How Much Free Range For Your Kids?

by L

Remember the Maryland free range kids?

Do Totebaggers allow their children to walk home from school or in the neighborhood alone? At what age? Is the age the school deems children responsible enough to walk home alone too young, too old, or just right? At what age should children be allowed to take public transportation alone?


144 thoughts on “How Much Free Range For Your Kids?

  1. This article rubbed me the wrong way when it first came out. It seems like the parents willfully misunderstood what “unsubstantiated” means – and no one has bothered to correct them, or Slate.


    While only a small percentage of reports turn out to be deliberately false, some cases become classified as “unsubstantiated,” which means there was not sufficient information regarding the allegation or the identity of the family to confirm abuse or neglect based on the state’s legal criteria. Some cases are classified as unsubstantiated if no court action was taken and voluntary services were provided to the child. Criteria for substantiation vary among states because there is no uniform national system for case reporting.

  2. So we don’t allow any of this yet. The school says in 3rd grade (I think) they can walk by themselves. Not sure if that means a 3rd or 5th grader can supervise a 1st grader- if not, our poor oldest child won’t get to walk by herself ever!

    I do allow them to go in the backyard by themselves, but not the almost-3-yo by herself. I don’t trust the younger 2 to not run into the street, so they can’t go anywhere other than the backyard without a parent. I think I would be more relaxed about this if we lived on a quieter street and if the street had sidewalks.

  3. My kids walk home and play in the neighborhood. For neighborhood play, if they are going to friends houses further down, they need to let us know because they could be outside for hours playing in this yard or that and it is easy to lose track of when we last saw them. The neighborhoods here are developments/inner roads so not too much danger of cars. Neighbors with 4/5 year olds start allowing their kids to go to other houses to play.
    In the future, my kids should be able to walk to the stores nearby with friends. This involves navigating a busy road.
    They are still considered young to do this by the prevailing standards of the community.

  4. Backyard alone at 2, but we could see them from the kitchen, by 5 didn’t feel the need to watch from the kitchen. Front yard, about 6, when they could show us they knew what to do when cars came – we live on a quiet street, but when cars come around the curve on our street, the area by our house is a blind spot for the driver. About 8, ride/ walk around the block alone – again after showing us they new how to negotiate intersections. About 10 they could start riding bikes in the neighborhood farther away from “around the block” and including to friends’s houses. Yet, again, they had to show us they had a general lay of the land and at least knew the main streets to get back on if they got lost or to stay on the greenbelt trail. Even at 12 and 15 – they must tell us when and where they are going when they leave the house.

    Public transportation is so minimal here. However had 7th grader dropped off at train station by dad and picked up at the other end by mom a few times due to scheduling.

    I think age is not the issue as much as what they know and how they behave. Somethings DD#2 does later than DD#1 because her judgment is not as good on those issues.

  5. My oldest is 7, so I allow her to go play outside by herself in the yard and across the street/next door with other kids (she just has to tell me where she is going). We have not let her walk in the neighborhood by herself, but have let her walk around with our middle school neighbor. If she wanted to walk to school with a friend in fourth grade that would be fine (we live a half mile away). My neighbors seem to give their kids quite a bit of freedom early on, it’s pretty old school, and so that pushes me to do so as well. The younger two run out in the road so I am outside with them but I do let the three year old go in the backyard with my oldest by themselves.

  6. DS is 9 and in 4th grade. He now walks home on his own from his school bus stop to our house – it’s about 3 blocks on residential streets. He calls me to let me know he’s home (I’m still at work) and then gets ready on his own to go to aikido – and then walks by himself to the aikido studio (about 3 blocks from our house; has to cross one busy arterial but there’s a light and a crosswalk). We just started this practice this school year. It was great to see how proud DS was of mastering this stage of independence.

    DD is in 9th grade. She has a city bus pass now and rides the city bus to her school. She’s become adept at figuring out how to get to various places in Seattle riding the bus (e.g. the mall) and is comfortable transferring buses.

    DD needed new clothes for spring break (she’d outgrown her shorts, bathing suit was falling apart, etc.). DD and I negotiated a budget; I gave her cash; and then dropped her and a friend off at Value Village where she started her shopping trip. From there, DD and the friend took 2 buses to get to the mall where she finished most of her shopping. I loathe being at the mall and shopping – so it was great from my end. I also like DD having the experience of getting to make the decisions about what she wants and having the choice be hers about how much she wants to spend for a particular item (knowing that she has a fixed amount of $ to buy all the things she wants).

