It's “Take Our Children to the Park and Leave Them There Day”

Screw "Take Your Daughter to Work Day." Want your kids to learn about the real world? Why not let them hang out in it, unsupervised, for a little while today?

Lenore Skenazy, author of a book and blog called Free-Range Kids, has declared today a kind of kid independence day. Her suggestion:

May 22...is the very first “Take Our Children to the Park…And Leave Them There Day.” The idea behind it is simple: Most of us want our children to play outside and have fun, but this is impossible because there aren’t any OTHER kids outside for our kids to play with....A day to get kids outside to meet each other and re-learn the lost art of playing!

Join in any way you feel comfortable:

Once again, let me reiterate that this is not a day to leave our 2-year-olds in the park. It is meant for kids age 7 or 8 and up. And it needn’t be more than an hour or even a half hour. And you can just take a walk around the block, if that’s all you or your child are ready for.  And you can give them cell phones! I just want to get kids out of the house so they can frolick and maybe even plan to do this strange thing where they ask a friend to “come out and play”  again.

And a little statistical literacy to go with your freedom:

When, thanks to the odds in a country of about 60 million children, one of them fractures an arm or, God forbid, suffers anything worse, I can see where it could very easily become, “We told you so!” and, “It’s all her fault!” on the part of  the media. Media that will not know who to point to when another child tests positive for diabetes, or learns that he has high blood pressure brought on by a sedentary childhood, or dies in a car crash, as 5 or 6 kids do every day.

Festivities start at 10 a.m. in a park near you. And, in case you were wondering, leaving your kids on their own in the park is totally legal—at least for now.

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  • ||

    So picking them up in the afternoon is optional?

  • Dick||

    We chose to live in the evil suburbs...in a neighborhood with lots of kids....who all go outside all the time to play sports, ride longboards, and generally get the stink blown off 'em.

    Is the problem being addressed an urban thing?

  • qwerty||

    It's definitely an urban thing. All of the "urbanists" like Obama want us all to live in huge highrises, walk to the market every day for food, and worship the alter of green.

    People who want to own a house, own land, and have more than 2 kids are EVIL. Of course, kids can't play outside in leftopia, but that is a small price to pay for the good of the planet.

  • ||

    Have you SEEN what kids can do to the planet? Personally, I oversaw the destruction of TENS OF SQUARE FEET of land when i about 8 and built a dam on a creek. Can you imagine the harm to Gaia if we just kept letting kids run around drowning ecosystems and precious historical artifacts! Or how about all the time i spent as a kid knocking down dead trees (or chopping down a few live ones? "Murderer!")

    Please think before you let your kid leave the house. Or at least ask what he's doing with that shovel/hatchet. Then do your duty for Gaia, and ground them when they reveal their plans.

  • I, Kahn O'Clast||

    I too lived in the "evil suburbs" and while most families had kids, you never saw them outside except when waiting for the school bus. Sad sad sad.

  • Zeb||

    You are lucky, I think.

  • Chad||

    Dick, I don't know what suburb you live in, but in the McMansionville I live in (in an apartment), I can go on a ten-mile bike-ride through the back-streets and count all the children I see playing outside on a beautiful Saturday on my fingers.

    Parents, in their absurd efforts to protect their children from the one-in-a-million kidnapper, have locked them inside with the Playstation...giving them a 50% or more chance of contracting diabetes, obesity, and heart dieases.

    Don't you see how smart people are?

  • ||

    Playstations cause diabetes?

  • West Texas Boy||

    No, but it's pretty well accepted that exercise reduces the risk of all of those things that Chad points out. Sedentary kids are more likely to become fat kids and fat kids are more likely to get diabetes.

    If that is the real Chad, then I agree with him for once.

    Where I think we probably would disagree, FWIW, is the role of government in this. But that's pretty well hashed out at this point. I think it's great if society as a whole comes up with things like this.

  • ||

    I think it's great if society as a whole comes up with things like this.

    It's like a "taking back the night" event, but for playgrounds. Rock on People.

  • Chad||

    West Texas Boy: Do you not see how government policy with respect to zoning and roads is a major CAUSE of the phenomenon I am noting?

