I did these things as a kid (but my kids won’t)

I think about my own childhood now that I’m a parent. Often. Of course I do, it is my primary frame of reference in all things childhoody.

There are things I did that my kids will never do.

I could talk about how they will never dial a rotary phone. Or that they won’t be enjoying candy cigarettes – remember those paper wrapped gum ones with powdered sugar inside that looked like smoke? So cool. Or how caller ID will prevent them from learning the art of prank calling.

But all of that stuff just makes me feel old. Plus, this type of comparison would be way more interesting coming from my grandparents who walked 50 miles barefoot uphill both ways in the snow and all that.

Still. Times have changed.

(The following pictures are of me as a kid. I have braids!)

#1 No Seat belts

I do not remember sitting in the car. But I do remember laying across the backseat, laying across the floor of the backseat, standing in the backseat, jumping in the backseat and possibly attempting headstands in the backseat while my mother told me to sit down.

Until 1984. Then those “Buckle Up, It’s the Law!” signs went up and parents everywhere could point at them and say, “If you don’t, you’ll go to jail” which must have been awesome for them.

My kids? Nope, not going to be jumping around back there.


#2 No Helmets

My aunt (who is only six years older than me) used to pull me in my Radio Flyer® wagon by tying a rope to her bike. On country roads. Down hills. No helmets.

But the wagon would go too fast:

And she’d yell “put the brakes on!” which actually meant “PANIC!” because there weren’t any brakes. We stopped ourselves by turning into the ditch and wiping out. It was fun.

My kids? They wear helmets at the dinner table. You know, just in case they fall off their chairs.


#3 No Childproofing

Hazardous cleaning products were left out in the open but those Mr. Yuk stickers were slapped on them so it was okay. Childproofing also involved putting chairs in front of things.

My kids? Anything even slightly yucky is stored way up high, protected by lasers and titanium padlocks at an undisclosed satellite location.


#4 Flying Attempts 

I had a swing set. It was metal and green and yellow and happy. My favorite thing to do was to swing as high as I possibly could, higher than the top bar. I also liked to jump off, mid-swing. I usually landed on my feet, but not always. Sprained both wrists once.

My kids? No. They will not jump off a swing set. Not when I’m watching. I will always be watching.


#5 Playground Equipment

Remember seesaws or teeter-totters? I haven’t seen on old-fashioned one in years. This is probably why:

A certain boy asked me to seesaw with him. I was thrilled! He must like me!

Oh. I guess not.

In second grade a girl got her top teeth knocked out from that little trick. It was bloody. Those things were brutal.

My kids? At least around here, seesaws are smaller and have hydraulics or something so they won’t slam any butts on the ground. Which is a relief. Nothing good came of those teeth knocker outers. But playgrounds still aren’t perfect. Though they probably aren’t as much fun either, especially since they realized the giant metal robot was a bad idea.


#6 Sledding 

We went sledding often. If you do something often enough you get bored. So then you create ways to make it exciting again. So we invented demolition derby sledding. If you got knocked off your sled you were out. We were crashing into each other on purpose. We also built ramps out of snow to launch us flying through the air. So much fun. So many bruises.

My kids? First of all, we don’t have snow here. Second of all, thank goodness we don’t have snow here. But if we did? No demolition sledding allowed. And they’d have to wear helmets. And not go very fast. Or ever stand up. On second thought, no sledding.


#7 Freedom


But perhaps the most striking contrast is the freedom I remember having. I’d eat breakfast and then leave.

I’d wander around. Aimlessly. Sometimes with neighborhood kids and sometimes alone. I’d cross our creek with homemade bridges:

And catch turtles without ever hearing of the word Salmonella.

I’d put roller skates on and skate down sidewalks:

And stop myself by crashing into a bush, just before the street.

I never stopped to eat lunch. Because I remember being out all day long:

Only to be called in for dinner when it was getting dark.

My kids? Yeah, right. At least not until they are older. Like thirty.


How does your childhood compare? Are there things you did that your kids won’t?



This is not a disclaimer. This is where I’m putting some actual parent-y discussion stuff because I don’t usually talk about actual parent-y discussion stuff. 

Are parents as a whole more protective these days? And where is the line drawn between good protection (seat belts and not letting your kids drink bleach) and being over-protective to where it is stifling for them. I think about this sometimes. FreeRangeKids is an excellent read if you are interested in this sort of discussion.    

Oops, this isn’t meant to be a thought-provoking blog so if this provokes thoughts I sincerely apologize.

Wait, that sounded like a disclaimer. 

Unicorns! Sticker books! Poop!



Psst! If you liked this then you’ll definitely, probably like my book:
Parenting: Illustrated with Crappy Pictures


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619 Responses to I did these things as a kid (but my kids won’t)

  1. Angie says:

    I loved seeing you as a child in this one! Laughing with tears at the kids wearing helmets at the dinner table part. This is one of my favorites!

    • CristieR says:

      Lol me too. Even scrolled back a couple times to giggle again!

    • Adrienne says:

      My daughter is 6 months old and I want to get her a helmet so bad and my dad just laughs at me. She is just so active and cause she is trying to walk all the time and climbing on all the furniture if she falls I don’t want to be worried about her.

  2. Jenny says:

    My son just saw that last picture and is saying “What is she doing in the tree? We don’t sleep in trees”

  3. Meghan says:

    I remember doing all of those things. And my kids won’t do any of them either.

  4. Elisa says:

    Ack, it’s too late, my thoughts are provoked. I think parents these days are a little too cautious. No, I won’t let my kids do anything that’s against the law, but if they want to jump off the swing or go play outside by themselves (at an appropriate age) I let them. A few bumps and bruises never killed anyone. I do make them wear a helmet when riding a bike, but not when sledding.

    • Michelle says:

      Agreed. My kids are barely an appropriate age (according to the neighbours stares) but I let them play outside on their own.. I can see them most of the time our the window, but they sometimes bike down the road to their friends house, just a few hundred yards but out of sight. We also had the pleasure of finding a retro playground with a seesaw on holiday, but the kids didn’t dig it! Jumping off swings is a rite of passage in my mind.. I was so proud when my son plucked up the courage to copy his older cousins. The lack of freedom for kids these days is a massive problem in my opinion, I moved to the US to send them to a Sudbury Valley School for that very reason. Set them free and see just how much they can learn for themselves, gain self worth and confidence, achieve and be happy.

    • Tracy says:

      obviously, safety first, but sometimes fun can be a LITTLE dangerous and that is a good kind of danger! demolition sledding? ya, baby!! bruises are a part of growing up. Jump off the swings!! Jump from the garage roof to the trampoline (tramp with netting around it, you know, for safety), build a snow ramp, a wood ramp, any kind of ramp for your sled, your bike, your gocart! Do it…just do it outside!

  5. Rebekah Marie says:

    I wandered in the woods , went miles away from home following functioining train tracks, and climbed on old broken down fences, among other ‘fun ” things I was able to do as a child. Including sitting on the second story roof and watching the clouds float by while my Mom and baby sister napped. Good Times.

  6. Rebekah Marie says:

    Meant to type..Functioning Tracks, as in, trains still used them. I just stepped off of them and walked int he woods along side of them if I heard or saw a train coming.

  7. Melanie says:

    I try to let my daughter have a similar childhood that I had.. I kick her out of the house after her homework is done and tell her to come back in when the street lights come on, she knows not to cross the busy street a few blocks away, and he and her friends usually just end up at the nearby playground. A lot of things are different for her since we live in a crowded neighborhood as opposed to the tiny small town I grew up in. Woods and trees are a lot more scarce around here to get lost in 🙁

  8. I remember party lines and having to wait until some random neighbor got off the line before we could prank someone. We’d scream into the phone and bang against the floor to try to get them to shut up.

    I’m a huge fan of Lenore Skenazy, but it’s tough to let go and not worry about as much when everyone around is doing it as well.

    That said, try moving to Argentina. No helmets, babies on motorcycles with the rest of the family. You should see the slide at a local ice cream place. I turned by back when Lila played on it bc it was painful to watch. Yet no one ever did get hurt. As far as I know.

    Thanks for this. I found your blog recently and have been loving it ever since.

  9. erika says:

    My husband and I have had this conversation SOOOO many times! So many things have been changed in the name of safety, that we all grow up with the energy of fear around us. Some of the simple pleasures and freedoms we had as children don’t exist anymore. And I’m not knocking safety, but I feel things go way too far. I used to joke that people should wear helmets driving cars….race car drivers do it, why should we be any different? Where will it end?

  10. sprinke says:

    Maybe hanging on to a car’s bumper and sliding behind it when the road was covered with snow? Can’t see letting my kid do that.

    • Dan says:

      Hey we used to do that only we would tie a rope to the car and ski behind the car just like when you waterski… was fine till you hit bare pavement but we got so good at it we would just ski over to the edge of the road where the snow had not melted yet and keep going….

    • Sue says:

      We used to straddle the sides of the back of our neighbor’s old pickup truck, and he would drive up and down our street while we pretended we were riding horses. We also used to walk a mile to the pond by ourselves with our skates in the winter, and would determine if the ice were thick enough to skate by heaving giant rocks onto it. If it held, we figured it was safe.

    • Sean says:

      We did that. In fact by my junior high there was a 4-way stop and all the kids would gather to sneakily grab onto total strangers cars to do this. And the older teenagers would purposely drive by there to get loaded up with kids and then do all kinds of swerving to try and shake the kids loose. Not only will my kid not be doing that but I suspect today it would be the subject of a sensationalized “This dangerous trend could be putting your child at risk!” story on the local TV news.

      • Peggy luedtke says:

        High school, snow filled parking lot…sketching along on the back of your friends (parents) car. Crouched over, knees bent, hanging ten by your finger tips from a metal bumper. Priceless! My daughter doesn’t know about this one yet…shhhh!

  11. Immilling says:

    Most kids today will do none of these things, because kids don’t go outside anymore.

    • Tracy says:

      I believe we all need to take a page (or a chapter or two) out of our parents “parenting handbooks”. We are trying to raise our kids as close to our childhoods as possible. I mean time does march on and video games weren’t a thing of my childhood, and I won’t totally deprive my kids of what they are into, but OUTSIDE and play and “find something/someone do play with/do” will always be the first option!!

  12. I remember laying in the back seat. Or even better, riding in the jumpseat in the old style station wagons. (I was born in ’80, so it must not have lasted long, but it’s still memorable.)

    The last one really gets me. I remember riding bikes to the library and staying all day (I was nerdy even then,) wandering the neighborhood and just being gone. Will I let my girls do that?

    Probably not.

    • Aramis Erak says:

      I had a 1994 Olds Cutlass Sierra SL Wagon with the rear facing ruble seat. I loved that car. So yes, it’s still possible to get wagons with Rumble Seats. The 2011 Mercedes-Benz E Class has them.

      The thing my kids won’t get to to that I did, and that bothers me in its absence, is to enjoy family friendly TV in first run. TV has become a wasteland with a few scattered oases of Family Friendly…

      Oh, and to feel that Police are there to help. As a kid, the police here really were helpful (despite being as corrupt as those of the Big Sleazy) when kids had issues. Now, the kids see police almost universally as the enemy. The police here have become a collection of refugees from the SoCal Drug Wars, and see even children as little more than crooks in training.

      Innocence is what I wish my kids could experience from my own childhood. And innocence is absent in modern American life.

  13. Nae says:

    LOL I remember being my kids ages and swimming in creeks with a whole heap of other kids, and jumping out of trees into creeks. And riding bikes and hanging onto cars and things.
    My kids have never really had trees that are climbable, and they aren’t allowed to swim in creeks, and other kids don’t pass in my books as a suitable amount of supervision. And if I catch them riding their bikes (ie – moving, and not standing stationary on the side of the road) when a car is moving on the same road they are in the doo doo.
    And no, I will tell you I’m not a helicopter mum 🙂

  14. stef says:

    yep those seesaws will get you…..i busted my chin wide open on one when i was little….of course on the day our school allowed us to dress out of uniform so i got blood all over the outfit i was so proud to be wearing….good times….i’m still terrified of those things 😀

  15. Rita says:

    I loved this post!

  16. Suzanne says:

    One thing that is very different about when I was a kid was how well everyone knew everyone else in the neighborhood. It was easier for our parents to lets us roam free because they knew there was a good chance there would be witnesses to disaster and they would be reasonably quickly notified. Now so many kids barely listen to their own parents much less show respect or listen to other adults. And other parents aren’t as interested in people telling them anything about their kids. It’s kind of sad. Personally, I’m installing a lojack in my kids.

  17. Leia says:

    I did so much of that too. So many dangerous activities and so much fun. I hope my son gets to experience some of it. He will be climbing trees, sledding, and swinging high. If he doesn’t test his limits and mine then I will think something is wrong with him. Although these things may give me heart attack to watch.

  18. Amber Dusick says:

    Me too. The freedom to explore one was so important as a child for me. And now…

  19. My parents were very careful with most things. We always wore seat belts, though most of our friends didn’t have to. I however never wore a helmet and my sisters and I used to tie a ski rope onto the back of my bike and take turns being pulled in an office chair throughout the neighborhood, and over speed bumps.

  20. Amy says:

    You’re funny and I like your style. I’ll read FreeRangeKids, but I’ll never let them range free.

    And yes, parents are more protective these days, I think, but the world keeps getting scarier so it’s not our fault.

    Plus we can’t make our way through pregnancy with vodka and cigarettes anymore without everyone giving us the stink eye, so if we can’t have any fun, neither can the children. Right?

    Because as a parent, it’s important to teach fairness.

  21. I was told by a tot lot equipment salesperson that many schools will not even order swings now, for fear that someone will get hurt. “Nothing that moves,” she said. ON A PLAYGROUND!

    Myself, I try not to watch my kids as they play. What I don’t know won’t hurt me/them.

    • Jane says:

      Our school got a tornado twirling thing that the kids hang off and it spins. After many accidents they have welded it so it can’t turn. Boring now.
      We ran wild with the kids in the neighnourhood. They were fun days.

  22. Sue Mitchell says:

    Amber, this was a riot!

    I am starting to let my 8-year-old wander farther afield, sans cell hone, GPS or homing device. But he does have regular check-in times and can’t go alone.

    When I was growing up, I think it was more or less the same as far as wandering. There were a lot of moms at home back then (1960s and 70s), so it was hard to go beyond where someone’s mom could see you.

    My mother planted fear in my head by telling me, “If something bad happened to you, I couldn’t live with myself.” I hear that every time I consider letting my son do something a bit more risky…what if a sexual predator *did* come along? What if he *did* get a head injury?

    In the end, I usually err on the side of caution. At the same time, I try not to invent risks that aren’t really there.

  23. Amber Dusick says:

    Yes. Just YES. Well, not the lojack part but the difference in everyone knowing each other in the neighborhoods.

  24. Rachelle says:

    Oh this is hilarious and so sadly true…seat belts, freedom, helmets? Is it overprotectedness if it is required to prevent your children from anything harmful in any possible way to continue to be their parent? Oh well – thanks for a trip down memory lane.

  25. junot says:

    I went wandering around the neighborhood as a child too, but bad things happened to me. I’ll never advocate the free range child stuff to that extent. The risk just isn’t worth it.

    • Kory says:

      I agree — it was great being out all day to play, but sometimes I went places alone, and bad sh*t happened to me that I sure don’t want to happen to my 3 girls. That’s what has really shifted. Awareness of the bad sh*t that can happen.

  26. Amber Dusick says:

    That office chair shenanigans sounds like so much fun!

  27. Cristi says:

    We have an “old-fashioned” metal playground down the street, complete with a merry-go-round or as my husband and I call it, “the wheel of death”. I do take my kids to that park, but I come home with fresh gray hairs every time.

  28. Jen C. says:

    I’m bummed that DS won’t be able to sit on a mattress in the back of a pickup truck through the Andes. I’m also bummed that I’m going to have to police him on the Interwebs. Different times, new dangers …

  29. Amber Dusick says:

    Wow, I did that too!

  30. Karrie says:

    Yep — I’m with you — down to the seesaw that knocked the breath out of me in 1st grade and staying out all day wandering the town ON MY OWN. I shudder to think about my kids doing that stuff.

    FREE RANGE KIDS is on my NEED TO READ shelf right now! I know it will be good, but I’m scared to read it and feel guilty for being over-protective. I should get over that right????

  31. Amber Dusick says:

    🙁 So sad. I think I’ll lock my kids outside for the rest of the week. I mean, safely. In the fenced in yard. While I’m watching them. lol

  32. Sasha says:

    I did that stuff too. I also used to put couch pillows on the floor and do flips off the table onto them. Riding in the car with no seat belts was fun. I miss that. Yes, my children are trapped by 5-point harnesses.

  33. Heather says:

    I think we go way too overboard. A couple of years ago the Canadian Paediatric Society issued a position statement recommending that parents not purchase backyard trampolines. I joked that if the bicycle were invented today, pediatricians would be suggesting that nobody under 18 should be allowed to ride, them, and citing examples of horrific bike accidents involving children. I saw another sun safety thing lately that said not to let your kids play outside between 11 and 4. Like, most of the hours they’re awake. So I guess I can just stick my kids in front of the video games all day to make sure they’re perfectly safe, right? Oh no, wait, the pediatricians recommend against that too…

  34. Tracy says:

    Oh how TRUE!! We made dens inside bushes, gave eachother ‘fronties’ on bikes (riding on handle bars of eachothers bikes! All manor of dangerous things. Miss those days but your right… My little boy will be going out with a tracking system attached & encased in bubble wrap! Im not kidding. Amazing blog as always. Its bedtime reading for a heavy pregnant insomniac!

  35. Amber Dusick says:

    I remember party lines too!

  36. What about learning to do things like reading a map while sitting in the FRONT seat, gasp!!, no seat belt and telling your Mom which way to go?

    We lived out in the boonies for a while and we would go ride our bikes for hours, no helmets, but we were required for at least one of us to wear a belt in case someone got bitten by a snake and we knew to send one of the other kids riding home to get an adult.

    As a foster Mom, I have actually had kids come here that have NEVER been in a tree, much less climbed one to the highest possible height without getting onto the branches too thin to hold them.

  37. Karrie says:

    hahahahahaha — good point!

  38. Amber Dusick says:

    Yes, a lot of it has to do with where you grow up, versus where you are now. I was in a tiny tiny town. Now I’m in a very huge city.

    • We live in the inner city, and after growing up living on ten acres with woods and a creek next to a cow pasture, I shudder to think what fun and excitement my kids especially the boys, will think up here in the city!

  39. Amber Dusick says:

    Did you smash coins on the tracks? That was the best.

  40. Karen says:

    My friend’s kids were skateboarding down to the park the other day and she asked me if she should call them back and make them wear helmets. I asked her if she would have worn a helmet to skateboard when she was 10. She let them go. Then guess what…..they came back in one piece.

  41. Jenn says:

    I remember the freedom… I was 8 years old, and it was exactly the same, we’d leave after breakfast and sometimes not come home until dinner… I am now the parent of a 5 year old and a 3 year old, and I could not ever imagine letting them take off on me like that. All I can say is it was a different time back then. When they’re older… we’ll see. But it scares me to death!

  42. On the first day of first grade I did a flip over the bar and broke my 2 front top teeth off into a half moon shape. But you can bet I was right back at it the next day when I was back at school!!

  43. Misty says:

    Okay I loved your comment!

  44. Amber Dusick says:

    LOL at the “wheel of death” I remember those.

  45. Karrie says:

    Posting again — but I remember when we adopted two little puppies from an animal rescue league. They told me the puppies had been tagged with little GPS thingies and did I mind? I was all — MIND? Are you joking? Can you put them behind my KIDS’ ears???

    On the other hand, I heard on a radio program not too long ago that we — Generations X and Y — were raised in an age of FEAR and that actually the crime rates were down as we grew up. That the whole “stranger danger” crap is much less likely than someone we know trying to hurt us.

  46. christine says:

    Bad things did happen even way back in the sixties.We(my two friends and I) were flashed by an older man.When I told my mother her response was,” Oh,that is nothing,you’ve seen your little brothers naked,right?” Her downplaying it made me forget all about until my friend reminded me a couple of years ago.If that happened today I would probably be taken for therapy.My children were allowed BIG freedoms.They are alive and kicking.

  47. Karrie says:

    Oh and that we can blame John Walsh for the age of Fear thing…(according to whatever “expert” was talking on the radio)

  48. Cindy Spicer says:

    Humans have always learned from falling. It’s just the way our brain is wired.

    Like learning to walk. If you catch your child and never let his diapered rear-end hit the ground, he won’t walk for WAY longer than normal.

    I do believe there are good advances that have been made in child safety, but I also feel some of the freedom to just be a kid was lost along the way.

  49. Cassandra says:

    It’s a wonder any of us made it to adulthood alive!!! I used to cross a waterfall on a little tree that had fallen across… how we never fell off and got swept away is beyond me! LOL The world is filled with a lot more terrible things than when we were kids. I don’t remember being afraid someone might take me, although it did happen, just not that often, now i check my sons windows every night and every window in our house afraid someone could come in and take him!

  50. Casey says:

    Yep, I remember riding around with no seat belts! Mom would pull up to the bank and the three of us would scramble to stick our head into the front seat to get “dibs” on the best lollipop at the drive-thru. Also remember playing / riding bikes / exploring with friends until dark…*sigh*

  51. Suzy says:

    We squashed coins on train tracks, smoked candy cigarettes, climbed every tree we could, climbed old dead vines up into said trees (with many a butt-busting fall), and wandered Hogtown Creek all day unsupervised, looking for (and finding) fossilized sharks’ teeth. I also tried to fly with an umbrella like Mary Poppins off the side of a sinkhole on a windy day, fed fried chicken bones and marshmallows to wild alligators, and rode horses bareback. I kind of hope my son (now almost two) does all of those things. Except for the squashing coins, for some reason I am concerned about my train crazy boy being too interested in the choo choo to get OFF the tracks. Also, the gator feeding was kind of stupid. 🙂

  52. Chava says:

    what about ringing people’s door bells and then running away, can’t do that now with all the CCTV around. I went to ride horses that I didn’t know in a paddock at the end of town, fell off a few times, so much fun…no more horses at the end of town now, only more concrete :(.
    I had several concussions as a kid from playing field hockey (it’s a lie when they say it’s a non contact sport!) and from falling off my bike WITHOUT a helmet :). All good fun. I hope I can let my kids have simular childhoods, but I do err on the side of caution.

  53. MIchele says:

    I grew up in new york city in the early 90’s. I remember riding on the subways with my friends at around the age of 11 or 12, being gone ALL day just doing whatever. We were good kids, so we rollerbladed, went to parks, got lunch at delis, window shopped, bought magazines, went to movies, etc. and just coming home around dinner time. Nobody had cell phones, our parents just trusted that we would come home at night. As a parent myself now the idea that my parents weren’t scared out of their minds that something (anything!) could have happened to us on all our adventures is mind boggling.

  54. Amber Dusick says:

    Yeah, what ARE they supposed to do?

  55. KIDean says:

    Wow! Kids today are definitely missing out. I played in my creek often as a kid too, but my boy will not be playing in a creek and tracking mud through my house. (Our poor parents–lol).

  56. My husband and I talk about this too! Riding motorcycles for miles until they broke down & we had to push them. Riding horses all over Tarnation and getting lost. One time my horse ran out of control on the highway, heading the wrong direction, with me still on her. Other times, I was thrown from horses.

    Hanging out at remote construction sites bugging the contractors, or messing with their equipment when they were gone. Harnessing our dogs to our wagons and then they’d panic and run full steam, dumping us out eventually. Inner tubing down rivers with no adults or life jackets. Hitch hiking.

    Getting bitten by dogs. Wandering, unsupervised, for 12 hour spans during long summer days. Shooting each other with BB guns. Blowing up neighbors mailboxes. Modifying fireworks to make the explosions more exciting. Hiking alone with my dog on trails, my parents realizing later I was being stalked by a large predator.

    Oh, those were cherished, idyllic times….

    • Sean says:

      Wow I did a couple of these too. At least checking to see if the contractors left the keys in the heavy equipment at construction sites. And one time starting up a bulldozer but quickly turning it off because I didn’t actually know how to drive.

      Oh and modifying firecrackers to make the explosions more exciting of course.

      My childhood was not so rural but I do remember taking shopping carts from the grocery store and racing them down very steep hills, like hills that were several blocks longs and involved blowing through cul-de-sac intersections.

  57. Amber Dusick says:

    See, I wonder if that is true, the part about the world being filled with more horrible things. Or are we just more aware of it as parents? With the media and internet and all the information sharing that we just hear about more of it? Not sure. I check the windows and doors too. How did we all get so paranoid?

    • connie says:

      That’s exactly the point. If you read “Free Range Kids”, the author shares statistics demonstrating that it is *not* more dangerous now than when we were kids. It is safer now than ever, but our access to every single datapoint and news story makes it *seem* more dangerous now.

      I struggle with allowing my son the freedoms I had as a child, but I know it is irrational and I’m trying to overcome it.

      Don’t tell yourselves you’re being smart in limiting your child’s experience. You’re not.

  58. Amber Dusick says:

    I think I want to go back in time and hang out with you! Sounds fun and hilarious!

  59. Amber Dusick says:

    Oh yes! How could I forget Ding Dong Ditch! We loved that game.

  60. Illylover says:

    Love your blogs, Amber! My four kids always say it sucks that I am a pediatrician. No trampoline in our backyard, they are never allowed to skate/ski-snowboard/rollerblade/bike without helmet. Of course those in college now are much less compliant with their longboad and helmet (= no helmet) :(. The one thing I am still adamant about it that if they ever buy a motorcycle (I call those things murdercycle), I will sneak in at night and steal it and distroy it. As for the swings, I have seen enough swing accidents growing up in Hungary, that I never pushed their swing high (so most of them are also swing-phobic) and if we happen to come across a playground that still has swings, I have to turn my back to the swing….wheteher it’s my offsprings on it or someone else’s…

  61. Melinda says:

    Fun trip down memory lane! I’m off with my 4 and 3-yr. olds right now to go sledding down our crazy neighborhood hill (sans helmets). Living on the wild side isn’t so bad…it’s why we chose to live in a small town out west.

  62. Heather says:

    Amy, there are actually no empirical data to show that the world keeps getting scarier. In fact, rates of violent crime are falling in most parts of North America if you look at the statistics. In most cases of abduction or sexual abuse, it is someone the child knows. Our perception of risk is growing, not necessarily risk itself.

  63. Erin says:

    In my town, the “scary sexual predator” turned out to be a 6th grade teacher and Boy Scout leader. Yikes. (It wasn’t discovered until much later.)
    But I spent many happy days riding my bike to the public library, catching crayfish in the river, building forts in the woods, hanging upside down off the swingset/monkey bars (and subsequently falling on my neck and wondering for about 5 minutes if I’d paralyzed myself)….I’d love for my daughter to do all these things. However, I grew up in a little rural town, and we live in a (relatively) bigger city now – getting to the library would involve crossing several busy streets, the river isn’t nearby, and there are no woods within walking distance. I suppose we could get some monkey bars, though. And when we visit Gramma and Grampa, I’m forcing her to be free-range!

  64. Amanda says:

    My grandpa used to pile all the grandkids over a certain age (a well-and-truly-potty-trained age lol) into the back of his truck and drive for 2 or three hours to take us all camping. It was a blast! We used to jump around on the foam mattresses back there and play Princes Bride in which there was always 3 Buttercups and several Wesley’s. Sadly, my kids will never know that joy. My friends and I also used to be out all day either sledding or roaming the neighbourhood on our bikes until dinner. It was great!

  65. kimberly says:

    I just had this discussion with one of my girlfriends this afternoon, how we wld just wander the town we lived near at the age of like s are and we are like without any7 supervision and how we will not even let our thirteen your kids cross the street without holding their hands!

  66. Amber says:

    We rode in the back of a pickup truck, if we were lucky on long drives my dad would put a twin mattress back there for us to lay down on.

  67. Amber Dusick says:

    Wait, the 90s? Wasn’t that just last year? 😉 I’m glad you commented, I did wonder if the freedom thing was just a side-effect of me living in a small town (and now a city) so I’m glad someone chimed in with a big city childhood experience.

  68. jen says:

    awww prank calls were the best!!! my kids will miss those! When i was about 10 or so my cousins and i went into grandma’s basement. She had a phone line down there!; prank call heaven! We would call random numbers and tell people their pizza delivery was on its way and would cost them $100 dollars. One kid would make the call and the others would bang on pots and pans and one of the kids would yell “momma mia!” (because that’s what they do at pizza joints!?!) We thought we were really tricking these people but what about i really don’t know. Seems if i got a call from a 10 year talking about $100 dollars worth of pizza i would figure out it was a crank call. I just know i put a lot of effort into crank calls. I had all different “scams” going.
    I used to roam the streets and woods all days with or without friends. Funny but i too don’t remember eating much lunch. I bet it saved a lot my parents a lot of money.

  69. jen says:

    should have read this before i posted! “I bet it saved my parents a lot of money”

  70. Andrea says:

    I have to say: I agree. My kids are in carseats and were extended rear-faced (and even 5-pt restrainted!). But they play outside alone. They know their limits and how to keep themselves safe. I personally do not believe it is healthy for me to teach my kids that the world is a big, scary place. It’s a wonderful place that is meant to be explored at an age-appropriate pace.

  71. Corrie K says:

    I think parents today ARE too over-protective, and, as a result, the kids are suffering.How much TV is being watched by kids today as opposed to when we grew up? (Yes, it does have some to do with where we grew up, but still.) How much exercise/fresh air/outdoors time are kids today getting? Is it enough? I would posit that it is not. Were ADD and ADHD common when we were kids? No, it wasn’t. Yes, it was there, but not as common as today. Anyone else seeing a connection here??

  72. Ainslie says:

    Perhaps our parents were scared out of their minds … and just did it anyway, becuase that was what you did. Much as now, we’d like to grant our kids that bit more freedom, but it’s no longer the done thing to let your kids roam around without supervision.
    My munchkin is not yet one, so these questions are a while away for me, but I’d like to think she’ll have the same chance to explore and play that my parents gave me.

  73. Amber Dusick says:

    Yikes. And that is a good point, things you think are safe can be unsafe and so on. It is mind boggling. Makes me crazy. And I’m with you on the growing up rural and now living in a city. So different. Makes that remote cabin in the woods fantasy a little more appealing.

  74. Elisabeth says:

    Actually … when I look back on my childhood … I’m darn lucky to be here. I let my child play freely, but won’t let him roam freely until he is old enough to understand (really understand) the dangers of getting into cars when strangers offer a ride, going off without telling mom where he is going, etc. I did so much of those not safe things, and thankfully these turned out to be ok strangers, or they didn’t go through with it … when I think of the danger I might have been in at 11 or 12 – it really scares me.