  7. My main issue with leaving my kids unsupervised is fighting among themselves, since we live on a single lane dead end road populated by retirees. Our back/side yard is fenced so they could play there as soon as they were willing to be without me. They could play alone in the front starting at 4. Recently, we got a basketball hoop and I was pleased to see them watch a ball go in front of a car without chasing it. (Motto: We can get a new ball; we can’t get a new you.) And the car stopped, since the half-dozen houses beyond ours observe our house when they go by. When the twins were toddlers and DS1 was 3, I think the UPS guy had our house as a waypoint, because he always slowed down just in case.

    DS1 walks home from the bus. School requires kindergarteners to be met by a parent. It’s ~0.1 to 0.3 mi from the bus to home, depending on time of day. Everyone will walk next year but it’s an easy call because they have each other and they’re walking by 3 houses with 5-10 acre yards/pastures. They have permission to give dropped apples to the horses across the street, the main potential distraction.

  8. I’ve been much more restrictive with my oldest child than I have been with the youngest. 4th and 5th graders at our old elementary school are allowed to walk/bike to school without a chaperone. My kids loved having this freedom. Overall, we were on the more lax end of the spectrum when it came to this kind of thing, and some of my friends were taken aback by our attitude. What I didn’t understand is how they were perfectly OK with their kids running an unsupervised lemonade stand, which means inviting all kinds of drive-by interactions with strangers, but they were not OK with the kids biking/walking around the neighborhood. I do insist, however, that they text me when they’re changing locations. I still want to know where they are. This also holds true for oldest DS, who is a new driver.

    When DD was in her later years of HS, the kids wanted to go to NYC for the day or to concerts at night. At first, they traveled in with an adult but once there they were free to wander the city and then they’d meet the adult for the ride home. Later on, they just came and went on their own but I still want her to text me to let me know when they got to the venue, what train they were catching home, etc. We also discussed what to do if there was a serious incident in NYC like that power outage that took down the entire NE or heaven forbid, another terrorist attack. In those cases, we have friends, cousins and other relatives, etc. that live and work in the city that she knows she can meet up with until things calm down.

  9. So many people have neighbor children! The neighbor children close to us (3) are always in private school with long days or aftercare at the public school, so they are not available for playtime.

  10. I was downtown with the kids last week and threatened to just abandon them with $20 and see if they could get back to Bethesda. I probably should do that – to see if they can.

  11. IMO, the more people see kids walking around, the more they will get used to the idea that there is nothing wrong with the picture. If they seldom see a 10 yr old or a 6 yr old, walking calmly by themselves, alarm bells go off and they want to alert the police.

  12. L – my neighborhood has a lot of SAHM’s. It is great because the usual routine is snack, homework and out to play. Kids are driven to activities in the evenings but usually there is one set of kids, that is available to play.

  13. I was downtown with the kids last week and threatened to just abandon them with $20 and see if they could get back to Bethesda. I probably should do that – to see if they can.

    Last time I was at SFO, a mom with some kids in the 6-10 range was making them decide when to get off the circulator train. They kept asking if the next stop was the right stop and she kept replying, “I don’t know, I’m relying on you to tell me.” The oldest girl did look at the schematic maps on the wall of the train and listened to the announcement of each stop and figured it out. Seemed like a safe way to get them introduced to the whole system.

  14. I’m generally very much in favor of free range parenting, but even I was shocked my son’s first day of first grade (halfway through the school year) when I went to pick him up and learned he had been sent off on his bike a couple minutes earlier (I wasn’t late by any means) to find his way, on his bike, to our house, nearly 2 miles away.

  15. I don’t allow the children (6, 3, 1.5) out of my line of sight outdoors. For the 3 and 1.5 year olds, they are not allowed out of my line of sight in the house either.

    If I need to change over the laundry or shower, they are either observed on our baby cameras or shut in their individual rooms with their toys to wait. Too much sibling violence and the youngest is a climber.

    This is probably very dependent on where you live, though.

    We live on a very busy street with traffic at 40-50 mph and a constant stream of pedestrians.

    If we lived on a dead end in the country like WCE, my kids would have more freedom.

  16. A few years back we played a game at dinner for a few weeks called – We are going on vacation without you. The scenario was parents are gone for one week – how to you manage? (Note we weren’t planning on leaving them!)

    Then each night we walked through various scenarios that would normally happen on that day – how to get to school and other activities, how to have food and clean clothes, how to take care of pets and the house, what to do if you get sick, etc.

    They were pretty creative and we found out they knew more than we thought they did. For example, DD#2 knew the city bus went from the stop at .5 mi from our house to the grocery store (even though we have never taken that bus) and she said they’d take their rolling backpacks to carry the food in.

