bloggers

A recent New York Times article highlighted the blogging career of Heather Armstrong, author of the longtime running blog Dooce. I’ll be honest, I have tried unsuccessfully over the years to become a regular reader of Dooce after numerous friends and fellow bloggers recommended the site.  For me Dooce quickly fell by the wayside into the category of so many other parenting blogs that I felt I could never relate to. While, judging from Heather’s popularity, I am definitely in the minority in my feelings about Dooce, I will admit that she definitely paved the way for the writings of ‘Mommy-bloggers’ everywhere and defined the ideal blogging model.

Reading about Heather’s writing career seemed to be the final push I needed to resurrect my old blog.  I’ve spent the evening running the two years worth of updates that at this point in time WordPress was begging for.

Stay tuned.

Six Months of Change…

So after a six month pause from writing at FnF I have to wonder if all of you really missed anything? Were the trappings of my mundane life followed by enough people that they were actually missed? That people actually wondered what I was doing and what was happening? Probably not…I’m realistic at least.

I will fill you in on some of the bigger details…

In April I turned 31 on a day that was so horribly over-scheduled there was hardly time to breathe. However for the first time in my life I taught a college course on that night after agreeing to present on information literacy and the role of the school administrator. While my teaching skills were a bit rusty, by the end of the evening I had warmed up and I would come to teach other classes when asked. It was good to remember how it felt to teach and I felt more inspired in my day to day work with libraries.

Max Cleaning Toys for Spring Play
Max Cleaning Toys for Spring Play

My biggest accomplishment during the month of April into early May was the completion of the SLMS 2009 Conference in Saratoga Springs, NY. This was the culmination of two years of planning as a conference co-chair and was by far the largest event I had ever planned. The weeks leading up to and following the conference were chaotic and I found myself with little time for anything else, but it was a wonderful experience to have been part of.

Meeting Gregory Maguire!
Meeting Gregory Maguire!

In May Catherine had her first dance recital. This was the first event of its kind for either side of the family and it was a good time. She was fabulous and performed a very energetic Hula Baby dance. She seems to like dance very much and will start classes again in the fall. Catherine’s Dance Recital Video

In June, with little fanfare, Chuck celebrated his 35th birthday and Father’s Day on the same day. We also welcomed a new member into our family with the birth of my niece Erika.

Catherine Talking to Her Cousin Erika
Catherine Talking to Her Cousin Erika

Chuck and I took our first vacation without kids in July. It was an experiment both for us and for the kids that seemed to work really well. The kids spent a week with their grandparents, visiting playgrounds and museums in the area and enjoying Grandma and Grandpa’s swimming pool. We spent our time in the area around Cleveland and Sandusky Ohio touring the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame and Cedar Point Amusement Park. I think we all needed a break from one another and everyone seemed to have time to re-energize. Perhaps we can do it again another year.

Cat Plays with the Slinky Exhibit at the Strong Museum of Play
Cat Plays with the Slinky Exhibit at the Strong Museum of Play

For us, summer isn’t full of beach vacations and leisurely days enjoying the sunshine. We tend to march on with our regular routine, which is good to keep the kids on schedule but at times a bit pathetic when it comes to summer fun. This summer we spent a fair amount of time preparing Catherine for school in the fall and on September 8th she began kindergarten.

Catherines 2nd Day of School
Catherine's 2nd Day of School

It’s been bizarre to be involved with the school as a parent rather than a teacher. I’ve been amazed at the rapid flood of paper that arrives home on a daily basis, even in the 21st Century. However, I’m happy to report that thus far she seems to really enjoy school, although she does miss her daycare friends.  While I had a bit of fear and apprehension about sending her knowing she would be one of the youngest students in class, all of my fears were dismissed the first day of school when I watched her follow directions upon arriving in her classroom, listened to her talk to her teacher and her classmates, and watched her draw an incredible picture and write her name without assistance. As I looked around the room and saw other parents anxiously leaning over desks, drawing the assignment for their children or choosing to write their child’s name upon the paper to save time I realized that she would be just fine. There are definitely times that her independent streak works in her favor.

Musings and Rants Since 2006