Last year, the awesome Lenore Skenazy, the original “Free Range Mom” came up with Take Your Kid To The Park … And Leave Them There Day. The way she explained it last year was that parents are always worried about letting their kids play outside alone and unsupervised in part because no other kids are out there alone and supervised. And this is a vicious cycle that creates it’s own problem.
So she suggested that everyone take their kids — say, 7 or 8 years old on up — and take them to the park and then go home, alone. This holiday is a day about breaking the cycle that has destroyed the lost art of playing and being a kid.
My memories of outdoor play involve literally no parental supervision. I had the luxury of growing up in the country but my parents pretty much kicked us out of the house early in the day and called for us when they wanted us back home. It was awesome. I remember, in fact, being four and playing in the backyard and thinking, “Could life really get any better than this?” I think I was onto something, sitting there in the sandbox.
So if you have kids whose butts are in danger of growing wide as they continue to play on their electronic machines in the living room, I say this is a good day to try it out. Even for half an hour. You and your kid may be surprised at how much fun you have.
The Park Slope Parents are into the act and they note the day “is a great time to take a step back from our current culture of parental anxiety to ask ”Does it really have be this way?” ”Do kids have really need to wait until the age of 13 to walk to school?” ”Are there really pedophiles lying in wait to snatch my children?” ”Will other parents refuse to help my child in the unlikely event that she gets hurt when I am not there?” ”Am I a bad parent for letting my kids play unsupervised?” The answer to all of these questions, dear parents, is NO.
I love the mom who says this day is really about parents learning to “reject the myth of our own omnipotence.” She encourages others to celebrate the day so we can break out of our “negative, hyper-controlling, guilt and blame ridden culture of parenting.”
Okay, so let’s do this thing! If you’re comfortable with it, that is!