    Also – Mr. Yuck was awesome. We need those labels back. I know I would feel better knowing the poison control # was on every bottle of cleaner, etc. in the house …

    BB guns … I was shot with one of those … the blood blisters oooohhh the blood blisters 😛 I also got it with a boy scout archery set…arrow right in the leg … that was a bit scary … but it made for an awesome story. My son won’t be doing any of that stuff. Well, maybe at camp when I don’t have to watch and cringe!

  75. Nicole says:

    I broke my elbow jumping off a swingset in grade one also almost had my face ripped off by a strange dog I decided to pet lol! I remember riding my bike all over the neighborhood and playing basketball and street hockey in the middle of the road, playing at parks until it was dark out, but I guess that was before everyone was in a rush to get somewhere and pedophiles and kidnappers lurking everywhere…

  76. Amber Dusick says:

    You sound like an AWESOME prank caller! Mad skills. Momma Mia!

  77. Heidi O says:

    Last year we went to the sledding park, and some kids had made a big ramp. It had been thawing a little, so it turned into solid ice. My brother and I decided it was a good idea to go over it in our big old fashioned wooden toboggan. Yeah, it’s not as much fun when you’re 28…
    And my 4-year old won’t even go to the bathroom by herself some days, so i don’t need to worry about her roaming too far yet.

  78. Amber Dusick says:

    I wonder that too. Going to ask my mom next time I talk to her.

  79. Julie says:

    So awesome! When I was a kid, we would build ramps and take turns lying on the sidewalk while everyone else jumped their bikes over us. Today… I threaten my kids with make them come inside if I catch them riding downhill too fast (aka, downhill at all). Always love your blog, but this one I especially, super loved.

  80. Samantha says:

    You know what I haven’t seen in YEARS? Merry-go-rounds. You know, the kind made of metal where you would fit 5 or 10 kids and push with your legs to go really fast, until someone fell off and occasionally caught their foot in it only to be dragged by the thing and end up all bloody? Good times.

    The thing I regret making my kids miss most is the freedom. Mine are still very small (4 and under) so it isn’t much of an issue at this point (although some of my earliest – like 3 yo – memories are of following my big sister around all day with no supervision whatsoever) but I know that when they are 6, 7, 25, I probably won’t let them just wander around, and that makes me sad. I have such find memories of wandering around, getting lost, breaking bird eggs just to see what was inside, building forts in nice, secluded bushy areas where it would be perfect to hide a body, all of that. But now that I am responsible for three little girls I just can’t get past that block in my brain that says “must see or hear them or they aren’t safe.” Intellectually I know they aren’t actually in any more danger than we were, but for some reason I know I just won’t be able to let them go.

  81. islajmom says:

    In my neighborhood the other kids and I would play “Flashlight Tag”. Basically this consisted of 15 kids, after dinner, dressing in head-to-toe black clothing, holding flashlights and sneaking around every back yard on good ole Ridgewick rd. To this day I can’t believe we never had the cops called, were hit by a car or worse. I do remember how we accidentally scared the crap out of old Mrs. Pardoe one night……

    Oh, and I totally had that yellow and green swing set…. ahh the memories….

  82. Amber Dusick says:

    OUCH! Pretty sure I’d have aches and pains from sledding for weeks if I did it now.

  83. Sprocket says:

    I’ve had this discussion more times than I can remember. Why are we more scared now? Did human life not matter as much when my parents threw me on the back of a Harley – no helmet – 55mph. – 5 yrs. old? Certainly they loved me the same as I love my daughter, but I’d NEVER do that! Yet, it saddens me that she won’t have that and many other thrilling and freeing experiences. Will she know how to find excitement? God, I hope so.
    Anyway, my best hypothesis to this parental shift: media and the constant information being thrown at us. It’s good info, but for previous generations ignorance was bliss. Either that, or my parents really didn’t love me 🙂

  84. Joana says:

    According to Tim Hawkins, that boy DID like you. Watch this. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xO-QXw4PJ6g

  85. Samarium says:

    I agree that the absence of SAHPs in the neighborhoods have changed the way kids grow up. Particularly in the summers. These days, kids go to summer camps all summer long so the neighborhoods are deserted. Camps are good fun and great learning opportunities but it is a big departure from how it was back when I was a kid.

  86. Samarium says:

    Crafts. And math flash cards. And piano lessons. How much therapy will children end up needing?

  87. Amber Dusick says:

    That was hilarious! He probably did! Maybe I’ll find him on FB and ask him…”hey, do you remember 2nd grade?”. The internet is so fun.

  88. Amber Dusick says:

    Yep, the constant info has got to be it.

  89. Amama says:

    LOL my friend and I have a name for people we call “helicopter parents”. You know the ones that hover around their child on the playground not letting them climb the wrong way up a slide and follow their kid around with sanitary wipes in case they should touch anything “uncouth” … turned out my friend became a helicopter parent herself 🙂

    I’m more of the “pound of dirt” “climb whatever” kind of mom but I still think about how my husband used to BMX with no helmet and no breaks and shudder. We joke that if our kids ever get into it I’m going to make them wear full body armor.

  90. Tribble says:

    I rode on tractors….in the front bucket, my kids never will. They’ll never ride on a riding lawn mower or in the bed of a pickup and never set out on their bikes to ride around for hours all over town. Ignorance was bliss.

  91. Di says:

    we used to make a hand watch out of tinfoil, then put it on the street and hide and see which car would stop and check it! Some did, and we were oh-so-happy with our invention and the disappointed/angry faces of those ‘losers’…..

  92. suziers@aol.com says:

    Riding in the bed of a pick up with 6 or 7 other children as our neighbor moved mattresses to their new home (our job was to hold them so they didn’t fly out) Yes, we were on the highway.

  93. Gretchen says:

    I relived my own childhood while reading about yours. I remember a road trip my family took when I was five; my sisters and I hung out in the back of the station wagon (with the seat folded down so it was an open, flat area)with our sleeping bags and toys. And oh, the roller skating! I broke my arm twice, while sidewalk skating. It certainly didn’t stop me from going back to it. The metal swing-set in the back yard, where I would do flips off of the high bar (where the Olympic style rings were supposed to be)…riding my bike all over the neighborhood, alone…

    For us the sledding game was that we aimed at the creek at the bottom of the hill, and tried to avoid landing in it. If you landed in it and the ice broke (it was a max of 12″ at this point) you lost, because that meant you had to go home, lol!

  94. Kate says:

    It takes a conscious effort as a parent to let your child go out and ‘have a life’ like we did as children. Insisting on helmets for biking/skating/skiing/sledding is just common sense now and shouldn’t detract from the fun.

    There is something wonderful in having rough-n-tumble outside play as opposed to that pathetic child who just stands there and whines that he (or she) is bored and “Can I go back inside and play video games?”

    There is also something wonderful about NOT knowing your kid was jumping off the neighbor’s roof all afternoon… until after the fact. Provided he got home intact, of course. There are still things my Mom doesn’t know about, and if your kids are 10 or up, they’ve likely done stuff you don’t know about, either.

  95. Tarina says:

    I may or may not still do that…. well, up until about 5 years ago (im 30)

  96. Metal slides that reach to heaven + rope swings with giant knots at the ends= burned ass and concussions! kids really miss out nowadays!

  97. Tarina says:

    Ha!! I have a picture somewhere of my oldest when he was 7. My son was mad his DS was running out of batteries. I told him to get his butt off the couch, plug it in, and go play outside. 10 minutes later, he had plugged in an extension cord and was sitting under the front yard tree playing his DS… Fml lol.

  98. Tarina says:

    the crappy backwards facing knees in your throat way back bucket seat that me and my also-teenage-brother had to sit in? in the late 90s?? Embarrassing!! lol

  99. Kristen says:

    I lived in a trailer park growing up, there was a field across from our park. A field full of cows. Angry cows and an abandoned house. A stream of water that went for miles. I’d leave around breakfast and would wander home after my friends and I were done riding our bikes and rollerblades down ‘king hill'(no brakes on those, our best bet was to pray we didnt hit a pebble or rock), vandalizing an empty trailer (running from the rent a cop ensued) lol chasing cows to have them chase us back. We were away for hours! So many good memories! My kids will NEVER do any of that. lol Not to mention the trailer park was divided by a ditch and that ditch divided the crips from the bloods. Ever wake up at 3am with them fighting outside your window? lol good times. Not sure they were so badass cuz I never had a bullet go through my window lol

  100. Amber Dusick says:

    That is one of the most brilliant kid schemes I have ever heard!

  101. Amama says:

    I do think there’s something to be said about where you live and in what kind of community. When I lived in Israel when I was about 6 we were allowed to wander around the neighborhood by ourselves and just waited for a friendly grown up to help us cross streets. When we moved to the US when I was 8 we suddenly needed to be supervised all the time . Then when I was 14 I remember feeling how free it was when we moved to Paris and were suddenly somewhere with a subway system so we could go places without our parents needing to drive us around. I think the issue with seat belts and helmets will always be there but the ability to run around a little without needing a hover parent depends partly on where you live.

  102. Tarina says:

    I agree, Heather – I think the changing technology making these stories nation and even world wide is feeding hysteria about how much worse it’s gotten… BUT on the other side of that same coin, the same technology is responsible for Amber alerts which are saving WAY more of these children. Sometimes you just have to take the bad, because it’s worth the good.

  103. Tarina says:

    This! But nothing with scissors. Or anything they might swallow. And be sure they don’t want a blue snowman, cuz that’s just weird! *rolls eyes* Yeah… I remember doing gravestone rubbing and stuff with my mom and it made us the coolest frickin kids. Nowadays, Im fairly certain if my son went to school with a gravestone rubbing, he’d be expelled…

  104. Amanda says:

    According to the Free-Range Kids book, it is NOT more likely that our kids will be taken by a stranger. Yes, things happen, but more often children are kidnapped or abused by a friend (or even family).
    We don’t lock our doors, and my 5 and almost 3 year old play outside by themselves (not lately though, because it’s -10 outside today). And yes, we live in a medium-sized city.

  105. momlovesyoga says:

    I hate that our kids don’t have the freedom to roam like we did. But with predators and such, it just pays to be safe. I do watch my 5 yo son jump from the swings, he thinks he is really good at it..OY…and he can go outside in the backyard only-alone-, to play. But I keep an eye on him. I want him to enjoy some “freedom” and be a boy! And ALL boys need to run outside like banshees. We have wonderful neighbors and our kids all play together. So thankfully our kids get to have a little outdoor freedom while still in relative safety. But sadly, the car thing bums me out the most…made car trips much more enjoyable

  106. Kristen says:

    Funny post! On long trips, I remember sleeping on the floor of the car and using the hump,(power train?), in the middle as a pillow at 2 or 3 years of age. Still here!

  107. Katharine Lilley says:

    LOVE this so much. Genius! I kept spitting on the keyboard because I didn’t realize the next thing was going to be so funny too. When we were little my mom requested only that we be in hearing range if she were to stand outside and scream for us. How has our world- or maybe our perception of it- changed SO MUCH in 20 years??

    • Michelle says:

      My mom threatened my youngest brother with standing on the street corner and yelling his name until EVERY PERSON looked out their doors and wondered why he was ignoring his mother…. And she did it. She only had to do it once, then he told her where he was going and came back on time. lol. It was a small town, and at that point he was in high school, so it was extra embarrassing. It was so hard for my poor mom to keep track of us all! And this was… 2001-2003. Only 10 years since then! =)

  108. chewie says:

    My two front teeth were knocked out on a see saw!! We were having fun too! ie: my friends big brother was pushing one end down hard so we would jump on our butts up the other end … good times .. !!! doh!

  109. Cortney says:

    We must be around the same age, because I was able to check off each one of your childhood memories as one of my own. I consider myself overprotective for sure, but my kids’ neighborhood is strikingly different than my childhood neighborhood. My parents knew all my neighbors, there were no busy streets, everything seemed so much safer than it does for us today. Which makes me sad because I wonder how not having the same freedoms will negatively affect my kids…

  110. chewie says:

    🙁 yes that is what is happening here too! Watch out to any adult seen chastising another child … what’s up with that??

  111. chewie says:

    like 🙂

  112. Missie Duenes Lindberg says:

    This was one if my favorites Amber! Stephanie, Sherri and I were just talking about those gum candy ciggies that “smoked” at christmas time when they were over! Lol! Ahhhhhhhhhh the joys of small town living. I love that we had that much freedom, but you are totally right…..thats not how it works anymore! We did have fun though 🙂 absolutely adore your momma blog! Thanks for the smiles!

  113. Ruth says:

    Last time I had this conversation, it was with my parents & I was telling them how I try to be more lenient and let my kids explore and not be overprotective or overbearing. Not more than 60-90 seconds later, my 5 yr old son fell off play equipment at the mall we were at & broke his arm. Ended up needing surgery a week later & was in a cast for a total of 7.5 weeks. I still try to not be overprotective and overbearing, but now that will probably always be in the back of my mind. 🙂

  114. Peg Gordon says:

    This article is so true yet so funny. My kids are a daughter 22 and a son 20 years of age and are 10 years older than their cousin he is now 11 years old. My son at the age of 14 years old said to his cousin who was 5 years old, “Your head is like paper mache that is why you need to wear a helmet because if you hit your head it will split open like a watermelon.” Those were my words and all I could think about was all the fun daredevil stunts I did and was fortunate with only scrapes. I love what you write!

  115. Flalways says:

    Suzy, are you from Gainesville???

  116. Katie Galvin says:

    My siblings and I used to roller blade down to the elementary school by our house and play tag while on roller blades and trespassing on a school ground. We would be gone four at least 2-3 hours at a time. My mom was probably just glad to have some time to herself but I would NEVER let my kids do that now. Sad though because we had a great time playing roller blade tag.

  117. Oh, how I would love to have a free-range kid! But people are ready to get all up in your grill as soon as you try to loosen up. Starting with my husband. And we live in a townhouse, so the range of exploration available in the immediate vicinity is not exactly optimal. There is an “island” in the parking lot with some bushes and two trees. We let her loose in there sometimes. Does that count?

    But I was totally free-range, and I think the cultural change is sad. Thing is, the world has actually gotten safer if you look at the data, but our access to and consumption of bad news has multiplied exponentially. In other words, we have fewer reasons to be protective now, and yet we are more sheltering. Gotta wonder…

  118. Amy says:

    Karrie and Misty – thanks! 🙂

    Heather – what I was really saying is that as a parent, everything scares me, which makes the world seem scarier, because now I send my heart out into it via my daughters. I think too that we see more of the world now, good and bad, via news/newspaper/internet/etc., so we’re exposed to more of the crazy. It is what it is.

  119. That was pretty much my childhood. Although, there are things that I’ve used to “childproof.” Like the chairs. On top of vents… keeps him from pulling off vent tops and droping toys down them. Especially since we onlt rent, we don’t own. No extra holes in the floors.

    I was actually listin to Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck today, and they said some similar things as your “disclaimer.” I think that today’s society has over protected our children to such an extent that normal parenting and discipline will be seen as abuse or illegal. I guess it’s actually floating around out there that getting your kids to do chores will be against child labor laws. I also believe that parents were better drivers before thier children were so severly belted down and all panels within the vehicle have air bags. People believe that cars are so safe that they fail to take simple precautions while driving.

    On that note, my not-quite-one-year-old is a very curious child. I will never be able to keep him bubble wraped because he will Houdini himself out of it. He likes electronics. He likes to see how things work. He likes dirt. Really likes dirt. He grabbed a handful out of a potted plant today… The point is, I will let him explore his environment and make his own mistakes. Of course, I will keep him from doing extremely stupid things like his daddy did when he was a kid.

    Thank you for doing a “thinker” post. I liked it! And as always, to each thier own in parenting and life!

  120. chewie says:

    I remember walking to and from school as a kid of 5 (google mapped it – 2.4km each way) by myself, wandered the streets finding different ways too and from school.

    got the idea of earning some money by knocking on old ladies doors and asking them for empty glass bottles as I was collecting for a fundraiser at school, taking the empties down to the local diary and getting 20c to buy lollies, very entrepreneurial I might add!

    Not getting home til after 6pm and telling my mum I was kept in for something at school, she believed me for ages, until I left my school bag at a friends house and got in major trouble over it!

    Belts were used regularly on our hides in those days too!

  121. Heather says:

    I remember riding down a steep gravel driveway in a go-cart with a group of other girls…I think it was girl scouts. But we tipped over, I “ate” a rock right between my BRAND NEW two front teeth. Chipped them both. My mom was a little more protective after that. 🙁 I’m trying really hard to let my boys explore their world, at least while they’re on our property. It’s tougher than I thought!

  122. leah says:

    My theory on “stranger danger” is that maybe the threat has always been as bad but these days the media jumps on every incident making it seem like it happens more often. People back in our day used to sweep “paedophiles” and their actions under the rug. I guess it was an attempt to help the children forget what happened. I guess it was a “if we don’t talk about it it never happened” kind of thing. People just did not talk about it but the children who were affected suddenly disappeared from the playground. As their parents after the fact would keep them safe inside. I remember three friends who used to roam the streets at will and one by one they suddenly started playing at my house instead (My Mum was known to keep the kids inside safe from harm) It was not till years later during a drunken deep and meaningful that I found out why. It seems we had a friendly neighbourhood paedophile that hung out at the park across the road from my house. Of course this was never spoken about and as far as I am aware the man was never confronted. For the record I was born in the late 70s but I was not a free range child until I was 14. I had a paranoid overprotective Mother and it did not harm me. I was grateful when I went to school and my classmates were in plaster or sporting stitches (I am not a fan of pain). When I was at my cousins house I was a little more free range, rode bikes without helmets and roller-skated down steep hills. But I was always much more cautious than the others. I made it through my childhood without stitches. Do I feel like I missed out on anything????? Absolutely not!!!
    My four kids are not allowed to play out the front of our house or roam the streets until they are 14 and then only with friends. They have a backyard to play in and I will drop them at friends houses and pick them up. There is no need to have them wandering aimlessly. Yes to helmets on bikes. Yes to seatbelts and 5 point harnesses. They can swing on swings as high as they want but swings these days are not sitting on a concrete slab lol.

  123. I still ride in the front bucket of the tractor and I have pictures to prove it. 😀

    My brother and I went down to the creek on my grandparents’ property and caught yabbies (little crayfish) by ourselves. Neither of us could swim. We would have been 5 and 9 at the time. We never came anywhere near falling in the deep bit, we just hung around building dams and fishing and watching the wildlife. One time we took off with all the cousins, ranging from 9 down to toddling, for a bushwalk off the property (it was in the country) while the adults were all asleep on a hot afternoon. They freaked then ‘cos they woke up and there were no kids- they thought we’d been abducted by aliens I think. We, um, copped it for that but it was perfectly harmless.

    I used to let my son go off down to the back dam by himself- he was an awful swimmer and he never drowned either, but he did come back with a yabby one day. Yum. He was about 7.

  124. Kath says:

    This si why I love my daughter’s school, because tree cllimbing is part of the curriculum! They have this giant red peppercorn tree which the kids call the Lizard Tree, and the class 1s can go as high as the first set of branches, the class 2s the second set and so on. Being in class four my daughter is now allowed to climb all the way to the top, I will never forget the shock of hearing a little voice go”hey mum, UP HERE!” and seeing her little face poking out the top of the thrity foot tree! It has increased her confindence in the limitations and abilities of her own boday massivley! All the kids do it, and in twenty years of our school operating we have had one fall and broken arm. Thats it. As parents we are aware of the risks, and ok with them.

  125. Lisa says:

    I was just talking to my mom about this the other day. She says I need to let my kids be kids and do the stuff I did as a kid. I told her the world is more dangerous now a days then it was when I was a kid. She said no its not you just have more ways of hearing about it, meaning the internet and stuff. I let my kids climb trees, swim in the crek and sled. But I am always right there. My mom was in the MARINE Corps when I was a kid and living on base we knew all our neighbors so we could run around.

  126. In all seriousness, I would really like for my kids to wander. I probably will worry a lot about abductors or rapists, but realistically, I know that the chance of something like that happening is ridiculously low (like, under 0.01 percent I think). I don’t want my kids to grow up not being able to run around playing outside until dinner. Now, if only I can talk all the other neighbourhood parents into the same thing….’cause who’s going to play with my kid if no one else let’s their children be “free range”?

  127. deekayelle says:

    The Mr. Yuk stickers!! My parents called those “Little No-no’s.” I haven’t seen those since about the age of 5, but I remember them well.

    Here’s one: making forts out of cardboard and…steak knives. My brother and I would each grab a sharp steak knife and run (yes, run) outside only to make awesome forts out of refrigerator boxes. Now, I have issues even letting my 8 year old deal with a butter knife…

  128. Robin says:

    My son just said the same thing!

  129. Julie says:

    EXACTLY! On all counts… exactly!
    On “No Seatbelts”…I remember sliding into my brother, across our slick pseudo-leather bench seat, as Dad took right turn. Then bro and I would say “Wheeee!” when he took a left and we both went slamming into each other piled up against the passengers side door. There may be tooth prints in the back of the front bench seat as I used to stand there, biting into it as I watched where we were going.

  130. Brandy P says:

    I can remember going to visit relatives in Virginia when I was 10 years old. Myself, my 8 year old brother, my 6 year old sister, and my 12 year old cousin and a couple of other similar aged kids from the neighborhood would leave first thing in the morning and go up onto a mountain, into the forest and play all day long til the street lights came on. We would swim in the creek with the snakes, and, God help me, probably run off from the houses (some still had outhouses up there). We never checked in and *gasp* we didn’t have cell phones to call or text in either.

    I feel like I give my kids alot of freedom to skin their knees and be adventurous, compared to some other moms I know, but I would never let my kids do most of what I did as a kid their age.

  131. deekayelle says:

    Wow, that’s amazing!!

  132. Jeni Armstrong says:

    Or being pulled, helmetless, on a wooden toboggan behind a smoke-belching snow machine across a dubiously frozen lake (I was tasked with holding on to my (also helmetless) infant sister)).

  133. Kat says:

    I grew up right in the middle of the city of Chicago. Granted, that was more than 50 yrs ago, but we had the same freedom. We could walk to the park,to sled or skate, the movie theater, bowling lanes, the library.And once you learned how to take the bus you could go anywhere.I bought into that suburban dream when we were transferred to San Antonio. My children never lived close enough to walk anywhere, let alone a bus route. Thank God they survived without being bored to death!

  134. Stephanie says:

    I was raised by an over protective mother. Never did anything fun, never did any of these things. I wouldn’t mind if my children were braver. I try not to be a helicopter parent. I quietly watch and intervene when it gets dangerous but, I’ll let them try semi dangerous things.

  135. jennifer culp says:

    For me I would say the freedom thing is Huge!! We use o ride our bikes everywhere. Webought the house I grew up in, no way would my kids do that stuff. Plus all the woods have been knocked down.

  136. My cousins and I used to play around in our grandparents garage (imagine paths carved out of old junk, which would be totally cool junk today), which was totally dangerous in itself. We would make weird concoctions (in glass jars no less) out of various unknown liquids and powders lying around. We would never drink them of course but I cannot rule out a hazardous chemical reaction and the fact that we might be responsible for that ozone layer thing. Sorry. We have also had discussions at recent family gatherings about cutting/cleaning chicken on bread boards back in the olden days without having dishwashers or anti-bacterial soap to disinfect them. It’s a wonder we all didn’t die from Salmonella poisoning. Ah, those were the days.

  137. Brandy P says:

    We have a huge some kind of crab apple type tree in our back yard. It’s probaly thirty feet tall. My 8 year old son and 6 year old daughter were out back playing one day and Crappy Daughter came running inside shouting “Crappy Brother is stuck in the tree!” I went out and looked up into the dense foliage and sure enough, there he was at the top, totally not afraid.

    ME: What’s up?
    CS: I’m stuck! I can’t get my foot out!
    Help me down!
    ME: I don’t know what to tell you, but I’m not climbing up there to get you. You’re going to have to figure it out yourself.
    CS: *huffs exasperatedly*

    I went and stood on the porch and 5 minutes later he drops offthe bottom branch. His shoe had gotten wedged between some branches. He had taken it off to get his foot out then pulled the shoe out and put it back on in the top of the tree and climbed back down.

    I was a proud mama.

  138. Oh my goodness! I freaking loved this! So much nostalgia!!!!

    My favorite was the wagon. We totally did that. But when we went sledding, I would pull my brother on the sled…hooked up behind the riding lawn mower. When I was like 8. Can you imagine letting an 8 year old even operate a riding lawn mower these days? Much less pulling a little sibling behind one on a sled!

    Thanks for the good giggle today!

  139. Kat says:

    Good for you. Great for your kids!

  140. Stephanie K. says:

    I did every single one of those things. And going to the beach without supervision. Once my cousin and I thought it would be cool to trade handlebars while riding our bikes…like, she’d put her hands on mine by leaning across, and I’d do the same thing…I have many scars to prove it. Riding a bike with no brakes and dragging the toes of my sneakers to stop it. Walking along the train tracks for 5 miles to a little waterfall (and jumping into the ditch when a train came)…having cut-up snakes thrown at me by big kids in the woods behind our house. Getting tied up by my big sister and left in a shed. SERIOUSLY??? I never really thought about this as bizarre until now.
    But damn, I miss those green gum cigarettes with the sugar-powder-smoke.

  141. Brandy P says:

    Wheel of death rules! I’m getting nauseous just thinking about it…

  142. Brandy P says:

    Hamster wheels for kids, I’ll make a fortune!

  143. Cary says:

    we lived in new york city when our kids were very little and then moved to atlanta. we have a house and yard in a neighborhood, and i imagined my kids would have so much more freedom. they don’t. the problem isn’t really that i won’t let them play outside… it;s that no other parents do. things were safer when we were kids only in the sense that tons of kids were out and people expected them to be. people in cars don’t watch out for kids anymore because so few kids are out. my kids like to go out to play but there are very few kids around to play with. we have one other family on the street that let their kids roam free but they are generally so overscheduled they are never around. i hate the whole “playdate” thing… everything has to be so planned.

    when i was a kid my favorite thing was just the freedom to be away from my parents at times. my mom would go to the grocery store, run errands, etc. and i never had to go. i loved the freedom of an empty house and getting to make choices on my own. i wonder how things have change dso quickly? how did we grow up like this and then become so fearful for our own kids? maybe we are just to worried about being labeled a “bad” parent. i don;t know, it is strange.

  144. Kat says:

    Please do. I was and I learned so much about life. Your job is also to prepare them to leave the nest. They’ll never fly if they don’t use their own wings.

  145. jane says:

    I love stuff like this, because it makes me think about the choices that I make with my kids. Bike helmets? Yes, or I’ll kill you myself. Same goes for seatbelts. And never going in a pool without an adult around. Or a whole host of other things that actually kill or seriously injure kids all.the.time. But walk home from school with a friend or jump off the swings? Sure.

    The difference to me is that some of those are real dangers, proven by science, and are really preventable. I mean, we’re going places in the car, even though it’s dangerous, but I’m going to do anything in my power to keep the kids from flying through the windshield. But the truth is, the odds are so slim that they are going to get snatched of the street. In my mind, more harm is done by not letting them learn how to navigate the world independently.

    And, as an aside, those new seesaws truly blow. I’m glad that someone on on the whole of the internet has finally pointed that out.

  146. Shari Burgess says:

    and they’ll be wearing helmets….


  147. JCCyC says:

    We played in construction sites that were unmanned and unguarded during weekends. There were huge, neatly arranged piles of bricks, which we would “hollow out” at the top and make into our fort: http://i.imgur.com/3aXB1.png

  148. Kim Q says:

    I didn’t see anyone say this, but I can’t possibly be the only one who waited at the end of the street for my dad after work so that I could catch a ride home in the back of his pickup truck. Yes, in the back. In the open part. Without a helmet. Without a seatbelt. FUN TIMES! And me and my brothers loved to explore the pond a few houses down. Alligators, pish posh. No biggie.

  149. Kim Q says:

    Oh yes, we did this too! The best finds were the 2 story houses with beams you could walk across like balance beams!

  150. Rach says:

    Pick up truck would have been awesome to ride in if we had one lol!!

  151. Rebecca says:

    I grew up in a very small neighbourhood and went to a very small school. Kids of different ages played together, from 5 up to 12 or 13. We never really worried about age until we hit the teenage years and got interested in boys or girls and someone would drop out of the group or go onto the “town school” So, we would all go to the local swimming hole at the river with no parental supervision or in the woods and play wiht no parental supervision, but there was always older kids to look out for the younger kids. Now kids are very much separated by age at a very young age, so there is no chance for them to be supervised by older kids and have a little freedom to explore as kids

  152. Jayme says:

    We used to tie our bikes to the ‘wheel of death’ with skipping ropes and pedal like mad- 2 or 3 of us at a time. The entertainment started when someone got tired and started to lag!!!!! Good times:0)

  153. Chelsie says:

    I remember those free range bike riding days too! Loved it!! Come home when the street lamps come on. that was the deal. One afternoon the neighbor boy (5 yrs) and I (7 yrs) decided we wanted to go to the neighborhood park. It was about 2 blocks away & bordered by a busy st. needless to say we weren’t really sposed to go there alone so we came up w/this great scheme to go there. We told our respective moms that the other mom was taking us. To this day I don’t think my mom knows lol I’m 34 now. Maybe I should tell her 😉
    I really don’t think my mom worried about me. I think she was just too thrilled to have me out of her hair for hours and hours at a time so she could clean the house, lay out, watch tv or smoke a joint in peace!

  154. Rach says:

    Oh and at my school because it was a farm school we use to have the magic carpet ride at calf club day 😀 Not sure if its done in America but it involves someone driving a tractor around fast with a massive rug on the back and all you have is a rope to hold onto while lying on your tummy. If you fell off you could either try get back on while it was still driving around or you had to get off the field. Was the most popular ride!! Just after my sister left we found out OSH banned it because it was too dangerous Ugh!! Apparently for the first time in over 30 years someone broke their arm so they stopped it just like that. When I was there someone broke there leg on the play gym but I didn’t see them pull THAT down!!
    We also had this really dangerous tower thing in the play ground. You climbed to the top of it and if you were strong enough you could get it really swaying but it never broke. Think that was pulled down too just after I left

  155. Rach says:

    Oh crap my first message never posted!! 🙁 Not typing it all out again!!!

  156. Justine says:

    Trampolines. I’ve never heard of someone owning one and not injuring themselves or someone else on them. I busted my jaw on someone’s head (I was coming down, they were bouncing up).

    My friend broke her arm riding “no hands” on her bike.

    I also used to be able to roam the neighborhood until the street lights came on.

  157. Pip says:

    Kids aren’t as able to protect themselves as we might like to think. I had that free kind of childhood, like so many all those years ago, but kids don’t have great judgement and it wasn’t all roses. Maybe most kids came out unscathed out of pure luck, but not all. I think we’re lucky nowadays to be more aware of the risks, and it’s our job as parents to provide good judgement for our kids until they’re able. No matter how mature or sensible a child seems, they just don’t have the cognitive ability to deal with some situations.