    It also gave us a chance to talk about situations that came up through the discussion such as is there a safe way to walk/bike from school to home, as the way we drive is not the way you would go on bike or on foot.

  17. The other half of my 1st grader story is that when he rode the bus home from the same school, he was not permitted to get off and walk half a block alone if I was not there to meet the bus.

    Now that he’s in seventh grade, I let him do more than he wants. We’ve lived in driverville so long he’s completely unable to give directions (something he could do at 1/3 his current age when we did some driving and some walking, some biking). He also doesn’t like to ride because it’s hot out.

  18. Walking to/from school, age 8 for the oldest, age 6 for the younger two (usually with sibling(s) but sometimes alone). Public transportation, depended on their needs. My daughter started at 8 (straight shot from school to extra-curric); my older son started about 10; and my youngest has just started (at 10) because of an extra-curric. My oldest currently takes the bus all over the place and my daughter currently takes it so infrequently I’ve stopped buying her a bus pass — she either bums a ride with friend or has band so late that she gets my husband to pick her up on his way home. But she always has bus money with her in case.

  19. For the 3 and 1.5 year olds, they are not allowed out of my line of sight in the house either.

    If I need to change over the laundry or shower, they are either observed on our baby cameras or shut in their individual rooms with their toys to wait.

    Wow. Are you home with them full-time? This sort of requirement would be a game changer for us.

  20. HM – the school lets them walk that young? Awesome!

    Sky – if you are in bathroom or shower, do they fight with violence? I have always left my 3 downstairs while I went to take a shower by the time the youngest was 6 months – the oldest would tell me in the event of any injuries.

  21. I wish my kid would be more free-range. She doesn’t like to go play outside by herself, but I would happily allow her to. Whenever she has a friend over, they’ll play outside for a few minutes, then come in to play dress-up or board games. School and other destinations are all too far to walk. DD rides the bus, but they require an adult be there to meet it in the afternoon. I would let her get on the bus alone (just lock the door when she leaves) if she wasn’t too scared to do it. I’m sure that will be an excuse for needing a cell phone whenever the time comes!

  22. Milo, I’m home full time now. But we had the same rule when we both worked full time.

    I am not worried about the 3 year old, but I’m never home with just him – and if I leave him alone with the 1.5 year old, they fight over toys and it ends in biting, hitting and tears.

    Do most people let children under 2 out of their sight?

  23. I’m trying to do quote blocks. Let’s see if this works.

    [quote]Do most people let children under 2 out of their sight?[/quote]

    I don’t know. We never really considered it. When mine learned to walk, they just started walking away sometimes, maybe to another room, maybe upstairs, maybe down to the basement. It never occurred to us that we shouldn’t let them walk around the house.

  24. At what age do you allow to children to stay home alone (while running errands, dropping off/picking up siblings, etc)? And for how long? We let our DD10 stay home alone for an hour or two/three. Our DS8 is fine alone for an hour or so. DS4 obviously has to come with us. Would you allow DD10 to stay home alone with DS4 for 30 minutes while running to store or picking up sibling?

  25. “Do most people let children under 2 out of their sight?”

    At one point, I had a newborn, a 22 month old and and a 4 1/2 month old. While I don’t remember much about that time, I am pretty sure the 22 month old had free range of the house when I was nursing.

  26. Milo,

    it’s not quote it’s blockquote and you use the greater and less than sign not the [

  27. Anon for this, your guidelines sound reasonable to me but we’re not there yet and I probably wouldn’t post about what we do. A friend with four kids left hers with her oldest daughter for short errands starting when her oldest daughter was ~10 but we only discuss our actual practices with old, nonjudgmental friends.

    Sky, we’re like Milo. And there was quite a bit of violence with the twins because one learned to walk six months before the other, and so he was way faster for a couple years. I used to put the twins in a crib/playpen during showers when DS1 was a toddler. I locked the screen door once the kids were old enough to potentially open it on their own. My worst situation was accidentally shutting the garage door on someone on the driveway who had gone outside while I was taking out the trash. It was dark and a neighbor walking by heard him and rang our doorbell within a few minutes.

    I’m sure there were moments when our house could have been taped for “What not to do” by CPS.

