Free Range Kids

I generally think of myself as a parent who expects a lot of my kids, not quite like that Tiger Mom, but as I've said before, I'm rather lazy and kids are a lot of work.  Ha, how's that for an understatement!  So in the name of laziness instilling self-sufficiency, my kids take on chores as soon as their old enough to toddle from the dishwasher to the knife block.  And you know what?  They like it!  I'm sure Wyatt won't always be so excited to empty the dishwasher (sans knives), and Ava will soon realize how not fun it is to help wash the car (especially in Oregon), but they are proud of what they can do, and so am I.  And then there is the added bonus of powerful habits (e.g.: do not torture someone who will one day be bigger than you) that will hopefully serve them well when they are too far away for me to flick their ears.

I'm working hard to also be more relaxed in the area of letting children work out their own problems and have a little more room to fail (although my friend says apparently you're not supposed to actually look forward to their failures.)  You want to lean over that river bank?  I don't advise it, but it's your call. . .oops, yep, turns out it is a bit breezy for a swim today.  Time to go home!  (Naturally I am not talking about letting my child fall into a ranging flood-stage river, so please take your finger off the CPS speed dial button.)

Anyway, all this to recommend a book that I thoroughly enjoyed and generally helped me relax as a parent, and consider new ways to bolster my kids' independence.  Free Range Kids by Lenore Skenazy is a snarky, punchy read that is worth a parent's precious down time.  Not that I agree with everything in the book, but generally her message to the over-protective parent club is sound.  Seems like there are so many conversations these days that sound like this: "Kids are not allowed to play tag at recess, actually they can't have recess at all!  They might get hurt on those monkey bars. . ."  And in my own life today, I asked the librarian for a stool next to the book return so Wyatt could help drop in books without me having to have go into pre-term labor trying to lift him.  The woman said, with a serious and concerned face, that they purposely do not have a stool there because of the safety issue.  What???  I laughed at her, I couldn't help it!  Because God forbid kids should somehow fall off a 10 inch stool and impale themselves on their library cards or . . .I can't even think up another stupid (shh, we don't say that word) scenario.  Next time, I'm going in there with a pop-up step ladder.  Sheesh.

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