  158. caitlin says:

    When i was little ( like from age 5 onwards ) , when at our grandparents beach house, i would have breaky then head off to the beach ( wild surf, not sheltered bay ) all day by self, and to top it off, i would either have to walk through a crowded caravan park to get there or i would just go through the river … What were my parents thinking, clearly they weren’t , i watch my kids going out to check the letter box…. Life has changed, nice if we could have somewhere in between .
    Thanks for laughs, your family brightens my day

  159. Rach says:

    I’m not a fan of pain either!! First time I was in hospital or even had stiches was when I had my daughter just over a year ago. Huge fan of helmets!!!! Would get harrased about it but there was no way I was riding a bike or rollerblades without one (My dad crashed into a pole as a child and for a very long time they thought it was the reason for his epilepsy so that really got me going with the helmet thing)

  160. Camilla says:

    I have the theory that today’s somewhat more supervised kids are better at playing across age gaps. They have an example (set by their parents) of adult playing with child, and are more accustomed to “play with whoever you find at the playground.”

    As a kid, I was pretty much terrified of any child (or teen) more than about two years older than me, and reasonably so; older kids were likely bullies, who roamed in unsupervised packs. We paired off with same-age friends for mutual protection.

    Last summer, I was amazed to see a couple of boys aged about ten, play tag with my four year old, for quite a long time, in a fun and appropriate way… it was something that just would never have happened in my childhood.

  161. Betty says:

    Yes, exactly, down to wandering out the door, around the neighborhood, and crossing streams (we called it “the brook”). We caught frogs and newts. I would also add the part about riding bikes with no brakes–down a massive hill! You either turned and made it down the next street where you could finally coast to a stop, or you crashed into the curb. Or your friend who had come over to play (sorry Bernadette!). We do go sledding where I live now, and no one wears helmets (thank god!). We have a playground in our neighborhood, but I don’t let me son (11) go alone. He doesn’t really ask to, either.

  162. Windy says:

    My dad drove his tractor around the neighborhood pulling kids on sleds…or just pulling kids. Then he would pile huge piles of snow in our front yard for us to sled down. Our house was the coolest….

  163. Lori says:

    I grew up in a DC suburb. When I was 14(1988) my parents would drop me off at a metro stop and I would wander DC by myself for the day. My mom had a sheltered life and was trying to avoid sheltering her kids too much. My kids will be more sheltered but I wonder if they will in turn let their kids roam more freely. As for my younger years, I do remember a lot of kids having their teeth smashed in or knocked out. And there was always someone have gravel removed from their hands or legs from falling on the playground. I don’t miss gravel.

  164. sarah says:

    haha me and my brother would push eachother in an office chair around our apartments when we were little.

  165. Chantal says:

    Yes definitely!! My Mum used to take us 3 kids fire lighting!!!!! We’d go on big walks out on the farm to light gorse bushes on fire… Now that’s something you’d never do now. And jumping off the roof over a concrete path onto a small grass one surrounded by raspberry bushes and the like. When I look back we had such a “dangerous” childhood, yet no broken bones in my whole family. Amazing we survived really…

  166. sarah says:

    haha we used to have what i called “the barrel of death” in a playground where I used to play. It was a huge barrel on its side and it was on something so it could roll like a hamster wheel. Kids would get in on either side and walk in it or run in it. It fit a bunch of kids in it but I don’t know who came up with that bright idea because little kids can’t think to go at the same speed and slow to a gradual stop. Everyone just tried to go as fast as they could and tried to stop suddenly. Plus other kids would jump on or off. Kids got trampled, got thrown around in the barrel because it was going so fast that they’d roll to the top and fall. Broken arms, etc. I think at least one kid even died. That’s when they took it out of the playground.

  167. My parents were really protective of me. I was pretty sheltered. So basically, I was only allowed to go to the end of the block (and maybe just around the end) and then about four houses down or ELSE. I didn’t learn to ride a bike for the LONGEST time because my mom tried to teach me on the sidewalk and as a kid learning to balance, it feels like the BUSHES ARE COMING TO ATTACK YOUR BIKE. A neighbor had me put the bike in the street (we lived on a quiet street) and I learned to ride without training wheels in like five minutes. Seriously.

    I wasn’t allowed to watch TV and we didn’t have video games until I bought an old game boy with MY MONEY that I had earned from working around the house at a garage sale, so it was mine and I didn’t have to share.

    When I see my daughter, I basically see her as an alien who just got to the planet- she’s not an idiot and generally knows what’s what, but she still needs to learn basic words, customs and differentiation of various stuff or situations. She’s only 2 and a half, but she’s already good at playing on her own in her toy corner (we have a tiny apartment) and she can keep herself amused pretty easily when we’re at the store by “hiding” in the clothing racks. Of course, the best way for me to figure out where she is is to say in a theatrically sneaky voice “OH WHERE COULD SHE BE!?!” and she giggles like mad. She generally knows to stay near me when we’re out and she has somehow decided that whenever we are out, even when it’s people I know, she’ll come get me by the hand if she wants to meet a new person or go a certain distance away. I find it amazing how much she sets her own limits and how much she looks to me (and my husband) for cues on how to behave.

    Of course, I hate riding bikes with a helmet on and stopped doing so once I turned 18. People say that this is a bad idea, but I’ve found that in my town, cars ride waaaaay closer when you wear a helmet for some reason (as though said helmet will protect you?!). As a kid, I used to ride my bike all over the place and not come home until late in the afternoon. But I always had to tell my parents where I was and what I was doing and when around I’d be back…and that was only after they had me do a “biking test” so they knew for sure that I knew what to do when bicycling around.

    The funniest thing is that the worst accident that ever happened to me was when the railing failed on our bunk bed (they were really just two beds that my parents stacked on one another and then had a slide out railing that wasn’t really held in by anything beyond my body weight), and snapped my arm in half and the bone came out (I was 13). Luckily after some surgeries and physical therapy, I was mostly fine (I still have residual nerve damage in my right arm), but that’s where I decided NO BUNK BEDS EVER for my kids.

    As generally good as she can be, my daughter has plenty of time to get into mischief. My husband and I work opposite shifts and he tends to sleep until the early afternoon. My daughter goes to bed very very late at night so she gets up probably about an hour before he does. He puts on cartoons and she plays with her duplos and toys until he gets up (and she can wake him up if she needs him). I usually come home during the lunch hour so she’s fine. The other day when I came home, she’d somehow found the Vick’s Vaporub and because she had a stuffy nose for the last couple of days, she decided to apply it on herself……the whole rest of the bottle…and then she put it in her hair too (as I had recently put in some detangling cream in her hair the other day, so she must have thought “oh, this is exactly the same thing, right?”). Of course there was the obligatory mess all over the comforter where she had attempted to wipe it off, but all in all, she was fine. I remember plenty of situations as a kid where things like this happened even though my mom stayed at home and watched me like a prison warden. Kids learn best when they’re allowed to make mistakes, even if those mistakes are not convenient for the adults. Obviously, putting the dangerous and poisonous stuff away is important, but all of those months of training her as a baby/young toddler have paid off.

    Eh, maybe I’m just more laid back as a parent because my younger siblings were basically my “mom practice” as a kid, so generally the thing that scared me the most about having my own was the whole diaper thing….I’m still thinking that the move to toilet training is now going to be the BIG HORRIBLE THING. I’m still not sure how to even broach the subject with my daughter….LOL.

  168. Jennifer says:

    I remember no seat belts (barely) and I also remember my “cool” uncle who’s only 12 years older than me sitting me on his lap and letting me drive – on a highway!!! I am sure there were no seat belts involved with that one, I was probably about 5…My mom also let me go dirt biking with my teenage brother and his friends although I did have to wear snow pants and a helmet! In all fairness I didn’t ride on the back of the bike, he would sit me in front of him, on the gas tank practically! Fun times!

  169. Marie says:

    Even today my mom was telling me how she remembered playing in irrigation ditches and other crazy things we weren’t allowed to do. My father remembers playing in a field with wild ponies. My husband roamed an entire city by himself when he was as young as 8. But me? Nope, pretty tame – seatbelts and helmets and lots of limits. I’d like to find a middle ground – more freedom than I had, but not so much danger. But how do we find this elusive middle ground? No idea yet, but I’m working on it.

  170. Corrie says:

    Lol! I just learned that cassette players are antiques!

  171. sarah says:

    Things have gotten worse. The reason parents have gotten stricter as the years have gone by is because they’ve looked at things that have happened and said hey we shouldn’t do that anymore. We’ve as a society learned what is not so safe and what is safer.
    This is why we live in homes that are built to keep out water, extreme temperatures, etc. This is why we wear shoes, don’t let kids play with guns, have seatbelts, and now helmets for kids and knee/elbow pads. This is why kids used to accidentally shoot themselves all the time back in the 1920s, 1930s, etc. People used to die from diarrhea because they were unsafe with food.
    I grew up in the 80s. My parents would let us wander. I had a lot of fun but a man tried to abduct my brother when we were younger. I also knew a boy who got hit by an ice cream truck and died because he was skateboarding in the street and thought it was cool to hold onto the truck.
    I want my daughter to play outside and have fun and hopefully I’ll be out there with her or if I have a house in the future she’ll be able to play in the drive way or on the sidewalk on the block. I wouldn’t feel comfortable with her playing out in these apartments where I live now though. People DO abduct children and do very bad things to them. Helmets do look dumb on kids, but it’s safer for them because why risk their head being busted? That is if they are out riding with friends and not on a sidewalk riding casually. climbing trees is not very dangerous so that will be neat to see my little girl climb one.

  172. TP says:

    This post and the comments brought back so many childhood memories! I used to climb the roof of our cape-cod house and slide down on my butt, then jump off at the bottom! Climbed trees, did flips on the branches, roller skated all over town, rode my bike freely, I even crossed the creeks with the homemade bridges! The neighborhood kids would sometimes play this really fun sort of hide and seek game where we’d use sidewalk chalk and write clues all over the neighborhood. (I.E: Go to the Smith’s house and look at the oak tree. Then on the oak tree there would be another clue) It was awesome. I used to go for walks in the snow at night, alone, at around 11 years old. Crank calls–hell ya, I even had a device that you stuck on the phone and it would tape record them! Granted, there are some things our kids are better off not doing, but all that freedom outside–I really truly am sad that they won’t have that. Yet I’m too afraid to give them more freedom, because NOBODY around here lets their kids out!

  173. Linda says:

    I have to wonder if the concept “history is written by the winners” applies here. We who survived our less than structured childhoods, remember it fondly and can totally relate to all these great stories! Those who ran into some scathing, however, may not have that happy voice to share here…
    We live close to a very fast highway, and have made that fenceline = DEATH TO ALL WHO CROSS WITHOUT ADULT SUPERVISION AND STILL SURVIVE – something like the Mr. Yuck sticker! We’ve made it clear, we should be good now! HA!

  174. Jennifer A. says:

    Ahhh, the station wagon jumpseat! My parents would pile all the neighborhood kids in that thing and take us to the circus! Good times!

  175. Joanna says:

    I used to put the Mr. Yuck stickers in my mom’s shoes. Good times! =)

  176. Leesa says:

    Do you guys think that’s a function of suburbia? I live in the city, and we know most of our neighbors. I would feel totally comfortable letting my kid roam the neighborhood with the other neighborhood kids.

    I think it’s so sad that we all remember the freedom we had, and we think it was the best part of childhood, yet many of us don’t want to give our kids that same freedom.

    I’m a big fan of free range parenting. I want my kids to learn by making some mistakes, like I did. I want to be able to tell them to go play outside, and to be home by the time the streetlights come on. I think we really lose something when we don’t trust our kids to be as smart as we were. 🙁

  177. Leesa says:

    Oh, also! Statistics show that times are not more dangerous now than they were when I was growing up (70s-80s), yet we seem to be more afraid–a function of the 24/7 news cycle, maybe?

    The other thing that really gets me is that kids today are better equipped to find help if they need it. Many kids have cell phones, or have friends that do. It’s easy to make sure one kid has a cell if you’re sending yours off with a group. Or to make sure they know where the neighborhood “safe houses” are. Am I totally off base?

  178. Sylv says:

    I remember building treeforts in the bush behind our house, riding our bikes through the bush (me on my trusty banana seat bike) on the trails that we had built ourselves. Yes, we borrowed our dad’s hammer and nails (how old were we? 8 or 9??) And yes, like you, we were out ALL DAY, no cell phones to check in with, we’d just hear our mom’s yell calling us in to eat.
    I also remember when my little brother was a baby, he would ride in the back seat in his baby basket, not even strapped in- we didn’t even know what seatbelts were in those days. Or else he’d just be in my mom’s lap in the passenger seat- again, not strapped in.
    Walking to school without an adult chaperone? Of course!! Gosh, our kids never had it so good, getting driven to school and dropped off at the school’s doorstep. Makes me sad for those innocent and fun times.

  179. Jen says:

    As early as first grade, I walked a half mile up hill to school. I met my BFF about half way there, but the first bit was just me. No major streets thought and we could only stop at the playground on the way home or our backsides would be tanned for skipping school.

    Mud pies/witches brew. We would take whatever container we had sitting around, mix mud/mushroom/random plant bits together and dare each other to try it. One of us would occasionally taste it for brag points if it was just mud. We all knew that once the berries and mushrooms were mixed in that it was a no no.

    Too bad you can’t put mister yuck stickers on nature.

  180. anna says:

    Me too! And back when we were kids, it was less known how many sickos there were in the world. Now we can see that one lives on our street. I am overprotective and proud. Though my oldest is ten and it is time for her to start venturing out some… rofl.

  181. Leesa says:

    YES! Our perception, and the ability to communicate when a child is missing are growing/improving. The risk is less, not more, these days.

    And a BIG thumbs up to the fact that most abduction/sexual abuse cases are committed by someone the child knows and trusts. It takes trust to abuse a kid sexually, as it does to get a kid to come in a car with you (for the most part).

  182. Leesa says:

    OMG. I was shocked when my kid became old enough that I could take him to a playground, to find that there were no more merry-go-rounds and see saws. 🙁 🙁 🙁

  183. sarah says:

    When i was a kid in the 80s in Texas there wasn’t a law about seatbelts at least not in the backseat. We could sit however. I was the youngest of three so I got to sit on the armrest or the hump as I called it. We’d dance around in the car, lay down if we didn’t feel good or were tired, etc. We rode in the back of trucks also. I know a lot of people die in car wrecks or are hurt badly, but the law about kids having to be in booster seats in the backseat until they are 8 or 4’9″ is wild. i’m 27 and only like 5’1″ lol. its so weird that they wont even be able to ride in the front seat of a car until they are 13 or so. i think this will affect their ability to be good drivers later on.

  184. Leesa says:

    What Kat said. 🙂 I worry that we are not allowing our kids to learn. Learning comes from bad experiences as much as, if not more than, good experiences.

  185. Leesa says:

    Laura, there is NOT more of a threat these days. We just know more about the cases that do happen, because of the 24/7 news channels and the internet. In fact, crime against children is DOWN since the 80s.

  186. Heidi says:

    Oh my. I recently found your blog and always laugh until I cry!
    My husband and I lived on a kibbutz in Israel for a year before we had kids. The building used for pre-school kids had a small playground…if you could actually call it that. It had retired lawn and garden equipment (like riding lawn mowers) that had once been given a primary color paint job. Over time it had come to look like the rusty junk yard it really was. Even though I didn’t have kids I was horrified, but still slightly amused ;D

  187. Joanne Ford says:

    I live in Australia and i can remember on hot Summer days we would put dishwahing liquid on the slip and slide and see who would go the fastest- often getting grass burns once we flew off the end. We used to put the hose on the trampoline and fill it with water and have 3, 4, 5 people on at a time to make the water splash higher- Not one of us ever had a broken limb…

  188. Parker says:

    That was the one that popped into my mind first too. We lived on a dirt road and when it snowed we would tie a rope onto the bumper of my dad’s truck. He would drive fast around curves and we would tumble into the ditch. We loved it. If we saw brake lights we were supposed to dive to the side. We ended up smashing into the bumper quite a few times. We would also attach multiple ropes and try to knock each other off our sleds. It was mostly fun, but there were a lot of blackberry bushes on the side of the road, and we would get pretty scratched up. My little brother once got a blackberry thorn so far into his arm that it just stayed there for a few years till his body dissolved it. Sorry if that was a little gross. Needless to say there were never any helmets involved.

  189. Lauren says:

    Our kids will do all these things. Life is too short to be fearful.
    And we found an awesome old-fashioned see-saw in New Zealand. Our girls loved it, and although they took turns hurting each other, there was no blood.

  190. Parker says:

    and monitoring bracelets.

  191. Parker says:

    In my case I’m worried my kid will be as dumb as I was! But she is a female, so maybe that will help. Boys just seem to do the stupidest things, especially in a show-off look-at-me way. Come to think of it, a lot of grown men do that too.

  192. katie says:

    Are you the sister I never knew I had???

  193. Allison says:

    I did all those things, too.
    I hope my kids will have some fun experiences. I let them drink from a hose – that’s scary, right? And I let them eat food that’s fallen on the floor. Sometimes. As long as it was something like a Skittle and not chicken or something. Gross.
    Anyway. Makes me wonder what will happen in another 30 years when our kids are the parents? Will they be even more hypervigilant?

  194. Parker says:

    The world became filled with way more horrible things the instant my daughter was born. (Way more wonderful things as well.) Before having kids you really only have to look out for yourself, and even though we may KNOW otherwise, we FEEL invincible. This little precious life I am supposed to protect however I not only KNOW is not invincible, but I FEEL she is even more fragile than she is, and I must protect her at every turn. I think that is the main difference.

  195. Jennifer J says:

    I just found this today from Free Range Kids, and this was a blast – the post, and the comments! I grew up in the 60’s and 70’s – we started wearing seat belts in 1967, in our Chevy wagon. I used to climb a tree that gave me a chance at the school roof – once in a while I would manage to swing up there. I rode my bike everywhere, for miles around – and I lived in one of the top ten fastest growing cities (suburb) in the US in the ’70’s. We went sledding in the 100 year storm drain – even after my 10yo sister went by herself and got raped in the pipes under the road. (When we found out the kid wouldn’t get punished, my brother and his friends took care of the punishment). We didn’t have bike helmets, which meant that my future husband, when hit by a car and thrown into a curb, was declared DOA, until a neurosurgeon went by the dead body and checked and said “this kid isn’t dead”, and he woke up 10 days later, missing a piece of his skull. My parents didn’t think we were precious, or assets, and I’m not sure they would have been devasted if one of us had ceased to exist. Mom would have landed in the loony bin, but Dad would have been glad for one less mouth to feed. And after all of this, I had six children, all of them precious. And they were allowed to go sledding for hours at a time – only one broken bone!, they had paper routes, they rode their bikes all over town (with helmets), they wore seat belts (but were all born before 5 point harnesses), they learned how to drive and were soon allowed on the freeway (I-94) – OMG!! And there was only one near-fatal accident – #3 turned out in front of a truck on a state highway – the next day the tow driver couldn’t believe he was looking at the driver – he thought the person must be dead – and all he had was tons of cuts from the glass shards. They went off to the woods where the hobos hung out – and I found out years later! They dug pits at the back of our property. Once, #2 and a friend killed a mama possum, and then buried her and her LIVE BABIES! It doesn’t matter how well you teach your children or how much you hover over them, some bad things will happen. Hopefully they won’t be deadly or permantly scarring. But that is life, and it would be a shame to miss all the fun, because you are worried that something bad might happen.

  196. Jessica says:

    I promise I’m a reasonably good mother and would also never let my kids do these things now… ok, now that I’ve said that on record I can’t tell you how much I wish we could leave our kids in the car really quick while we run into the wide open window-ed post office to drop off a package or to grab the dry cleaning or to quickly hunt and grab the tiny right shoe that got kicked off the tiny foot right at the check out stand… When it’s not hot of course 🙂 But instead, we have to wake the sleeping babies or even 8 year olds, unload them from the overly protecting car seats (8 yr olds included) and haul them into the store, which took 20 minutes instead of 2!

    Great post! Love your blog!

  197. Rachel says:

    Did all of those! Except thr creek and turtle thing….trade that for beach stuff. : )

    Love it!

  198. smoore5678 says:

    My dad told me about how he and his sisters used to play a sort of blind-zombie game. It involved the “sleepwalker” putting a coat on backwards with the hood over your face and trying to catch the others. He did this inside one day and fell down a flight of stairs. Needless to say, my sister and I were not allowed to play such games 🙂

  199. Leesa says:

    It was the same for me in a big city (St. Louis). Although, I grew up mostly in the 80s.

  200. deneen says:

    bahahahah! a lojack!

  201. Anon for this one says:

    Yes. For us, the “scary sexual predator” was my grandpa. My grandpa, who everyone wished was THEIR grandpa. My grandpa, who all the parents adored. THAT is the kind of person who is a sexual abuser–you need trust to get a child to do things and not tell others about it. You need both the trust of the child AND the parents. Look up “grooming” in reference to pedophiles. It will really open your eyes.

  202. deneen says:

    ah amy, so true! so true!

  203. deneen says:

    we looked a house with a wheel of death in the backyard … i so wanted to buy the place ..oh, the house was AWFUL but the the backyard ROCKED!!

  204. Melanie says:

    That’s our situation too. I grew up on a 150+ acre farm, so in the warm months I came and went as I pleased, mostly staying outside. If I went off our property I was supposed to call, but farms are busy in the summer and I didn’t do that. Plus I had like 5 friends whose houses I could get to by walking through our property to their backyards. Now I live in the middle of the worst section of Washington D.C. We have a small yard, and my kids play in it, but the few times I’ve let them out there without me sitting there with them I’ve been scared. Once we were all out together and we had to go in because I heard a gunshot. And walking out of our yard. No way. They’re not allowed to play in the front yard without an adult, and they’re not allowed to talk to any neighbors without one either. It’s a sad situation.

  205. I remember riding in the “way back” seat of my parents’ station wagon. This was the third row seat that faced the other direction so you could wave and make faces at the cars behind you. It was awesome! Of course, there were no seat belts in the way back seat.

    I climbed trees, rode bikes everywhere, walked to school, etc. My oldest is only 2, but I really hope that I can back off enough for her to explore things on her own. Lately, whenever she falls down, she says “I’m okay” since that’s what I have told her (even if my heart skips a beat when she takes a tumble). I really want my kids to be able to take fall and just brush themselves off and get up again (this really goes against my initial reaction of swoping right in).

    Another good read on this topic is the Last Child in the Woods. Highly recommend it.

  206. Melanie says:

    That’s hilarious. But hey, he did follow your directions!

  207. Jennifer J says:

    How are you going to keep him from doing extremely stupid things? The day I stuck a screw driver in an electric outlet, my parents had left us with an extremely mature and capable babysitter for the day. Are you never going to leave home? Never go to the bathroom? Never let go of his hand when outside? You are just kidding yourself. He is going to do stupid things – accept the fact now, and have a happier life!

  208. Melanie says:

    Why can’t they swim in creeks? My kids still do that on vacation.

  209. Liz says:

    I love it! This is my favorite: Not when I’m watching. I will always be watching. Ha!

  210. Rachal says:

    This post made me sad. The things you did as a child were fun and you survived, yet you won’t allow your kids to do the same?

    I grew up in the middle of town. We knew the limits. No riding bikes on the blacktops. We could ride down the alleys and sidestreets, but we had to be within shouting distance from the house. Back home before the sun went down. The old man three houses down is NOT to be trusted. Don’t talk to him, don’t look at him, and do not go anywhere near his house. He would stand in his doorway in his underwear. We just thought he was a weird old man. Now I know differently. Our parents didn’t keep us locked up in the house. They taught us our boundaries and warned us of danger.
    When we moved out into the country, we were taught about snakes and the dangers out there as well and what to do when things happened.

    I think as a parent your job isn’t to protect your child from falling, but to teach them what to do to keep from falling and what to do when they fall. I’m not saying to let them drink bleach, but not letting them swing high and jump out? I think that’s going a bit too far.

  211. Lindsay says:

    I grew up in eastern Canada and when we had a really big snowfall (yeah…quite often) my brothers and I would wait until dad had plowed the driveway. Then we would capitalize on those huge piles of snow by putting on all our snow gear, trekking upstairs to the second floor, crawling out my bedroom window, and jumping! Yep. Off the second story roof into the snow piles below. Over and over again. One of my fondest winter memories. We go back home to visit often. In fact we are going back in two weeks for WinterFest. But I will NEVER let my kids jump off the roof. That’s just nuts! 🙂

  212. Melanie says:

    But since we know more, shouldn’t we do more to prevent it?

  213. deneen says:

    we lived on the outskirts of town and used to ride our bikes up into the hills and play in the “secret forest” … the kids on my street would meet right after breakfast and we all had to be home when the streetlights came on … i don’t ever remember lunch … there was this mean older kid who would chase us … ahhh the good old days!

  214. Leesa says:

    Jane, what a great way to express it! I totally agree. I will let my kids free range, but I will insist on seatbelts/helmets. Your distinction is great.

  215. Leesa says:

    Lori, wow! What experiences you must have had! Your mom sounds incredible.

  216. Leesa says:

    Haha, Parker! I have a son, that’s not making me feel too much better. :/

  217. Leesa says:

    Well, apparently we don’t know more, though, Melanie. For instance, your child is MUCH more likely to be sexually abused by someone they know, who is in a position of trust–e.g., a family member, a coach, a teacher, etc.–than a stranger. How are you going to prevent that, since you know more about it? Do you see what I mean?

    Becoming immersed in fear to the extent that we deprive our children of having a childhood is counterproductive, IMO.

  218. Jamie McMillan says:

    Our favorite passtime was riding old crib mattresses down the stairs. It was great fun untill the mattress got stuck and bucked you off facefirst into the landing wall…then it was great fun for everyone watching :). We must have done that at least once a month unfit years. I think I will let my son do that (with a helmet of course 🙂

  219. drtucholsky says:

    Lawn darts…with metal tips. Ruuuuuun!!

  220. I wonder how much of the statistical difference is because of parents not letting their kids wander off alone all day, i.e.- most of the parents posting here.

  221. Amy Rose says:

    This really sums up my childhood. My friend and I used to ride our bikes and flip a coin at each intersection to decide whether to go right or left. We would just go on and on like that until we finally would see some place we recognized and be able to find our way home. And the sledding stories reminded me of how whenever we would be heading for a tree, we would say BAIL OUT!! and jump out of the sled. My parents were free range too… my dad lost his kidney in a sledding accident when he was a kid. And like one of the commenters, I once got the wind knocked out of me while I was alone. I thought, “That’s it, I’m dying!” I had fallen off a jungle gym. And dogs were free range wanderers in those days, too. Most were OK, but some were vicious, to dogs, people, other pets… It really was the Wild West back then.

  222. Ashley says:

    I never remember wanting to stay inside to watch TV as a kid. I grew up with a bunch of boys for neighbors so I was all about riding bikes and skateboarding around the neighborhood all day and breaking into the elementary school after hours to play on the playground until the street lights came on. Usually I could hear my dad whistle or blow the air horn around dinner time and I knew I better drop what I was doing and run home or I was in big trouble!

  223. Julie says:

    We didn’t have juice boxes. When we played outside and wanted something to drink, we ran to the hose. It took forever for the water to turn cold but when it did, it was so good! Of course, my kids wouldn’t know about drinking water this way. They think it comes from a bottle .

  224. I did all those things and worse. I amaze myself that I made it to my age without killing myself. Which is probably why I don’t have kids.

  225. Francesca says:

    There was a semi-rotten old rope swing that went out over an extremely steep hill down in the woods behind my house. My brother and I used to go down there and swing on it. It was thrilling.

    My oldest kid is still only 5 years old, so I don’t let her play outside at least one of the older neighborhood kids watching her. (The 10-year-old from next door likes to practice her babysitting.) On our street we all know each other and look out for the kids, and there are few cars because it’s a cul-de-sac.

    There are parks nearby that one can walk or bike to. I’m certainly planning on allowing my kids to have appropriate amounts of independence as they get older. (They do use the neighbor’s backyard trampoline, for instance, although again, only with supervision.)

  226. Martha says:

    (I have a friend who will take her son to the playground on a rainy day and not let him join his friends playing in a little bit of mud. Seriously?)
    I am more of the free-range type myself, but that definitely does look different now than it did in the 80s and early 90s. My dad was stationed in Panama so we lived there for 4 years. We went to Catragena, Colombia for vacation. It was close to the top of the world list for per-capita murders at the time. We played on the beach, rented jet-skis, explored castles, and babysat each other in the hotel while the 4 adults on the trip went out on a party bus. It was aaawwweeesome!! We also went on a horsedrawn carriage ride which ended with us racing another carriage down the side of the highway, sparks flying. I’m not sure I could instigate any of those activities as an adult! Now that I know that I’m breakable (and hence my kid probably is too).

  227. Martha says:

    Oops Car-ta-ge-na

  228. Jimmy (father of 3) says:

    I cry for all of the lost generation. Broken bones are easier to fix than childhood obesity. Let kids be kids.

  229. Jennie says:

    I agree Pip, we are much better informed these days. My husband (who is 40) was left alone in a school playground at the age of 4 to play with his peers in the dirt. Some young teenage girl came with a HORSE and ran him over. Broke his femur. My MIL is a very respectful person, but times were different back then. (she claims she was watching from a window in a house across the street) I would be no more than a few feet away from a 4 year old at all times when outside. My daughter is 6 now and she isent allowed anywhere without me. Granted its tiresome, but she is safe from all the dangers (my biggest fear is predators)I couldent live with myself if something were to happen to her. Oh right, happy blog post….Blueberries and rainbows and gumdrops!

  230. Jennie says:

    Oh, and I too diddent wear seatbelts when I rode with my dad (mom was a stickler and so uncool at the time) and I am truly lucky to be alive today. 55mph into a car, then telephone pole. Head hit windshield and almost flew through. Left with minor bump on head and a tiny cut or two on my legs.

  231. Hineata says:

    Love it Amy!

  232. Jennie says:

    Oh and I also swam in a ditch/canal (a slower moving one, not those deathtrap kind) ran around 13 acres of farmland barefoot, ran around my neighborhood until dark (from the age of 10 on) and did so many things wrong. I really dont want my daughter getting into some of the trouble I did. The kids can still do those wonderful things, they just should be supervised by a responsible adult. Go exploring WITH your kids. Be silly. Build communication. They can still be kids and be safe.

