Harper came bounding through the backdoor from the dark backyard. His cheeks where rosy, his breath was heavy and his eyes where wild. “Mom! We play outside!” I had been upstairs going through the night routine with Willem while Chad was downstairs doing dishes while our 4-year-old ran around outside playing with no adult supervision. “We played hide and seek, and bad guys and bad cars (?)” he exclaimed with a frenzied excitement. As he told me about his adventures outside I became just as alive as he was. My little boy is growing up and experiencing the world in his own way through his own eyes.
We are graduating as parents with Harper. I still carry Willem close and cuddle him to sleep (even as I type this they are both asleep in my bed on either side of me), yet Harper has gained an intense independence in the last year.
I just recently came across this op-ed in the New York Times about Free Range Parenting. I had only heard of this term once before on a Facebook thread but it didn’t stick long enough for me to google it. Once I came across the article I felt a strong gratitude that we are able to give our kids an imaginative and beautiful childhood free from fences and limitations.
Free range parenting to me is what we lived as children but it now has a name. It’s about trusting your child in the world and letting them play without the constant watchful eye. This does not work for every child and in every environment but it does stand to be talked about because as the parenting pendulum swings we can over-act when it comes to our children. This comes only for love of them and out of their safety but there is a point when we have to trust that they will make wise decisions and be ok. Think of it as little test runs to their adulthood (oh the thought of that hurts just a little).
“If you love someone let them free” is an in my mama-bear opinion but I do love Harper in a way that I want him to be who he truly is and not a mold that I put him in and trusting him at 4 to play with the neighborhood kids in a safe environment without his mom constantly overseeing him allows him to be his sincerest, sweet little self.