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Free-Range Kids


School, if you haven’t heard, is out for summer.

*cue guitar solo*

Hear that noise? That’s the sound of hundreds of parents weeping at the impending “I’m booooooored,” that will pepper each and every  conversation from now until August, a date that seems impossibly far away from where I’m standing. Oddly, I like having my children around, even the ten-going-on-sixteen one, who has his moments of sweetness interspersed with what I can only assume is the beginning of puberty.

Hear that? That’s the sound of me weeping into my cup of coffee.

Summer vacation in my house meant two things: it was going to be ass hot, and my mother, as soon as I awoke, would hand me a slice of bread to eat as she booted me out the door, locking me squarely outside. It’s not that she didn’t like my company – I’m quite certain I was both a gentleman AND a scholar – it’s that she simply didn’t want to listen to me whine about being bored.

And, with kids of my own now, I can’t say I blame her.

We were a rowdy pack: there was my BFF(slash)mortal enemy (we switched it up every other day or so) Ashley, my best friend David Cook (no relation to the American Idol winner)(PROBABLY), and a couple of other kids thrown in for good measure. We got into all kinds of mischief and mayhem, or, what appeared to US to be mischief and mayhem. Mostly, we played American Gladiators and watched women’s wrestling.

Foxy boxing was, well, foxy.

We were a pack of free-range kids. Our neighborhood was tucked well out of the way from traffic, so the few cars that drove past did so slowly enough that we could pull in our hockey nets before getting run over. We had Lemonade Stands, played Ghost in the Graveyard, and, once, in a stunning fit of brilliance, peeled half the bark of the birch tree in the front yard.

I’ve been sorta sad my own son hasn’t gotten to have that experience. Ben’s the type of kid who, bless the good lord-n-butter, lives with his head permanently in the clouds. I’m being for-serious when I say that he’s the kid who’d be all, “Oh, you have KITTENS in your car Mr. Trenchcoat Dude in the Child Napping Van? LEMMIE AT THE KITTIES!”

It’s less a personality defect and “GRAAAAPPPPP” *hair falls out into a puddle around me* type of situation. I’m EARNING my bald patches.

Which is why I’ve been looking forward to this. The day has FINALLY come.

The younger two are now old enough to play in the front without me having to have a coronary because the teens that live in the houses surrounding mine like to use my normally-quiet street for drag racing contests. It’s like toddlers don’t know they shouldn’t go in the street or some shit. Clearly, toddlers are stupid.

Last night, I stood in my backyard, perched atop a precariously placed step-stool*, kicking myself for not weather-sealing the privacy screen that my roses use to climb upward, because black spot is a motherfucking asshole that I’d like to kick in its tiny fungus ass.

Below me, and oddly not trying to shake the ladder, my children clamored about in the backyard, a motley band of neighborhood kids all in one space, using the swing-set that I’d once bought for my (then) only child and eating Popsicles I’d had stashed away in the freezer for such an occasion. I listened to them chatter back and forth, “telling” on each other, playing dodge ball, pulling each other aside for “secrets” and, finally, having an American Idol-type singing contest.

(my kid, I’ll have you know, sang “Eye of the Tiger”)

I smiled, one of those soft quiet smiles you give yourself when you feel you’ve done something right.

American Gladiators may be long-since over. Foxy Boxing may only occur on YouPorn. I don’t own a birch tree (I own an Ass Tree that’s infected with an Ass Boner). I plan to pay my children NOT to host a lemonade stand.

But finally. FINALLY my kids? They, too, are becoming free-range kids.

Here’s hoping one of the toddlers reminds his older brother that he should not, in fact, accept candy from strangers.

If only I could train my roses to kick blackspot in the taco – THEN my life would be complete.

This is a random picture of Alex’s handiwork – apparently, he learned how to water-board while at school.

If you look carefully, you can see the reflection of an orchid in the bowl – it’s like one of those optical illusions. I wonder if you can see Jesus!

*Don’t ask me why anyone within a five-block radius thought that me standing on a step-stool was a good idea.

11 Comments to

“Free-Range Kids”

  1. On June 7th, 2012 at 11:58 am saramd Says:

    Man I wish my boys were old enough to be free range. Gah 5 and 3 is a not safe age for that kind of summer crazy. We do have a tiny fenced in back yard so that helps a little.

  2. On June 7th, 2012 at 11:59 am Ms Dreamer Says:

    I do, I do – Jesus with His arms outstretched like that statue in Brazil (or wherever). 🙂 But it took me forever to figure out the feets around the rim!

    We were free-range children as well. As long as you had breakfast, showed up once for lunch, and were home before the streetlights came on, my parents didn’t give a fiddler’s fuck where we were. When we spent weeks at the grandparents house (in a small town about an hour south of home), it was the same thing. We and the cousins knew every inch of town–and nearby lake.

    It is kinda sad that most kids these days (shit, I sound old) don’t/can’t get that same kind of freedom. Think Imma sit outside tonight and run my toes through the grass.

  3. On June 7th, 2012 at 12:20 pm Cindy Says:

    a gentleman and a scholar indeed!

  4. On June 7th, 2012 at 12:37 pm thepsychobabble Says:

    I’m amazed you didn’t somehow fall off your step stool and break something . <3

  5. On June 7th, 2012 at 12:44 pm Mayor Gia Says:

    Hhahhaah. You know, I didn’t realize how much parents dread summer vacations until I started reading blogs…poor naive me.

  6. On June 7th, 2012 at 1:34 pm Grace Says:

    I was about to post something poignant and special and then my 8 year old started whining and I had the urge to put a bullet in my head instead.

    Half the reason we moved to a small town was exactly that – so we could also have Free Range kids, without fear of them getting mowed down by cars. Our old street was posted at 25mph, but it was treated like a speedway. I like my quiet little town – and of course, I have to FORCE my kid to go outside. Sigh… I have high hopes for when my son is old enough to play outside on his own.

  7. On June 7th, 2012 at 3:58 pm Jolie Says:

    Do I need to hide the step stool?! Glad yours are getting outside. I like to turn on the fans and be all “What? Huh? Can’t hear ya over the fans…” try it, you might like it. 🙂

  8. On June 7th, 2012 at 9:00 pm Valerie Says:

    I wish we lived in the type of neighborhood where my kids could be free-range kids. Back in the day, that was the shit. I’m sad that they are missing out. It’s not that I live in the ghetto, but it’s still not safe enough out there to let them roam freely.

    Plus the other kids in the neighborhood are straight-up assholes.

    Good for you and your kids. This shit needs to be happening more often.




  9. On June 8th, 2012 at 1:20 am Devan Says:

    “Clearly, toddlers are stupid….” Best line ever!! LOL, I snorted.
    Loved this, as I do everything you write.

  10. On June 8th, 2012 at 10:36 am Marta Says:

    I have absolutely no idea what that is a picture of I have to confess. Like the Magic Eye or Waldo I just don’t see it.

    Also. Eye of the Tiger is the best song ever.

  11. On June 8th, 2012 at 11:52 pm Kristin Says:

    Free range children ROCK…and, my solution to the “I’m bored” whine is to offer up the most heinous chore available. The children quickly remember just how suicidal it is to tell me that they are bored.

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