  233. cupcakeN says:

    I feel bad for my kids. “All in the name of safety” has taken the fun and stupidity out of childhood. When else are you supposed to fly off swings? When an injury would mean not being able to work, and not being able to pay bills or feed your family? No, you do that stuff when it means you can’t go to school and you spend your days camped out on the couch watching cartoons while mom brings you all of your meals and snacks. When did raising kids become so scary that we bubble wrap them? I mean, I totally do it too, but when did bubble wrapping kids and still freak out with paranoia become the norm of parenting?

  234. Oh, your pictures are wonderful. I did all this things you did. And well, I can’t imagine to allow all this to my son. But when I think of my childhood I wish (a little bit) he will do so, when I won’t notice. So he once can say, he did all these (or some of these) things in his childhood too!

  235. Rachael says:

    I’m the other way round. My parents were very overprotective and I hated it, and I want my daughter to have more freedom. She’s only 18 months at the moment and already my mother criticises me for not being stricter with her, so I foresee arguments over the coming years :/

    (PS This is the first time I’ve commented here, so I just want to say how much I love your blog!)

  236. koyan says:

    Ok, now I believe that you are my mom. I grew up like your kids grow up, so it has made me do the oposite for my kids: Except the seat belts, I invite them to get out of the house and have adventures.
    Both me and my wife grew up in a apartment, so we made sure that our kids would grow up in the countryside:


  237. Erika says:

    I remember my best friend being really angry at her parents about something ridiculous(we must have been around 6 or 7 years old), so she packed her school bag with some clean underwear and a snack or two and tried to “run away” out of spite. Obviously I had to go with her because I was visiting for the weekend and of course I had to support her cause, she was my best friend you know (it was probably just more like I didn’t want to be left behind alone).
    We hung around the neighborhood the whole day waiting for her parents to get frantic about us going missing and the great search to start but nothing happened and eventually we just went back home because we were hungry.
    To our dismay they had hardly realized we were gone, because that’s pretty much what we used to do on weekends anyway, had breakfast, disappeared for the day and came back for dinner or when we were hungry.
    If my kids had to do that I’d be a complete basket case, I think there was just so much less to worry about those days.

  238. Amanda says:

    You’re right, the only higher risk to children today is being run over by a car because there are more cars on the road. If people used logic then they would NEVER put their kid in a car for ANY reason because it is the number 1 killer of kids, even if you strap them in. We won’t give that up because it will hinder our lifestyle. But due to the news people don’t use logic they use fear, and they are robbing their children of age appropriate freedom that is essential to becoming a well adjusted adult capable of making judgement calls. The chances of your kid being taken by someone they don’t know is about the same as them getting struck by lightening while playing soccer. I make it a point to know my neighbors, so that when my kid is old enough I can feel comfortable letting him walk to the park or the store. Right now he is content to roam bare foot at the park…and doing front rolls while jumping off the swing…he decided to wear a helmet for that…so I’m convinced dying is not his goal.

  239. Candi says:

    Thank you for linking to Free Range Kids! Lenore Skenazy is a personal hero of mine. I once had a mom actually scold me for allowing my second grader to cross the street (with the crossing guard) and walk two blocks to school while I watched from the yard. Seriously? Meanwhile, she would sometimes DRIVE her kids the two blocks to school.

    Just for her, I looked up the statistics on stranger danger (abductions, assaults, the whole lot) and found that kids are at NO greater risk than they were in 1970. None. They have more to fear from creepy Uncle Ted than some perv offering candy (you know what I mean). When Free Range Kids came out, I finally felt like I wasn’t secretly a terrible mother.

    My second grader is now a responsible, healthy college student. She didn’t have some of the ridiculous freedoms I had when I was a kid (seriously, we had a reservoir in our neighborhood, and we’d go climb the spillway!), but she did have enough. And a few bruises to show for it. But the only bone she ever broke was at school, with plenty of supervision.

    Anyway, you are a wonderful writer, and I love your blog. 🙂

  240. nina says:

    We live in a community in Israel over the Green Line (yes, we live in the West Bank). Many perks include letting my children grow up like I did, leaving after breakfast to be called home for dinner, bigger kids ride toddler ride on toys down big hills, most of the playground equipment is at least 30 years old and not up to code including the see-saw, my kids play with harmless bugs like beetles, ants, and millipedes. They jump in puddles and play in the mud. My daughter begs me to let her go with her friends to the mini market, but she’s only 6 and there isn’t sidewalk part of the way and people drive like maniacs here so she doesn’t get to go just yet.

    They know to run in the other direction and get an adult if they come across a scorpion or a centipede, to wear their helmets, and if they ever open the high cabinet they can’t reach even with a chair with the cleaning supplies they’re in deep doo doo.

    On the other hand, when we go to my parents in the States or my in laws in Haifa they’re not allowed to leave the house without an adult.

  241. Evs says:

    I just wanted to point something out not as a mom (my son is only just about 2) but as a former child 🙂
    Children grow one day at a time, it is not necessarily obvious to a parent that they are being overprotective for way too long…I was not allowed to do anything myself (picture this: I’m 18, coming back from college an hour late (of course my mom new my entire timetable and where and what I had for lunch..) because I wanted a stroll through the park at 5 pm in spring. I had an earful and a meltdown from my mom because I was out alone) for a long time to the extent that it ruined our relationship. When I was 19 I just couldn’t take all the helicoptering anymore and runaway from home to live with my (now 🙂 ) husband. I’m 25 now and me and my parents have no relationship.

    I’m not saying that this is typical, but I just wanted to say: please, please don’t go overboard on protectiveness.

    fantastic post, btw 🙂

  242. MaMi says:

    I think it’s got a lot to do with learning to self-regulate themselves, learning from your environment…kids these days are way to protected so they go nuts… I loved jumping off of a swing and loved it. If my kid chooses to do so, I will let him…I hope he will be curious enough. I wish he could just stroll out to hang out with his friends like we used to. There were no play dates, we would whistle for each other, meet outside and hang out until it was time for dinner…in fact, we were required to be out of the house:-D Sledding was always fun. And yes, we would make it more daring…use plastic bags under our butts…landing on the river…fun times!

  243. MaMi says:

    Yes, yes, yes, I so agree…I had a key on a string around my neck since 1st grade, walked to school, back from school, new to do my HW and then I could go outside and be home by dinner time. We had to learn time, wear a watch and follow the directions. We had chores and no one paid us to do them. And yes, we were told by many other people what to do or not to do. Try talking to someone else’s child today and their parents will go nuts. Kids just give you a stare blank:-) I knew all our neighbors, they knew me too. I try to do the same thing here, don’t know all the neighbors but some yes. And so does my kid. He is a social butterfly and will start talking to anyone who will listen. He is almost 5. I hope it will never change…I want him to give “crap” about other people…

  244. MaMi says:

    Well, I think it is only because so much more attention is paid to the negative stuff. You don’t hear about the positive things in our lives anymore…the news, the violence in movies (but try to see a boob or people making love…that’s a no no)…

  245. MaMi says:

    I miss those wheels of death…to me it was about the kids communicating, working together…

  246. MaMi says:


  247. MaMi says:

    I agree…it is worth just watching how many parents react when their child falls down or gets hurt…they don’t wait for the kid’s reaction, they give the kid the reaction by rushing to him/her being all too concerned. The kid mostly starts crying after they see the parent. Sigh…

  248. MaMi says:

    I agree with someone before…I don’t think it happens more now than before, we just hear about it more than they ever did before. People are hungry for the negative info. Recalled toys is a whole another story…things get blown out of proportion a lot these days…imho.

  249. MaMi says:

    Swings…what an awesome toy and loved by most every child (at least the ones I see in the play ground…they all want to get on a swing and yell higher:-)) What a great think to learn to swing your own self …requires a lost of coordination… And today with the padded play grounds…

  250. KiwiBunnz says:

    My son is only 2, but today I let him jump on the arm of the couch… he managed to jump backwards onto the seat every time, but in the past he has fallen off a few times too. I did stop him jumping on the stairs. He also has my old sea-saw that goes up and down and round and round and currently gives me a good squat workout, but I am sure it will be used in the way you described when he is bigger. At the moment he gets to sit on the seat, by himself, (without a helmet)… and I go right to the top and up and down and round and round at a descent speed… and he loves it. At his dad’s Christmas Work Picnic he was way younger than all the other kids in the bouncy castle, so I went in there with him… but I didn’t stop the 5 year olds rugby tackling him or him jumping off the side of the slide (in the bouncy castle.. on to ground would have been a bit different). I would have been there with a hug and a make-it-better kiss if he needed me, but he just had an awesome time instead! I hold his hand in carparks, and I don’t let him too close to strange dogs… but I let him play 🙂

  251. Claudia says:

    In theory I’d like them to do everything I did – the main thing stopping me is not the fear of crime (no more dangerous than I was a kid) or traffic (there were lots of cars then, there’s lots of cars now) – no, it’s fear that some busybodying person will assume ‘Neglect! Neglect!’ even if my kid is happy, knows what they’re doing, where they live and where their parents are at that moment.

    My sibs and I used to like going to ‘the stream’, a set of brooks near our house in suburban London, where we’d traipse along in wellington boots (occasionally losing them to sucking mud) walking through big pipes, parks and general bits of empty land. I guess we have equivalent stuff around here (another bit of suburban London), though it is different as I only have two kids, not three, so it would be a bit later before I’d allow them both out. I suppose we must have gone together from when I was 6 and my older brother was 11.

  252. catharin says:

    Why can you not talk to your neighbors? Maybe you would feel safer if you knew them a little better. Must be pretty sad for everyone if you are all ignoring each other all the time.

  253. Mercy says:

    You should have seen my son’s face when I told him there were no computers or videos when I was his age (he’s 4). We also have one of those old sound systems that were all-in-one and it has a double tape deck. The kids love to play with it and I’m sure one day they will ask what it’s for.

  254. Sandra says:

    Besides being so aware of all the dangers through the media, there’s another huge issue for parents…accountability. Back in the day, when a kid died or was seriously injured, it was a “tragic accident” and “such a shame”. Now, they put the parents on trial and in jail for negligence. A kid dies or is seriously injured while unsupervised? You can be sure that parent will be arrested.

  255. Robin says:

    People only think the world is more dangerous now because of 24 hour news coverage. When I was a kid you had to wait for the news to come on at 6. Now they need to fill all day every day, and they have to ‘sell’ the news. Kidnapping and sexual predator stories get viewers. Who would tune in to hear that violent crime rates are at a 30-year low?

    I love the free range kids site. That site and this one are my two favorite– world collided today.

    Follow the laws (seatbelts, helmets)but give them the freedom that you loved so much.

  256. Heh. My brother and I combined two of those- used our freedom to see saw… with one of these:


    Until we got caught. But while it lasted, that was more fun than Cedar Point.

  257. Cathy says:

    Awesome – it is crazy how things are SO different now!

  258. Sarah says:

    I loved staying out until the street lights came on and catching salamanders.

  259. Erica says:

    You just described my childhood, to a T, LOL and my kids will never do most of those things either. The freedom is definitely the biggie. Can you imagine allowing the kids to just “go play” like we did? Even with cell phones and stuff. I remember “checking in” every couple hours. Looking back I think WTH would my parents have done if I hadn’t come home one day? They’d have had no way to even try and get a hold of me, they’d have had to quiz every kid in our neighborhood and hope someone had a clue where I’d gone. That is some scary stuff right there. I remember going places we weren’t supposed to go. “The dip” was in the woods and was a tall canyon-like dip that we’d ride our bikes (no helmets) full speed at and go flying down and back up. Incredibly dangerous, tons of fun and not somewhere we were supposed to be. I remember going clear across town on my bike to visit friends. I can’t believe my mom was ok with that. It was across some major roads.

    As a hater of snow (I grew up in NE Ohio) I’m glad there’s none here (in S TX) either and I only feel the tiniest bit bad that my kids will never experience the amounts of snow/snowman making/sledding etc that I did.

  260. Jennifer says:

    Are you kidding me with this? This is GENIUS and had me ROFL!!! SOOO true! I talk about this stuff all.the.time. Good for you! And I LOVE the braids and your purple dress, LOL!!!!!!!

  261. catherine says:

    That is hillarious about the swinging. Our swingset had monkey bars running between two sides (made an ‘H’) So there was a swing on both sides of each end of the monkey bars. Anyway I would one up the jumping out of the swing by adding ‘jump out of the swing and grab the monkey bars’. The only thing that stopped me was a giant rusty screw potruding from the monkeybar ladder. I was impaled in the leg. My parents answer was to pour hydrogen peroxide in it and slap a bandaid on. Oh, and I was punished for doing somethign so stupid. Ah, how the times have changed 😉

  262. Vikki Chaney says:

    I think its funny how my mom (the same mom that let me wonder around all day from breakfast till the streetlights came on) now panics if I let my 2 year old son climb to the top of the couch and jump on the cushions. The couch is against the wall so honestly other than hitting the cushions and sliding on to the floor what could possibly happen.

  263. Monica says:

    My husband and brother-in-law recall fighting over who got to lay in the space above the back seat where the rear windown comes down … the little ledge (you know … the one where you would be violently thrown forward in a crash) while their mother smoked in the car. Ah … the good ole days. Yep … none of this dangerous stuff for my kids either.

  264. Sarah O says:

    We tied each other up in lawn chairs, put some blankets and pillows around us for padding, and bounced on the trampoline until the chair fell over. Never. Telling. My kids that story. 🙂

  265. Heather says:

    I’m kind of sad my kids will never know the joys of greasing up those metal saucers for sledding (Griswold style). They hurt like heck and we always had bruises, but man those things would fly down hills. I would love to find some again.

  266. denise says:

    The robot park was the best!

  267. Alison says:

    I used to: walk to the town pool with my sister and friends and spend hours swimming – NO adult supervision; play “tom sawyer and huck finn” and wade into the local creek, following it as far as I could to it’s source; sell Girl Scout cookies door-to-door by myself, going many, many blocks away from my house, almost getting lost in my quest to sell the most boxes; own my own jackknife and whittle frequently without any supervision; climb with my friend onto her roof; climb my friend’s VERY tall tree, taller than her roof (many, many kids in that house, she was the youngest, modest supervision, I see now); lay in the back of my Dad’s VW bug in that small space on rides home late at night, looking at stars through the curved window; run around the local university campus at night making friends with the other kids who had also been dragged to some outdoor classical music concert by their parents – and working hard to find my folks once the music ended, a little nervous in the crowd, in the dark, but feeling really confidant in myself once I did.

    I did all of this before the age of 10, in a large suburb outside of St. Louis, during the 1960s and early 1970s. And it was awesome. And it really wasn’t a safer time back then. And yet, I’m anxious about my kids’ safety and have to work really hard to fight against this (to borrow an earlier post-ers term) energy of fear.

    • Catherine says:

      What is this word “alone” and “without supervision” you speak of? I do not believe it is in my vocabulary.

  268. Jaclyn says:

    My husband is from Peru, and when we were visiting last year, we came across a playground with a giant, metal merry-go-round. I haven’t seen one here in years. Probably because the goal was to go flying off it. I may have gotten on and made him push me.

  269. Cheryl P. says:

    In addition to many of those things, I also went bike riding anywhere I wanted to. You know, on the street, not just the driveway. There wasn’t a lot of traffic but I still had to watch out for cars. I would get waved to instead of honked at like nowadays.

    My friends and I made forts in the trees just behind my house and my best friend’s house. (Our house properties butted up against one another with an unused railroad track separating us.)

    We would get dirty and not want a bath. Most times I was too tired at the end of the day to get one and would just go right to bed. I also did not wash my hands every five minutes. Dirt was the norm.

    The best time I had was when I was a latch-key kid. I was nine years old!! Yes, nine years old. I came home to an empty house. Made myself snack. Watched tv, even though I was suppose to be doing my homework. I would hurry and turn the tv off and get my books out when my parents pulled into the driveway. I had free roam of the house. I was told not to open the door to strangers (I hid when someone knocked on the door). I was told not to answer the (rotary) phone unless there was the “secret” ring. There was no answering machine. And guess what? I’m still alive to this day.

    It was wonderful.

  270. CarolB says:

    OMG!Too funny!Thanks for making me smile today. I think we did nearly every scenario you mentioned. We lived on a big hill near the top so racing down in all kinds of weather was a daily experience. The sledding challenge was awesome … until my brother got “bumped off” and hit the fire hydrant. A broken nose and lots of blood still didn’t stop us. Nor did my friend’s broken arm at the school sledding hill! Really, our school even had a recess sledding time! I bet that’s long gone. Now my kids wear helmets, don’t race down hills, and must stay in the yard if playing outside alone so I can see them. Some changes have been for the better, but others, maybe not.

  271. Susan says:

    Yes, I also had all those same freedoms as a kid. I just had to stay within shouting distance and my mother could yell pretty loudly. I spent a lot of time in the trees, creeks and cow pastures (barefoot). I also remember an acquaintance who was killed when she was hit by a car while riding her bike in the neighborhood (no helmets then)

  272. Wolfy Wolf says:

    My husband and I both grew up with a lot of freedom, and so did our friends, but not all of us used great judgement. When I was only 9 or 10, I drove my bike 5 miles back in the bush. It’s amazing that I found my way to my old home based on memory alone, and I’m really lucky I didn’t get lost in the middle of nowhere with no way to get back home. My husband is lucky to have lived at all with all the stuff he’s done! And I remember a guy friend of mine who would put GT skis on his bike and he’d go “sledding” down hills on that death trap invention of his during winter, and in the summer he’d jump off train bridges into the narrow river with his bike. How that boy survived any given day of his life is beyond me. But I do miss the space we had to play. Things are more dangerous now with the crowded spaces we live in.

  273. Sledded right into the side of my grandparents house head first, road a Fisher Price giraffe down a very steep driveway (stitches) when I was 3, was outside all day, ski raced thru college while NEVER wearing a helmet….. Crazy times.

    My kids of course, have not done any of this. Well, not to my knowledge anyway….

  274. Wolfy Wolf says:

    When I was oh so very young and in kindergarten, I was left to leave home by myself and stand outside our building in all weather including our famous Canadian winters all alone. Oh, and did I mention that our home was on a major highway? And then if I missed my bus, here I was just 5 or 6yrs old walking down the highway trying to get to school, because I’d always remember the trip as being short. Well of course it was short in driving terms! I never did find my school, but I WAS found by the police a few times!! WTH were my parents thinking??? My kids are now 8 and 11, and I STILL walk them to their bus stop! They will never go out to the highway by themselves until they are at least 16! lol

  275. Wolfy Wolf says:

    Oh, and just a note about the teeter totters… you forgot to mention that kids would purposely lift their legs to MAKE it bump when they hit bottom, just to knock the person who was “up” flying. Can’t tell you how many pissed off and injured kids there were from that particular little trick…

  276. Lyra says:

    Fantastic entry. My parents used to let me run around their 10 acre weekend farm. I always returned in time for spam or baloney sandwiches (which my kids will never be allowed to eat)soaking wet from the creek and covered in bloody scratches from the berry bushes. Sometimes I even got lucky and found a turtle or snake skin.

  277. Meridith says:

    OMG – you totally reminded me of that! My friend and I used to put pennies on the train tracks all the time. My mom would probably kill me still today if she found out, and I’m 35. LOL

  278. John says:

    Gee sounds like my childhood.

  279. Cathy says:

    I used to cross a multi-lane high-traffic road at an intersection with no lights or stop-signs by stepping off the curb and proceeding into the rapidly oncoming traffic… My theory was that the cars were “not allowed” to hit me so they’d have to come to a sudden screeching halt. I’m sure I caused many near heart-attacks with the mere inches to spare before metal-to-flesh impact, but never did get hit.

    I’d kill my kids myself if they tried that!

  280. Zoe Q. says:

    We babyproofed our home recently, as our 7 month old son is rapidly becoming mobile. I posted a picture of our efforts on Facebook, which was basically the baby sitting next to our glass coffee table with pipe insulation covering the hard edges. Nothing fancy here.
    A lady I used to work with scolded me for even bothering, saying that instead I should just tell him NO. Her comment both surprised me and made me feel like I was being hyper-protective of my son, when in reality I’m one of the most relaxed of all my new mom friends. So perhaps yes, our standards have changed, as clearly something I consider to be standard practice struck this woman as coddling.

  281. amy says:

    oh yes this remind me of when I was younger. I have to add trick or treating without an adult, sleeping in the floorboard on long trips( older sister took the backseat), and eating homemade treats at school parties. My youngest has never known the joy of eating a rice krispy treat that a mother made ( she has a child on her hall with a food allergy….EVERYTHING must be store bought or they have to throw it away). Thanks for a great post!!

  282. Kathleen says:

    Yep to all of these and… did your neighborhood firemen ever come by to flush the hydrants? So much fun to be had splashing (barefoot) at the corner of a (usually busy) street while (probably unhygienic) water gushed over you under the (not really watchful) eyes of the local fire support staff. Good times.

  283. Kara says:

    This is totally me too. I remember doing all those things and now I look back and wonder how my parents ever allowed it. We used to go swim in the canals near our house unsupervised, which I can’t imagine letting my kids do. I look back at my childhood and hardly recall seeing my parents during the day, because we were allowed to just go out and play anywhere in the neighborhood. And I remember on one family vacation we had all our stuff piled in the back of a pickup and my dad let us takes turns riding back there wrapped up in sleeping bags. My 7 year old was in a 5pt harness until a year ago. I think I’m a much more paranoid parent than mine were.

  284. F says:

    WOW you people are disgustingly over pretective let the gives have fun, kids do get hurt its ok its not the end of the world your going to turn your kids into little crying girls i feel sorry for you

  285. Wolfy Wolf says:

    I am quite certain that Darcy was just letting us know that letting her child explore his environment does not equate to simply standing around and watching as her child “explores” a hot stove for example. I thought that was obvious. Nobody said anything about magical preventions.

  286. mmkvickers says:

    there are definitely a few things on that list that I let my kids do, and there are definitely a few that I won’t let my kids do, but they’re going to do it anyway. and then there are a few that didn’t make the list that I won’t do, like… be a latchkey kid who at the age of preschool had a key to the third floor apartment so I could go play on the park…BY MY SELF!! EEK!

  287. angie says:

    I love it! So true so true.

  288. Bonnie says:

    I must be a horrible parent… you know what… our society has changed and some of these things are good (carseats helmets), but I let my 4 and 5 year old go as far as they can without crossing the street. I let them climb trees and jump in puddles and swim in rivers and make bike ramps, and if there was snow and a hil… bring it on!

    Hasnt anyone noticed that the more we “protect” our children the less responsible they are? Then more entitled they think they are? Children are who were born in the “walk 5 mies to school both ways barefoot in the snow” were our HARDEST WORKING, kindest gereation… they helped their neighbors, settled disputes calmly,they could cook and clean and watch their siblings at a very young age, ect. People born in our generation, work just as hard as we HAVE to, but giving our shirts off our back is not the norm, we would DIE is someone tried to pay us with a basket of veggies from there garden, but we could still babysit at a young age, we could still walk to the store with 20 to get milk and cigs for our parents (and not smoke them)we could make a sandwich and grab some fruit for ourselves at about 5, our kids… I wouldnt trust most of them to walk into my kitchen alone. I know I wouldnt trust them to babysit til they are about 17… so its not all good

  289. Beth says:

    My elementary school had a hill that was between the blacktop and the grassy field. When it snowed, we would run across the blacktop and slide down the hill on our feet, trying to remain standing. No helmets. I also remember riding the city bus for .10 with my friend, all the way into downtown Salt Lake City. I was probably 10 or 11.

  290. Croatian.Mama.of.two says:

    I must be getting old because I can so relate to everyone on here. My parents had created a wooden booster seat for me to sit in in the middle front seat. When we went on long car rides my parents would put a wooden bench in the back foot area and a piece of foam across and make me a bed. I safely played and slept while we drove for hours. Never got hurt once, and I even remember getting stopped by the police once for something Dad likely did.
    I remember one of my birthday’s too where we all piled in the car and went to Pizza Hut or Burger King. There was like 8 of us in the car, no seat belts and it was fine, nothing was thought about it. Now adays I threaten, I cry and scream to get seat belts strapped on before we go anywhere. I know I am a good driver it’s everyone else I don’t trust!
    I too used to jump on my bike and disappear for hours. Go to various friends houses without calling first. I’d show up during dinner time or even when kids were supposed to be getting ready for bed. Now adays, if that happened I would think poorly of the parent.
    I too used to get the swing going as high as possible and jump off. It was like long jump, we would see who could get it going the highest. I enjoyed those days. Would I let my kids do that? Uhhh NO! I am a control freak and I do all the possible scenerio’s in my head of what could happen. Doesn’t mean nothing bad has ever happened to my kids. My 7 year old went backwards up a slide to impress a kid and fell cutting her lip wide open. When a child ran over to tell me, I didn’t freak. I said she’s fine, she’ll be fine..but I was wrong she wasn’t fine. When I got there I nearly pooped myself. There was a lot of blood and her lip was hanging. We rushed the hospital and now she will have a nice little story to tell her own children someday. I go from one extreme to the next. I give them enough rope to hang themselves and then when they do I get all over protective again.
    Everyone is right things aren’t like how they used to be. People are more touched by the Schticky now adays if you konw what I mean. I kinda feel like the more we populate the world the further we get away from the original specimen. Does that make sense? How many copies of a copy can you make before they are simply nothing like what they used to be?

  291. Cathy Hague says:

    lol Completely agree! And I think about this stuff often. I mean it is good to wear seat belts. But I do think we over-protect our kids. I remember doing the see-saw thing. Standing up. As hard as we could so the other person got air time! lol Rarely fell off, we were good! I let my child play in dirt in the garden. Scrape the dirt off carrots and eat them. Dig for worms. Unless she’s sick, or the school is closed down, she goes to pre-school in all weather. I make sure she’s layered in warm clothes and wearing a snow suit. But she goes. I do what I can to teach her independence and a good attitude.

  292. Martina says:

    OMG. This is HYSTERICAL! And so TRUE! I love the “flying” one the best. I remember doing that out of trees. And I freak out when my son jumps off one step.

  293. I did all of these, and worse. My kid’s wear helmets when biking and seatbelts of course, but they go in the woods and explore, and we have a trampoline (without the net!). They learned to swim when they were babies, they learned to be safe but still have fun. It’s all about balance.

  294. Anna says:

    OMG, this is hilarious! Sure brought back the good times. We had a ‘gang’ and were outdoors unsupervised most of the weekends. We’d even WALK, including crossing dangerous several-laned road, about 2 miles to the local swimming pool and spend the whole day there with no supervision, eating junk food, diving in the deep end and we couldn’t even swim well! All this at age 8-10!!! Now that swimming pool has a sign not to leave kids under 16 w/o supervision!!! I cannot fathom how my parents let us do these things. We did plenty of other stuff too. One of my friends lit a fire in some bushland and a fire engine had to put it out. My kids are definitely being brought up differently!!

  295. Katie says:

    I thank the Good Lord everyday that I am able to raise my 3 kids (2 girls, 11 & 8 one boy 3) on a farm with our house nesseled in 1/4 mile off the road. We let them be kids the same as my husband and I were kids! They ride horses, without helmets. Create their own SteepleChase course out of barrels, tree limbs, buckets and logs, jumping their horses over all of them. They barrel race (without helmets) and can place in the top ranks right along with the 18 year-olds. When my 2nd daughter turned 4, she tought I needed to keep leading her horse for her, I said “No, you’re big enough now, if you want to ride, you will either pick up the reins and figure it out or you will figure out how to get off that horse by yourself.” Mean? maybe, but she is an excellent rider thanks to it. Our kids also are allowed to give each other sled rides while driving the 4 wheeler for each other themselves. They know to bale off should the sled come too close to hitting something…it’s called common sense. Oh and we have a creek that runs through our property that has a small pond in it that not only do our kids swim in it, they ride their horses up to their necks in it and they think it’s the coolest thing that they are riding their horses while they are swimming. And my son, well we are just getting starting in destroying his life by letting him have all this freedom…he rides on the fender of the tractor, just as we did as kids, to help his dad move bales to feed those horses. Bad parents, I don’t think so. Should we protect them more? Maybe sometimes. But can you wrap them in bubble wrap their whole childhood, some will, but I won’t. Although I do have to say, our middle child knocked 3 of her front teeth out last week thanks to an untied shoe on the playground at school, bubble wrap would have come in very handy then! I loved this post and love reading all the statements from everyone. It is a shame that our world has become a bit more ‘overprotective’, but I do have to say that I too get a little worried when my girls have to walk to Grandma’s after school sometimes in our town of 3000, so I can only imagine the worry that must go through a good portion of moms living in the big city.

  296. How do children learn judgment? A lot of it is by judging badly, and then learning from that bad judgment.

    Parents’ inability to trust in their children’s abilities speaks a great deal to the parents’ confidence in their parenting skills. Have some confidence, and let your kids make mistakes sometimes. How else are they going to learn that even when (because they will) fail, the world still goes on and they still live.

  297. They still make candy cigarettes. I saw some the other day. And my son sleds. I live in the Midwest and there is tons of snow to go sledding on. He’s nine, so there’s no “extreme” sledding and he doesn’t wear a helmet, but he sleds. He also just goes out to play with his friends, no adults hovering over him. Not every is “lost” on our kids. Although I will admit that the mandatory seat belts is a good idea.

  298. Katie says:

    Oh and also, we built our own swingset for the kids out of telephone poles so the kids could get some ‘major air!’, not only do they jump out of the seat, but I still do as well! It’s awesome! 🙂

  299. Emily says:

    That’s where I am, to a first approximation. I live in a reasonably well-off urban neighborhood, and let my kids go to the park by themselves (with rules, like a minimum of 2, and one of the has to be either the 13- or 11-year-old). They are out sledding right now, making jumps and everything (no helmets) with a friend of mine and her kids. (I’m nursing the baby and making a hot lunch for everyone…)

    I totally agree that parents these days tend to be a little too uptight; Amber, your perspective about what you will let them do is quite likely to change as they age…

  300. Something else to keep in mind is that it’s not always the parents. I wanted to let my kid start riding his bike to school, but the school won’t let him. He’s in third grade, but they won’t even let the fifth graders do it. I mean, come on! And there was a news story, I don’t have the link to it, about a mom who was threatened by Child Protective Services for the same thing, letting her kid bike alone to school and back every day.

    It’s not just fear for our children, it’s social culture and legal or social judgment we face if we let our kids ever not be right under adult supervision at every moment…

    But we don’t wear helmets to go sledding. 🙂

  301. Ann says:

    Backflips off the jungle gym. Wandering around all day, then knocking on a neighbor’s door to ask to use the bathroom. May Day (we put cups of candy on doorsteps, rang the doorbell, and ran like hell- or not depending on if you wanted the person to catch, tackle, and kiss you). Tie a ski rope to the snowmobile and ride behind on a sled (hurt every time). Jump out of the hay loft of a barn onto a not-soft-enough pile of straw. Drive to the store across a 4 lane highway on a lawn mower. Drive a three wheeler. Play in the lake all day with no adults. All things I did and my kids will NEVER do.

