Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Free Range Parenthood

There’s been a lot of buzz lately about free range parenting, also known as letting your kids ride their bikes home from school; making them do their own math homework; and generally calming the fuck down by turning off the helicopter rotors. Because while the law of probability says that your kids probably won't win a Nobel Prize, they are also unlikely to end up dead or in prison just because you let them walk three blocks to the playground.

What’s absent from this discussion however, is the equally important concept of free range parenthood. Free range parenthood is a movement whose day has yet to dawn, but I’m hoping it happens soon.

Wikipedia has a pretty good discussion of the whole free range concept as applied to livestock. For “at least part of the day,” I too would like to “roam freely outdoors rather than being confined in an enclosure," also known as my office. I would like “the opportunity for extensive locomotion and sunlight,” even though I hate even non-extensive locomotion and the sun rarely shines in Juneau. 

I'd still like the option, though. It's always good to keep your options open. Plus, if it's good enough for chickens, pigs, and cows, it should be good enough for parents!

I generally agree with the philosophy of the free range parenting movement, but what I want to know is, when is it my turn? When will I be left all by myself to go about my business? I mean, I haven't even dropped my ass on the can for five fucking minutes in the past seven years without someone barging in on me. I should have free range in the bathroom, at least, in order for my life and household to be USDA certified,right?

At a bare minimum, (and consistent with the free range parenting movement), I want to be treated as "a smart, young, capable individual, not an invalid who needs constant attention and help." 

This means I don't want to be second-guessed every time I pick up the car from the mechanic, call the insurance company, or write a tip on a check. And I'd like some effing confidence that I can put hair into two pigtails, draw a heart or a maple leaf, and back-track from step 652 to 649 of the Rapunzel Lego castle to fix a backwards turret. (Since my $472 dollar wrinkle cream just arrived today, the young part should take care of itself in 30-90 days).

So while surely free range parenthood includes being treated as smart, young, and capable, I'm not so sure about the "invalid who needs constant attention and help" part. I secretly kind of liked my September knee surgery and ensuing recovery, where I got to lie in bed for three days in an opioid fog, getting waited on hand and foot by everyone who darkened my doorway. 

I wouldn't want that forever, obviously, but surely a few days of constant invalid-level attention and help every now and then is consistent with free range parenthood? We don't need to go to extremes here.

Bottom line: I think I should have sixty square feet of free-roaming space, a bit of acknowledgement that I know my ass from my elbow, the ability to finish two or three sentences per day without being interrupted, and the occasional opportunity to exercise or (more realistically) be lazy.

Free range parenthood: bring it on!

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