    It is an utterly moot point what would happen in the absence of government, because that will never be tested. What matters is only what happens under various plausible policies.

  • Solanum||

    but in the McMansionville I live in (in an apartment)

    Thanks for that clarification. God knows you've never mentioned living in an apartment before. Or your fabulous art collection. Or your Prius. You must be like a beacon shining in the night in those nasty suburbs. God bless you, Chad.

  • Chad||

    Honestly, I am. I get complements from the neighbors all the time.

    I enjoy practicing what I preach. That alone places me above the vast majority.

  • Nipplemancer||

    martyrdom will make you even MORE popular. kill yourself now and beat them too the punch!

  • CE||

    Odd, I always thought of you as someone who enjoyed preaching what you practice....

  • Chad||

    Nope, the flow runs the other way. I modify any practice of mine that I find contradictory to what I preach.

  • anarch||

    I can go on a ten-mile bike-ride through the back-streets and count all the children I see playing outside on a beautiful Saturday on my fingers.

    They should not be playing on your fingers, and your fingers should be secrurely gripping the handlebars of your bike.

    Geez.

  • BeesInTheBrain||

    Thats because our kids are at the baseball or soccer fields douchebag.

  • dennis||

    Wow, this is a surprisingly good point from Chad. I would argue that there are more reasons that kids don't go outside, basically adults have taken all the fun out of it. Drive by a playground now. They suck. In an effort to make everything safe and sanitary and overtly instructional adults have made childhood suck more than at any time since kids were losing arms in factories. Even the spontaneous get togethers to play football or baseball or basketball have been shunted aside to make way for regimented sports where childish parents can live vicariously through their children. This is a societal problem that is closely linked to people's state based thinking.

  • ||

    I'm a little uncomfortable with the NAMBLA co-endorsement here, but it might just be me.

  • Dello||

    FTW!!!!

  • fingers and toes||

    I was just happy, he counted less than 21 children.

  • ||

    You need to teach Paul Krugman how to count. He apparently needs help.

  • He||

    uses his fingers too

  • ||

    I once left my five year old at the ball park after my son helped his winless team beat the undefeated team in the last game of the season. I didn't realize it until I got home. Of course, she was fine.

  • Mike Laursen||

    Could we get your address and phone number, please. We need to call CPS to make sure your child is farmed out to a nice, safe foster home.

  • Gus Polinski ||

    "Tell me, have you ever gone on vacation and left your child home?"
    "No, but I did leave one in I funeral pallor once. Distraught wife and I
    left him there all day. All day alone with the corpse. he was okay. After
    six-seven weeks, he came around, started talking again. But he's okav. They
    get over it. Kids are resilient like that."

  • Greer||

    LOL. John Candy was a funny mother fucker.

  • Buck Russell:||

    [Staring at it] I'm Buck Melanoma. Moley Russell's wart. Not her wart. Not her wart! I'm... I'm the wart. She's my tumor. My... my growth. My... uh, my pimple. I'm Uncle Wart. Just old Buck "Wart" Russell. That's what they call me, or Melanoma Head. They'll call me that. "Melanoma Head's coming." I'm s... uncle! Maisy Russell's uncle!

  • ||

    Yes, yes they are Gus. Perhaps Paul Krugman can stop treating economics like a game of Cooties.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    I am pretty sure the Quran prescribes death for anyone who takes their children to the park and leaves them there.

  • wingnutx||

    I think it prescribes cake for that.

  • anarch, qu'ran scholar||

    Death = cake, yo.

  • ||

    cake=death

  • Cyto||

    The commutative property of cake-death?

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Then why even have a Take Our Children to the Park and Leave Them There Day? How is that sticking it to Islam?