  302. Jules says:

    I’m already sad for my son (and future children) that they can’t enjoy what we enjoyed as children.

  303. Camille says:

    Hahahah, I did a lot of that stuff too. And I’m not even over-protective but I’m not going to let my kid do any of the stuff I did as a kid hahah.

  304. Heather says:

    While we do use safety equipment and cabinet locks….my kids are welcome to do most of this stuff. What I shudder thinking about is, that when I did these things as a kid we didn’t have medical insurance! Now at least if my kids are injured demolition sledding we’ll be able to afford to set the broken bones afterward.

  305. Katie says:

    Good Grief?!? Really? That’s crossing the line on allowing us to be the parent if you ask me!

  306. Chrissy says:

    ahahaha, now I see why there are so many moms at the playground coming up to me “uh, ma’am I think your son is about to ____” usually climb something high, jump off something high, slide down something high (besides the slide, but yeah sometimes its a slide thing too) and I’m all “what? its a park?” oh, did I mention this happened a lot more when the kids were like 1 and 2.5 . .. .LOL I used to swearby the indoor playstations and mcdonalds and the mall that others so snottily called “germ farms” but then I actually detected a very clear and present link between playing at said play areas and doctor visits. Bummers! but jumping off crap, rolling around in crap (as long as its only doggie doo its not too bad unless they eat it right?) I am going to try and let them do. Fingers crossed we don’t lose any eyes! We have however lost 3 teeth (not of natural causes. .. . .)

  307. Lisa says:

    In some ways I am more overprotective than my mom. I don’t let my kids that go out on their own until they are older. In my old neighborhood that year would have been far in the future. Difference? I don’t announce to everyone who meets my children that I am overprotective, like my mom used to.
    As for the rest… I am a horrible mom. My 17 year old is the only one with a working bicycle. No helmet. It disturbed my daughter once when she saw a kid just walking down the road with a bike helmet on and no bike.
    My 9 year old thinks he is a monkey. He will climb and swing from anything. If there is no concrete below, he can jump all he wants.
    Cleaning products? I am guilty of leaving them on the counter. No one has yet put Comet on their spaghetti or mistaken Pinesol for punch.

  308. Aimee says:

    I know my children have less freedom than I did at their age. When I was 5 (like my oldest now), I was running all over the backyard and cul-de-sac we lived in. We had clear boundaries that changed as we got older. At first, it was the yard and cul-de-sac, then extended to the ends of the street, then we could ride our bikes around the block, then eventually to friends’ houses farther away. My mom wasn’t always outside with us, but she was able to keep an eye on us through the windows and she knew most of the neighbors. But my kids don’t have that same freedom, simply because of where we live. Rather than a house in a neighborhood, we live in a third floor apartment. There is nowhere really safe or fun for them to play, without having to exert a lot of effort to go there. We have to drive to get to any parks, there are cars in the parking lot out front, etc. So it’s not because I don’t want them to go outside, but it’s just not safe or fun for them because of where we live. If we lived in a house, with a yard, my kids would get booted out the back door a lot.

    I also know that some of my parenting decisions, how much I hover over my kids, are motivated by what other parents might think of me. It may sound insecure or lame, but I do sometimes to hover a little more, lest another parent be watching me and starting judging me as not keeping my kids safe. It’s a tricky spot. I generally let my kids act like kids more, learning not only from bumps and bruises, but I also don’t get too bent out of shape if another kid knocks mine down. Kids are kids and they’re all just learning.

  309. Juliana B says:

    Yup, all that and more! I do think the big difference today is a) there are far fewer women at home during the day, so fewer eyes on the street (and fewer kids at home to play with a result) and b) kids are overscheduled with activities so they don’t play outside any more even when they are home. Or at least not without close supervision. Plus it just seems to me, living in a big urban area, that there are more crazies about. (Probably that whole, let’s not lock anyone up anymore because it’s inhumane or something like that…except for the people who now have to worry about the crazies on the street…but I digress)

  310. Aimee says:

    I’ll also mention that I don’t believe increased supervision is necessarily a bad thing. I didn’t get into trouble, but my husband built a zipline with his friend, convinced the friend to try it first and watched as the friend broke his arm going down it. He also made napalm on his own and threw it in the ditch behind a neighbor’s house.

  311. Kathy says:

    haha! we grew up exactly the same way. my parents didn’t even own car seats and i jumped from the back seat to the front, sat on my mom’s lap without any seat belts.

    i walked to/from school by myself (if my sister wasn’t with me) and i was only in grade 1!

    childproofing? what’s that?

    my dad left me at home by myself when i was in 4 or 5 to get my mom at work during a snow storm. it was so bad, it took him THREE HOURS to get home (it normally took 15mins) and when they came home at 9pm, i was still up watching tv in the dark and eating a loaf of bread.

    sometimes i wonder if today’s parents are overprotective.

  312. Vickie says:

    I like your point. We have a handicapped child and two other regularly abled boys. We tried for years to find a house that would be better for him, but really couldn’t because we have such a great neighborhood and neighbors. We were unwilling to give up the supportive people around us because we know that even though we now have to adjust our house for the handicapped son, we still have a great neighborhood for our other two boys. The thirteen year old has about 10-15 kids who he plays ManHunt with and it is so great to be able to let him go out and play with his friends without having to wonder what kind of nonsense he could be getting into. I know that if a neighbor sees them doing something inappropriate they will be corrected.
    I also have an 8 year old that rides his bike all over the neighborhood (in a known boundary that is pretty large)with his friends and also spends hours at the park. Sometimes I walk or drive down the street to put my eyes on him, but I like that I feel comfortable enough to let him go without having to be so stressed about it.
    They have known limits – but also enough freedom to let them experience and grow!

  313. ed says:

    Good luck. Those kids will be wimps and probally will be prayed apon. I hope not.

  314. ed says:

    You are absolutely correct. The parents now
    -adays have no clue what it is to grow-up. Computers, Computers, Let the kids play on computers. The children have no people skills. They believe they are the only ones to inhabit the earth

  315. Belinda says:

    I had the same kind of childhood you’ve all described with lots of freedom and space around us to play and do daft things. I live in NZ and I think parents here still have a bit more of a relaxed attitude. We still have those old school see-saws in our parks. The kids at our local school jump off the wharf and swim at the beach after school. It’s good for kids to experience freedom and the chance to make their own mistakes. As so many people have said, how are they ever going to learn good judgement if they aren’t given the chance to exercise any kind of judgement at all. Smashing yourself up on play ground equipment, bikes and skateboards etc is all part of childhood as far as I’m concerned. If my daughter ever gets up the courage to jump off the swing I’ll applaud (or stick a plaster on the injury!).

  316. Belinda says:

    Also my theory on why our parents were so much more relaxed is that the majority of them were so much younger than we are when they had us so they still had a lot of that gung ho attitude of youth whereas many of us have become parents a lot later and we’re that much more anxious about our precious babies. Plus the media feeds our fears constantly and all the endless “advice” we’re fed makes us all even more anxious.

  317. Carly says:

    I loved this post and the pics! First, are you showing your age Amber? I remember those candy cigarettes too and was actually thinking about them the other day lol. But those old days were good, the prank calls, the crazy sledding and riding with no helmets, heck I even remember the May pole and getting smacked in the back of the head more than once on that damn thing, but that never stopped me from going back for more lol. The only thing I never got to enjoy was laying on the backseat of the car, I had to share that with a brother and sister and any laying that went on was usually followed by fists, kicks and then a few slaps from my mom in the backseat telling us to settle the hell down or get out and walk lol.

    But I could do all those things in a small town, where I didn’t have fear of the crazies. Now, there is no way I would let my kids do half of that stuff! I would always go to the store for my mom, grab milk or whatever. My oldest wasn’t allowed to go to the store by himself till he was 11, and that was just a mini-market right beside my house with my hawk-eyes on him the whole time lol.

    Now it is just too scary, I live in a big city and no way does my youngest get out of my sight. I’m not overprotective, he can still act like an idiot when he is out playing; I just don’t seem to trust the world anymore.

  318. Bess says:

    My brother used to tie a rope to the back of our parent’s tractor and attach a tire about 15′ back. I’d position myself on top and hang on for dear life while he would drag me down dirt roads around our house. Breathing in tractor exhaust all the while. I guess this was our version of tubing behind a boat.
    On occasion he’d shoot at me with his BB gun while I darted from tree to tree. He only got me once…right on my forehead an inch from my eye.
    And I can’t forget how we pushed the trampoline right next to the house so we could jump off the roof onto it. OK, so it was off the lower side over the screened porch, but still…would parents allow that today??

  319. Momof4 says:

    I lived in many different places, from Detroit (Taylor suburb actually), to WAAAY upstate NY (on top of a Mountain), To ME and then East TX. My childhood was very similar to yours in all locations, city or country….

    I would let my kids do most of those things, (car seat/seat belts are a MUST!). My kids on weekends go out and play in our yard. They get in trouble if they leave our yard (it’s big and got stuff and they have imaginations so they can’t be bored).

    We live in MT so they will definitely be sledding, already have been and LOOOVE it… Though I did not take to kindly to hubby spraying the cooking spray on the bottom of my boys sled… and we will NOT be getting him a snowboard at 6…. BUT he has ridden a Sheep! (my concession to hope it knocks the bull idea out of him.)

  320. Meg says:

    I think the defensiveness of everything against any possibility of coming to harm, has gone way too far, in every direction.

    If my kids want to climb up the slide (so long as they aren’t impeding anyone else trying to come down it), or go down it head-first or on their tummies, GREAT. If they want to try leaping from the swing, DO IT! I did, as did all kids of every generation before the current crop of coddled eggs who can’t be allowed to do anything themselves or make any decisions, or take any chances whatsoever. I wonder what they will be like as adults, when they are raised in such paranoid, risk-averse environments, carefully padded in foam and prevented from cutting their own meat until 12.

    True, there may be a sprained wrist in their futures, but better that, than growing up afraid to live and try things. Afraid to challenge themselves or the elements.

    I was astonished at a local little boy, who was only 3, and the things he could do with a skateboard and scooter at the local skate park. He did amazing stunts, and took spills that made me gasp. His dad, a grizzled old “real biker” in a weatherbeaten jacket, looked on, unperturbed, as the rest of us watched half-fearful, half-amazed. The kid knew how to fall safely, took real spills without harm and got up, tumbled head-over-heels and dusted himself off, and continued blowing everyone else away with what he could do.The father said that the safest time to learn to fall without harm is when you only stand 3 feet off the ground and don’t weigh much. The kid knew his stuff, knew what he could do, and constantly pushed his own envelope, tried new things, and if they didn’t work out, he adjusted his technique next time. This kid was adaptive on an unhindered primal level I think you might only find in tribal societies these days, and it stood to show that if given the chance to grow, human potential is far more than we give it credit for. The man said that if he never allowed the boy to fall and learn, he would be in real danger of breaking something or getting seriously hurt later, when he’d weigh a lot more.

    Growing up never being allowed to skin their knees, still won’t make them live forever. It will just feel like it.

  321. Veronica says:

    My kids can do it all. I lived and their still alive. They are dependent, imaginative, and most of all fearless like kids should be. No one around here wears helmets and the cops wave and race the kids. They jump out of trees and off swings catch things that are slimy and just gross out the creek. They build things just to tear them down or jump off. They pull Snacks out the garden rather than coming in for lunch. And they don’t rinse it off b4 they eat it (the horror) I trust my kids and the know their limits even as limitless as they maybe.

  322. twisterfish says:

    We had the exact same childhood. I didn’t put much thought into whether or not I ate lunch…. but so true, gone from breakfast until the mom scream at dinner. Oh, wait, I remember: I ate penny candy! 25 cents… 25 pieces. Every day. My kids get candy twice a year.

    I have a rotary phone in my living room. It doesn’t work anymore but it’s so fun when friend’s kids come over. They all get a chance to dial with it and it freaks them out!

  323. Caley says:

    Our Dad would pull us on a sled behind an old pickup, through a pasture, while we held on to a rope tied to the trailer hitch. I don’t remember anyone getting hurt. We were just cold. Those were the best days! That is one thing from my childhood that I would repeat with my daughter. No one else is around. No trees to smack into. You just had to watch out for prairie dog mounds…

  324. Thea says:

    I agree completely. There are situations children need to be older to handle, like driving vehicles (we live in the country and it astounds me how many 7-8 year olds are out leaping ditches in snowmobiles!) but I think kids will not learn how to be responsible, independent adults if they’re never put in risky situations. There’s even a movement in the UK to make “risk management” part of playgrounds so kids are challenged to learn those skills. As I said, we live in the country so the risks are different and kids tend to be much freer here than what I’ve seen in the city or suburbs and I understand that, but we have to be careful we aren’t raising a generation of physically and emotionally fearful people unwilling or unable to deal with risky situations.

  325. Jennifer J says:

    I guess we all interpret the things we read differently.

  326. Amy says:

    thanks! 🙂

  327. Amy says:

    haha…thanks! 🙂

  328. Crystal says:

    I agree Jimmy, super funny blog but it makes me sad. I think parenting society on a whole is too overprotective and it’s damaging our children. I’m going to check out “Free Range Kids”.

  329. Michelle M says:

    We lived right across the street from the tracks, and used to smash pennies all the time!! …. plus we played in the broken down cars that were always on the unused track, and we would stand on the tracks until we could see the face of the engineer clearly.

    Yeah, I’m thinking my being here today is more a product of dumb-ass luck than anything else.

    I am definitely more protective than my parents (to be fair – I’m the youngest of six and they were just exhausted – and tired of trying – by the time I came along), but I’m really trying to let my boys (8 and 4) have some freedom (within limits!)

  330. nelsen.sandra@gmail.com says:

    So funny. I loved you doing a handstand in the car. I remember the car door opening and my doll falling out, then the door swung shut. I was crying and finally my parents asked me what was wrong, and I told them. They drove back and got Thumbelina, and were SO happy it wasn’t me, who had fallen out. That was probably around 1962.

  331. I grew up in the country and used to spend all day out in the fields exploring. I thought I was by myself… my mom says she could see us from the kitchen window all the time. But I know she couldn’t see me when I snuck out in the middle of the night to ride my bike to the river where I sang and threw rocks in the river. It actually makes me shudder now to think what could have happened to me. Makes me want to install alarms on all my doors and windows so my kids don’t do the same.

  332. Amy says:

    We’re frowned upon and people whisper behind their hands and call us “lazy parents” for letting our boys be boys. We have wonderful memories of childhood and “free ranging” until dark using our *GASP* imaginations. Protect them, but don’t over protect them.

  333. Stefani C says:

    I was allowed to play close to our house with the neighborhood kids but I couldn’t wander around at all. Not even as a teenager. I grew up in Houston with very overprotective parents. In high school if I went somewhere with a friend & we decided to leave & go somewhere else I had to call my dad & let him know where we were going & then I had to call when we got back. My husband grew up in a tiny town in AL & was walking to school when he was 5. He wandered around all the time & did whatever he wanted. The difference in our childhoods causes our parenting styles to clash quite a bit.

  334. Amy says:

    Protect your kid as much as you want. Kids are sneaky they’ll manage to get in enough trouble and make enough fond memories of danger however closely they are guarded. My favorite memories: going to the creek, making and booby trapping forts, climbing trees, and catching critters. I had three older brothers so my childhood was very rough and tumble. we still can tell stories that end with my mom saying i never knew about that.

  335. Not Me At All says:

    But I’ll bet they will be able to spell preyed LOL!

  336. Kimi says:

    I remember at recess (which my kids don’t have a playground at their elementary school because their recess is like 15 minutes long), there was a merry-go-round. the boys would push it so fast and then hang on and let their legs fly up in the air behind them. It should have been featured in the Matrix or something. Surprisingly, I don’t recall anyone getting hurt using this sweet ninja method.

  337. Lucinda says:

    I was heavily protected as a child and not allowed out on my own, ever, except when we lived on a secure compound in the middle east. I was naive and not streetwise at all as a result. Things only changed when I went to boarding school at 15, and my parents HAD to let go. My daughter is 3 and already my parents have commented that I take more risks than they did…like, she can ride her bike on the pavement while I walk along next to her…

  338. Uncle Jerry says:

    I never knew that you were such a daredevil! I always thought you were a proper young girl when you were growing up… Boy, was I wrong!

  339. Alicia says:

    I don’t know we used to do stupid things as girls…but I do find my two boys now 7 and 9 seem to be lacking in judgement of the very basic kind sometimes..overheard “Hey, let’s go up to the roof ( seven story building) and play spy…I’ll hold the rope (says the younger smaller one) while you climb down and look through the windows…both were upset when I stopped this…but jumping on a trampoline, iceskating on a lake (no helmets) sledding (No helmets) jumping waves at Jones Beach…(I do watch them but don’t feel the need to go in with them – that’s what lifeguards are for)climbing trees, jumping off swings, dangerous play ground equiptment (it’s still out there if you travel around the US) my kids do all these things with some minor bumps and bruises….the only times they required stitches, staples and observation at the ER for head trauma was for things that happened when they were fooling arounf inside….I should just keep them outside…lol

  340. Alicia says:

    so true…what happened to “It takes a village…

  341. My younger brother and I were allowed to be out playing around the neighbourhood with our friends until the street lights came on, that was our “curfew”. They had absolutely no idea where we were – they just knew we were closeby.

    My kids? Not a chance! I can’t even imagine the day when they’ll be allowed to go to the park by themselves (what if they fell off something when I wasn’t there? What if a creepy old man was there watching them, waiting for the perfect opportunity to take them?!)

    We never had helmets, we’d also sneak out of seatbelts (especially on long road trips), we’d ride our bikes all over hell’s half acre, there were all kinds of things I used to do that my kids will never do (thank goodness!)

    I don’t know how hubby and I will ever get to the point of learning to slowly (and I mean S-L-O-W-L-Y) letting go as our kids get older… eeeeek!!

  342. mamaspeak says:

    I just posted on “Off My Chests” as Mir wrote this post this week as well.

    We live in an affluent “burb” in Silicon Valley. The majority of homes have at least 1 SAHP. Our kids do play outside, often. Several families have put in patios/porches on the front of their houses so we can sit and (drink wine,) watch the kids while they all play. So no, they don’t have the freedom we did, as far as exploring, but they do have enough freedom to play, ride bikes, skateboards, etc… Yeah, we do make them put on their helmet on wheeled vehicles & there’s no attaching your skateboard to a car, but heck, last week my 8yo took a turn too sharp off a drive way on her scooter. She went flying & DENTED HER HELMET! While I watched. It would have been a concussion at best if not for that helmet. Both my kids have been to the ER more than once for play injuries. (Concussion & stitches, and I was standing right there! Honestly, the 5yo should’ve had stitches 2 more times, but we didn’t want to hit the ER on a Friday night, she seemed fine & in the end waited to long. Did you know, they won’t put in stitches after 12 hrs? Now you do, there’s my PSA for the week. Upside, less of a scar from a butterfly bandage.)
    Year before last, we had FOUR attempted child abductions in our hood. FOUR! Only one made the news bc it was a women who made the attempt. (And those were circulated via email, so who knows there may have been more.) Remember, I said, we live in a pretty affluent ‘hood? We all know each other, and it’s rare for a parent not be right there (even if you don’t see them at first glance). So, while we live less than 2 blocks from school, I doubt my girls will be allowed to walk alone. The most they’ll get on that front; 1 parent, large group. There probably won’t be any doorbell ditch or crank calls in their future, but, they do have a butt-load of friends to play out front with. Most of us also have large swing-sets & trampolines in our yards, so when we need to get in the house to make dinner or something, the kids can all go out back to jump.
    Also, we have a family house at the beach. It’s on a cul-de-sac & our next door neighbors have girls the same age. I live over there w/the girls for summer (daddy comes on weekends.) Bc it’s a cul-de-sac & we have a large front window, the girls are allowed to play on our street w/out a parent out front. It’s hilly there so they all jump fences and play in everyone’s back yard. This is much like the days of calling them in for dinner. I can see or hear them, but they don’t always know that.
    On the “remembering” I was RUN-OVER by a neighbor (large pick up truck) when I was 3yo. Lady backed up over & onto me. My mom was “watching from the kitchen window, bc my brother was napping.” Um, yeah. CPS would be visiting if that happened now. So they’re never totally safe. I don’t think I’m a helicopter parent; I give them a reasonable amount of freedom. But I also think to myself, how awful would I feel if something happened & I allowed it or was too lazy. Could I live w/that? There’s a fine line.

  343. Alicia says:

    oh, Amber you can still get candy cigarettes at Economy Candy in lower Manhattan. It has all those great candies you remeber and then some…mmmmm

  344. LeahM says:

    This reminds me of articles I’ve read recently on how risk-taking is healthy for kids and that we really are being way too overprotective. Our kids won’t learn self-confidence and how to actually take risks “safely” if we never give them the opportunity. That said, hello… Of course, I am going to make my kids get in the car seat, wear a helmet while riding a bike, and make the vain attempt to keep poison and electricity out of reach. But, I admit also to allowing my 20-mo-old sit at a big chair at the table even after he falls off, not freaking out when he grabs a steak knife or scissors from the kitchen (although I do calmly reclaim them), and letting my 4-yr-old “ride” the side of a shopping cart or stand and swing on a metal gate at her school — even as the teacher lectures her about how unsafe it is.

  345. Hikrmom says:

    I did all of these things except snow-it snowed 3 inches once when I was 8 and the entire town shut down. I’m sad our kids can’t have the same freedom to take these chances. I chaperon boy scout summer camp and I LOVE watching them taste this type of fun. They play in the creek and catch water snakes, they have stick fights and don’t shower until Thursday. They ALL shower on Thursday. It’s a long ride home.

  346. What you wrote? My childhood was all that. My husband’s mom’s rule was to come home “when the streets lights come on” and how many of us let our kids do that today? A friend who spent her childhood in the Philippines said they used to play Marco Polo in the trees! Thanks for a great post!

  347. I dwelt on the question of whether childhood was a lot more hardcore for past generations on my blog recently:


    We might refuse to let our kids out of the front yard these days. But we let them browse the internet all day, and as soon as the kids finish high school, we let them go $100,000 into debt for undergrad degrees that won’t be worth squat in this abysmal job market. Where’s the protection there??

    P.S. I’m a new subscriber and have been enjoying!

  348. mamaspeak says:

    my husband has multiple stories about building their own fireworks, etc… Honestly, I not sure how any of our homes weren’t all burned down.

  349. Michelle says:

    My husband and I often talk about how we would both leave our houses shortly after breakfast only to make it home for dinner, if that, with our parents only having a vague notion of where we were. But I think there is a bit of revisionist history going on as well, at least for me. I was flashed once and also followed by some light blue Volkswagen with a picture of a sunset on it. My parents had to call the police. Creepy scary people in the 1970s, and creepy people now. It’s easier to be frightened now.

  350. April says:

    I’m with you Elisa. My kids love making jumps out of snow on the hill! 🙂 We follow the law, but after that let them be kids. They have the rest of their lives to be adults.

  351. Molly says:

    I used to play lawn darts with my sister…you know the big metal ones? the idea for our game was to get as close to the other one’s foot as you could without actually hitting them…I’m sort of surprised we survived.

  352. I love this comment Jimmy! LOVE. Sadly, my husband agrees with her and sadly some of this things are truly now to dangerous. but I still 100% love and agree with your statement. Brilliant.

  353. Ruby says:

    aww.. you should let them sled. so much fun!

  354. oh so many memories of growing up! Difference is I grew up in small town where everyone knows you. Now I live in a very large city and know that my child will not have the same luxury but I will try to do those things with him if I can! I also live in a townhouse with no backyard..so unfortunately my 2 year old does not stay outside with me! I get to play in the sandbox and kiddy pool with him! People always comment on his climbing abilities whether at the park or at home..sometimes you just gotta let them be kids and learn! I definately have more grey hair cause of it but this kid can scamper up a ladder at a park quicker than some kids that are older than him! I think we need to encourage kids to be kids but within reason. I worry about predators all the time too!
    P.S- knocked out front teeth on a stand up wheel of death, cracked chin open on trampoline and cracked my very first helmet clean through “testing” it out (ran into a parked truck!) haha! I healed!

  355. Ashley P says:

    We did the same. Followed the train tracks. But then we left the tracks and walked through the woods (about two miles from where anyone could hear our screams) and ice skated on a somewhat frozen beaver pond in our sneakers. Not sure if those childhood antics were safer or more dangerous than the stuff we did as high schoolers/college kids once alcohol was on the picture. Ugh… I think I’ll just tell my kids to remain toddlers forever.

  356. Annie says:

    If it doesn’t kill them it makes them stoooonger. My child will be bionic one day. He rolled down a hill today at the park, but since there was no blood, he was fine.

  357. Ha ha ha ha ha ha!
    I love your “disclaimer”!


  358. valleygirl says:

    I have to agree. Though we lived on a closed street you can see the main street. My kids know what to do if a car is coming…they know not to chase a ball into the road…and that sort of thing. But God forbid I let them outside for 5 mins alone and some sexual predator scoops them up. Oh I cannot bear the thought. Does it make me overprotective? Maybe but that’s ok. No kid is going to resent that they couldn’t play outside all day long unsupervised when we have plenty of fun things that we DO do! If they play out on our street, I am sitting outside. Maybe not watching their every move, but I am there. It is not a chance I’d ever want to take doing it any other way.

  359. valleygirl says:

    Those of you that just let your kids wander the neighborhood and walk to local parks and such, I URGE YOU to look up the map for sexual predators in your area. There is a national database and once convicted I believe it remains on their record for 5-10 yrs. We have plenty that live in our town and a few way too near me for comfort. It is worth knowing.

  360. Angie Rumsey says:

    My favorite is the swing set… I still like to swing really high! But I don’t jump off anymore!

  361. Marija says:

    Ah, helmets… Do we know that head-busting stats that are used to propel helmets into laws are made up of 20-something males daring city traffic? Yet, we all think it is better, for little kid protection. I still don’t care for my kids wearing helmets, as falling at slower speeds now will teach them to be coordinated and/or careful when they grow up to greater speeds. But… The village is not helping me, it is conspiring. When my son was 5 years old, we let him play in front yard (living in quiet street with like, one car in 2 hours) while we were cleaning up shed. Keeping an eye on him, but not being in plain sight. A women walking down the street looked at my son for some time. She did not see us, but we could see her from the shed. Slightly puzzled by her behavior, my husband went out and stood next to my son. The woman discusted, looked at my hubby and said: you are letting your child out in front yard?

    Paranoia is everywhere. And it is paranoia because and not simple fear because nobody admits it is wrong.

    I grew up in quarter million city in Europe, big transit hub, with being abducted and taken across the border being actual danger. Yet my parents (including my over-protective mother) drilled “not talking to stranger” into my head from 2 years old and let me play hide and seek at during elementary school summer vacation AFTER DINNER (it is mor fun in the dark). On flip side, any adult seeing anything remotely suspicious would most likely beaten up pervert right then and there, with no explanation ever asked or allowed.
    And yes, I’ve jumped from swings. Drove bikes into rivers. Jumped from top of the staircase (12 steps being my record). Fell from cherry tree. Poke myself on rusted wire, roaming construction site (god, those tetanus shoots are painful). Worst thing that happened to my body was sprained ankle. My 5 year old daughter slipped in the house last week and knocked 2 front teeth. My 8 year old son slipped from playground ladder just yesterday and broke his arm. Is not something wrong with this picture? Is protecting them 24/7 really making them safer?
    I’m all for allowing kids to roam the neighborhood, but these days , they will be totally lonely: every kid out there is on soccer/hockey/music/math/French/ballet… lessons. We, collectively, as society decided the kids are like life projects, and WE are supposed to MAKE them adults. I’m afraid it doesn’t work like that.
    And yes, my daughter has ballet and gym (gym???) classes. And my son has math and soccer classes (lessons for soccer???). Hello, my name is Maria and I’m paranoid about my kids’ safety. Lets start 12 step program.

  362. mar.murray1@gmail.com says:

    Meanwhile, I tried to convince my kids to jump off the swing b/c I remember it being so much fun!! My friend and I would jump off and try to catch a branch to just hang there!! *sigh* those were the days!

  363. As the Mommy of a special-needs child, I’m quite confident that there are more things than I want to think about that my child won’t be getting away with, that I did….and for no SIMPLE version of the reasoning that I care more about my child’s survival than my parents appeared to. That is, there are things I could attempt to consider imagining letting a typical child of mine just maybe possibly try doing, that when it comes to the child I DO have….well, it’s a moot point.

    Still, there are things I did as a kid that my kids, when they were still hypothetical, were never going to do anyway.

    For example, I quite vividly remember that on family trips which required anywhere from 4-10 hours of driving, my sister and I would be sitting (or occasionally lying down hidden under a blanket, if cops seemed to be around) in the trunk of my parents’ station wagon, with the space expanded by the back seats being loosely folded down, the luggage sliding freely around, and nothing remotely tethering anyone or anything safely in place.

    I remember being sent alone into town on errands, by as young as six years old, even AFTER the time I was almost kidnapped.

    I remember being kept home watching movies on the couch instead of brought to the doctor or the hospital, even when I had, say, a 106 fever, or was overdosing on a medicine that I had been over-prescribed for my body weight.

    I remember that by 2nd grade I was trick-or-treating from 5-10pm or so, with no companions other than a small group of friends who were the same age as me.

    I remember…

  364. jelyho39@hotmail.com says:

    Roamed the cul de sac neighborhood, played kickball in the street.
    What today kids will never do??? Sit on the floor close to the TV so I could turn the dial for Dad.

  365. When I was a kid I would get home from school and the door would be locked. I would open the garage door, climb in to the attic, crawl through the insulation and possum poop to a tiny hole in the top of a hall closet, let my self down through the hole, and out in to the house. I did this several times. Some times I just have to wonder where the heck my parents were when I was growing up.

  366. pattiok@hotmail.com says:

    Thanks Angelique!!

    You took the words right out of my mouth.

    Yes, we watch them when they are little. We tell them right from wrong. We give them all the warnings about ‘stranger danger’, and the ‘yucky stuff’ not to drink, and that jumping from swings can get you hurt. But, we (and they) will never know if they have judgement if they don’t have a chance to exercise it and use what they have learned.

    How will they know that they will heal if they don’t get hurt? (no, I don’t want my children to get hurt. no, i’m not signing up for ER visits) but life isn’t perfect and pain free. getting over a scraped knee, or finding their way back from getting lost teaches them lots as well.

    this helicopter parenting that is becoming so popular does our kids no favors.

    -mother of 4

  367. pattiok@hotmail.com says:

    We live in a City, so I can’t give my kids the freedom to explore, at home. BUT, we go camping. And at the campground, off they go!

    Its a actually a great system. I give them a little freedom and some rules (you can go this far, and you must check in, and you must have a sibling w/ you). If they follow these rules, they get more freedom. By the end of the week, they are riding their bikes and exploring a pretty good distance that they would never get in our urban environment.

