Free-Range Kids

Cop Speaks to Mom Who Let Her Six-Year-Old Cross the Street. It's Not What You Think.

Nice to be surprised every now and then.


Pavel Losevsky / Dreamstime

I get emails on a weekly basis from moms chided by onlookers for letting their kids do anything by themselves: walk to the corner store, wait in the backyard, climb up the jungle gym without a parent underneath, arms widespread, like a fireman ready to catch a jumper. So it's always encouraging to see a note like this one:

Dear Free-Range Kids: My almost six-year-old kindergartner and I walk to school (about 2 blocks with a crosswalk and crossing guard across a busy street and one quiet neighborhood street to cross just before it). Since the second week of school, my son has been pushing me farther back every day. As of now, I stop at the "un-guarded" corner and he crosses and walks the rest of the way alone.

This morning, a police officer pulled up next to us as I was hugging him and sending him across.

Ack! I know what's coming! The CPS visit. The judge declaring that the action constitutes negligence. The parenting classes, the fines, the fuming.

I braced for any comment he might have—but he nodded approvingly and then told me to enjoy it while it lasts because his daughter is starting college today.

It was such a refreshing moment!

It's nice to be surprised every now and then.