  28. I cannot imagine having been a full time SAH mom of 4 with a requirement that any child under 2 be penned up so that I could go to the bathroom, prepare a meal, fold the laundry, or deal with the older siblings. But even today, in her own fairly child proof home, my 18 mo old grandchild like to go up the carpeted stairs into her room and take the clothes in and out of the drawer. She can do that peacefully for a half hour while other activities go on around the house. The 3 1/2 year old is one who requires ear monitoring – if you can’t hear her, drop what you are doing and double check. The 5 1/2 year old can stir stuff up, but there is rarely health and safety involved. There are some of those high up door restrictors to keep certain rooms off limits.

  29. I let my two year old out of my sight all the time. Which is why I found him putting a key in an outlet yesterday and why our TV has crayon marks on it. So, I think people with good judgment do not let toddlers out of their sight. It does depend on how childproof your space is.

  30. I have left the youngsters alone many times. Like Murphy, my older 2 would definitely run around the house while I was feeding #3 (same age spread). I usually leave them all downstairs when I go to do laundry. I have also (recently) had to take a few phone calls when I had no childcare coverage and only a 2yo, and I just sat her in front of Shaun the Sheep while I did my call from downstairs.

  31. it’s not quote it’s blockquote and you use the greater and less than sign not the [


  32. On little ones roaming about the house: I positively encouraged it when my guy was 1 or 2. We’d nurse around 6 or 7, then doze off again. If he woke back up before me and wanted to go play without me, off he went! It was a 970 sf 1-bedroom apt, so he was never too far for me to hear him, but even if I could’ve seen him, I was often focused on papers or the computer while he played in my general vicinity. When he was 2 and knew how to open the patio door & screen, I had a couple scares with him going off to meet the garbage truck alone before I even heard it. Thank goodness it didn’t come so early that I was sleeping! (The other “safety” there was that the garbage truck driver was delighted to have a fan, so the 2 or 3 times it happened, he told me when I came running out that he had seen and been worried about my little guy, so I guess if the babe had gone off the sidewalk, maybe he would’ve done something ?? I’m glad that nothing happened!)

  33. “Do most people let children under 2 out of their sight?”

    With DD, I would have paid money to have even 30 seconds out of her sight. With DS, he was out of sight for well under 30 seconds at about 13 mos (ie barely walking) and managed to make it all the way across the house, open the mini-fridge, and dump the pitchers of milk and OJ on himself. So one yes, one no.

    Our decisions have been simplified by the MD rules (not alone until 8, not in charge of a kid under 8 until 13). I did let DD walk to grandma’s (6 houses and one stop-sign-controlled intersection) at about 6, maybe 7; DS was at least a year later, because he was far more likely just to barge into the street without looking. And I did let DD babysit at 12, because DS was almost 8 and they were both mature enough.

    I am generally more free-range than DH, who still expects to drive the kids to all their activities. I would happily let DD pick up DS from daycare and walk home now, but daycare doesn’t allow it; when we needed her to cover one day a week or two ago, we had to have him released from school as a walker, and she walked down and met him and walked him home. I also let her walk/bike anywhere in the neighborhood; we have shops 2 blocks away, the library is maybe 1/4 mile, and she sometimes chooses to walk home from school if she stays late and doesn’t want to ride the activity bus (about 3 miles, but safe streets with sidewalks, and there’s a convenient café or ice cream choice about halfway). It’s pretty awesome, and it’s a big reason why we chose this neighborhood.

  34. It’s my pediatrician’s suggestion – after 40+ years, he’s seen too many kids get hurt.

    And lif we lived somewhere quieter, I would be more relaxed. Maybe :)

  35. Rhett – You got to try to keep learning new things when you approach middle age, just to keep the mind from atrophying.

    They should add that to the quoted list: “Plan an invasion, change a diaper, conn a ship, blockquote text…”

  36. Sky – that much supervision reqt would be crazy-making for me. I would start leaving them alone! :)

  37. Now that I’ve seen others’ comments re free range babies in the house: I was in my third trimester when I moved into our apt, so from the very beginning, everything was baby proofed. Locking screen doors and eventually patio doors just slowed him down for a second or two. A friend with a very bright 4 year old opened cabinets and drawers when we visited, because she was afraid my guy would show hers how to open them.

    There was a playground directly outside my kitchen window. When we were out there on a blanket before he walked or playing later, I’d duck into the house to get a glass of water or something. To take out the trash, I used a monitor (sound only). The first time I left him alone was for an 11 minute walk when he was 5. Within a couple years I’d leave him alone for a good hour while I ran (walking) errands. He far preferred that over coming with me. These days is only consider a sitter if I was going to be gone all day or night. He’d like to do some sitting for babies himself.

  38. “The 3 1/2 year old is one who requires ear monitoring – if you can’t hear her, drop what you are doing and double check.”