  368. Tracy says:

    Ha! This is just awesome. My parents were big on seat belts way before they were mandatory, so we always had to wear them. My mom insisted the car would not work if we weren’t and if we tried to sneak it off she would slow down and start messing with the clutch to make the car lurch while telling us “someone must not be wearing their seat belt!”
    I also remember the school playground being gravel. Sharp gravel. That way you were sure to skin your knees when you didn’t land on your feet while jumping off the swing.
    And we were very stupid teenagers. Just replace bike with minivan and radio flyer wagon with sled. In a park. Not a parking lot. On the public park’s road! In the dark.
    My cousin and I decided to go sledding like we used to as kids. Down a very steep hill that had a stream not to far from the end of it of course. After sledding down it and not managing to end up in the water we decided we were bored with that and what would be really exciting would be to tie the toboggan to the minivan while we took turns in the sled/driving. (insert sarcasm) We were totally safe though because we drove slow. Ya, total geniuses. I think it was by pure stupid luck we never seriously hurt ourselves.

  369. Sara says:

    That was one of the reasons I chose the school my oldest goes to. The playground has 10 swings, a glider/zip line thingy, a barrel that rolls when you run on it, and a whole lot of other cool things. The best part is seeing the kids running around barefoot and finding new ways to play with the equipment (including climbing on top of the whole playset) while teachers and volunteer parents supervised. The kids are encouraged to explore and have fun. Even the highschoolers are out there playing on the playground or tackle football in the mud (they still get recess!).

  370. Lisa says:

    My friends daughter was eating dinner, got off her seat, and fell into her cousins chair and is now sporting a scar at 4 on her forehead because she wasn’t wearing a helmet.
    Another time they were telling me I shouldn’t let my 18 month old do something the 4yo was doing, because it was too dangerous. A minute later the 4yo walks up the stairs, opens the door, the door bounces off the wall, and comes back and smacks her in the head. I smiled. You can’t stop them from getting hurt. Life is hazardous. Helicopter parenting is hazardous too. (Seat belts are good)

  371. Amy Rose says:

    This reminds me of a time years ago when I was riding behind a pickup which had a mattress and a man riding in the back. (About 40 mph speed limit). It turned a corner and he fell out. He had scrapes and some blood but was OK. I stopped to see if I could help but the driver said “It’s OK. I’m a nurse!” I guess they didn’t teach safe moving techniques in her nursing school…

  372. Amy Rose says:

    OH, that reminds me! The dog used to lie on the back ledge. Once he fell off and knocked out my brother’s tooth.

  373. Kara Boo says:

    I think we as parents now worry more about it being educationally stimulating rather than being good for the soul. Kids are no longer allowed to be kids (teaching a six month old to read, anyone?) and are forced into categories at such a frighteningly early age that I ache for what they are missing out on. Of course, my youngest still tries to do gravity defying acts of hazard, probably just to see if this will be “the one” to make mommy have a heart attack. Wonderful blog though, I thoroughly enjoyed it!

  374. MaMi, I think you brought up the most valuable point. I was in line at the store the other day and there was a mother with her 2 sons in front of me. The boys were making some funny jokes about the pictures of celebrities on the front of magazines. I chirpped in with a real zinger about Oprah and the boys got all scared and gave me that blank stare that you refered to. They proceded to hide in front of their mother’s cart. These kids were at least 12 years old. They were almost in highscool. Is this the youth of America? The horriblely shy generation.

  375. First, I have to say I love the drawings. They are just to cute. Second, I would like to mention “Girl abd Boy Scouts.” When I was a kid, any extra curricular activity required us kids to sell stuff door to door. We did it for all the sports we played. like selling raffle tickets and candy bars. But kids are not allowed to do that any more. Girl Scouts have to set up tables at the grocery store to sell their cookies. This might be a good thing because I hated selling lousey tasting candy bars door-to-door. But I think we have sheltered our children to much from society and kids are loosing their social skills. I’m worried about them because when they get to highschool and have to deal with all the expected social issues like bullies and peer pressure, will they be prepared? Will they be able to go to a teacher when they are having problems or will they be to shy?

  376. Common Sense Parenting says:

    You do realize that something like 90% of sexual predators that go after children KNOW the children or parents personally and over 50% are family/close friends, RIGHT?!

    Your kids are more in danger from your cousin than your neighbor.

    Same thing with abductions…

    This is the problem with helicopter parenting. It is based on fear attributed to increased news coverage of BIG cases, and disregarding all actual statistics.

  377. Alyssa says:

    We lived way out in the country in the woods, I would pack snacks in a basket and go wander in the woods alone all day long. I can’t even imagine letting my kids do that! What was wrong with my parents?!

  378. MLk says:

    I did all those things and I hope my kids will too. They are great memories and bruises heal. Thats how we learn from our mistakes. i hated having to learn from my parents mistakes, I needed to figure it out on my own and I will let my kids do the same, except maybe wanter around town alonel I was in a very small town like pleasentville small.

  379. Terri Lupton says:

    Absolutely true every one of your examples! We would eat breakfast (Cap’n Crunch 1 bowl) and then be gone ALL DAY. No cell phone. No Ipod. No money. And when we lived in Hawaii, no shoes. We would have to be home before the street lights came on so gradually we all filtered back to our home bases safe and sound to eat dinner. Exploring abandoned bomb shelters and abandoned Navy housing, sneaking onto the base through the NCO Club kitchen, entering restricted areas trying to not be seen. Typical kid stuff. It was great. My 5 boys, born in the 80’s, did not have that same type of freedom. Too many pervs. Too much danger from other people who think a child is something to be targeted. They still had fun playgrounds though since the Playground Police had just barely begun to have their wicked way. I’m wondering if the baby boomers are the last generation to have experienced nearly unfettered childhood freedom.

  380. Minnie says:

    I think the biggest change is just we hear about everything on the news! We know about every kid that goes missing for more than 5 minutes. We hear about every child that gets seriously injured doing x, y or z.
    Schools don’t want serious injuries on the playground, it’s partially about the kids but its also about the international (internet), social media attention that immediately follows it.
    They don’t want that much attention.
    We have stats now on every kid that breaks a bone doing anything, every kid that gets a concussion doing anything, etc, etc etc As long as that’s the case we’re going to continue to wrap ourselves in bubble wrap to try to protect ourselves from all this “bad stuff”, not to mention all the negative press that goes with it.
    Adults are just as bad, we may not have playgrounds anymore but we have lots of other things like hepa filters, hand sanitizers, natural cleaning products, sterile (perfectly clean, 100% filtered air) environments. Why? Because we hear about every person with a severe allergy, every person that’s ever had a reaction to a standard, store bought cleaning product, every person that carries an epi pen for some life threatening allergy. Again, until we stop wrapping ourselves in bubble wrap and listening to everything we see and hear on the news, this will continue and probably get worse.!

  381. Terri Lupton says:

    Its all about safety. I did the same thing as a child, going door-to-door. There would always be one “creepy guy” that we avoided but that was the extent of it. Its far different today; people act on their impulses and nobody wants our children to suffer for it. Adults rarely go door-to-door anymore either. Savvy adults won’t open the door to a stranger. There has to be other ways of teaching our children appropriate social skills.

  382. Kelli says:

    My son will not do half the things I did as a kid. I think my mom was nuts looking back. I am surprised I made it. Between walking the train tracks at 10 as a short cut to town, to roaming for hours in orchards on the side of a cliff, even walking alone into town. It was a different world then. There where sickos but they didnt have the power of the internet and a sicko forum to get ideas and gather strength. Geez, even as a baby we had a camper (remember those on the back of the pick up) where my dad built a playpen just on the inside of truck so i could stand and look into the cab of the truck from the camper… younger then 1. Never would I of considered that with my kid. Ever. Period.

  383. Lottie says:

    My DAD taught us how to put pennies on the tracks!

  384. Rachel says:

    Oh man, I did most of these things. We used to go sledding down steep hills that ended in roads, cross creeks on logs, walk around the neighborhood all day, I still remember the fear I felt when my brother and I got lost, I thought we’d never see our parents again (we did make it home and never told!) We looooved the ‘way back’ in the station wagon, and making faces at the drivers behind us!

    Oh my gosh, prank calling! My friend and I practically had our own prank calling business. We had a little book of all the numbers to prank, and a page with made up funny joke names and things to say when people answered.

    I forgot about Mr Yuk! Is that what they were for?!

    I think a lot of people on here took this post way too seriously. Your kids are similar ages to mine, and they’re little, so of course we’re very protective of them, we have to be when they’re this age. When they’re older I think we’ll be less protective and reasonable. I think you seem like a reasonable person and I doubt you’re a helicopter parent!!

  385. tracy says:

    I think our parenting styles are solely based on our fears and experiences as children.

  386. Amy g says:

    I want my son to have that freedom to explore. They are the best memories of childhood.

  387. lala says:

    often my first reaction to my kid’s adventurous play is “oh, wait! you may hurt yourself!” but i bite my tongue and say to myself “she wont die and i dont think this would necessitate a trip to the ER.” and i let her be a kid 😉

  388. Amy g says:

    Ah…. How can we stop the insanity alone? That IS the question. Our neighbors just all pull out lawn chairs in the cul-de and enjoy camaraderie (a d beer) while the kiddies roam in eye/earshot. Everyone is happy.

  389. Nikki says:

    OMG Tam you took my heart with this one I can remember all of those things in a completely different part of the planet. What’s funny is that helmets are normal to my kids I don’t have to make them where it, they are the clumsy generation LOL also I love the outside reference as well because I remember being gone and no one looked for us and we just came home when it started getting dark I can’t leave my kids for 1/2 a sec without a scream! WE MADE IT!! They wouldn’t survive

  390. Noturavgmom says:

    I always have this conversation with other parents. It’s so true how back in the day parents weren’t so over protective like us parents are these days. Great post!

  391. Katie says:

    I agree! I am 20, and my husband (who is older and of a different generation) and I have promised each other we will not stifle our children. Yes they will wear helmets and drinking bleach is a no, but we let our 8 year old play outside by herself (where we can see her (: ) and when we go to the lake we let her just go and play and don’t make her sit by the edge where it’s safe. We let her make mistakes and get hurt (promise no stupid stuff) and learn on her own. I will not turn my kids into sissies and ruin their childhood!

  392. Katie says:

    I agree! Bikes yes, there will be helmets. My 8 year old plays outside by herself, gets dirty, gets hurt, and over all lives as we grew up. I see so many kids being deprived of their childhood, and it depresses me.

  393. Hannah says:

    Maybe the difference is more about living in the city vs the country. Sure, some of it is about how new safety laws have come into effect – playgrounds are a good example. But, I think the wandering around aimlessly is maybe still more prevalent in the country? I dunno. I live in a city (edmonton) and grew up in cities (LA and then Seattle). I was never allowed further then the end of our sidewalk when playing outside.

  394. Lynn says:

    This should be a book!

  395. Erica Reed says:

    This is one of my most favorite posts EVER!! Gosh I miss all those things… Think about it daily with my kid too. I grew up in West Michigan, aimlessly wandering in the woods, etc. Now in Southern Cal as well, I feel like I can’t walk to the mail box with my 5 year old 200 yards away. She’d of course get picked up in some freaky drive-by kidnapping incident if I would get just far enough away that I couldn’t make it there in 3 seconds running at a full sprint.

  396. anna says:

    I think, for the most part, that this is why Dads were invented.

  397. I think I’ll let the Crazies do these things. They build character and make you an interesting person (just don’t tell them I’m hiding in the bushes keeping a watchful eye)!

  398. Sara Dalton says:

    I love this post! I talk about Mr. Yuk all the time and no one seems to know what I’m talking about! Also, love Free Range Kids!!!

  399. Vivi says:

    My daugther does (almost) everything you said, I don’t live in the U.S I live in a country that is a “3rd world” country but our kids are a lot happier and healthier than American children because they are FREE and a free child is a smart child.

  400. I hope to God my daughter never gets into cars of random strangers because they “seem safe”. Jesus.

  401. Y, I’ve been thinking about some of those differences lately. I have contrasted feelings, I want to push them out the door but a sex offender moved in two doors down, so then I want to lock them up tight!

    On a bright note, you CAN find the gum cigarettes still. We have them in a specialty candy shop in town 🙂

  402. My fiance and i (22 and 24) are just young enough that when my daughter is older, my fiance will be TEACHING her sledding. But with a helmet. =] My fiances just like that. When I take my little girl to the park, i have to drag them BOTH back to the car….

  403. Leanna says:

    Thank you so much for all the laughs you give me. If I am having a bad (down) day I read you and get a good belly laugh. When I was in elementary my best friend and I were at the park and she ran DOWN the slide. One of those metal (hot) slides. Oh and of course she broke her leg. My kids NEVER go to the park alone. Not even my 12 year old.

  404. MARANDEE says:

    okay so i couldn’t read em all… but wanted to share… at 5 yrs old at a public park with my 6 & 5 years older sisters I ended up in the hospital because of those metal swings and my adventurous nature… being young I had no clue my sister wouldn’t catch me on the way up, she was so happy flying! I also got to ride over the Verrazano Bridge in the front seat with my mom, whereby I opened the door while she was driving midway at 45 / 50 mph!!! One of nine kids and we were ALWAYS outside playing – plenty of kids in the neighborhood too. Ramps with skates and stickball by the corner, whose brother put a bike together the fastest, or coolest!! and then being pulled along my sister’s bike while my brother and I held on riding our skateboards – pushing off and racing… we were fearless – stupid sometimes but so much fun!!! Summer hydrant sprinklers (thx to firefighter dad with the wrench), but that whistle to come home for dinner was heard throughout the hood and after dark we were chained to the “stoop”, putting on plays outside or playing stoop ball. So glad I had those times. Trying to teach my daughter some games like we played keeps it all alive! Now we have to settle on volleyball in the yard when we all get together – but that’s cause we’re old now and sound like our parents!! The kids, when together, love to run around – restricted – but still running!

  405. Duane Morgan says:

    Reminds me of my early childhood when the only frisbees we knew were flat cow chips baked hard as adobe in the Panhandle sun. Beaned my cousin Reggie on the noggin one time and drew blood. Ah, the good old days

  406. Maja says:

    Have a few more kids. You definitely get more lax the more you have. My childhood sounds pretty much exactly like yours, and my parenting was on par with yours. With two kids. Now that I have five, the seat belt usage is a little less *precise*. They still need to wear helmets on bikes and sledding and stuff, and have to ask about everything they do, but I am on the whole MARATHONS more relaxed. (I use “marathon” as a marker because I can’t imagine a longer distance to propel myself…)

  407. katie says:

    my husband says he had his own knife and gun by the time he was eight. when he was six his chores included chopping up the wood with a hatched/axe. our daughter is six….no axe for her.

  408. mom of 1 says:

    Is this a typo or where you 12 when you gave birth?

  409. Mamak says:

    Well since my mom was a child who grew up with much freedom, and had some bad consequences as a result. I can’t exactly relate. She tended towards the overprotective side. I didn’t do most of that stuff. But my cousin and I did spend a summer putting eachother in cardboard boxes and pushing them down a big hill. Pretty funny. Mom did not know about that one.

  410. tll says:

    Its called ‘hookey-bobbin’…according to my husband….who lived in snowy places unlike me who lived in tropical places…I’m still wondering how we managed to meet

  411. Jessica says:

    LOL! zing.

  412. Jessica says:

    Before the internet / smartphone days, people actually looked out their windows sometimes.

  413. Manon Erkamp says:

    admittedly, my daughter gets to do most of those things too. Only she never wears a helmet, purely because she has nowhere to ride a bike/scooter/other transportational thing… to many hills and dirt roads… She climbs trees, plays on see-saws and I actually try and get her to jump of the swings..
    I enjoyed doing it as a kid and whilst I would never let her do it by herself, I wouldn’t let her not do all the things that made our childhoods so much fun.
    (side note: we live in a teeny tiny little village and all these things are done in our garden…)

  414. Jessica Rodda says:

    A couple of years ago I read a fantastic book on parenting ( between parent and child ) and it opened my eyes to my own reasons for parenting in such a protective way. We know that the reason for denying our kids some of these experiences is based on our own fears. But what are their feelings towards it and their development? I know my kids would be laughing with joy at doing all of these activities, and would remember them forever but do you ever stop and think that they are essential for brain development. How else do we develop a sense of sure footedness and to know how far you can jump or what not to jump off. Your try it, hurt yourself and learn. i have been letting my son and daughter do these activites just as i did as a child for years ( i often watch and cringe with the band aids ready) and now they are known as the playground dare devils. I watch my children run, jump, cart wheel, somersault off the edge of the pool all the while keeping an eye on them but at the same time letting them explore their own bodies and test their limits. i watch the other children and notice how clumsy, poorly coordinated and scared they are of attempting anything that is fun along with mum standing nearby constantly saying ( dont do that your will hurt yourself, instilling fear). In terms of balance and coordination if you do not learn these as a child it is very difficult to improve them as an adult.

  415. Angela Hart says:

    My daughter won’t be finding random treehouses. When I was little in Michigan we would walk through the woods behind my grandma’s house. I was so excited every spring to find brand new treehouses. Yah. They were deer blinds made by my uncles every November to use while hunting.

  416. Jenny says:

    Hilarious. Laughing out loud about kids wearing helmuts at the dinner table. I love it!

  417. Kukki says:

    If her husband is “older and of a different generation,” it’s likely that the daughter is his biological kid, and her step-kid.

    Or, yeah, her age might be a typo. But I think the former is more likely.

  418. Adrian - Torn father of 1 says:

    In the past ( pre “quality time” / colour TV days )parents had alot of time on their hands and had heaps of kids as a result.

    These days we’re lucky to get one or two off – so a 1 down 7 to go doesn’t work at all.

    Yes I remember riding on bikes / skateboards without helmets … or errr brakes … making homemade bombs – that’ll probably get me arrested as an enemy of the state these days …

    but in laughing through this – if I was honest about it – I wouldn’t let my little one go on the road without a helmet, up a tree without a harness, or in the water without supervision … on the bomb side well ‘nough said.

    Thanks Crappy – I now resign to the fact that I’m OLD, very old ….

  419. Deborah says:

    As long as they DO wear a helmet… head injuries affect the rest of your life…

  420. Deborah says:

    Valleygirl, you oughtta watch The Kinsey syndrome (I believe I have the title right…possibly McKinsey), and you might be appaulled of the change of society now, as opposed to then, regarding predators (rereleasing them in society), the cover-up of child endangerment, and why in the world they think they should teach sex education to kindergartners (because of those abuses)…. Statistics are meddled with, as we do live in more populated places and pornography is on the uprise! …………..oops! Raindrops, lollipops, and roses

  421. Deborah says:

    We used to have a huge hill with a big trail going crisscross above the hill, and I remember at 19, innertubing from above that trail, so when I hit the trail, my innertube went one direction, and I went the other… I flew in the air, and landed on my head… heard a trainstop in my head, but I don’t believe I blacked out! Thankful to be alive, but I realized mine was the exception, and not the norm. They did put a playground under that trail, on the side of the hill. That was probably a good idea! No more daredevil skydiving, atleast there, was accessible! Remember how the playground equipment used to be a mile high, and no protective sides? It is amazing how we didn’t fall off… But they were high enough we knew we better seat our fanny down! LOL

  422. Deborah says:

    I agree, though people with lots of acres are blessed to be able to let them roam around more….

  423. Deborah says:

    I agree, Pip!

  424. Deborah says:

    Wow, let them learn by doing, and pray for their safety… LOL… I am sure I was overprotective, but since they couldn’t leave our yard, unless they were all together, I took them to the park tons!! 🙂 Good thoughts, Angelique!

  425. Deborah says:

    Good thoughts, Pattiok! I am a mother of four as well, and wish I’d seen this thread when my girls were teenagers…

  426. Deborah says:

    Maybe little bills no helmets, but huge mounthelmets; need helmets! 🙂

  427. Deborah says:

    You sound like me; it’s sad, but better safe than sorry. 🙂

  428. Tina says:

    I remember playing by the creek that ran behind my house a lot, also my grandpa would give us rides in the front bucket of his backhoe and would raise it up high as we told him higher by sticking our hands over the front pointing up. My kids definitely won’t be doing that.

  429. Deborah says:

    Sounds like you had a very involved dad… that is key! I was a single mom so I wanted to be there… sometimes liberating, sometimes stifling… Your mom was able to relax, having a good man involved 🙂

  430. Deborah says:

    Parker, I needed that! Just had a belly laugh… Sorry if that was gross.. funny! I am glad he survived, and didn’t get infected… Thank you for sharing that! LOL

  431. Deborah says:

    Amber and Immilling, Isn’t it the pits! Moms need to decide between what is safe and what is healthy… Even if we aren’t in the open air or woody forest, we can frequent a clean park; I remember running around our trailer 15 times with the kids, cuz we only had about three families in the trailer park who trained their kids aright, so I would tell my kids if someone comes over, come in the house, unless it is your friends… it payed off! My son had a skateboard stolen by this bully, who later wanted to come play… the Guy was evil, a troublemaker. My son came up beside me, as I was saying, I don’t think so! Obedient and full of character as he is, he saw something evil in the lad as well… That boy ended up in tons of trouble!

  432. Trisha W. says:

    I remember being dropped off at the pool and staying there all day…at the age of 10 I think. No thought given to drowning or child predators lurking about waiting to steal me away. Now I’m pretty sure I won’t let my daughter do that until she can swim BETTER than a fish and when she can fit a can of pepper spray in her swimsuit. This should happen by the time she hits 40…maybe 80…or when I’m dead.

  433. Charlene says:

    Crazy, it’s like you are writing about MY childhood and I agree, my kids will not be allowed to do any of those things either. When they are a bit older I will try to give them some freedom, but I know I will fail miserably, I am too scared of something happening to them.

  434. DB says:

    I did so much as a kid growing up in the 1970s- and it made me into the tough, resilient adult with social skills and coping skills who I am today- functioning in the real world! I try very hard not to be too sheletering of my now ten year old son. I want him to learn from his mistakes, and yes he has jumped off some very high swings and is allowed to cross our residential neighborhood on his bike or on foot, alone or with some friends. I want him to expand and not be a sheltered mommys boy hooked up to his computer or his DS all the day long! Over protective helicopter parenting is destroying lots of kids self esteem, the kids never get the chance to learn and grow with all the hand holding going on. Then they cannot cope with disappointments and hurts in the real world, as adults. Just ask any employer with twenty somethings coming into the workplace- they will confirm it!

  435. april.defalco@gmail.com says:

    I remember sitting on my brother’s shoulders as he skateboarded down a hill that lead onto the street. I was absolutely terrified! Even then. 😉 I am sure my kids will do stupid things like I did when I was a kid… and I’m sure they will be writing about it (fondly) on a blog (or the equivalent) in thirty years time. We learned to develop our social skills – leader, follower, risk-taker, imaginative kid, etc – in those backwoods and unsafe parks… and yes, we were always moving; which made us healthier and better at math. We don’t own a TV – but they do get exposed to cartoons and such during the holidays when the adults want to have a conversation, or when Mom has to get the house cleaned…and fast!(thank you internet) They spend hours amusing themselves and interacting with other kids – that being said, they are absolutely not allowed to jump on the top bunk. But I wasn’t allowed to do that when I was a kid either. We now live in a different world than the one we were brought up in – ie. No syringes in parks, Amber Alert etc – but we don’t have to live in a nanny state… our kids will be better for it in the long run. They may even turn into interesting adults.

  436. Haha i love this. My fav parts are the yuck face no drink, and the part about wearing a helmet at the table 😛

    BUT to be quite honest… i will let my kids have the fun i used to have when i was a kid… actually i’m going to encourage it.

    obviously my son will wear a helmet and not play in traffic and drink bleach.
    he will be encouraged to play outside and draw on the side walk with chalk and ride a bike (with a friend or his cousins or my husband and i etc) and he will be encouraged to go on the swings and he will have a jungle jim, and he will swim in the deep end (with me of course 😛 lol)

    i remember going outside and playing with calk while waiting for he ice cream man to come for HOURS at a time with my brother singing “ice scream ice scream, i scream for ice cream” and then making up random versions as we got bored
    and i remember riding my bike with my sister and brother around the block and taking a different street and getting scared of getting lost so we turned around and came back home.
    i also remember things like falling off my first big girl bike and scraping my knee and arms and starting to cry, and i remember flipping over on a bike while my friend was on the handle bars and we both got hurt real bad and i had a swollen lip! i STILL have scars today from it. and i especially remember going down the street to the neighbors house and getting bit by a doberman lab mix on the arm and then walking home with my brother and being scared that my arm wont work anymore or something. LOL

    all of that stuff is what makes you a kid!
    My son will NOTTTTTTTTTTTT be the boring kid who sits at home watching tv or playing a video game because i told him the world isnt safe!?

    he will ride a scooter and roller blades and he will have fun at the play ground. yeah- ill be there with him and try to prevent any injuries, but if he doesnt get hurt sometimes he will never learn! 😀

    anyway great post lol gave me a laugh and some great memories!

  437. LOL! Great post! We were at a flea market a few weeks ago and Indy saw a rotary phone. He asked what it was. We told him it was a phone and he said it couldn’t be because there were no buttons and it was attached with a cord! James Bond and I laughed and then stopped because we realized we were old.
    In Europe there are still plenty of seesaws and other “dangerous” playground equipment. They have this philosophy that parents should take responsibility for the safety of their children, and, if you get hurt, get up and get over it.
    Indy went sledding just this past Sat! He loved it and crashed into many things. He was not wearing a helmet. It was a scouting event and while the plan was for the boys to sled safely (hardy, har, har), have you ever tried to keep a large group of boys from doing something insane while having unbridled fun? Yeah, it’s like trying to pick up Jell-o with your hand. They had a grand time and no one was majorly injured.
    Indy (9) can kid of roam. We live on a very small Army post (right next to 3 major European cities) that is gated in and guarded (with armed guards who will shoot you-don’t mess with them!) and know pretty much everyone, so he and his friends pal around within a certain radius of our housing (it’s not a big radius). He does however have a pay as you go phone and has to call me on a fairly regular basis or he will lose his freedom. He always calls. I call him when it’s time for dinner. Or when the dogs need to go out. Whatever.
    He can’t imagine not wearing a seat belt though. I was backing out the other day and he hadn’t actually buckled up yet and freaked out on me. BTW, in Germany, kids have to been in a booster until they are 12 or 4’11” whichever comes first. I think he’ll be totally confused when he finally gets to sit on the seat.

  438. KTD says:

    +1 here, too.

  439. KTD says:

    This is so true. My kids sometimes sit in front of the mind-numbing device just because I have things I need to do in the house so I can’t supervise their outdoor activities.

  440. KTD says:

    You’re right. I think nowadays a mom would be arrested for child neglect for letting her small children roam the neighborhood unsupervised.

  441. KTD says:

    Ditto. I confess I have actually done this. The whole time fearing that someone would call the police in the 2 minutes that it actually took to mail a letter or grab a picture order from Walgreens.

  442. Sonia says:

    thanks for the post. i laughed and was a little sad, but really isn’t that what parenting is? my parents told us about all the crazy stuff they used to do when their parents weren’t looking, and we will share the same with our kids. i let them out as much as possible. i want them to have that same “creepy sense” developed that i did – it told me to avoid certain areas, certain people and definitely to trust in myself. since i can’t and won’t always be there with them, i want to nurture this in them as much as i can. but yeah, they’ll always wear helmets. (i watched a girl get hit by a car while on her bike down my street when i was a kid. didn’t know her, or ever find out how she did after that, but she wasn’t moving. if i could i would add pads and neck braces.)

  443. Karli says:

    My GRAMPA taught me how to steal cable when I was 11. I’m not sure I’ll pass that skill on to my kids, but there are a lot of experiences they NEED to have, or they will go wild or be too naive when I release them from captivity at 18.

  444. Momof2 says:

    I grew up free range as well. Loved it!
    My opinion? Your children are in trouble if you’re THAT protective. I’m sure you appreciate your common sense street smarts. Remember those kids growing up who didn’t have any and were “sheltered” by their parents? Um, yeah.
    I totally believe in free-range kids (the world alone inhibits them enough), and my guys are much more mature and self-confident for it. Give it a try. You might surprise yourself.
    Sorry – just my opinion.

  445. Katie Hansen says:

    My oldest is just about to turn 8, she has been allowed to play in the backyard by herself since she was six and In the front yard alone since she was 7. She has made mistakes like climbing down a wash to reach a ball that rolled down there. (She first went to an adult for help and he told her just to climb down there.) I was furious because we live in an area of the country where when it rains it pours and everything floods but she also learned a valuable lesson and the next time her ball went down there she came and got me and her dad to help her. I think it is important to let your children learn from their mistakes but I also think you have to set limits as a parent. For example this year I allow her to walk a block to the bus stop by herself, but I won’t allow her to walk 3 blocks to a friends house by her self, I’m just not comfortable with it. If she wants to go to her friend’s I will walk her and when she is ready to come home she calls and I will walk over and pick her back up. But in contast my neighbor won’t let her 10 year old play in the backyard by himself and he’s not allowed to play in our house unless his mom is here because I let my daughter play in our front yard and on the sidewalk of our cul de sac by herself. His mother believes that because I do not hover over my child constantly, I am not a good parent and I am not able to watch her son properly in our home. I think that it is very sad. I think when people parent like that you are teaching your children “I don’t trust you” What are these parents going to do when their children start driving. You are basically giving a child who has never had to make judments for themselves the keys to a 2,000 lb killing machine and trusting them to make good judgment calls with the lives of others at their hands.

  446. RedinNC says:

    I try, but I’ve not been good about giving my son (5) an appropriate amount of wariness of strangers. He is very sensitive and tends to take everything to extremes (like his dad :)) so I worry that he’ll proceed to think everyone is out to get him. So I don’t like him to be places without me/dad or an adult I know specifically watching him. Any ideas about how to open that conversation with a young child?

  447. I did all that as a kid. I’m still here. My kids do all that stuff too. It’s a part of being a kid… Can they get hurt? sure. But they can get hurt doing just about anything, you can’t childproof life.

  448. Thank you for illustrating my childhood! You totally got me with the no seat belts. We use to make beds in the back of the station wagon! I can’t even imagine. I still make excuses to keep my 13 year old in the back seat. She did draw the line at staying in her booster seat. 🙂

    And the wandering. That was so wonderful. My children have never been in the woods at the end of my street. And there is a perfectly lovely creek, with wait for it…turtles. How do I know there are turtles? Because I got to wander as a child.

    Can’t wait to see what our kids reminiscence about.

  449. Sheila says:

    I remember the things I did as a child and am sorry that my children can’t do many of them. I think it has a lot to do with how communities are built today; everything is so far apart. If the 7-11 was not across a busy highway, I would let my kids walk there, but it isn’t.