  • ||

    The playground equipment shall be soft, pliable material, sterilized before and during use. Sentries shall be posted at the entrances, and no one on any sort of a list shall live within 100 miles of this park. Also, the child's cell phone and GPS must be on and available at all times. No touching other children. No rough games. No tag. No games of competition where one child might "win" and another child might "lose." Groups of playing children must be racially diverse and engage in culturally competent forms of play. Aggressive looking with not be tolerated. Any boy caught using a male gaze will be removed from the park. Any child who refuses to use hand sanitizer every half hour will be removed from the park. Any unattended backpacks/lunchboxes/cell phone cases/hats/jackets/coats/mittens/scarves/buckets/toys will be immediately brought to the attention of police as a possible terrorist bomb threat. The surface of the playground shall consist of shredded, recycled rubber material. No running, jumping, grabbing, high-fiving, shouting, or name-calling will be tolerated. If you wish your child to be able to use any play equipment a ten-point waiver must be signed in triplicate. If any person in the park looks suspicious to you, please lock your child in your vehicle and notify the Department of Homeland Security.

    Thank you, and enjoy your stay at the park.

  • Chrissy||

    Your park better have a wheelchair-accessible jungle gym, buster.

  • ||

    You left off "no digging".

  • I, Kahn O'Clast||

    Cell phones and pagers cause cancer .... Gotta think of something else.

  • LBJ's ghost||

    Is the park designated a "nut free zone"? Junior MIGHT have a peanut allergy and I can't take any chances.

  • Zeb||

    Come on, this isn't the UK.

  • Old Man with Candy||

    Thanks for the heads-up!

  • Shady Van||

    FReE KaNDy!

  • Chester the Molester||

    See you guys there

  • ||

    I heard a story one time, about a kid who went to the park, and fell down and scraped her knee. Two days later, she died of blood poisoning. You fiends want to kill all the children!!!!!!!!!

  • ||

    What's with kids like that? No immune system from all the sheltering and disinfecting?

  • ||

    Sounds like a plan to me. Im in dude.

    Lou
    www.complete-anonymity.at.tc

  • ||

    There's a city playground on my way to work, and it's always jam-packed with (mostly black) kids on afternoons and weekends. (Of course, a lot of parents are standing there watching them too.) The public pool is similarly packed with kids on hot summer days.

    I think the problem is more with the top-down organization by adults that any and all play is subject to these days, not the lack of play. When the obesity scare is essentially a result of an inherently flawed statistic (BMI) that is tinkered with at the whims of public health officials who have everything to gain from an "obesity epidemic", I'm going to be skeptical.

  • Dello||

    Obviously, Black parents don't love their children as much as White parents do. Or something.

  • Steve Harris||

    With the huge amount of pedophiles and violent crime (mostly by minorities, who will hate my lilly-white kids), I don't think I'll be leaving them at a public park, thanks.

  • robc||

    Huge amounts?

    Bullshit.

  • skr||

    you're deluded. Crime rates are at 40 year lows.

  • ||

    Just because the FBI claims that crime is at an all time low, that doesn't mean there aren't more weirdos out there. Oh, yes, I guess it does.

    My wife actually attended something at her church where someone from the FBI came to warn people about the dangers of the internet. I asked her if he mentioned that the FBI's own statistics indicate that all types of violent crime are down. He didn't. Big surprise there.

  • ||

    not to mention that most sexual assaults on children are done by adult relatives, not strangers at a park. stranger at a park (or anywhere else) sex assaults on kids are swimmingly rare.

    it's kind of like the whole school shooting scare. kids are SAFER, statistically speaking, at school vs. at home.
    and more kids get injured playing school sports than in school shootings

  • LBJ's ghost||

    Does the park have wi-fi? Because if it does my child isn't going there. They could get brain cancer from the wi-fi signals or they could get on the internet and fall victim to pedophile. Instead I'll have Junior sit home eat cheetos and watch TV.

  • zoltan||

    Most people, minorities included, probably hate your lily-white kids.

  • ||

    I'm an equal opportunity hater. I hate everybody's kids.

  • ||

    minorities, who will hate my lilly-white kids

    I have read that being an insufferable ass is genetic, maybe that is why your kids are always getting beat up.

  • West Texas Boy||

    I live in the suburbs and we have roaming packs of neighborhood kids who ride bikes, squirt waterguns, and play sports in front yards, among other things, and I love it. My oldest kid is 3 and not quite old enough for all of that, but he will be soon and I'm looking forward to telling him to go outside and not come back until the sun goes down.