    This was DS, except he has an incredible innate capacity for stealth — I call him Silent but Deadly. After 4.5 years of the girl in that Volvo commercial, it took me a while to realize that silence could be a bad thing. . . .

  39. Rocky – My son knows the subway system better than I do. We were worried when he was younger that if he ever did run away he’d end up in Westchester or Long Island City.

    Right now, my kids have zero range. Not at their age in NYC. We walk them to/from school and accompany them to swimming and karate on the bus/subway. I do often ask them for directions (1) to teach them to figure it out and (2) because I may not know. Love google maps and hop stop!

  40. I let my kids out of my sight all of the time at home, even the little ones. Our play room is just off of our family room and I can call from the kitchen every once in a while just to make sure they’re not getting into trouble. As long as the 18 month old (who likes to jump on the stairs) stays on the 1st floor, there’s nothing there that can really get her in trouble. I don’t think I could cook dinner every night if I had to have the kids with me. DS can be trouble if he’s too quiet, but it’s more of the writing on the walls variety, than anything else, he’s pretty agile and rarely gets hurt.

  41. I think so much depends on where you live and the personalities of your kids. When they were younger, we lived on the last street in the neighborhood, which was a culdesac with six houses, and there were 21 kids roughly my kids’ ages living right there. They were able to go out unsupervised a lot. One of my kids was described by an OT as “shows no regard for personal safety”. He required a lot more vigilance, because if you blinked he would have climbed something ridiculously high and/or jumped off. There were also idiot friends who made up games requiring someone to stand under the trampoline while other kids jumped to see if anyone could land on the hidden kid’s head. Those kids required more supervision when they were around. If you don’t have serious concerns about safety or judgment, I think some freedom is good for kids. But if you’re aware there’s high potential for an ER visit in your near future, it only makes sense to keep a tighter rein.

  42. I had a 2.5 year old and an almost 4 year old when youngest DS came on the scene. Although they were out of my sight some of the time, I used doorway gates to corral them to a limited area (kitchen, family room, office/changing area). If I needed to take a shower and I didn’t get it in before they woke up, I’d hide the sleeping infant in the baby carrier in my walk-in closet so that the other two couldn’t find him. The older two were infatuated with the baby and would not leave him alone – they even managed to get him out of his crib and bring him downstairs – DS climbed into the crib and lifted him to DD, who then brought him down a flight of stairs, holding him in her lap while she bumped down each stair on her bottom.

  43. One of the advantages and disadvantages of an apartment – you can hear the kids wherever they are. Never needed a monitor.

    We started running down to the lobby to get the mail, take the trash to the garbage room, etc. pretty early on. In our old place where the laundry machines were in the basement, I wouldn’t do laundry in the basement and leave the kids unsupervised so we did laundry on weekends only.

    We started running 15-20 minute errands in the neighborhood leaving the kids at home (running to the local store for milk) and letting the kids take the elevator or stairs to/from our apartment when they were 5 or 6. We’re in a doorman building so that provides some comfort.

  44. An article I just read said that a frequent cause of childhood injuries is a parent riding down a slide with the kid in their lap. I used to do that for fun, but apparently some parents think it is safer. The article says not.

    BTW with my kids, for most of the accidents that involved a trip to the ER, a parent was right there. and there was nothing anyone could have done to prevent them.

  45. During our first ER visit, the nurse looked at DH and I and said “This is your first child, right?”

  46. Anon @ 1:35 – that has been my experience too w/accidents (nothing could have prevented them). The only ER visit that occurred when we were not right there – DD @ 3 had wandered into her bedroom alone and decided to walk like a penguin (she related to us later). She tripped and fell into the side of her bed putting her tooth through her lip which required stitches. I doubt I would have stopped her from walking like a penguin if I had been right with her. It wasn’t an overtly dangerous activity.

    Ginger, that’s pretty funny about your kids.

  47. DS is 9 – we will let him stay home by himself for 1 – 2 hours. We started out with 15 – 20 minute periods and gradually went from there.

  48. RMS – we do that with our kids when we travel. We will park in the garage and say “ok, get us to the next step of our trip”. I think they could navigate airports better than they could get around our town, but that’s because there is no walking or biking where we are so their ability to be “free range” is pretty much limited to the neighborhood. I do know that the downtown Bethesda kids around the same ages have a lot of freedom to roam around town.