    Some things I can find a way around, like the sledding. Let them sled down the stairs in the house. It’s fun. We didn’t even have sleds in our family. We would just grab a piece of cardboard and put it inside a trash bag. Fun.

  450. My kids do toboggan, and while I don’t think they are crashing on purpose, common sense hasn’t kicked in and they don’t seem to know how to get out of the way of speeding sled or how to steer a sled out of somebody else’s way.

    The swing set in my yard wasn’t locked down properly and would rock back and forth if you swung really hard (which is probably how it became dislodged in the first place). So fun.

  451. I was just going to click through and comment on how you should check out Free Range Kids when I saw the ‘disclaimer’. Love!!

  452. EmpressMomma says:

    Basically, You are freaking hilarious. And, I did most of those things, too! Lol, the things we lived through…

  453. Amy H says:

    I thought the same thing. I read Free Range Kids pretty much every day, and it’s great. I struggle with how much freedom to give my kids, but I definitely don’t want to bubble wrap them.

  454. ~Michelle says:

    I agree Jimmy, my kids do many of those things…. who doesn’t let their kids go sledding for goodness sakes? The hill in the field next to our house just screams for us to snowboard down it….we race with our boys….no helmets on…and wipe ourselves out at the bottom before we fly into the trees or brook. That’s what life as kids is all about, and our kids love that we do it with them!!! Even when we’re not outside with them they are out there keeping themselves entertained!

    This summer I spent the summer with my sister in Boston and LOVED! that the neighborhood children were out all day long…though I was the only parent out there with them (they seemed to enjoy me being around, skateboarding with them and I had them all help me plant a garden in my sister’s yard.) Other then getting called in for lunch and dinner these kids were out from morning ’til night and I couldn’t believe how well behaved they all were…just playing and having a good time. It was GREAT to see!!!!

  455. ~Michelle says:

    …we did that with snowmobiles!

  456. rich says:

    > she is safe from all the dangers

    Sorry, but one is never safe from all dangers. Learning to deal with that is just a part of life.

    > (my biggest fear is predators)

    Then perhaps you just need to calm your fears. While I’m not going to say that some crazy stranger preying on your kid is entirely impossible, it is very, very unlikely to happen. Do you let your kid ride in a car? Because he/she is far more likely to be seriously injured in a car accident than fall victim to a child predator.

    That’s not to say that child abuse doesn’t happen, but most of the times it’s by people that know the child (parent/caregiver/relative/etc.)

  457. rich says:

    > Now we can see that one lives on our street.

    And how do you know that this person is a “sicko”? Get caught for public urination? You are now a registered sex offender. Two adults having consensual sex in a remote location outside and happen to get caught? Registered sex offender. An 18 year old having consensual sex with his/her 17 year old boy/girlfriend? Registered sex offender.

    Don’t fall for the fear and the hype spread by the sensationalist media and the “tough on crime” politicians who don’t give a damn about how many lives that they ruin.

  458. rich says:

    We didn’t have any kind of jumpseat in the station wagon. There was the front, the back, and the “way back”. And we LOVED the “way back”. The “way back” was just a big empty space, and I remember my parents opening the door and a bunch of us kids would all just pile in. And we’d enjoy sliding around from side to side as the car made turns.
    While I wouldn’t do this at highway speeds, I don’t really see that it’s that dangerous at low speeds. But sadly, I don’t think the police, or other parents, would agree. Not to mention that I never plan on owning the enormous gas guzzling kind of beast of a station wagon that my parents did.

  459. rich says:

    I had never noticed it until having a child (he’s 15 months old now), but I have yet to find a real see saw. All they have now are these really lame things with seats, and shock absorbers.

    Maybe when he’s old enough I can try to go on a personal quest to get a good old-fashioned see-saw installed somewhere.

  460. Don’t forget about raking all your leaves to the curb and setting them on fire. I’ve probably really dated myself here….

  461. Jean says:

    I hope this was just supposed to be funny, because it really is so sad that parents won’t let their kids be kids anymore. No swing set???? No see-saw???? C’mon, really? Yes, I can hear the helicopters now. Free Range Kids unite!!!!

  462. Jean says:

    TrI have read this in several reliable places. Crime against kids is lower now than in the 80s.

  463. Jan says:

    I did not have much supervision as a child, I was out all day on my bike with no helmet and came back when dinner was ready. It was a fun childhood with not many boundaries but I also lived in a very dysfunctional family. I was molested in my house by relatives from about five years old onward. I was also molested by a stranger when walking home from school by myself when I was fourteen. I have no idea what I am going to be like with my 2yr old girl. Obviously because she is young we go everywhere together but I don’t know what I will do when she’s older because I had lots of freedom but some scary stuff happened too.

  464. Dkotucker says:

    OMG…this is absolutely HILARIOUS…ROTFLMAO FUNNY!!! This describes my childhood exactly! For those who can’t relate, your pics show it like it was. Excellent post!

  465. Nae says:

    Mel my we don’t have creeks here, only one river and it’s fast flowing and they can’t swim well enough to mess with it. I don’t want to be the parent running up and down the side screaming because my child has gone missing and drowned. Enough of that here as it is, it takes both kids AND adults.

  466. KalleyC says:

    Oh man, I so remember trying to fly on the swings. Brings back great memories. Lucky I was never hurt. As for my daughter doing it…nope, not over my dead body!

    Can’t even get me started with the see saws. I do miss those things. We don’t have any where we’re at. Just plain safe equipment that’s been secured to the ground.

    Besdies, I remember half the things my parents told me they did as kids (which they didn’t allow me to do), and I wonder how could these strange people be my parents.

  467. OMG (as my teenage kids would say), this is my childhood exactly! My sister and I would leave the house at 10 am (after sesame street, the only morning showed we were allowed to watch), roam from home to home in the neighborhood, have lunch at someone’s house (sometimes ours, hot dogs or peanut butter and jelly, bananas if you were lucky), and play and roam some more until we were called in for dinner, “Brenda, Deborah- DINNER!)And we booked too, #1, b/c we were starving and #2, you dare never be late for dinner. And we nevre complained about what was served. Our choices for dinner were, eat or don’t eat. That’s it!

  468. Dawn says:

    I think kids need a certain amount of freedom independence and adventure to learn their limits and how to self-regulate! Not seatbeltless bleach drinking freedom….but certainly climbing jumping sliding freedom! I loved playing on teeter totters and jumping / flipping off swings when I was little! Only broke my little toe once, and that was from running on a gym floor…. 🙂

  469. Jaime says:

    My kids will have *some* of these freedoms–but everything–EVERYTHING–will be carefully supervised at all times. Not so much worried about the occasional sprained ankle as I am about sick people in this world. It used to be safe for kids to play outside, and the worst that would happen is injuries. Now you have to worry about panel vans, pedophiles, all kinds of crap no one had ever heard of before. I don’t want my kids to feel like they have to stay inside all the time–but I NEVER want to be the parent who wasn’t looking just for one second, and never saw their baby again.

  470. plumbing says:

    Talking about childhood memories!
    I also did these things when I was a kid!

  471. Kim says:

    OP, I was the same way when my kids were little.
    Over protective and proud of it !

  472. Excellent post! I am 57 years old. I was raised in rural PA. We rode bikes around the “block” (actually 5 miles long), rode skateboards down the road on the hill because you went faster, roller-skated down the hill on the road. Skied on the road in the winter, made our own trails at the ski area and packed a lunch- maybe-/ We were out ALL day (after our chores of course) ALL over the neighborhood until the cowbell rang for dinner.
    When older and we started driving, we had a blue VW bug shared between 3 of us. The brakes worked fine… but the pedal got stuck until we tied a piece of rope to it to pull it back up after applying brakes!! I can’t believe that we thought nothing of that!! I couldn’t imagine my children driving around in something like that- EVER

  473. Lily says:

    I’m dying from laughter… this SO reminded me of my childhood. LOVE IT. I’m totally tearing up.

  474. I actually have encouraged my kids to jump off the swing (after showing by example). I let them walk on top of the monkey bars, I let them play demolition sledding, we have Jedi lightsaber fights with sticks. I let my youngest eat cat food once when she was pretending to be a cat. (She did NOT like it.) I don’t let them run in the street or go off alone, but I think a certain amount of calculated risk is good and healthy. (And fun.) Some might think I’m a bad parent, but that doesn’t bother me.

  475. Laura says:

    I’m late to the conversation, and there have been many good comments here, but this one earns an A+ A-men from me.

    Especially for the first line (and first paragraph), which I battle with trying to balance/manage/remember all the time: “It takes a conscious effort…”. Thanks. 🙂

  476. Laura says:

    Oh wow, I’d forgotten I did that too! And maybe even older than that? I think I even remember having/hearing a conversation about how I was probably safer down there (than with a lap-belt, the pinnacle of safety back then), all shoe-horned in…

  477. Laura says:

    I’d forgotten about holding on with my teeth..! lol, thanks for the reminder…

  478. Laura says:

    Chicken was cleaner back then… 🙁

  479. Cristina says:

    I wanted to add to your #1 about the no seatbelts. I was thinking about that recently now that I have three kids under the age of five. I don’t remember ever sitting in a car seat….ever. Now kids are required to be in some kind of booster seat until at least 8 years old…possibly until they are teenagers if they don’t reach the 4’9″ rule by then. =)

  480. Pallavi says:

    Funny, sad, and true…sigh.

  481. countrymom says:

    I worked with college kids for 26 years, and saw some of the negative side effects of helicopter parents. I have a 17 year old son who has been allowed to make choices for himself while being provided with guidance. He has gone outside to play by himself since he has been in school. He has roamed our neighborhood for years and knows all of our neighbors. I am proud of the fact many of our neighbors know they can call him if they need help and know he will be there willingly and help them. Yes, we live in the country and we don’t have alot of neighbors, but we have taken the time to reach out to new ones who move in. Kids should learn to do things for themselves (and this includes thinking) progressively not just get “let go” when they head off to college or get their liscense. I will admit we have made trips (note the plural) to the hospital ER, and will undoubtly there will be more. He works, goes to school, has cattle and is involved in 4H and FFA and knows utimately his choices will impact his life. As parents I feel we need to let children make choices that may or may not be good for them so they learn the ability gradually for when we aren’t around to make choices for them.

  482. Em Singh says:

    Exactly.. Its one thing to be free-range in the country or a small town vs a crowded city where no one knows anyone and the internet gets perverts and all kinds of human dirt the little push they need to go out and hurt someone. And then good luck tracking them down! Every year there is a news story of a girl or boy who where in captivity for YEARS and where just a block or so away from their own parents. In a world that has become so “connected” we have become disconnected with our own neighborhoods. I’ll let my kid be as free range as they wanna be.. in my back yard and around people I know first-hand. You just can’t chance it, well you can but I could not live with myself if something happened.

  483. Laura says:

    To “The father said that the safest time to learn to fall without harm is when you only stand 3 feet off the ground and don’t weigh much.” – amen!

    I just have one boy who’s now 17 mo., but that’s what seems logical to me. I let him bump and bruise himself and only interfere to steer him away from (or outright stop to warn/teach him about) significant dangers. I’d rather he learn to take care of himself as he goes, as opposed to suddenly expecting him to figure out how at some point later.

  484. Sheilagh Flanagan-Di Cicco says:

    I think we grew up together…I think we’re totally friends… I swear, all of your entries and pictures are so funny and dead-on accurate of my experiences! I love your stuff! Thanks for all the smiles and laughs!

  485. Sheilagh Flanagan-Di Cicco says:

    BTW, we didn’t have a robot slide but we had a Rocket Slide. We’d climb to the top and see how much we could get it to sway from side-to-side. I don’t think we were having fun unless we thought there was a legitimate chance of it tipping over!
    I’m not from Wichita, but here’s an photo of a rocket just like I remember! http://wichitaksdailyphoto.blogspot.com/2007/09/rocket-slide-no-more.html

  486. Holly says:

    It’s all about education… our parents didn’t have half of the information we have, that is why we are so protective, and why they were more protective than their parents. No one knew what red dye #40 was, or where all of the sexual predators in their town were living. I don’t think it is over – protective if you teach your kids to be cautious as long as you let them make some mistakes that they can learn from.

  487. Dorothy says:

    wow the memories…I went outside after breakfast and came home hours later after having played in the woods designing a home out of pineneedles and pinecones, played in the cemetary, climbed every tree I could to the very tip top while the tree swayed in the wind (I had to show up any boy who tried to best me), threw rocks in the river, rode someone’s stray bike with the handlebars all cockeyed so it didn’t ride straight, played in parking lots, rode the merry go round until me or someone else was sick or fell off, jumped off swings as high they could go (why I never twisted my ankle I’ll never know), jumped out of trees into piles of leaves (oweeeeeee), sledded down hills into houses (ooops), made snow tunnels and hid there all day. I was all over town by myself. I came home for dinner. No worries.
    Also I remember laying in the back window of the car or sleeping in the back of the station wagon with blankets and pillows while travelling. I laid down in the back seat all the time because I was a sick stomach type of traveller. We got to ride in the bed of the truck too, fun!
    Kids miss out on so much these days. It’s not that the world is so much scarier, it’s that the media plays up everything they can just for a story and ratings. Everything is blown up so we can walk around in fear.
    My 13 year old grandson walks all over town now. It was difficult to let go and I have issues with him doing it at night but he is doing well. Hopefully, the lessons we have taught him will stand him in good stead. Otherwise he would be in front of the video games all the time and that’s not good, mentally, emotionally or physically.
    My mantra has always been, go outside and play!!! We protect our kids too much and then we wonder why they can’t take care of themselves or are too fearful to try new stuff as they grow up. We’re supposed to raise them to be strong and independent people so they can take charge of their life and they need to fall sometimes as little ones to figure out how to get that way.

  488. Brandon says:

    Way to paranoid!!!! I did those things and more and let my kids do them too!!!!

  489. Christina M. says:

    My 6-yr old had to interview her Grandpa about what life was like when he was a boy. He was walking to school alone at 5, out all day with friends, played baseball on a field of ashes and rock, and his favorite thing was going to the dump to find things and be creative with them. He was muddy all the time and his favorite toy was a soldering iron. He used to make his own fireworks too. The upshot? He had developed a mechanical calculator in his teens (BEFORE the electronic type existed), then helped invent those early room-sized computers and eventually started a semiconductor company. Oh, and got rich of course. My kids? My husband worries if they are tying things with “strangulation-sufficient” lengths of string… 🙁

  490. Jaclynn says:

    I was born in 84′, right when the seat belt law went into affect so I didn’t get to experience that. I grew up in Boston, in the 80s/90’s (not so long ago!!) and I had a lot of freedom. I didn’t have the opportunity to climb trees or cross creeks because my town didn’t have any of that, but I went out and about and all around town with friends on bikes or rollerskates (NO HELMET!) from the moment I finished breakfast until the moment the street lights came on and we had to go in for dinner, and then we’d go BACK outside IN THE DARK! and we were allowed to go around the block. We use to pretend our bikes were horses and rode them side saddle while flying down our street which was on a steep incline. I went sledding with friends without any adults around. We always put 4 kids in the backseat, we’d just stretch the seatbelt across 2 laps. I was also allowed to stay in the car while our mother ran in and our of stores. I think a lot of it does have to do with everyone knowing everyone in the neighborhood (which is not the case today) so more often than not someone’s mom was keeping an eye on us from a distance. And I agree with a previous commenter about how there are more media outlets now so the horror stories are a CONSTANT. My parents always knew that yea, something bad could happen, but it wasn’t in their face all day every day.

    • Karen says:

      Yes! I was often left alone in the car (in the late 70’s) while Mom shopped.. either because I was napping, or because I was being a PITA 😉

    • Erin says:

      I was born in ’81, and my parents would leave me, my 2 older brothers, and my younger sister in the car while they ran into the store for a minute. I also played outside all day, and climbed trees as far up as I could go (fell out of a tree once, too). Actually, a lot of times my mom would make my sister and me go outside to play so she could clean the house. She would just say, “Don’t go too far. I’ll call you in for lunch and dinner. Have fun!” When I was 5/6 years old I was riding my bike around the block (also no helmet) with my older brothers, and running around the neighborhood with them and their friends. At my dad’s house, my stepbrother and I would ride our bikes all over (they lived out in the country). Once we rode several miles away from my dad’s house and back without any adults with us (gasp!). I also remember when I was in the first grade my mom, sister, and I lived in the country, and my sister and I rode our bikes all over. Even down roads away from the house where my mom couldn’t see us. Kidnappings and other horrors just were not pushed in everyone’s faces by the media back in the late 80’s and early 90’s. I have fond memories of playing outside with my friends until it got dark, and making up our own games.

  491. Vicky says:

    We used to roam our neighborhood too. My mom would call us in and we’d go right back out then. Of course we didn’t have A/C so being in the house wasn’t really much fun. We rode our bikes and if we didn’t happen to have our bikes, we could share someones. As in, 2 people riding. We had those banana seat bikes. Why would they make those huge seats if they weren’t meant to hold 2 or 3 people?

  492. Sarah says:

    My sister broke her femur when a swing set fell over on her (while swinging too high)… 5 mo in hospital , make me agree with the whole revolution in swinging safety 🙂

  493. Erik says:

    I grew up in Baltimore in the early 90’s. For those of you who don’t know, that was when Baltimore was both the murder capital of the US, as well as the child kidnaping capital. My parents were vigilant, always making sure that we were safe. But my sisters and I were still allowed the freedom to roam about our neighborhood (which was pretty safe) with other kids. It’s important to love and watch your kids, but not to micromanage their formative years and live in constant fear. That’s no way to raise a cild.

  494. Katie says:

    We used to get locked out of the house!! I don’t necessarily blame my mother…she had 10 kids. Can you imagine having 10 rambunctious kids home during summer break?? I would probably do the same thing, lol. We also used to play hide and seek in the dark as well as war, with fake guns.

    • Erin says:

      My mom locked us out of the house as well! She said it was the only way she could get the house clean or cook dinner. I would play cops and robbers with my brothers, and use our hands as guns. My sister, stepsister, and I would also play kick ball outside after dinner with our neighbors until we all got called in for bed. I think we spent more time outside playing than we did inside watching tv.

    • Sarah says:

      I remember my mom locking my little brothers out of the house. (For some reason, not us girls at this time.) I saw them looking in the windows so sadly, saying they were bored, and her not letting them in (early 90s) because they needed to learn how to use their imaginations outside.

  495. That sounds boring and overly sheltered. Kids gotta live a little too. No sledding? No playing in the neighborhood where you live? Assuming it’s safe, why not? My best memories of a child are playing in the ditches behind our house. We picked sour oranges and hid juice boxes up there and thought it was the best snack ever because we picked it. We got a ton of exercise and came home exhausted.

    Yes, we want to keep our children safe, but we want them to LIVE too. What happens from one picture to the next is LIFE. We want to spare them pain and hurt, but sometimes, no matter what we do, sometimes things just happen. Why not let them enjoy life without so many restrictions?

    • Nichole says:

      I agree… it is going to be hard… it is going to challenge me… but I am going to continue to say yes as often as I can.

      We will not break laws, or encourage smoking or violence… but they will get dirty, crash land and pick up turtles. We will make messes and get bruises and learn by doing!

      They will not walk anywhere by themselves at 5… but at some point they will… and I will be semi-terrified… but they will be proud and confident because they can. And I will trust that I have taught well.

      As a mother who lost a child during pregnancy… I started to learn that motherhood is a lot about letting go. We are never really in control of tomorrow… or how healthy or safe our kids will be. We can try. We can teach. We can plan. We can advise. We can worry and of course we will protect… but we have to let go and let them learn and experience for themselves… and that takes more love and strength than anything else (In my humble opinion)

      • Lynda says:

        Losing a child really shows you how harsh reality can be. I lost a child during pregnancy as well, at almost 32 weeks. The reality of it is that children DO get kidnapped, bad things DO happen, and being what some people call “over protective” is what others call making sure those horrible things don’t happen to their children. I don’t want to bury another one of my babies so if that means that my 10 year old can’t wander the streets alone, so be it. She may not have many “freedoms” like we used to have, but that doesn’t stop her from having fun. Danger and fun should never go hand in hand. JMHO.

      • Kirsten says:

        I LOVE what you wrote. Wise words my mother told me, when I lost custody of my son to a horrible ex. My kids play outside, climb, sled & bike ride the neighborhood. I give them freedom, limits, and then trust. They are very confident, capable, independent kids. Guidance is the name of our job, not Smother.

  496. Ashley says:

    I REMEMBER MR. YUCK STICKERS!!! I remember that mom had one on the phone, and I always wondered why: if you broke the phone, did some toxic sludge come oozing out and you weren’t supposed to eat it? A few years ago I asked my mom why she had put a Mr. Yuck sticker on the phone. She said it was because the poison control hotline number was on the sticker. I suppose that makes sense, but I like my toxic slime theory better.

    • Mychal says:

      We had a Mr. Yuck sticker on our phone too! I wonder if it was for the phone number. I just always thought my sister’d stuck it on there and they couldn’t get it off…

  497. Phaedra says:

    Not me, nor my mother, but a friend of my mother’s lived and grew up near train tracks. She tells stories all the time of her and her siblings jumping onto the MOVING train, and then JUMPING OFF OF THE MOVING TRAIN!!!!!!!! She said her mother did not know about it. Thankfully, luckily, blessedly nobody got seriously hurt, just a few bumps and bruises. But, can you imagine if their mother ever found out?!?!?!?! I would have a heart attack! I would ban them from ever going outside again! Oh, wow! I would lose it completely!

  498. Erin says:

    I grew up with the most overprotective, neurotic parents. I never did ANYthing. And I feel like I missed out on being a normal kid. I hope my future kids have the kind of childhood that you had 🙂

  499. Linda says:

    Sunday rides were great family adventures… and I do mean family! My parents, aunt and uncle, and 5 of us kids would pile into my uncle’s station wagon. My uncle, my father, and my cousin Skip would crowd the front seat. Skip ALWAYS sat there because he became car sick anywhere else in the vehicle. My mother, my aunt, my sister and my cousin Laurie would be cramped in the passenger seat. My sister and cousin always sat there because they were younger and smaller. My cousin Chuck and I would crouch in the way back…not very comfortable, but the family was together. We went places like the Ginger Bread Castle (still haven’t found that one again), the beach, and out in the country to buy fresh apples. Our Sunday always ended with ice cream cones for all made with fresh cream and no additives. We were the definition of close… physically and spiritually!
    PS… We never wore seatbelts because cars weren’t equipped with them in the 1950’s!

  500. Destarte Leotaud says:

    My sister and I grew up on a desert ranch in the late 70’s early 80’s. I remember mom pointing to the door in the morning and say “Go” that was all. We roamed the sonoran desert with the coyotes, javalina, snakes, very large lizards, and in the 70’s big horned sheep and mountain lions. I remember thinking that life was one big adventure. I now live in the city and often wonder what adventure MY kids are missing out on.

    • Kristina says:

      Me too! My friends and I roamed around at night (as well as the daytime of course) on our bikes and had so much fun. I had a trampoline in the ginormous backyard that I jumped on every single day. I often, too, wonder like you how much my kid is missing out on that rural life. We live in Manhattan and sometimes there is just nothing to do but stay in the house. 🙁 Everyone always says, “O the culture is so great there!” but how many museums can you drag your 11 yo to without needing some diversity, aka just plain old outside time. The run-amok outside time, I mean.

  501. Katie says:

    Changing pad covers? Wipes warmers? Mild discomfort is a danger too!

  502. Karen says:

    We still have a “robot park”. But the robot slide has a big fence all around it and the kids can’t play on it anymore. 🙁

  503. Katie C says:

    YES! I did all of these things! I was born in 77 and lived in a rural place where there were lots of woods to explore (where I had no concerns about those tree houses in the middle of the woods way up high in the trees that were not actually tree houses but places for hunters to sit and pick off deer)! Front yards to sled down (protected from the street by a stone wall — that my teeth and nose will never forget)! And where if you swung too high on the swings, you’d have to get over your fear of the swingset “jumping” (it wasn’t firmly planted in the ground). But I lived and had fun doing it.

    Thanks! This was great.

  504. liliboo says:

    Aside from helmets and seat-belts, which of course my kids use, my kids do those things. My daughter is five and I let her roam. It’s worth the risk. I know the risks are horrid, I know, but I can’t stand the thought of her growing up sheltered, either.

    They even pull a wagon down a steep grass hill. With two-year-olds in it. Without helmets. And they jump off swings.

    They are only the greatest kids in the world to me but many people comment on how agile, independent and tough they are, so at least there’s that.

    (I’m not proud of my failure to ever get around to childproofing. I just put stuff way up high. In retrospect, I should have spent an afternoon doing that.)

    • Erin says:

      My son is 4, but I know as soon as my husband and I feel he is old enough and ready, he will roam outside with his friends without us hovering over him every second. We want him to have freedom to have fun outside with his friends, and not live a sheltered, overprotected life. Besides just being fun, giving your child freedom to roam also teaches them to be responsible and trustworthy. It builds confidence and independence, that they will need as adults. Why would anyone want to stifle that kind of development in their child? That’s just my own opinion.

  505. Linda says:

    Very well written…don’t have kids myself but have recently acquired a nephew, tis through my sister that I found your blog. I do remember the freedom but I was in India so no sleding. Anyway, what I actually wanted to tell you about because of the concluding few words of the post(specifically, unicorn and poop) just before looking at this post I accidentally stumbled across a recipe for unicorn poop cookies, google it and give them a whirl if you haven’t already! Thanks for the entertaining non-thought provoking blog! 😀 x

  506. Erik says:

    A lot sounds the same except it was all on back roads or our steep driveway. The sledding? Um, we still do that with our kids…we still (the dads) stand on the boards as we go down hill and tackle each other off. Our kids can call 911…

  507. Aika says:

    LoL! Awesome childhoood! I never experience such fun like that >.<

  508. Karen says:

    Friends and I reminisce about all the scrapes and torn off cuticles we got from the metal swing chains (not covered by plastic TYVM) and rusted screws that protruded from our backyard swingset. We wandered the neighborhood all day allowed to come back in only for main meals and to pee (drinks were left on the deck), spun each other on the playground merry-go-round until one of us spun off, rode around freestyle in the way-way back of the car (which would be the open trunk to any younguns reading ;-), and rode down hills on our bikes standing up with no hands… or on one another’s handlebars of course.

  509. Clair says:

    I was born in 98 (I’m 13 but I still love reading this because it makes me laugh!) and I still remember when those gum “cigarettes” were O.K. to give kids! My mother didn’t shelter me much either, so I usually got what I wanted:)

  510. Melissa says:

    There is an “awesome thing” on the 1000 Awesome things list that I thought of when I read this post. #980 – Old, dangerous playground equipment http://1000awesomethings.com/2008/07/18/980-playground-equipment/
    I LOVED the merry-go-round thingy at the park. It was my favourite part of the playground, but my kids will never enjoy a ride on one because I am pretty sure they no longer exist.

    • Lori says:

      We actually live in an area with many parks ( a new-ish city) and our closest park HAS one of those metal merry-go-round we used to play on. We use it every time we go. One of the benefits of where we live ; )

  511. Vanessa says:

    Wow, I was probably the most free range kid on the planet. I was a latch-key from kindergarten onward. I remember this creek that ran behind our house (behind the mega clay pit) that I would wade around in. I had a very close encounter with a moccasin. I also remember using public transportation as a very small child. My mom would leave me bus fare and I would walk about a mile to the stop, ride the bus to the station, transfer to another bus to the mall. The bus drivers got familiar with me and kept an eye out but I remember their initial reactions to a scraggly 8 year old girl hopping aboard.

  512. I feel compelled to comment because a. your blog is hilarious and I am so glad I’ve found it;
    and b. because I totally relate to all of the above.

    No seat-belts – I remember using the seat as a pillow as I sat in the floor board for long trip naps. In my dads hatch back corvette, I would squeeze in between the 2 seats and rest my head on the center console. Good times.

    Not come home till dark – although I came home for lunch break, as my sister was a chubby kid and didn’t miss a meal. I liked the Country time lemonade. We knew it was time to come home when the street lights came on.

    I ate a mothball as a kid because I thought it was candy. I didn’t die – i thought I was going to because my grandma reacted so dramatic – but I was fine 🙂

    I’m not a parent yet, but I think the world is definitely different and more cautious, for sure. I think there are new fears because of new technology and the world evolving as a whole. Internet, stranger danger, case studies about head trauma, etc. etc. The more we know the more we know. ya know?! 🙂

    Great blog and hilarious post! 🙂

  513. patti says:

    A friend of my little sister thought her phone was broken when she called someone and got a busy signal. She was sixteen and had never called anyone that didn’t have voicemail or call waiting.

  514. Jennifer says:

    My kids pretty much do everything listed that you said you did as a kid (except the seatbelt thing)…my kids have lots of freedom, room to roam and learn and explore and I am not a freak about things…but of course, I have seven kids. The more kids, the easier-going you become as a mom. If there’s no blood involved…THEY’RE FINE!!! 🙂

  515. Laura L says:

    I’ve thought about this before and have come to the conclusion that we are raising our children to be a bunch of wussy idiots (I’m pretty sure my kids should be smart enough to recognize Mr. Yuck, yet I don’t even give them the chance to). I am right in the middle of the pack though – overprotective, wondering why they can’t just have fun playing in a padded room…

  516. Zoe says:

    I consider my job as a parent is to do my best to make sure my kids don’t suffer huge injury. I also consider it my job to allow them to suffer slight injury-so that when I’m not around (later) they don’t suffer the huge injury. Thus when my toddler gently pinched her finger in a door today by closing it with her hand wrapped around the edge of it, and wailed, I picked her up and comforted her and kissed her hand and considered it a job well done! I knew I was right when a moment later she asked to get down, and went to close the door again-this time with her hands flat on the face of it. Thus if she later comes across a really heavy, fast, potentially damaging door (like a car door), she’ll know to be careful and watch out for her fingers. If I’d had a pinch guard, she might not have learned that. On the other hand, I’d never give her free access to a really heavy door yet.

    -Mother of Kai and Xavier, 17 months

  517. Jessica Erin says:

    I was born in 87, I spent my childhood like yours.. my brother (3 years older) and I roamed the neighborhood all day with all the other kids. There was a network of mommy’s so even when our mom couldn’t see us another mom in the neighborhood could lol. We cut trails in the woods, fished, played in the creek, went down steep hills in a go-cart (minus a motor or brakes) and we did it all barefoot… If we were needed home my mom would honk the car horn because usually we were to far away to hear her yell for us.. good times. I feel like I won’t be able to let my kids do a lot of those things that I enjoyed as a kid…

  518. Camille says:

    I was born in 1976 and I’m right there with ya and it was exactly like that…well said! LOL! I walked to and from school from 1st grade till 8th grade by myself! I stayed home by myself too a lot after school and in the summer since my parents worked. I also remember the no seat belt before the law and one time I almost fell out of my dad’s truck the door wasn’t completely closed and he turned and there I went! And before coffee was labeled “Hot contents” at Mc D’s my dad accidentally spilled his coffee on my lap…OMG did that hurt and did I cry but we certainly didn’t go sue anyone over it! Common sense I suppose.

