I am the mother of two very small children. My daughter is almost two and my son is three months old. I consider myself to be a Free-Range parent, at least in philosophy. Though the freedom and responsibility my husband and I can give our kids at this age isn’t that much, it’s growing by the day. But I recently had an experience that gave me another perspective on the Free-Range philosophy.
I was traveling solo with my kids while my husband traveled for work. The plan was to have my daughter to sit in a seat by herself and to hold my son in my lap. Emphasis on “plan.” When we got on the plane, my daughter knew exactly what to do. She walked a few steps ahead of me, carrying her book bag, arriving at our row. However, when the time came for her to sit in the seat next to me (instead of on my lap) she proceeded to flip out.
She threw herself on the floor. She screamed. She exhibited every single behavior that a parent of a toddler dreads. I could feel people glaring at me. I was convinced that I would be thrown off the plane, because I could not get her to sit in the seat on her own.
I was on the verge of tears when I heard a voice behind me asking if I needed help. The woman who asked was a complete stranger, but offered to sit with my daughter at least until she calmed down. Then she reached her arms out to my daughter, who leaped at the chance to tell this woman about her family, read some books, and share a couple of snacks. The flight was a about two hours long, and my daughter sat on the lap of this total stranger for the entirety. She was safe, content and quiet.
Being a parent can be incredibly isolating precisely at a time when we need support the most. Being a parent who is afraid of the world and all the people in it (except for those who have had a background check) makes us even more isolated. The gift that I received on that plane when a stranger offered to sit with my daughter on her lap was the gift of not being alone. It was a simple moment, but it was one that I don’t think happens enough. Free-Range Kids means that parents can trust the rest of the world with their children.
Thank you for the work that you do. You have encouraged me, as a parent of very small children, to realize that I am not alone. Sincerely, Kira Dault