Back in my day, we rode our bikes far away from home and played all over the place without adult supervision.
But in this day, a mom in Austin, Texas, let her 6-year-old son play around a bench about 150 yards from his home’s front porch. The bench is visible from that porch. He knew how to get back home. The boy was never in any danger, until a neighbor and the busybody city got involved.
He’d been out there for about 10 minutes when Roy’s doorbell rang. She opened it to find her son —and a woman she didn’t know. As Roy wrote on her blog HaikuMama last week, the mystery woman asked: “Is this your son?”
I nodded, still trying to figure out what was happening.
“He said this was his house. I brought him home.” She was wearing dark glasses. I couldn’t see her eyes, couldn’t gauge her expression.
“Yes. He was all the way down there, with no adult.” She motioned to a park bench about 150 yards from my house. A bench that is visible from my front porch. A bench where he had been playing with my 8-year-old daughter, and where he decided to stay and play when she brought our dog home from the walk they’d gone on.
“You brought him home… from playing outside?” I continued to be baffled.
And then the woman smiled condescendingly, explained that he was OUTSIDE. And he was ALONE. And she was RETURNING HIM SAFELY. To stay INSIDE. With an ADULT. I thanked her for her concern, quickly shut the door and tried to figure out what just happened.
It didn’t end there. These things never do, as you’ll see on the next page.
The busybody neighbor called the city’s child protective services, who engaged in an Orwellian hunt for a crime that had not been committed. They interviewed the children away from their parents, and educated one about pornography to ascertain if he had seen any or was aware that it existed (“No” to both, until CPS came along — they’re the government, and they’re here to help your kid in all kinds of ways).
The case was eventually closed after nearly a month of harassment, with CPS telling the distraught and frustrated mom that the only way to ensure that this doesn’t happen again is this: “You just don’t let them play outside.”
Because the neighbor can complain as many times as she wants, and CPS will always have to respond.
Don’t let them have childhoods, in other words. Don’t let them live. The mom writes that her neighborhood has a beautiful greenbelt with a playground, but it’s always empty. That’s not just because too many kids get hooked on video games.
The family is moving. I’d recommend staying away from yuppified centers of helicopter moms, like much of Austin has become. A place with a crick out back and lots of bugs and such. If you can find and afford one.