    Now that I’m a parent things are so different, I won’t let my kids (6 & 2) out of my sight for anything! They don’t know any different than car seats and boosters. Child locks on everything including the car doors. Times sure have changed!

  519. leigho says:

    HIDE-N-SEEK in the dark…one of my best memories. Summer time after dinner all the kids in the neighborhood would come out (we lived in a cul de sac with no street lights) and play until 11 or 12. No yard was off limits we would often hid in neighbors cars and open garages and in their trees (gasp) no one said no, no one worried about getting sued if we fell out of said tree…it would have been our fault and we would have gotten a bag of cold peas to hold on it or told to go rub dirt in it.

  520. Courtney says:

    I was in gymnastics as a kid so I used to do flips off the bars on the playground, that are only like 3 feet off the ground! How I didn’t break an arm or bust out my front teeth, I don’t know. I also used to do front flips and backhandsprings all over the playground. Made my teachers so nervous. And because of gymnastics we always had a carpool, so me and my friends would sit in the far back part of the station wagon, obviously no seat belts there. We only had to start wearing seat belts because my parents were in a car wreck and weren’t wearing theirs. And I can remember riding my bike all over the neighborhood all day long.

  521. Courtney says:

    Oh I totally forgot that as a 2nd grader I would have to watch the clock at the daycare in the morning and walk down and cross a really busy city street by myself to catch the bus to school. I was really tiny, and at the time needed glasses badly. (I didn’t know, I just thought everyone saw the way I did.) One day I missed the bus and some lady who saw me walking everyday, picked me up and took me to school. I had no idea who she was and I got in her car. Fortunately she was nice and helpful.

  522. Jennifer says:

    Your posts are awesome 🙂 We bought a house with an old rusty swingset. I could replace it, but my two kids (2.5 and 4) love it. Part of me freaks out when they are on it, part of me knows that they will survive and I just have to look away. I freak out about all sorts of things that could happen to my kids (every minute of every day) but in real life, mainly on purpose, but also on accident (“who left the door unlocked, the 2-year old is out on the front lawn?”) I try to let them live, play, explore without too much interference 🙂 I was raised in the 70s by a single mom, she worked always, and my older sister and brother are the only ones who ever “supervised” me or were with me when I was inside or outside (a lot), we survived 🙂

  523. Kelly says:

    Love your blog! I have six kids and even though my childhood was full of things like running around the neighborhood barefoot, riding my bike down hill with no hands (and of course, no helmet–in the 60’s) and again, barefoot, climbing trees, building forts and playing in the street I haven’t let my kids do all the things I did. I did let them jump off while swinging and sometimes ride a bike with no helmet. Times have changed though, for sure. We live on 5 acres with plenty of room to explore, trees to climb, places to build forts (where I don’t mow) but the younger ones don’t want to!!! My older ones played outside all the time, but I have to MAKE the younger ones. Crazy kids. Your blog is hilarious, by the way. THANKS for the laughter. 🙂 Being a mom is the best.

  524. Shaina Stinard says:

    I was born in ’77 and can totally relate. Lived on a Plantation (yeah, that is probably not politically/socially correct, but that is what we always called it) with my mother’s whole side of her family in houses around the main house, my grandmother’s. It was awesome…rode horses at farm next door bareback, lived at the creek, stepped on water moccasins, collected green slime from the creek, jumped out of the barn, rolled in hay filled with ticks, the list goes on and on….I LOVED every second of my childhood. Thinking of my daughter doing ANY of these things scares the shit out of me!!!!!!

  525. LilyG says:

    I was born in the 50s and my mom would growl through gritted teeth when we annoyed her (big Baptist family) “Get out of my sight.” We would roam the farms and woods for hours until we’d poke our heads in the door and say, “Can we come home?”
    We would also cut through the woods to the rest area off I94 and play in the manicured woods around there, use the bathrooms, eat out of the trash cans, read the porn the truckers left behind, etc. It was like a playground just for us. It’s a miracle none of us were hurt, kidnapped or taken away by CPS.

  526. Lauren says:

    There are 547 comments here, and while I’d love to read them all (and I have spent the past 3 hours reading this blog and it’s comments), here’s my grandmother’s story. She was born in the hills of West Virginia. The town doesn’t have a sign, it’s not even on the map (remember those? the old fashioned paper things?), and certainly not on a gps. She grew up with two older brothers and a sister. Well the parents got a refrigerator or ice box and they put the wooden crate it came in on the front yard. The 2 brothers got the idea to start playing chicken in the crate. One was in the crate and the other was outside *with an axe* swinging at the crate. Needless to say, my great-grandma came a-hollering out the front door when she heard a while later. The boys got a beating when my great-grandfather came home from the mines that night!
    This is just to say- roller skates do not an axe make.
    Love your blog! It’s so funny and the other comments are awesome too.

  527. CC says:

    And we wonder why kids today are so neurotic with zero imagination…

  528. amanda says:

    very true on many of these – especially gone all day. would you, as a parent, know where to start looking for your kid these days if they didn’t show up “at dinner time?”

  529. Stony says:

    Check this out ! My Mom told me when you can hear the Fireworks going off It’s time to get Home. Disneyland has been shooting off Fireworks since I was a baby and When i was around 5 or six and realized what the BOOM was then it was time to get my ass home lol. (9:30 every night )

  530. Kim McCabe says:

    I howled with laughter! Thank you.
    When our children were young I had to train my husband to allow them to fall off a piece of furniture that was wobbly, rather than reaching out to steady it. He was horrified when I stood by, just watching, as our child climbed atop a stool that was clearly not stable. My reasoning: this time I am here, keeping an eye, there to catch if a very bad fall looks likely; next time I might not be. I want my children to learn to assess their own safety. I watched with amazement as other mothers rounded every corner (with special plastic curves for sharp edges) and jammed every door (with special gadgets to stop doors from shutting on little fingers), trying to make their toddlers world safe. But the world is not safe and those toddlers were made so very unsafe by their own naivety as soon as they left the carefully controlled environment of their own home. Those toddlers had not learned to watch out for sharp table tops at their head level, or to keep their little fingers away from doors. Those toddlers thought that the world was curved and soft and stable. It is not. Not at Grandma’s, or at the newsagents, or at the holiday apartment. My children, however, would know to test something’s stability before climbing atop, they would know to carry glass carefully, they would know that zips can pinch. And they didn’t know these things because I peppered their childhood with constant, “Be careful!” “Don’t run, it’s slippery” “Don’t climb up there, you’ll fall.” “Don’t touch, you’ll burn yourself.” No my children learned by slipping and bruising and slight scalding. Then they took good care; no-body wants to hurt themselves.


    • Soad Emery says:

      Kim McCabe has the best reply. There aren’t more bad things that happen today, now you just know about it. That’s the difference. I can’t believe you paranoid moms didn’t get that. Seriously, your kids are going to get out in thr world retarded and as inexperienced about the world and its dangers as it gets. THEN something bad will happen because your overprotectiveness didn’t allow them to learn to keep themselves safe. I would too run out of the home in the morning and only come back late at night. I’d climb in trees and climb everywhere I could climb and I did not fall… because I was not retarded, had learned how to climb and knew what I could climb and what I couldn’t. You are still alive, yes? Then why the hell won’t you let your kids do what you did? Obviously it didn’t kill you. You are putting the life and happiness of your kids at risk by being overprotective.

  531. Thanks so much for sharing this. Your drawings are fabulous. They brought me back to the day! (Meg, Play Again Film)

  532. Megan says:

    I was born in 1983, so my play years were late 80s through the 90s. My brother, sister, my best friend, and my cousins were literally up and dressed at 630 am and out the door by 730. I grew up on a farm in CT, and when not in school, we played from sunup to sundown. It didn’t matter if it was cold or hot, we were in the woods having epic adventures or rolling down hills in empty feed barrels. We made “acorn brownies,” built snow tunnels, climber every tree we could find, peed in the woods, got poison ivy every year, searched for snakes and salamanders. In the winter we sled down hills until we peed our pants and surprisingly, I never broke anything. I spent summers in the most backwoods town in Maine one can imagine and had freedom to roam and ride my bike. I swam in the lake alone and fished off the end of our dock every morning. I was bruised, cut up, and covered with mosquito bites. We would go to the rocky beaches and play all day, pretending to be explorers and mermaids. We were sunburned, barefoot, and dirty (almost) 24/7. My grandmother would throw us a bar of Ivory soap and a bottle of Pert Plus and send us to the lake to bathe. Picture six blond hair little girls bathing in a public lake! Those were the days. I can only hope my children can have a similar experience, but sadly, it won’t be quite the same. I had an amazing childhood of nature, freedom to explore, and tons of memories. There were movies and video games, but those were reserved for the few days a year someone was sick, or at night we would occasionally watch a movie.

  533. Alissa says:

    You must have had the exact same childhood as me. As in, are you my childhood neighbor? Because you got it all spot on: teeth knocked out on teeter-totter, rollerskates downhill, green+yellow swingset… Oh but you forgot to add ditching school and heading south of the border for afternoon beers and dancing to Madonna. Yeah, my kids won’t be doing that in their lifetimes.

  534. Sherry says:

    LOVED it!!! I had the same. We would build forts in the trees with NO parental supervision. We’d go ask for materials if we couldn’t find them and they’d just let us do what we wanted. We used to have a tree limb that fell on a ravine and we built a platform on it, then a rope swing.Someone left a mattress in the woods where we played, we drug it over and used it as a landing pad. Great times, dangerous as all get out! Kids these days don’t have the initiative to build forts and tree houses. Oh how many banged up fingers I had from missing the nails. I’m pretty proficient with a hammer now! Miss the merry go round where you’d fling yourself off and laugh about it. Good times good times.

  535. CeCe says:

    Riding a school bus –
    its a massive metal box and the only thing saving my sweet and only child is suppose to be the hard back of the seat infront of him… I think not!

  536. OCG says:

    I hope you’re kidding that you won’t let your kids do most of that stuff. Clearly allowing them to stand in the car or drink bleach would be a bad idea. But no sledding? Jumping off swings? Playing outside all day?

  537. Ruth Ann Triplett says:

    We have a family that moved to our neighborhood. My daughter is 4 and there kids are 8, 10, 12. They are freerange kids, and you know where they range to? OUR YARD! They are naughty and rude kids. My daughter will not play in her own yard b/c she is scared of them. I have chased they out many times. They leave trash in our yard all the time, they swear, and they are not nice to other kids.

  538. Lynda says:

    I loved reading this. Being born in 1953 (yes, I just turned 60), I still well remember how much fun we kids had back then. I look at the kids today and feel so sad for them. Most will never know the thrill of making their own skateboard or cart out of old wood and roller skate wheels; and flying down a city hill without a helmet, no brakes, just your friend at the bottom to let you know that no car was close enough and you could go!!!! I grew up in New York City and we would just leave home in the morning and roam the city. We walked everywhere within a 5 mile radius, more than that we took the subways and buses (I was 8 the first time I took a bus on my own). Kids today are tooooo over-protected in my opinion, and apparently are also never given a chance to entertain themselves by playing with little toys, reading, etc. Their lives are scheduled play dates and activities from the moment they are born. I was in a car with some co-workers a few years ago, and our 20-year old intern almost had a panic attack when she couldn’t find the seat belt in the back seat! I was amazed and appalled both at the same time. I was in a car full of young people who didn’t know what it was like to NOT have seat belts in cars and were in a panic because there was no belt for the middle of the back seat. It was quite a scene to be sure. My own son, handicapped from birth so I didn’t have all these issues to face; but he did find other ways to frighten/worry me…….fortunately I realized that nurturing his independent nature was better for him in the long run, than my handicapping him further with over-protection. Today he is a healthy, independent (lives on his own) 32 year-old young man. His home health aids come in daily to bathe him, cook, clean for 5 hours per day. The rest of the time he is alone and loves it. He has a cat, lives on his computer, loves reading, and never gets bored. I’m glad I remembered my own childhood and allowed him to get a few bumps and bruises….he learned quickly what not to do. By today’s standards I’d be in jail as a negligent mother if I were to start over, and that I find sad. Safety yes, but living in fear is not living. I’m so glad I grew up in a time when we were truly free.

  539. Dana says:

    i TOTALLY had a super gushing bloody lip (didn’t loose my two front teeth because they were already gone, but they forever carry a line across the bottom from this trauma) because a girl hit the bottom of her side of the seesaw on the rubber tire in the ground (i guess the school’s attempt at safety) and i bounced over the handle bar and slammed my face into the seesaw. ouch.

    my kids DO jump from the swing and hang upside down and perform cirque du soleil acts for fun… but helmets must be worn when on the road. 🙂

  540. FarmWife says:

    Totally forgot about the Mr.Yuk stickers. We had them.

    My kids get a bit of “dawn till dusk freedom” because we live on 10 acres in the country but they will never know about sleeping on a bed made out of the back seat of your ’81 Caprice station wagon or burning to a crisp because no one every wore sunblock.

  541. stephanie says:

    We used to ride all sorts of things down the stairs or down our incredibly steep driveway. We had an old stroller that we would put a friend or two into and then shove it down the driveway (usually watching for cars on the street before) and it would crash into the ditch on the other side of the street, or if really going fast, go up the other side of the ditch and launch the passengers into the split rail fence. We also used to ride laundry baskets down the stairs. The only time I remember my mom getting angry about this was when we broke a vase that was on a table at the bottom of the stairs. After that we remembered to move the table before we rode our wild rides down. I did let my kids try riding a blow up raft dow the stairs and they LOVED it. I figured the raft sides would provide some padding.
    I try to let my kids wander a little – but I find I just HAVE to know where they are going, and can’t resist checking in by txt to the mom at the house they were heading for. I don’t let them go play at the playground alone, or wander without a plan. Maybe in a few years.
    I do remember going to the big nature preserve less than a mile from our house with my sister and her friend and jumping from the edge of the pond to a big rock over & over, taunting my cautious sister to try. When she finally did, she was so worried she over-shot and landed on the other side of the rock, fell in the pond and had to walk home covered in slime and mud. My mom was angry with me about that one — as if I was in charge of supervision since I was 8 and she was 6. When I was 6 and she was 4, we walked about 2 blocks to the mail box and my sister got hit by a bicycle and broke her collarbone. I remember the girl riding the bike that hit her – she was the older sister of a friend of mine. She looked at my sister lying the street screaming after she ran over her, but didn’t stop, and didn’t go get help. We walked home with me yelling at my sister to keep walking because I was terrified to leave her to go get help and also terrified that I couldn’t carry her home. I felt incredibly guilty — and so did my mom. She still does in fact. We walked to school – probably 6 blocks – alone or together even in kindergarten.
    My kids go to school a block from here and I walk them everyday, probably will through elementary.
    I do think that having other kids and adults around makes it feel safer, and I can think of many times an older kid helped us out. Or scared the heck out of us!
    We used to climb the mounds of dirt at residential construction sites after they dug foundations, climbed all through houses under construction, and went on all day bike rides, even packing a lunch so we didn’t have to go home until dinner. We never had summer camp or activities — just which ever kids were also home and out of school for the summer. It seemed in the summer kids of different ages would play together, but during the school year we had to stay in our grade level groups. And riding in the back of the station wagon, watching the road go by through the screw holes that had an open view all the way to the ground because the wheel well had rusted out.
    Lots of fun times — a few injuries along the way, but lots of chance s to push oneself and figure out what was just scary enough to be exciting, but not truly terrifying.
    Night time games of flashlight tag, kick the can, and some weird tag game running around various houses. Yards were basically public property — no one had a fence and we used all the yards.

  542. angela says:

    I did awesome crazy dangerous things as a kid with total freedom. My parents were very young when my siblings and I were born and they had no sense of worry about us. I remember my dad used to take me on motorcycle rides on the back of his bike starting at three years old. I would just sit there hanging on to his waist loving the feeling of the wind in my hair. No helmets even on a motorcycle back then. I played outside all day too. I left the house right after breakfast and came home when the street lights came on. I rode my bike everywhere, climbed trees, discovered the city,and invented games to play. I loved every second of it. Now, i can’t even get my kids out of the house for half an hour before they are begging to come back inside because they say outdoors is sooo boring.

  543. Garzaster says:

    The freedom thing is right on. Biking, walking, skating with no adults in sight except the ones driving through our no-sidewalk neighborhood. My grandmother lived in te country so it was even worse there! Miles of alternating farm and wooded land to run through, usually barefoot. Trees to climb and streams to cross or catch things from. My grandfather killed at least 2 of the rattlesnakes he saw during the time he lived there.

    This may be late, but you should be warned, I grew up in the south where there was no snow. Instead of sleds we had bikes and dirt bikes and four wheelers. We made all kinds of ramps for them and played tag or some redneck form of polo with them.

  544. Alicia says:

    If you are ever just a little north in the Valencia area, you need to check out Santa Clarita Park. They have one of those Robot slides. It is no longer in use, but has not been torn down due to popular demand. http://www.santa-clarita.com/Index.aspx?page=417
    As a parent of 2 boys, ages 7 and 5, here’s something I’ve started doing recently on shopping trips to Trader Joe’s. I let them go to the public restroom together. It’s the buddy system. Trader Joe’s is small enough and the 3 minutes without them, is like 15 minutes with them. I get a lot more done. 🙂

  545. Wendy says:

    I used to fly down the street with my rollerskates on hoping I would stop before the dead end. My kid just got a concussion by sledding and hitting her head in Tahoe. 🙁 Forgot the helmet.

  546. Larisa says:

    I used to zip down the sidewalk of our looong, steep hill (~45 degree), helmetless, clad in shorts, sitting on a skateboard, steering by twisting the front end, using my sandal-shod feet as brakes. Luckily, I never crashed or flew out into the traffic at the bottom of the hill. MAN that was fun! Yeah, my kids – no way. 🙂

  547. Kristen says:

    Check her book out… she talks about just the same type of thing! Also about how we should learn to let go a little and relax… we turned out ok! http://www.freerangekids.com/

    • Lori says:

      I just posted about this book below! Sorry I didn’t see your comment first. If people would just use facts and crime stats to base their decisions on rather than raw emotion, our kids would have a much more well-rounded upbringing.

  548. Kristina says:

    I did all these thing as a kid as well….Even ended up getting stiches in my head from the teeter totter! And I do think we are a bit over protective of our kids (me included) But maybe that’s what causee me to have my “bad mommy” moment this past weekend. I took my 4 1/2 yr old son out for a bike ride to the park. We were almost there when I saw this little girl (2 maybe 3) riding towards us on the trail on her scooter wearing her helmet. I looked and my son and realized he wasn’t wearing his helmet (oops!)…..somehow he survived with out a life threating head injury. But, I did call grandma and she met us at the park with his helmet.

  549. tearese says:

    in the last town we lived in (48,000 people) our neighbor’s boy was ran over by a car and killed-he was just walking near their apartment, and someone backed out of a parkinglot. Everyone who lived there-including us-were super paranoid about our kids being outside. But now we live in the middle of nowhere, and we’ve slowly learned to let our kids do things by themselves outside, and they love it. I don’t know if I’d still let them if we moved back to a city though.

  550. Deb Dubuque says:

    This post definitely resonates with me. I am now 37, and when I was younger, I grew up in a rough trailer park. At least in retrospect, I realize it was rough, but at the time, I thought it was great.

    I distinctly remember summers spent entirely outside, seeing my mother only when I woke up and again at night, when I’d hear her scream “Debra LYN!?!??!” as light turned to dark. I was usually playing street kickball with the neighborhood kids and she’d have to yell my name several times before I came home.

    I got my butt kicked regularly – by the boys. They’d hurl rock-covered snowballs at me and run into my yard and poke halls in my beach balls. I was always the fastest runner – a fact that angered the boys – and whenever we’d have a race, I’d inevitably get tripped so some inferior runner would claim all the glory.

    We even had a couple of murders in the trailer park. A odd ball just a few trailers down from us was very fond of archery; there was a large bulls-eye in his yard. An introvert, he often walked around with his bow and arrow.

    There were railroad tracks at the end of the park; people, including us kids, often played on them (placing pennies and ketchup packets on the tracks; smoking discarded butts). One night Archery Man was on the tracks when two men (fathers of neighboring kids) started heckling him on the tracks. Archery Man shot them dead.

    There was also a woman, a few doors down from Archery Man, who made homemade root beer in her bathtub. And my friend and I actually patronized her bathroom one day to drink this mess. WTF?

    I think of my son doing any of these things, or being exposed to any of these things, and I’m absolutely horrified. But those were also some of my best memories. Ah, the halcyon days of youth!

    • Dawn says:

      Oh my, you made me bust out laughing with the bathtub rootbeer patronage! 😀

      Don’t our kids deserve to have stories more interesting to recount than “once, I hit level 2000!”?

      Simply awesome!

  551. Lori says:

    I’m actually letting my kids have what I call a “1970s style” childhood because that was what I had and it was awesome. My 5 year old can go to the close park alone. He comes home at an agreed upon time (he wears a watch). Crime is actually as low or lower than it was in the 1970s and people who hover over their kids are depriving them of building life skills. Read the book “Free Range Kids” for more ideas.

  552. jenav7997@gmail.com says:

    Once when my twin sister and i were young we went sledding with our much older step brother and his friends who made a ramp out of railroad ties (basically big honking square logs) and then they piled snow on top of it…it was a HUGE ramp. Then they decided my sister or I would need to go first to prove we were cool…looking back i realize we were the safety testers and they were scared little boys making little girls go careening off a fracking cliff on a piece of plastic…classy. I refused. No way was i going off that thing. I was smart. My sister on the other hand liked to prove she was brave and she went off it…and landed on her face. Bet that was fun for step brother to explain. So many stories growing up in Montana as a kid.

  553. Dawn says:

    My son is still a bit too young for some of the “free range kid” ideas, but I’m definitely on that page. People are too cautious and namby pamby in general these days, because of The Fear we’ve lost a lot of freedoms that we once enjoyed.

    I truly believe that 30 years from now, it will be the kids that adventured and negotiated with their peers that will lead the world, not so much the kids plugged into the tv and game controllers.

    I’ve recently found this blog, and I LOVE Crappy Pictures!

  554. lawahine says:

    Before the interwebs and cable news… parents only had anecdotal stories or local news about some kid getting kidnapped or drowning or being paralyzed or being ejected from a car. (I’m sorry if this has every happened to anyone’s child)

    The sensationalism of news/media means we hear about all these bad things that can happen to kid A LOT. We say, “oh hells no not my child” and we protect them.

    My grandparents didn’t have cable news… they only remember what life was like for them digging potatoes because it was the depression. So kids were “allowed to be kids.”

    My parent’s didn’t have cable news either but they had lots of news telling them all kinds of scary things so I wasn’t allowed to go play by myself. I also got the, “sure you can do that, but just be careful.” I was so concerned by this that I became an overly cautious child.

    My son is 9 months old so I have no clue what type of parent I will be. Car seats/boosters/helmets ALL awesome things. Yeah… I know that children can be killed by accidents so I’m going to do my best to protect him. It’s what you are supposed to do right? That’s the point of procreating in the first place… to make more humans. Protecting is our job… we just know there is more to be paying attention to now.

    But over protection is bad… kids do need to know how to make their own choices and sometimes those are wrong and dangerous. Right? I don’t know… my kid is 9 months old. 😉

  555. Charu says:

    I remember doing everything but #6. We did not have snow growing up. But we do other stuff like, climbing up, all the way up, on the water tank of our building (no railings anywhere in sight) and sit on the edge so we could take a break, dangle our legs and look at the view. All the way down. Thirteen floors down. I doubt my mother or my friends mothers were aware of this or the many other things (foolish in hindsight as a parent) we did all evening.
    I’m just glad no one got seriously hurt. A bit of blood and a broken bone was as serious as it got.

  556. Melody says:

    Your parents must not have been as protective as mine! My physician father (circa 1960) gave all us kids tetanus shots in the spring because he knew for sure none of us would get through the summer without stepping on a rusty nail, swim in a dirty river, getting hooked by fishing gear…

  557. When i was a kid i played , hopscotch jacks&ball jump rope swim n the river on week-ends with my parents we picnic there & every day i road my bike i skate i had the ole medal skates with the key to ajust them to my size went to the store & bought a lot with a quarter & just about everynite we got ice cream off of the ole fashion truck, i had a great child hood love my memories

  558. Yvonne Donaldsont says:

    I remember 5 or 6 of us cousins all in the back of the station wagon. We did a lot of cross country road trips where my brother and I would sleep on the floorboards in the back seat. How about selling Girl Scout cookies door to door with no adult around. I remember the first time my dad went with me. It was so weird!

  559. Heather Burchett says:

    I did the whole wander the neighborhood and go into other people’s houses and open their fridge doors to see if they had anything good to eat… I’d wander in the woods some and go up and down the creek that ran down beside the main road…get out and stop to visit neighbors-I would never let my son do that stuff alone…. I loved to climb trees and sit up there in my thinking spots-yeah my son climb trees-maybe when he;s older but probably not-he can’t see well anyway-so I would be afraid he would miss the branch and fall out.. I also remember crawling around in the backseat of the car..I never rode in a car seat

  560. Rachel says:

    I love your crappy pictures because I do them too!!! I love doing them on my blog!!!!!

  561. jennifer says:

    can someone tell me where merry go rounds went? someone?

    • ANNIBELLE says:

      we still have a few in our local area (melbourne Aust) but with the bouncy faux asphalt underneath. my kids like to be spun super fast and one is even on a bit of an angle allowing you to slide off at speed!

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  563. Vicky says:

    My brother and I would jump off the roof of our storage shed. We ran around barefoot and ate dirt, too. 🙂

  564. Amy says:

    This brought back so many memories for me! I can remember my cousin and I would spend HOURS playing out in the woods. We built forts and bridges and played cops and robbers. It was so much fun! I know I’m a paranoid mom, but it will be a very long time before I let either of my boys spend time wandering off like that to play. Maybe once they’re teenagers I’ll feel a little more comfortable with them being out of my sight to play outside. That’s a big MAYBE.

  565. Angela says:

    I remember riding in the back of a station wagon(2 of my friends’ parents had one) and not always buckling up. When I was 6 or 7 my mom was in an accident – nothing serious – and I went from the back seat of the van(one with the bench seats) to behind the driver seat. She used to have a playpen in the back of it too.
    I don’t allow my kids to jump off the swings, though I know they will do it anyway. When I was in 4th grade I was at my friends house and we both jumped off the swing. I landed okay and she broke both of her arms – the following year she broke her arm again b/c she had them both inside her coat and got tripped walking down the hall at school.
    My kids will wear helmets and I never did. I remember riding down this one street and the hill was high enough we got going pretty fast. I don’t think we ever stopped to think how badly we would’ve gotten hurt if we wiped out.
    I try to allow my kids to experience different things, as a mom it’s instinct to keep them safe and not allow certain things too. *sigh*

  566. I assured my mother that I was just riding my bike “around” or going to the nearby park with my older sister. “Be home by suppertime” was my only rule although implied in that was, “know how to stay alive.” My sister had no intention of hanging around with a little kid so I had vast freedoms. I rode my trusty bike along narrow wooded paths and on the sidewalks of busy streets. I rode through construction sites. I rode to Lake Erie and back, which I now realize was a five mile trip, pretty far for a nine-year-old. I experienced the wonderful terror of getting lost many times and always figured it out. Those bike rides were the sort of character building, skill intensive learning that the best education experts advise. No, I haven’t given my kids quite that much freedom but I’ve always given them more freedom than any parent I know. So far it’s worked like a charm.

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  571. ANNIBELLE says:

    We used to attach a piece of galvanised iron to the back of the motorbike with bindertwine and then get towed behide across bumpy paddocks replete with thistles – for extra kicks the person riding the bike would swing pass the dam sharply to try and send the passenger flying. Fun times!! One of my parents friends was very disappointed that they didn’t install our inground pool right beside the inground trampoline 🙂

  572. plh says:

    I struggled with my impulse to helicopter parent, and succeeded to a large extent. My daughter waited alone for the school bus at the end of the street from about 8 years old on. I see kids waiting in their parent’s cars every day when I bike to work. Lunacy. I chased her out of the house to ride her bike around the neighborhood unsupervised. There were some other things. I chewed my nails to the quick the whole time but I knew I had to do it. My logic? Yes, there is a TINY CHANCE something bad will happen, against the CERTAINTY that if I don’t do this sort of thing, she will lack basic self assuredness and responsibility as a result of being overprotected. The world is real. For the last 2 years of high school she went to an alternative high school that happened to be in a rough neighborhood. Walked several blocks from the city bus to the school every day. Later lived in Roxbury Mass. while going to U-Mass. Didn’t phase her although some of her friends almost freaked. She is 22 now and a very self-posessed an competent young lady thank you.

  573. Sigrun says:

    We have seesaw and teeter totters here on almost any playground! To the best of my knowledge there aren’t many accidents related to them 🙂

    The rest? So familiar….sigh.

  574. Stacy says:

    Even though I don’t consider myself an overprotective parent, there are things that I did that my kids just won’t ever be able to experience. Not just because of the “times we live in”, but because of other parents. I trust my sons to be out playing all day, but their friends are all scheduled to death by their parents. I’m probably a minority and unpopular, but I don’t think kids should have all their free time taken up by structured activities.

  575. Michelle says:

    Free range childhood was a bit more likely then because we had “the village” of Moms watching out for us. Houses and streets are mostly empty now during the day as few families have a stay at home parent. We were not as alone back then as we think we were 😉

    Our idea of safety has shifted. We now place our kids in daycare being supervised by paid strangers which seems even more dangerous to me than wandering around our neighbourhood with neighbourhood Moms on the watch.

    It’s all perspective I think.

  576. Tyra says:

    My kids won’t be running amok through the streets of Salt Lake City, they won’t be riding in a car with parents drinking and driving. Oh, yeah, and they won’t be able to exact revenge on another kid by hacking the phone wires and calling 900 numbers on his parents phone so he gets a severe punishment for something he didn’t do. I don’t know if that is even possible anymore? My kids aren’t in public as much as I was due to my paranoia of people germs and they insist on touching everything. I wonder if they will get to enjoy the perils of chicken pox they we did as kids, considering nobody is hosting chicken pox parties anymore.

    • Tyra says:

      By the way the phone hack was my older brother’s trick. I don’t know how to do that . I think I was only five at the time and both of us were unsupervised. I just sat there watching him and his friend make these phone calls laughing hysterically. I was made aware of the nature of these phone calls as a teenager. He was a very bad kid?