Wednesday, June 8, 2011
My Kids, the Outlaws.
Recently, in our neighborhood, we've had the most fantastic experiences for all of the parents and children on every street (can you taste the sarcasm dripping from my text tonight?): we had a visit from the local sheriff's department.
One of the neighbors called to report that there was "unsupervised children" running rampant in the neighborhood. There was the implication that these children are never supervised, and a reference to winter, when several of the kids were sled riding across the street from our house "without parental supervision". When the officer showed up, two girls were playing in the wooded area across the street, my son was out roller blading, and my daughter was on the front stoop of our house. Two boys were chasing one another with Nerf guns at the end of the block, and a group of kids of all ages were hanging out on the upper street of the neighborhood trading rides on skateboards and an electric scooter.
The officer said he'd had a call of complaint from one of our neighbors that there were kids unsupervised and out in the neighborhood right this second, so he came to check it out. He brought the two girls who were playing in the wooded area back to one of their mom's houses and explained to the mom that kids under ten aren't allowed to be outside unsupervised. He claimed this was the law in our state. He also managed to scare the kids into tears. Though he was very polite, he still had an adverse effect on the parents and kids in our neighborhood. And I'm angry. Because my child shouldn't be punished by having to stay inside. My kid shouldn't have to worry about someone calling the police because he wants to rollerblade down the street. My kid shouldn't have to look over his shoulder to see if his soccer ball kicking and sprinkler running and biking to his friends' house is bothering anyone. And I shouldn't have to hold his hand while he does every. single. thing.
In researching, I found out that there isn't any such law about ten year olds and unsupervised play. Not a huge surprise, Michael has been stopped by the police for following our state's bike laws because the officer just decided he was wrong. When Michael protested, he was told he was wrong and really there was nothing he could do about it. The officer just made up a law to suit his purposes and support the neighbor who made the report.
Since I've been following the Free Range Kids blog for awhile now, I figured it was worth commenting on her page to see if I could get any feedback as far as how to handle the situation. She wrote me almost immediately and asked if she could feature my comment in a blog post for her readers. Of course I accepted. You can read it here.
I don't know who it was who called to report our kids. I don't know if they have some other beef with kids in general or with our kids that we don't know about or if they're just grouchy and don't like kids. Maybe they actually think we just dump our kids off in the neighborhood and then share wine and bon bons and go out shopping for eight hours at a time and forget our kids exist: leave them completely alone and without support to go and fend for themselves. Regardless, I'm not letting those neighbors ruin my children's summer.
It's scary, because next time, it might be my house the officer comes to, rather than someone else's, but it's worth it to challenge something so ridiculous, especially when my riskiest parenting offense is letting my daughter drink water straight from the hose.
Posted by Missy at 8:08 PM