by Judy Dutton
I first realized I might be a free-range parent when I lost my kid at the playground -- don't worry, it was just for five seconds -- then found her at the tippy top of the jungle gym, grinning, while other kids' mothers hovered nearby saying "Jimmy, be careful." As with any parenting strategy, free-range parenting may have its flaws and catch some flack, but I think it sure beats helicoptering any day!
In case you're curious where you stand on the free-range scale, check these clues below and see if they ring a bell. If so, you're free-range all the way!
1. The word "playdate" makes you break out in hives.
2. You have to calm down other parents and say "he's okay" when your kid falls down.
3. Your kids can walk around barefoot or play in the mud, and that's okay.
4. Your child will NEVER have a cellphone.
5. You have never considered microchipping your kid ... or even your dog for that matter.
6. You have to go outside to find your kids for dinner, and you don't flip if they're five minutes late.
7. A friends of yours comes over and asks, "So, where are your kids?"
8. Your kids know more of your neighbors than you do.
9. When your kids are fighting, you and your spouse make bets on which one will win.
10. The mention of joining the PTA makes you nauseated.
11. Your kids are covered head to toe in bruises and scrapes, but you have no idea where they came from, nor do you really care.
12. The older kids can help you shop by grabbing the one item you need out of a crowded aisle and meet you at the end of the next.
13. You can say "I'm going to take a shower," and then actually go take a shower, even if the kids are awake. Maybe even spend the extra time shaving your legs and doing your makeup without feeling like you have to check on them that second.
14. Your kid sees you making a sandwich and says she wants one too, and your reply is to hand her the knife and say, "Knock yourself out."
15. You send your boy into the men's room at the store instead of making your preteen weird everybody out in the women's room and have zero concern or guilt about doing so.
16. You're excited -- as opposed to terrified -- the first time your little kid climbs a tree.
17. Your children don't ask for snacks. There is no kid shelf. There are no pre-portioned baggies of chopped fruit or veggies. Your kids know when they're hungry, and if the food is there, they can eat it.
18. You want to back-hand the parents who talk about how anti-contact sports they are.
19. Your kids can use the first-aid kit themselves, and you don't even know they're injured 'til you follow the blood trail to the Band-Aid debris.
20. The kids don't eat dinner until 9 at night and only because it got too dark to stay outside.
How do you know you're a free-range parent?