A Sad Little Story of Parental Fear

… and it's my own story, I'm sorry to say.

Kaylee has been taking swimming lessons regularly pretty much since there was any portion of the pool in which she was tall enough to stand and not drown. It started out as a 'good idea' activity, continued because all her parents love the water, and reached the point where she showed interest in competitive meets.

This spring, she met the requirements for joining the local swim team and has spent very nearly every weekday evening this summer at the local rec center, practicing.

And when I say "local rec center", I mean the building – one of the neighborhood touchstones that predates most of the residential homes in the area – is literally three longish blocks away.

A few weeks ago, Kaylee said she'd like to walk down to practice on her own.

Context: My daughter, age 8, wanted to walk three blocks to a public recreation center she's visited literally thousands of times, so she could attend practice with forty other kids she knows very well.

After some consideration (and doing the trip via bike with her a couple times, just to verify she can navigate the route in her sleep), we said no.

Out of fear.

Now, I want to be clear: It wasn't fear of abduction or anything like that – public perception to the contrary, that sort of crime is down, and down precipitously since I was a kid. The 24-hour news cycle turns every such story into national headlines, but hugely – I would even say criminally – skews our perception of reality.

It was fear of sort of crap you can read about in the story down below: some meddling neighbor sees an eight year old OMG WALKING ALONE IN SUBURBAN WILDERNESS and a couple minutes later the girl's parents are arrested by the sheriff's deputy.

It was, in short, a ridiculous fear.

But aren't most of them?

I linked to this new article not because of the events, but because of Lenore's comment at the end:

"These stories are rare and outrageous enough that they MAKE it to the news. I report them here to remind us that there is a power structure we MUST FIGHT that can take away our rights as parents, kids and citizens. But not that any time an 8-year-old goes to buy a $1 squirt gun, he’s going to get his parents arrested."

Yeah. I need to remember that. Little girl's growing up. I should be proud of her initiative, not worrying about some moronic spinster calling the cops.

Kid, 8, Skips Church to Play. Dad Arrested. : Free Range Kids
Fighting the belief that our children are in constant danger from creeps, kidnapping, germs, grades, flashers, frustration, baby snatchers, bugs, bullies, men, sleepovers, Ivy League rejection letters and/or the perils of a non-organic grape.

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