How I Discovered That I'm Not a Free Range Parent | Giftie Etcetera: How I Discovered That I'm Not a Free Range Parent

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

How I Discovered That I'm Not a Free Range Parent

Last year, Santa brought The Loki (age 6) and The Ander (age 9) bicycles for Christmas. My husband and I tried to teach them to ride. There were tears. There were screams. There were injuries. There was drama.

The kids also expressed their displeasure with the whole process.

So, last week, I brought them to physical therapists, paid over $500, and let the experts teach my uncoordinated kids - with their complete lack of fine and large motor skills - to ride two-wheeled bikes. (Don't judge! Okay, fine, judge. But just know it was worth EVERY SINGLE PENNY.)



off topic, bike riding, how to ride a bike, parenting, epilepsy, budget

It worked. We have (insanely expensive) bike riders!

After assessing their progress, the younger child got limits. He has epilepsy, so he cannot ride without a buddy along. He must ask first. No in the road yet without an adult, since he ignores cars. (Thankfully, we live at the end of a dead end road with almost no traffic.) He can only ride to and from the dead end and back to our house.

The epilepsy diagnosis made these rules reasonable.

But the older kid is riding so well and watching for cars, so he got different limits. He can go halfway up and down the street (still only about 0.2 miles), visit with neighbor kids in the front yard only, and go out by himself as long as he tells me he is going outside.

I watched him test the rules. He followed them closely. He is a very responsible, obedient kid.

Watching him, always in view of my house, freaked me out.

I thought I'd be the cool parent. "Ride to the park," I'd say. "Be inside before the streetlights," I'd urged. And then I would disappear, to take a nap or watch Netflix without a care.

Instead, I'm ruining my blinds trying to peek out the window. I'm thinking of setting the alarm on his watch for him to check back every 15 10 2 minutes.

Instead of allowing him to roam the neighborhood and explore, like I did as a kid, I want to tie him to the house.

Instead of free range parenting, which sounds deliciously compelling in theory, I want to helicopter parent. My nature screams for it.

It will get better with time, right? In the meantime, how upset would my husband be if I cut a peephole into the window shades?

Etcetera.


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14 comments:

Heather Winterton said...

Yes it does get better with time. I was terrible with DS1 initially, forever watching out of the window. I'm still a control freak. He biked to his Grandparents Friday evening and did not text me when he got there :( However I do notice that DS2 is allowed more freedom than his elder brother ever did at the same age.

Sammy Jankis said...

Yes, yes he would.

Mathochist said...

I too, in theory, want to be a free range parent, but I have to fight my helicopter parent nature all day long! Yesterday I let the two oldest go back for the salsa I'd forgotten to pick up in the middle aisle while I stood in the deli line in the corner of the grocery store. (At the commissary on a military base, so a lot less threatening than a regular grocery store.) It took all my concentration and tons of deep breathing not to have a panic attack when they took too long to get back!

Mathochist said...

I too, in theory, want to be a free range parent, but I have to fight my helicopter parent nature all day long! Yesterday I let the two oldest go back for the salsa I'd forgotten to pick up in the middle aisle while I stood in the deli line in the corner of the grocery store. (At the commissary on a military base, so a lot less threatening than a regular grocery store.) It took all my concentration and tons of deep breathing not to have a panic attack when they took too long to get back!

Bonnye said...

I take full advantage of my love for gardening and for reading outside-- no one says I actually have to understand what I'm reading!-- to keep an eye on what's going on. It's okay to monitor them without them knowing it; they get the freedom to grow that they need and you get to keep your sanity.

Elizabeth C. said...

I'm so relieved I'm not alone! Like you, I grew up being allowed to run outside all day long. As long as I was back before dark, my parents never worried. Oh, how I want to be that parent. I really do. But even though my daughter is only 16 months, I know I'm going to be terrified of letting her go anywhere on her own. I'm even freaked out about the inevitable day when she's out of a crib and able to wander around the house in the middle of the night. What if she falls down the stairs? What if she turns on the stove? What if she walks out the front door? Let her roam around the neighbourhood on her bike?? Umm... no, thank you.

Sounds like you're doing a great job holding back those helicopter parent impulses and letting your children have just enough freedom to really enjoy those new bikes! :)

Carla P. said...

Yes, it's hard to snip at the apron strings, but the looks of joy, wonder, and accomplishment on their faces... like MasterCard says...PRICELESS!

Lisa Tummers said...

Long-range walking-talkies have let me give our kids much more freedom than I would without them. I can check in with them, they can let me know what's going on. I say "they," but now it's just the youngest who is 9. The others are 22, 19, and 16, but they all got essentially the same mixture which was more structured than free range but not close to helicoptering. We all have to find what works for us, right? :)

littleangel4523 said...

It gets alittle easier as they get older but it never goes away. I am currently teaching my oldest daughter to drive. I want to tie her to the couch and say, nope no point in driving today. however I know I can't, There will always be a part of you that wants to cut a hole in the blinds. :)

Jessica Abegg said...

I was lucky to grow up in a pretty enclosed neighborhood - lots of paths and side roads and things, but it was a mobile home park of sorts, so it had one in and one out. I was not allowed to leave, but could go anywhere within the neighborhood. So long as I checked in every half an hour. It was a lot of in and out of the house, and I had to actually go in and tell either my mom or dad that I was checking in and heading back out, but it was quite nice. Lots of summer afternoons spent riding around (and popping back in for water and such with check ins). I got a bit older, and then I got to be out for an hour at a time (and boy was that exciting!) but still couldn't leave the neighborhood.
While that isn't necessarily always feasible (as not all neighborhoods are set up as awesomely as mine was!), if you live in a decent area, can give street names to stay on, and make sure they've set out with a watch and to keep an eye on the time...they'll think it's awesome xD

Kimberly Lewis said...

Wow! Great post. Pinned and tweeted. We appreciate you stopping by to party with us. We hope to see you, tonight at 7 pm. Happy Monday! Lou Lou Girls

Crafty Staci said...

The hardest thing for me was letting them drive away after they each got their driver's license. I don't think you ever stop worrying, you just learn to manage it as you go. And every kid is different, so there's no reason for any of us to just each other on anything! Thanks for linking up to Talented Tuesday!

Crafty Staci said...

Sorry, not just, judge! :-)

Emma @ P is for Preschooler said...

I wish I'd known you can take kids to someone else to teach them to ride, lol! I so would have gone that route too! What is that saying...we're all perfect parents, until we have kids! ;)