Tag Archives: risk

Escaping Supervision

Writers of children’s books have always struggled with a challenge: how to get rid of the parents. Have you ever noticed how many children’s books feature orphans? Now authors have a new layer of challenge: how to get rid of … Continue reading

Posted in Parenting with Renegade Rules | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

3 Responses to Escaping Supervision

  1. Rosalie Talarzyk says:

    This email sent from me to Joanne Frantz (SYC) and our group of grandma aged friends.
    Joanne suggested I send it on to you. Enjoy my grandma saga of unsupervised adventures of three eight year old and one ten year old grand girls written in response to your article:

    ok…..now i have to share my latest adventure with my grand girls.

    after our easter egg hunt at westover park where my six plus our chinese friend were joined at the end by maggie and rees…….
    the girls all asked if they could sleep over since there was no monday school.
    i claimed some time for clean up and quiet. they were to come back at 6:30 with sleeping bags and having had dinner.

    they arrived.

    we went straight to play in the creek….since it was SO WARM.
    three ended up shoeless in the water.
    they all shed jackets.
    abby found a quarter in the water.
    lauren found a big blue shooter marble in the water.
    they performed gymnastics and musical pieces LOUDLY from the top of the culvert cover at the east end.
    we came home at 8pm for showers and general mayhem till lights out at nine for their basement sleepover.

    abby came up crying at midnight with an accident….but went right back to sleep.

    at five i heard them in the front hallway.
    i flipped on the light and went down.
    i wished with all my heart that i had had a camera.
    three of them were dressed for the day in same clothes from creek play.
    they all looked like deer in the headlights…..or night at the museum just before dawn…caught in the act.

    i sent them to different corners of the house and they all promptly went back to sleep.
    two woke up at 7:30, one at 8:30, one at 9.

    we walked to chef-o-nette for breakfast where chris met us after her morning IPE meetings at barrington.
    on the walk, evan shared that they had all gotten up at 3:00 and played till 5.
    abby shared that grace was sad and they talked it out.
    they got out a 1,000 piece jigsaw puzzle but decided it was too hard.
    they shared their animals….etc.

    while the waitress was taking orders evan announced to her mom and the waitress that “it was all fun till we got busted.”
    the first of many times….i am sure.
    i am still laughing at the looks on their faces when i came downstairs.
    they kept saying, “we thought we were being so quiet.”

    • Heather Shumaker says:

      Rosalie, thanks for sharing this wonderful account of unsupervised adventures! Keep them coming.

Solo Adventures

Part of my research for my next book involves train travel, so I’ve been querying train companies in England.  Today I received an email with a highly satisfying answer: yes, kids can ride the train without an adult. As the … Continue reading

Posted in Parenting with Renegade Rules, Books for Kids | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

9 Responses to Solo Adventures

  1. My parents put me, my sister, and my aunt (also our age) on a train from Minneapolis to Milwaukee to visit our great grandparents’ farm in Elkhorn, WI. My sister and aunt were 9, I was 8 at the time. We were so-o-o-o scared to be leaving our parents, but had a great time on the farm, and came back much more confident (I presume- don’t remember a lot of the details of that trip). Back in the 60s we didn’t have Amtrak, just the Milwaukee Road or whatever that particular railroad was named.

    Of course, I don’t know if it took a lot of negotiation by our parents to let us travel alone, but we were met by the great grandparents in Milwaukee, so there was no chance of us getting into trouble unless we got off the train before Milwaukee, which we weren’t eager to do since we figured our only chance of survival was to trust these relatives we barely remembered from their last visit, maybe when we were 4 or 5.

    Other than that, we had pretty much free range of town once we got old enough to ride a bike, tell time, and understood bus schedules. It wasn’t unusual to ride bikes into Minneapolis to swim at one of the lakes or play miniature golf, or take the bus downtown to watch “BIlly Jack” 4 straight shows at the movie theater.

    That freedom was one of the best memories of my childhood, and I mourn that loss of adventure and freedom that today’s kids have. I think its huge for building independence and self-confidence.


    • Heather Shumaker says:

      Love the story of your train journey! Can’t do that with cars… It’s trips like that that really create memories – the independence of it is something that can only be experienced first hand. Hooray for the ‘Milwaukee Road.’

  2. Laurie says:

    “When we step to the side, kids can experience their own lives and adventures.”

    I respect your words of wisdom. My parents were huge advocates of this mindset. One small example is them putting my sister and I on an airplane in San Diego and flying us to our aunt and uncle in Chicago. We’d have a blast with them while mom and dad were making their way across county in the car. Then we’d have a family road trip back again. It was a win-win situation!

    • Heather Shumaker says:

      Bet your parents enjoyed the peace and quiet of the long car drive, too! Definitely a win-win. Love your story.

  3. Zane says:

    This is interesting, Heather. I’ve been thinking a lot about the fact that so many children characters in classic books are orphans or away from their parents—because of a vacation or some other circumstance. I agree that it’s important to let children (fictional and real!) have their own adventures (parent-free). But I must admit that some of my favorite scenes from The Penderwicks (our recent favorite books) are the interactions between parents/adults and children. There is a lot of wisdom in the way these relationships are developed. The children struggle with certain aspects of their parents/adults, of course, but readers also feel very assured that the father, in particular, has a deep respect, admiration, and love for his daughters. And this love buoys the main characters throughout their darkest moments.

    So, I’m striving for that balance in my stories: creating children characters who have the freedom necessary to have proper adventures while also nurturing their relationships with wise adults.

    • Heather Shumaker says:

      I’ve just been reading the Penderwicks myself! Lovely books. In these books, adults function to give the kids a good cornerstone of comfort and strength, but if you look at them, parents are still fairly absent. The mother is dead. The father is kindly but often lost in his own world walking in the woods looking at botanical specimens. The oldest girl basically raises the 4-year-old. In the third book the parents are completely gone and the kids are entrusted to an aunt (who conveniently sprains her ankle and is therefore out of commission).

      I do think your point about adults respecting kids and being there for them in their darkest moments is extremely important. In fiction and real life. Like Mr. Penderwick, or Dumbledore in Harry Potter, kids can turn to wise adults they respect in times of need and know they will be listened to.

  4. Deidra says:

    I never traveled like that as a child, but had a lot of freedom to roam the neighborhood. Rode our bikes or walked to friends, local store to buy candy. Took the bus to the mall to shop or see movies. I now live in NYC and try to give my 6 year old age appropriate independence whenever possible.

    • Heather Shumaker says:

      Trips to the candy store are just as important. Glad you experienced that freedom yourself and are finding ways to give that gift to your 6-year-old. It’s amazing to realize how much independence kids used to have, even in NYC (“A Tree Grows in Brooklyn…”).

  5. Cari says:

    I was pretty protected as a kid. I do remember the landmark day when I was allowed to walk to the corner candy store with only my friends. My mom did make us go the long way — to the end of the block where there was a stop sign, instead of jaywalking kiddie-corner. I also remember my first ten-speed and the freedom it afforded. Both were probably when I was 9-10ish. As a parent, I’m sometimes frustrated by the rules that limit our ability to incrementally expose our kids to independence, and thus build the self-confidence it requires to handle it. When my son was five, I started allowing him to go upstairs at the library by himself, either via stairs or elevator, while I took the other route and met him there. Turned out what I thought was a controlled lesson was violating library policy. Ironic, as one of my favorite kids’ books, no doubt available in that library, is Mop Top, about a six-year-old whose mom lets him go get his very own haircut –across vacant lots, no less!