  49. Ginger, what a way to learn that babies are more resilient than we think!

    MBT, thanks for confirming that’s it’s not always a bad thing that my kid is not a joiner! (“the trampoline while other kids jumped to see if anyone could land on the hidden kid’s head”)

  50. I started to leave DD alone to go to the gym ( 2 mins away) when she was 9.
    We expanded it this year to letting her stay when we are running errands for 30 -60 mins.
    We live on top of each other – dense housing so she knows many of our neighbors in case of emergency. She is not interested in coming home alone if there isn’t an adult already present in the house. I can understand why this might seem scary in a multi floor home. I haven’t left her alone with any other kids to run errands, or go to the gym because some of my friends don’t leave their fifth graders alone yet in their homes.

    One game changer is actually the cell phone. I know we discussed the age for cell phones on prior posts, but almost every kid in our MS gets a phone between August and December of 5th grade. They don’t need it, but our MS starts in fifth grade, and it seemed to be the collective community decision. I was against it, but it actually allows me to feel more comfortable when DD is in our neighborhood with her friends to walk dogs, and play between houses etc. I love the convenience of being able to text about whether she is bus, going to a friend or needs a ride home etc.

    I definitely spent a lot more time alone in the 70s and 80s in a city that wasn’t as safe as it is today. I never got mugged on the subways or the bus when I was commuting to school, but many of my friends did get mugged. There was little of value back then – just some cash for lunch or snacks. no cell phones, and the first walkman didn’t appear until I was in HS.

  51. I let a sick kid stay home alone from age 8 or so . . . typically with one parent trying to get home in the early to mid afternoon, but still. Left a can of soup out on the stove to be poured into a bowl and zapped for lunch. They knew how to reach me and by that point I didn’t really want to burn yet another vacation day (not to mention the work that wouldn’t get done) to sit at home while someone napped in another room or watched cartoons.

  52. “There was little of value back then – just some cash for lunch or snacks. no cell phones, and the first walkman didn’t appear until I was in HS.”

    I don’t remember where, but I was just reading that one of the contributors to the drop in home burglaries (and possibly mugging) is that consumer goods are so cheap now they’re not worth stealing. If you think about it, compared to a 1978 house in a good neighborhood that probably had a very nice turntable and hi-fi amplifier, and a few color TVs, there’s a lot more pawn value (adjusted for inflation) there then the same house today with a couple of $400 flat screens and some portable Bluetooth speakers. It’s easier just to save your money and buy the stuff at Costco.

  53. Both my kids learned to crawl up stairs and would descend the reverse way. They walked pretty late so they crawled all around the house for ages. One advantage of having grand parents around was that the grand parents were infinitely more free range than us parents. What this meant is that kids were not watched every minute and had to learn to amuse themselves when they were with the grandparents. Our house was only mildly child proofed in that breakable things were out of reach. We taught the kids that some areas were out of bounds – bathrooms and the kitchen – they stayed out.

  54. Milo, I’ve thought the same way about burglaries. I’m willing to give our garage door code to the appliance repairman, for example, because there is so little of value in our house, given the low pawn value of Legos.

  55. This is one of the many areas in which I feel I make perhaps unwise decisions because I’m basing them on how things were InMyDay. I walked about 45 min each way to school w/ my sister, when I was in K and she was in 2d grade. We biked to the Y (maybe 30 min) from about 7 or 8. Were left alone all the time for evenings, etc, and by HS, I was alone for 2 weeks at a time while my parents went on vaca. It was impossible for me to be too concerned about leaving my own kids alone for this reason. But, it’s ADifferentTime now, and I live in the BigScaryStates and not small town Canada, so I really should’ve tried to change my mindset. OTOH, nothing bad ever happened, so …

  56. Sky – my take on it is that the 1.5 yr old would require the most watching. You should be able to move the 3 year old to the “big kid” category with the 6 yr old. The 6 year and old and 3 year should be capable of playing/reading/watching TV while you go about the household tasks without worrying about them.

  57. I think the the item that was of value back then was a gold chain necklace, or other jewelry. Chain snatching was a common crime. They took down the signs on the subways about warning about chain snatching a few years ago. Its all about pickpockets and terrorists now. I still turn my engagement ring around on the subway, but I am amazed at the expensive cameras, jewelry and electronics that people will take out on the subway now vs. 70s/80s. I am still stuck in my old habits and I dont flash expensive stuff on the subway.

  58. Risley, I think the big difference between then and now is that not only were there scads of other kids of varying ages to do things with and depend upon, but there were more mothers home during the day that served as additional eyes and resources even if we didn’t know it. Also, there was a lot less to do inside. 3 channels on the tv – soap operas during the day. We couldn’t wait to get out and our mothers couldn’t wait to have us out. Now indoors has so many interesting things to do that also keep the kids from bothering mom – less incentive on both sides.

