The other day, I wrote about our adventures with trying out more of the “free range parenting”. That post is here: Let Them Be Chickens. I’ve found it’s been super successful in teaching my children responsibility, street smarts, etc. That being said, we hThe daad a wrench thrown in the process this past weekend, so in the interest of being open, I’m going to share it. I’ve already been attacked for it, chastised, etc, but if I cared about any of that, I’d have different kids because I’d be raising them based off of everyone else’s opinions and not my own. That’s not how this whole parenting thing works.
So this weekend, my daughter asks to go outside to play. I was in my office doing something for work, so I said sure, and that would watch her out the window. I watched her grab her scooter, her helmet, and start going up and down the sidewalk. Up and down, up and down. She came to ask me if she could go to a neighbor’s, and I told her no, not today. I watched her scooter, do some gymnastics in the yard, then hope back on the scooter. After a few minutes, I realized that I hadn’t seen her ride by. I called her name, but got no answer. I yelled louder. No response. I went outside….and she was nowhere to be seen.
Utter panic set in. I called for my son to check the house and the back yard. I went to the neighbor’s and asked if she was there. She wasn’t. I checked at another neighbor’s, and she wasn’t there either. The neighbors called other neighbors, and within minutes, a group of people banded together to look. I didn’t even hesitate…I called the police and my husband.
Now this was scary. Worst case, had someone grabbed her? That being said, her scooter was nowhere to be found. My husband pulled in, along with the police, and I showed them pictures, gave a description. My husband walked the street and saw her scooter in a neighbor’s driveway. She was in their yard playing with a friend from school. I don’t know the family, so I hadn’t thought to look there. She was crying when she realized what had happened, how worried we were, and that the police were there.
Once she was home, she went inside the house, and the police officer asked to speak to me.
Some of what he said:
“Don’t be afraid to let them outside to play.
“What you are doing is correct. If you helicopter over them, they will not learn to be self sufficient. We see kids all the time that if their parent is 10 minutes late they become paralyzed with fear, because their parents haven’t taught them to be ok by themselves for a few minutes”
“It’s important to have a plan. You have one, she just needs reinforcing on the plan.”
“The days of people driving by and snatching a kid off the street are pretty much long gone.”
“I know you’re freaking out right now, because things went awry, that you’re a bad mom. You’re doing good. ”
So today, it has been an inside day. My daughter learned a harsh lesson about being responsible and following the plan. My standard of “You will get privileges as long as you are responsible with them” is in effect, so she will need to earn back her chance to go back outside to play with the neighborhood kids. She apologized unprompted and explained that she had done the wrong thing in not communicating to me what happened.
Out of this scary situation, came some really positive things.
- I have amazing neighbors. Within moments, keys were grabbed, cars mobilized, and other neighbors called in to help look for my daughter.
- I reached out to the neighbor who has the house where she was, and we have planned to schedule a playdate and to communicate if the kids are playing together.
- I saw the very best of our police department. They got here in moments, asked me quick questions, and banded together. Once she was found, they talked me of the proverbial ledge and reminded me that we have to raise kids to be productive members of society. They joked with me, each other, and when it was done, they gave me a thumbs up for how I handled it and left. Super kind, and super efficient. I couldn’t have asked for better.
- I have some great family members who were supportive and understood what I am doing, why I am doing it, and that sometimes things go wrong. No judgement, no hassle, just support.
- At the end of the day, I have been pretty vocal about what happened. Sure, there’s been those that judged or had some negative things to say. Shrug. I had fears of that before saying anything but at the end of the day, I own my choices of how I parent, and own who I am. If people don’t like it, don’t follow my lead, and do you, boo. I’ll do me. I definitely am left feeling confident about owning who I am.
So, we excelled, we faltered, and now we begin again. Lessons learned, and we were fortunate that out of a scary situation, a ton of positive results happened. So we begin again, with a plan a bit more fine tuned. Someone said to me “perhaps this is exactly the lesson she needed”. I believe it is. She learned a lot of lessons that day. She learned about responsibility, about sticking to a plan, communication, and why all of that is so important. I just need to reinforce all of those lessons going forward.