    I think that's the point of something like this, to encourage parents to let their kids to just go do stuff and not sit at home. Sign us up.

  • ||

    to encourage parents to let their kids to just go do stuff and not sit at home.

    It's not just about "sitting at home". This is how children learn to become people....by, ya know, letting them go out and be people on their own. But no, just like drinking, lets keep them from that experience till they're 21. I'm sure it'll work out well.

  • Slut Bunwalla||

    We're fast approaching a world in which it will be totally normal to still live with your parents, be in school, not have a job, and not have your own health insurance at 30 years of age.

  • Mike Laursen||

    Once again, let me reiterate that this is not a day to leave our 2-year-olds in the park.

    Damn it! I have a 2-year-old that I'd like to leave at the park some days.

  • TP||

    You probably mean you would like to leave yourself down the park some days.

  • Mike Laursen||

    That'd work!

  • Hit and Run troll||

    I have a 2-year-old that I'd like to leave at the park some days.

    Don't threaten me!

  • Steff||

    I'm all for it. Mine aren't old enough yet, but I leave them on my front porch to play, just because it has the front door between me and them; I can still see them, make sure they're not running off, but I also give them the responsibility of not doing so when I've told them.

    They make up games, they play, they laugh, and they stay on the porch. Next, I'll give them the whole yard. And after that, the neighborhood park.

    And finally, I'll give them the freedom to roam in the summer from sun up to sun down.

  • I'm a Horrible Mother||

    Counting the days until I can drop my 10 and 12 hellions off at the neighborhood pool and forget 'em until dinner time.

    Hell, I may just call them, tell them "dinner's on the table, you want?" If not, whatev.

  • West Texas Boy||

    Between ages of 10 and 16, I went to the swimming pool with my brothers literally every day from noon to 6:00. And every other kid in town was there, too. No phones, no parents, and really, no supervision.

    Damn, those were the days.

  • ||

    Ditto. Cept we stayed till the pool closed at 8 and the lifeguards chased us off ;)

  • Pope Jimbo||

    Pool? I had to swim in a lake when I was a kid. The first summer my mother thought she should watch me. Then she realized I could swim like a rat and let me go there whenever I wanted for as long as I wanted.

  • ||

    I have a 2-year-old that I'd like to leave at the park some days.

    You could always put some stamps on her/him, and drop her off at the Post Office.

  • Mike Laursen||

    He'd love that.

  • ||

    Stamps on the kid? When kids fit in boxes so perfectly? Toss him in there with some string and a cardboard tube, and you'll be lucky if you can get the kid out of it when the package gets shipped back.

  • ||

    With the huge amount of pedophiles and violent crime (mostly by minorities, who will hate my lilly-white kids), I don't think I'll be leaving them at a public park, thanks.

    Liberals- sheesh.

  • ¢||

    Is the problem being addressed an urban thing?

    I don't know what the suburbs are like, but I used to live in a Vibrant Urban Center™ (not the "vibrant urban" that means there are black people around; the one that means rich gay dudes shop there) with acres of park outside my window. I stayed there for about eight years. In that entire time, I saw one kid outside.

    Not just "one unaccompanied kid" or "one kid playing"—one kid outside, ever. He was on a skateboard, getting yelled at for making noise.

  • Rhywun||

    I used to live in Chelsea (i.e. the gayest part of Manhattan) and yes, there were no kids walking around there - because there were no kids, period.

    Anyway, I think it's more a sign of the times than an urban or suburban thing. I live in Brooklyn now and the park near me is loaded with families and kids every time I walk by. The streets are full of kids, too - just probably not as many as there used to be in the olde days. I hear it's the same in the burbs, what with the programmed activities and such that fill many kids' days.

  • Hobie Hanson||

    Must suck being gay and not having any little boys around.

  • ||

    Must suck being an asshole and not having any enemas around.

  • Butts Wagner||

    Hobie Hanson, you're weird.

  • Dello||

    "I stayed there for about eight years. In that entire time, I saw one kid outside."