  59. Our kids pretty much roam our house. Under 3 or 4 or so, I take note when I can’t hear them. Usually silence means trouble. But as little ones our generally wanted to be where we were and play where we were. So it never really bothered me.

    Locally I think kids aren’t released to go home w/o an adult until 5th grade. Maybe 4th? My kids’ school isn’t walking distance at any rate, so we drive them. Neither are most of the activities. They would be city bus accessible, but I don’t see kids riding city buses alone until about 14. The kids are fine to play in the backyard without us. Front yard for now requires a parent simply because of the rate of car traffic and how close our neighbors are– cars back out very quickly and our kids aren’t yet reliable about looking to see if cars are about to move before they get behind them. Once I can trust them to watch for car traffic they’d be fine out front, though.

  60. Moxie – so true, on all counts. Also, we had “Block Parents” and they had signs in their front door windows. Apparently, they were home all the time and if you ran into any trouble, you could knock on their door. But probably almost every house on the street had a mother home in that era.

    And yeah, my mother definitely parented according to personal convenience. I recall her admitting to us when we were in HS that her, “Wait an hour after lunch before you swim” rule was so she could read for an hour after lunch and not have to get into the lake with us, and actually had nothing to do with the likelihood we’d get cramps after eating. At the time we heard her confession, we were appalled, but now with four of them, I can totally understand her, and find her this side of genius for some of the things she came up with.

  61. I still think it is about knowing your own child, and whether they would be safe alone in your house, or another floor at any age.

    I was fine, but my brother was constantly in the ER for injuries. Also, whenever some large news story happens like the gas explosion in the East Village – it makes me pause and wonder how any child react if there wasn’t an adult present in a real crisis. A neighbor had some emergency gas work about a month ago. My DD would NOT stay alone even for an hour because the workers looked like creeps. ConEd seems to hire a lot of subcontractors these days, and i had to agree that these guys made me uncomfortable too. I wasn’t even thinking about the danger from the gas repair, but I was focused on the creepy guys. If this happened now (post East Village explosion), I probably wouldn’t even leave her to run to the gym because of the potential danger from the gas line work.

  62. @Lauren, so funny you say that because I was just warming up to the idea of sending my kids on a plane alone to see grandparents and after this Germanwings thing I’m totally freaked out at the idea of something terrible going down on a plane and not being their to comfort my child. I know it isn’t entirely rational but still. Felt the same way about that Air France crash as I recall there were a few kids alone on that flight.

  63. Risley, I see your walking 45 min to school story and Somali ex-bf raises! When we visited his family in Dire Dawe, we took a taxi to visit relatives’ farm in the mountains one day. About half an hour from home, he got that smile on his face and pointed out a driveway winding off to one side and said that his school was back there. When he was in first grade, he and his sister boarded there during the week, then walked home to their father’s on weekends! We walked home that night. and it wasn’t terribly far, but considering that there are still a few lions out there, I’m rather impressed.

    Lauren, I agree that it’s a know your kid/know your situation kind of thing. If you were with your kid when there was a gas explosion, how would she be safer than if she were alone?

  64. Saac – oh man, the lions certainly add another element, eh? Yikes!

    In other news, y’all have to buy these Magnum ice cream bars. I sent the kids grocery shopping last night, and while they “couldn’t find” the apples I asked them to get, they were happily quite able to find a few boxes of these. One kind is dipped in chocolate, then in caramel, and then in chocolate again. OMG. Highly recommend.

  65. If anyone has dishwasher advice, mine just croaked. It’s a crummy Maytag and it’s only a few years old. Is everyone still hyped on Bosch? A big source of contention is that DH wants it in “bisque” so it matches the other appliances, but only crappy stuff comes in bisque, so I think he’s going to have to get over it.

  66. RMS – We thought our dishwasher had died, turns out it was unplugged. Thought I’d mention it on the off chance you hadn’t checked this.

  67. Risley, I’ve seen those bars in the store, but cannot buy them because the brand name is also the brand name of condoms and I cannot shake the idea.

  68. Amazing. Thanks Rhett – in old age I can manage to learn new things, too.

    RMS if the rest of your appliances are bisque, I would not try to match the dishwasher. If you do, you will have the same problem when the fridge goes, only a crappy one will be available. Same with the range. Stainless may not be forever, but it pretty much goes with everything.

  69. Moxie – haha. Well, w/ teenagers in the house, we take every opportunity we get to mention condoms. Oh, did you mention USC? As in, the TROJANS? And speaking of Trojans, did I mention lately that you should always … ?

