Wednesday, June 09, 2010
Last night Sweet M came to me after her shower, wrapped up in her oversized (adult large) bathrobe, and said, "M___, we need to talk." She had an arch and urgent tone suggesting that this was a matter of no small concern.
"Okay, what's on your mind?"
"I have got to go outside by myself. Karina goes out by herself."
"Really? Karina goes out by herself?"
"Yes. Today she walked home from school by herself. So how come I can't go out by myself?"
"Well . . ." I started to say before she interrupted me.
"I know, I know, the city is a big place, and I could get lost, and there's lots of noise and lots of people and some of them are thieves and bad, and so it's not safe."
"Yes, and lots of the people are good, but there are some people, a very small number of people, who are very bad and wicked to children and parents want to keep their children safe."
"Yes, but I have got to go out by myself. You know — it's a teenage thing."
"I know, but you're not a teenager yet."
"Okay, so when I'm fourteen," she bargained, half asked, half insisted.
Somehow we skipped right over thirteen, so I seem to have bought myself an extra year. Eighteen months in total.
"Maybe. Maybe when you get your dog and you have to walk her twice a day. But I have to talk to your father and some other adults."
"Okay. So we'll talk about this later."
Okay my dear other adults, what do you think?
When is it safe for a language-delayed, PDD-NOS kid (girl in this case) to go out on their (her) own in New York City?
Normally I joke with her that I'll let her out on her own when she's forty. But that isn't funny anymore because the urgency of her desire for more independence is palpable.
The over-precious parenting or helicopter parenting that is prevalent in our culture has come under some solid critiques lately. Lenore Skenazy, who let her nine-year-old son ride the subway alone and then wrote an essay about it for The New York Sun looked at the statistics and observed that your child has more chance of dying from falling out of bed and than of being abducted and killed.
Writing at her blog, Free-Range Kids, Skenazy advocates for more freedom of movement and independence for kids. This year she launched Take You Kid to the Park and Leave Them There Day. In principle, I agree with her. I don't know how I'd have survived if I'd been tethered to a parent or a nanny until I hit my teen years . . . I probably would not have been prepared at all to be a teenager.
But what about our kids — our kids with the sensory issues and occasional dysregulation and the language impairments? When can we safely let them out of sight? And how would we know?
Posted by MothersVox at 6/09/2010 07:47:00 AM