family life · parenting

Freedom to roam

Oh, to be free!

Our Mittens used to be a very shy boy. He’d always want mummy to be with him and in groups, say watching an entertainer at a birthday party, or at classes like Gymboree, he’d always want to hang back. Somewhere along the way, he found his confidence, and I’m thankful that these days he is so keen to exercise his independence, and I have to say that as relaxed as I am with him, he is very much the one leading me on this, requesting to buy his own drinks from drink stalls, and such.

Recently he’s also decided that he wants to walk to school himself. To get to school, we have to go to the third level on our block, where the void deck (of sorts) is, walk 2 blocks, and he’s at his classroom’s door. So he never leaves the estate an there’s no danger of traffic (which is on level 1), but I’m still a little reluctant, and I’m not sure if it’s for his safety or for the fact that I’d probably get serious flak for letting him do it.

I am confident that he can make the walk himself without any problems, and I think our neighbourhood is pretty decent, with many parents and caregivers making the same walk every day – I’m just not sure if, at 5 years old, I can trust the rest of the world to treat him with the same respect that I do.

As a general rule of thumb, I remind him to TRY not to talk to strangers. I say try because obviously it’s rude if people talk to you and you don’t respond, and I don’t want to train my kids to be rude. When he’s with me, he should take my cues, so if I’m chatting with someone, or perhaps greet someone with a “Good Morning”, then he knows that’s a person he can engage in conversation with if he wants to. If I don’t speak to a stranger, he will not either.

A while ago there have been reports of a PCF sending warning letters to parents about an alleged “grabbing” incident. I admit it, it made me panic a little because I have two very boisterous boys who often like to go running by themselves.

In relation to the PCF incident, the Police have now come out and said that it was a case of misunderstanding, and (I assume) the Police have also dished out some handy tips on keeping children safe:

Parents and caregivers of children should take these measures to prevent their children from becoming victims of crime:

a) Ensure young children are accompanied at all times;

b) Do not leave your child out of sight;

c) Teach your children not to follow strangers; and

Inform the school or childcare centre if you have arranged someone else to fetch your child. Childcare centres and pre-schools are advised to ensure that only the rightful parents or appointed guardians are allowed to come in contact with their children.

And you know, every time I’m in NTUC (maybe they play it when they see me coming?), I hear this announcement of please watch your belongings and don’t let your rambunctious little kids run around on their own or leave kids unattended. Actually I’ve seen a lady leave her baby at the cashier counter to run off to buy something, which made me a little jittery!

As for Mittens, I guess I’m going to have to stalk him to school. With 3 children to look after, I’m undecided whether he is less hawked over by me, or more restrained because I sometimes haven’t got the time and energy to stalk, and sometimes I just want all the little sheep to stay with the herd, you know what I mean?

Horrors! We let our son use knives! On real food!
Horrors! We let our son use knives! On real food!

Here are a few links you might be interested to read:

Free Range Kids –  A “How to raise safe, self-reliant kids (without going nuts with worry)” website that has plenty of reports and anecdotes of how over-protective parents and society can be. There is even a Free Range Kids book.

Have American Parents Got It All Backwards? – A lovely interesting article that talks about how various cultures eat, discipline, school, and wielding knives. I have to say, I was a little shocked that the hubby taught Mittens how to cut fruit, and even more surprised that he had such good form!

Why parents should leave their kids alone – Originally appearing on the UK’s The Guardian paper website, this site reproduces (I think?) the article. It’s a heavy read that is extracted from the book Kith: The Riddle of the Childscape: Jay Griffiths. Studying many different indigenous tribes, she found the commonality was that babies were often kept very close during infancy and toddlerhood, but much more autonomy by the time they’re like 5.


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6 thoughts on “Freedom to roam

  1. I think its always the mother that tend to worry more. My husband just share with me that one of his friends allowed his P2 boy to go to school on his home while he is in reservist and is unable to send the kid. The journey includes taking a bus which is like 5 bus stop away. The kids proves that he can be independent enough to do it by himself.

    Seriously, I don’t know if I have a courage to let my kids do the same. I think mothers tend to be the less risk taker. And a lot of times, because of our cautiousness, we hamper the growth of the kids. Its really hard to strike a balance.


    1. Little Mom, you are so right about women being more risk averse. I think the hardest part is they are growing (so fast), it’s sometimes hard to decide whether to let them go or not. Literally, too!


  2. I think I am super neurotic when it comes to the kids, cos boys have the tendency to just ZOOOOOM off in a split second. Esp after coming to Sydney, I am more so! LOL!

    Oh, but using the knife? Awesome leh – I shall let my Jayvon try it out too!


  3. I am still not comfortable in letting my 8 yo girl go anywhere alone even if it’s near. I am not sure when I’ll let go and not sure what is a good age to start. For now, I’ll still hawk over my 3 kids as long as I feel necessary.


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