    Which part of "rich gay dudes shop there" would lead you to believe that there were any kids in the part of town you were in?

  • ||

    National shut your fucking kids up when you take them to the supermarket or on public transport etc day can't come often enough.

  • Steff||

    National get off your cell phone and stop being a self absorbed douche can't, either.

  • ||

    National don't bring your ratdog into the restaurant in a carrying case day.

  • ||

    National don't bring your hotdog into the restaurant

    Huh? (Reading Fail.)

  • ||

    I'm all for National "Beat a Mac User" day.

  • ||

    "Club a Mac douche" is catchy-er.

  • ||

    Yes. Yes it is.

    Macdouche is now the official pitchman for Apple products.

    BRB writing sketch...

  • Pope Jimbo||

    Big Mac Attack?

  • zoltan||

    So true, if you can't afford a car, you can't afford children.

  • Nash||

    At our nearby parks the bums shit in the grass and dopers discard their used needles wherever they please

  • Rayne||

    Dude. TAKE BACK YOUR PARKS.

  • ||

    If only they employed somebody to keep that sort of element out of their parks. Maybe a whole group of people. You could give them uniforms and the authority to detain people for inappropriate shitting/littering (redundant?)

    Oh well, i guess it's just an unsolvable problem.

  • Ted S.||

    Sorry, but those people are too busy invading the houses of innocent people and killing the people's dogs.

  • Nash||

    I think they should just charge money to enter the park. That would clean it up right quick. Maybe even get us a tomorrowland to boot.

  • ||

    /snarkoff

    HIRE THE FUCKING BUMS TO SNITCH ON THE LITTERERS. GET THE BUMS A PORTA-POTTY.

    Sorry, i guess that would be too much like solving problems and not enough like bitching.

  • ||

    Back in the old days, we used to walk ourselves to the park, leave ourselves there for a few hours of play, and then walk ourselves home, picking up a pack of L&Ms; for Mom and a Cactus Cooler at the gas station vending machines on the way. And we wuz glad of it!

  • ||

    But, but, it was all uphill. So tiring. AND THE SNOW, UGH!

  • Mike Laursen||

    At age seven, I was roaming all over two beach towns with my friends, all summer long, most of the time wearing no shoes. My wife, however, raised in the more modern, overly-cautious mode is a bit horrified when I tell those stories.

  • Almanian||

    I love the idea that someone feels compelled to organize an event so that kids can go play together.

    Huh - our kids just played with the other kids in the neighborhood. As did we when we were growing up. Which involved some amount of "luck", and some amount of "we chose to live in places like that."

    Small towns - check 'em out.

  • Joette||

    The culture of parenthood has changed since you were a child, Almanian. On our local playgrounds in small town Florida, children up to about age 12 are always accompanied (in accordance to the rules of the park), and often their parents are hovering over them every single moment. If they're not physically hovering they're yelling, "Don't climb that, you might fall. Don't run, you might trip. Don't play, you might accidentally have fun." Well, ok, not that last part.

    I get dirty looks from other parents as I sit and read while my very well behaved 8 year old son plays. I had the temerity to go to the restroom once while he stayed on the playground and received a lecture from another parent upon my return about how lucky I was that in the 2 minutes I was peeing my son didn't get kidnapped and killed.

    An event like this is absolutely necessary in some places, and I applaud the effort.

  • ||

    Considering taxpayers are having to pay for those kids' health care, their parents better damn sure make sure they don't break any bones or get a cut.

  • ||

    I want to know what you said in response. :)

  • Joette||

    I wished the kidnappers the best of luck. Some days the boy just will NOT shut up. :)

  • I'm a Horrible Mom||

    Kidnappers would return my son in person with a health dose of WTF?..and maybe even a check if I agree to never ever let him come near them again.

  • ||

    No restraining order?

  • Ted S.||

  • Almanian||

    Joette, I have kids, so well aware that, for some folks, things are different now. Us - not so much. We certainly watch(ed...two are in college now, one's in HS) our kids more than my parents watched us, but we're definitely not helicopter parents.

