Saturday, May 16, 2015

Free range parenting fail?

The best part of childhood is exploring, getting dirty - experiencing the outdoors in all its splendor.  Not everyone agrees with me.

I live on a small lake.  I love going down to the water with my kids.  We skip stones.  We throw rocks in the water.  It's part of the reason I chose to live here.

There is a dead tree that fell into the lake. My two have been systematically taking it apart.  Tearing off the bark, breaking off the branches.

dead tree 2015
I would have done the same thing when I was ten.  And while growing up in my family was not always easy, my best memories are of exploring the outdoors.  Creating potions with leaves.  Building clubhouses underneath bushes.

Last Tuesday after dinner, we were out breaking branches.  All of a sudden, I hear "Are you going to clean that up?"  I didn't know where the voice was shouting from.  A neighbor was standing on his second floor porch and proceeded to curse us out (literally).  I started gathering the wood chips together.

He shouted things like "we all have to live here.  Now that tree looks like sh*t without its branches." "I've seen you here with your kids.  How can you let your kids do this? You're a (insert expletive here) mother".

We went inside.  I was shaken and upset.  My kids were shaken and upset.

I checked with the leasing office to find out the rules and to report this guy.  Sometimes people are jerks, which is what I told my kids.  If he has an issue with me, then he could have come down to the lake and discussed it with me as an adult.

Part of the injustice of it is that I know I'm a good mom.  Allowing my kids to explore the outdoors (while I'm right there) is part of what makes me a good parent.  Some jerk saying that I'm not a good mom, because he doesn't like what I'm doing is just his opinion, and doesn't make it true.

But part of the reason it upset me is that I work really, really hard to be the best mom, the best person I can be.  One guy's opinion doesn't change that.  And isn't it odd that we can hear twenty positive opinions but the negative one is the one we remember?

What kind of world will we live in when kids are indoors all the time in front of screens?  We already spend too much time in front of screens, consuming.  I haven't read the Nurtureshock or free range parenting books, but I'm familiar with the concept.  We spend so much time protecting our kids, so much time in sanitized situations, children are unprepared to deal with the world as adults.

I will continue to go down to the lake with my kids. We will continue to explore the outdoors.  Maybe we won't take apart the dead tree, but I'm not changing the way that I parent.

1 comment:

Freckle Face Girl said...

Amen sister!!! Forget it. People say nasty things when they want to get an awful point across. My kids and I got yelled at last week because I let them climb a fence. I feel so sad that this generation of kids aren't allowed to take risks or explore. I had talked to them about what could happen and then let them decide. They climbed the fence and a lady ran out yelling about how a kid broke his arm doing that. They have never broken a bone and I was right there to take them to the hospital if it happened. I didn't let her get to me, but her blood pressure sure was flying off the chart. You're a good mother and those experiences are important.