Children Without Borders

freerange
I just learned that when I was a child, my parents were criminals. That’s a lot to take in when you thought your mom and dad were law-abiding citizens—more or less. I had no idea my parents hid a dark side until I heard that parents in Maryland were charged with neglect for letting their kids walk to the park. Alone.
At first, I thought the story was a joke and kept reading for the punchline. Nope. Totally real. A neighbor called the police to report that the children were playing without the required amount of helicopter-parent supervision. Additionally, the nosy neighbor stated, “It wasn’t the first time these children played by themselves.” Gasp.
The siblings were taken by Child Protective Services while the parents were investigated, and (because we have to label everything) the term “free-range parenting” was created. Free-range parenting is defined as, “A new, hands-off approach to raising children.” But other people label it as neglect.
So, if I was so inclined, I could retroactively (and in my mom’s case, posthumously) have my parents thrown in the slammer.
Every Saturday morning, after we finished eating Fruity Pebbles straight from the box while watching “Land of the Lost,” my mom would kick us out of the house and tell us not to come home until sunset. Then she’d slam the door. And lock it.
We were cool with that. We shrugged, hopped on our bikes and went to find something to do. We’d wander through neighborhoods like adolescent Pied Pipers, picking up other unattended children. Then we’d end up in someone’s yard playing Red Rover (aka Clothesline Your Buddies) until those parents told us to get lost.
We’d amble to 7-Eleven where we’d buy candy cigarettes and Fresca (because the can looked like beer). We’d sit on the swings sipping our pretend beer and discuss whatever it is kids discuss in those situations. I’m sure we fooled everyone because doesn’t every 10-year-old sit in the park swigging a cold beer while smoking with her friends?
I guess our parents didn’t think we needed 24-hour supervision. We walked to school every day with a group of friends, rain or shine. And we frequently rode our bikes nearly two miles to the Murray Library with ne’er an adult in sight.
In a time before cell phones, GPS and tracking devices, parents relied on their kids to use common sense. They taught us to avoid strangers, stay off the train tracks, don’t go into homes when the parents weren’t around and, basically, not to be stupid.
My daughters could also have charged me with neglect, and they’ve probably already contacted an attorney. I often allowed them to bike to the local swimming pool and stay there for hours. They also walked to 7-Eleven—and probably bought candy cigarettes with their friends.
People say, “Don’t you know how dangerous the world is?” Guess what? The world has always been dangerous. Helicopter parenting, obsessive worrying and overprotective hovering doesn’t stop bad things from happening.
Here’s my definition of neglect: not allowing your children to create a feeling of independence; not allowing your children to be bored and have to create something; not allowing your kids to make mistakes, get lost, mess up and face consequences.
Kids are resilient, and more often than not, they make the right decision. So I guess I’ll have to forgive my parents for teaching me to be independent and creative. Gee, thanks mom and dad.
Originally published in the West Jordan Journal–http://www.westjordanjournal.com/2015/05/22/72434/children-without-borders
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Absence Makes the Heart . . . Whatever

I’ve been blogless for the last month or so. Usually, I’m super-almost-consistent-once-in-a-while to post on Tuesdays because Tuesday is the worst day of the week. But lately I’ve slacked, what you might call “slackled.”

Winter in Utah is dreadful. If it’s not a blizzard during the commute, there’s a death-inducing, lung-clogging smog that smothers the Salt Lake Valley like a fat cat sitting on your chest, not giving a shit that you can’t breathe.

inversion

(A couple million people are buried under this crap.)

Yes, I’m using weather as an excuse for my blog absence. I’ve been too busy trying to stay warm. Too focused on not having my tongue freeze to utensils during dinner. Too scared to fall asleep for fear I’ll wake up dead from hypothermia.

But now February is more than half over. There’s a scent of spring in the air, a hint of warmth. Just kidding. It’s still %&*#ing freezing.

Besides the weather distracting me from my blogger duties, the Utah Legislature is in session, which leaves me depressed and discouraged. I could punch a parakeet after reading about the latest stupid bill proposals from our “representatives.”

Medical marijuana is a big discussion on Capitol Hill this year. Lots of people have come out against it with arguments ranging from “Marijuana is a gateway drug” to “Utah’s wildlife will eat the plants and be high all the time” (which is hilarious!). It’s been noted several times that uber-addictive, medically-prescribed opioids are still perfectly legal.

bunny

(No wonder Bugs always had the munchies.)

In addition to the weather and the legislature, there are no more work holidays until Memorial Day. MEMORIAL DAY! That’s almost 700 days away! I think every month should have at least one mandatory holiday just to keep me from throwing staplers at work.

That’s it. My Seasonal Affective Disorder rant is concluded. I’d love your tips for surviving the cold, bleak months of winter.

Salt Lake Comic Con: To Geek or Not To Geek

Utah hosted its first Comic Con event–which seems like a slam dunk, because there are more sci-fi/fantasy geeks in Utah per cubic yard than there are Asians in China. So nerds across the state donned their Imperial stormtrooper armor, hopped in their Tardises (Tardii?) and beamed themselves to the Salt Palace in downtown Salt Lake.

salt palace(Landing site for the Geek Mothership in SL,UT.)

My husband dragged my reluctant carcass to the event so he could chase retro sci-fi stars (remember Richard Hatch, anyone?) and hobnob with cosplay characters. My first thought when I entered the convention center was, “Where the hell did all these people come from?” Knowing my allergy to large crowds, my husband quickly shuttled me to the food court to lull me with stir fry and cookies.

Because of the record-number nerd herds, I wasn’t able to see much. But I instantly realized I missed the memo that said all women must be wearing cleavage-revealing superslut clothing. Every girl from ages 10 to 90 was scantily clad (because décolletage is a super power, I guess), and every man from 10 to 90 was ogling these Wonder Women, Catwomen and even a few promiscuous Ewoks.

Old versions of William Shatner, Stan Lee and Adam West made appearances (with no noticeable cleavage. Well, Shatner, maybe). And crowds of people lined up to have their photo taken inside a Tardis. I thought about doing that, but since the line was 3.1 miles long, I didn’t feel like running a 5K to get my picture taken inside a spray-painted cardboard box.

Comic Con (8)

(I’ve heard it’s supposed to be bigger inside.)

I guess the radon gas in the air affected my judgment, because I DID end up standing in a line (albeit a short one) to get photographed with a plaster replica of Gollum. He looked about as surprised as I was to be in the middle of such chaos.

Comic Con (4) (Who the hell are these people?)

After we finally extricated ourselves from the crowds, we stumbled out of the Salt Palace, and back to reality. Would I go again? Not if I have to fight off hordes of Superheroes. Besides, it’s Utah. Life here is basically a Comic Con.