I read the Free Range Kids blog. Partly because it makes me feel smug; American children seem far more circumscribed in their movements than their European counterparts. However, let those of us without sin cast the first stone. I try not to be over-protective, but I suspect that I am. For example, I would never allow my children to ride from Oklahama to New York, unaccompanied, on horseback. Let me tell you about my recent tentative adventures.
I was in the city centre recently with the children. We went to a café for a treat. When we arrived, Michael liked none of the offerings. “Why can’t I have a packet of crisps?” he said. It wasn’t that kind of café. Herself said that there was a shop at the end of the street and she could go and buy crisps for Michael. It was a very crowded city centre shopping street. It was a slightly rough part of town. On the other hand, it was four o’clock in the afternoon. “You never trust me to do anything,” said my nine year old girl. I handed over the money and sent her off. As I watched her retreating form, I thought she looked very small. But then I remembered the small boy with his violin case (surely no more than 7) who I had seen trotting alone along a Paris footpath when I was last there. I held my breath. She came back ten minutes later with the crisps delighted with herself.
Fortified by this, when she went to her week long summer camp on a college campus, I dropped her at the car park and let her run in alone. My confidence was somewhat shaken by seeing her go in the wrong direction on two mornings. Clearly, she has inherited her mother’s sense of direction. Nevertheless, my task for the summer is to let her out more alone. Wish me luck.