    I'm with you on the "going to pee for two minutes". Still remember the crazy woman who accosted us when we were walking a stroller w/our first kid....cause we had her face covered w/a blanket. In the middle of winter. "We don't want HER FACE TO FREEZE." Our first of many encounters with helpful people who knew better than us what to do with our kids.

    As for the event - I'm just surprised it's come to this. Fine, whatever. But I find it sad.

    Like I said - small towns - check 'em out. A lot of them are still "good places" for kids to grow up.

  • Almanian||

    Joette, I have kids, so well aware that, for some folks, things are different now. Us - not so much. We certainly watch(ed...two are in college now, one's in HS) our kids more than my parents watched us, but we're definitely not helicopter parents.

    I'm with you on the "going to pee for two minutes". Still remember the crazy woman who accosted us when we were walking a stroller w/our first kid....cause we had her face covered w/a blanket. In the middle of winter. "We don't want HER FACE TO FREEZE." Our first of many encounters with helpful people who knew better than us what to do with our kids.

    As for the event - I'm just surprised it's come to this. Fine, whatever. But I find it sad.

    Like I said - small towns - check 'em out. A lot of them are still "good places" for kids to grow up.

  • anarch, talmudic scholar||

    their parents are hovering over them every single moment. If they're not physically hovering they're yelling, "Don't climb that, you might fall. Don't run, you might trip."

    Antisemite.

  • 3dmommy||

    My kids, 12, 9, and 6 walk to the park (about two blocks away) together all the time, usually in the afternoon. They get to have fun and play together while I tidy the house and make dinner. It's a win-win.

    I get tired of people who act as though your eyes are supposed to be glued to your child every second of every day. That is not possible to do and one would go nuts trying. And besides, kids need an opportunity to just be kids. I remember as a child, spending many hours a day unsupervised just playing and having fun with my friends outdoors. Those were good times.

    Society as a whole has gotten ridiculous with the hyper-protective attitude. They smother kids with constant supervision and direction. Teach your kids how to be responsible and stay safe. Then let them DO it.

  • ||

    I get tired of people who act as though your eyes are supposed to be glued to your child every second of every day.

    It's appropriate from the time they start crawling till like 4-6 though, right? Once they have some semblance of a human brain to go along with their mobility.

  • Mike Laursen||

    It's appropriate from the time they start crawling till like 4-6 though, right? Once they have some semblance of a human brain to go along with their mobility.

    Nah. Our two-year-old can handle about five - ten minutes of time without supervision in our enclosed, mostly-safe backyard or an hour or two of "quiet time" in his room where he could get in trouble if he really tried (we are listening on a baby monitor, but not watching).

  • Robert||

    And then there are the adults who play with the kids. And by "with", I mean playing games against other adults, using the kids as their game pieces. I refer to youth football. And I've been a coach and want to do it again some time.

  • Almanian||

    LOL! Still remember the Little League moms when I was playing. Never forget one of my friends moms yelling shit when I was hitting (he was the pitcher for the other team). My mom and dad didn't even come to the games - most parents didn't.

    That was in the 70's - it's gotten MUCH worse since then, IMO.

    Our kids all did/do sports - we pretty much just go cheer for the team. The parents living through their kids cause they didn't make varsity 30 years ago like the rest of us did? Pitiful....:)

  • Pope Jimbo||

    I get the hairy eyeball from other parents when I drop my kid off at a practice and then leave. They sit there and watch the entire practice.

    Once I was also chastised by some parent/cretins for clapping when a 4th grade kid made an incredibly lucky shot because he was on the other team.

    The only sport that was like that when I was a kid was tennis. That was a nightmare as a kid to hear what some parents said to their kids during a match.

  • ||

    I barely survived these in my youth

    How many lives have been saved since fun was outlawed?

  • ISellShampoo||

    I was lucky enough to get to play outside from morning till night when I was a kid even though I was born right around the time of the big child abduction scare of the 80's. I'm determined to make sure my son gets to do the same things I did growing up. If that means I have to live in the suburbs, or *gasp* a backwards redneck small town in a fly over state then so be it.

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