  70. ATM, it runs, it just doesn’t get the dishes remotely clean. The repair guy came out and said the motor was dying and could be replaced for about $400. The stupid machine isn’t worth $400.

  71. RMS – we have a Miele. When I heard what the service charge would be, much less the replacement cost, we were VERY happy to find out it had become unplugged. That said, we really like it.

  72. RMS, we still like our Bosch, especially how quiet it is. We also like the adjustability of the racks.

  73. Any parenting philosophy that comes with a capitalized moniker and a blog is probably not a parenting philosophy for me.

  74. RMS– We also have a Bosch and love it. We felt like idiots figuring out how to clean out the filter when it was new, and how to clear out the vent at the top (someone stuck in a small chicken bone that apparently got caught somewhere?) but once we had one embarrassing visit from a repair guy who taught us the somewhat obvious, it’s been great. It’s 6 years old now, or maybe 5 1/2, worry free, quiet, and everything is clean.

  75. With regards to letting 2 year olds out of sight – it depends on the kid. With my oldest, I could plop him down with some blocks or a little book, and he would still be there 10 minutes later. With my youngest, well, I remember one incident. We had moved back into our house after a renovation, and we had unpacked boxes. I was sorting the closet, and 14 month DD was in the room with me. I turned my back for a couple of minutes to unload some stuff into a dresser, but I heard her making funny noises. I looked, and she was drooling strangely. I opened her mouth to find a whole bunch of construction staples. Another time, under similar circumstances, I turned around and she was gone. I found her on the top shelf in the closet. She was 18 months at that point. That was a toddler whom I did not let out of my sight!!!

  76. I hope that my kid would smell the gas if there was a leak. I actually learned something this week because I typically would have called ConEd, but now I would also call the fire dept. I wouldn’t wait for ConEd even though their emergency response team is pretty decent even in Westchester. I don’t think they can ever be as quick as my local fire dept unless they are nearby.

  77. MM, how old was your daughter when she came home with you? I had thought she was older than 18 mos at that point. I’ve got to say that, considering what you’ve told us about the begining of her life, I think it’s pretty cool that she decided to get mobile right away!

  78. My parents had me babysitting my sibs (7 and 3) when I was 10 for hours at a time. I was also responsible for picking up my brother from preschool. I never was in good control of my brother, who was very wild and impulsive. By the time I was 12, they also let me stay home along for the weekend while they wen backpacking. This was long before cellphones, and they were totally out of contact. We were also living in a strange town where we knew no one, in a tenement style apartment. It was way too much free range, and I shudder to think of what could have happened. I was scared all the time, but didn’t want to admit it ito them because they thought I was so mature and responsible.

  79. On the rare occasions when I happen to drive near a public school around the time school lets out, I see hordes of kids, many who look to be well under 10yo, walking around unaccompanied by adults.

  80. Our next door neighbors smelled gas about 2 months ago, and called the fire department, who came in about 30 seconds. I think a lot of kids would dither in that case, wondering if they really should do anything or not. I know I would have at that age, even though I had learned about the dangers of gas leaks in school. I think we can forget sometimes that our kids are still inexperienced, and are at an age where they don’t feel sure of themselves. A 40 year old, with years of reading about gas explosions in the news, wouldn’t hesitate. But a lot of 14 year olds would.

  81. Moxie, you must be a very happy woman if the men you know require “Magnum” condoms.

  82. Special shout out to Whole Foods: thanks for donating food for 75 families for the Spring Break week. They planned out the menu, the bag stuffing, and took a picture of the arrangement. Then they loaded it all in our cars.

  83. As a 2 yr old, the neighbor kids ranging from 5-8 would knock on the door to see if I could come out and play. My mom always said yes if I wanted to go. When I was 16 my parents were out of the country for the summer, and while my grandmother lived with us, it was more of me watching her than her watching me.

    In our house we child proofed the “nursery” as that was the room the kids had complete freedom in. The rest of the house was partially, with a lot of “no” and “no touching”. We had a lot of friends we visited whose kids were HS and older – no child proofing anywhere we went. So, early lessons on play with your toys only.

    We left them alone for a few minutes – to go get the mail out side or take out the trash about 2 years old. The oldest was 10-11 when we first left her alone for 30 ish minutes. Then by the time they were 10 and 12 we left them together alone. As much as they “hate” each other, they rather be at home alone together than apart. Have left them 6-8 hours now at 12 and 15 – either together or apart.

  84. I will say that my job experience does not give me strong opinions on this topic. I haven’t seen a rash of injuries from poorly supervised kids — most of the time the parents are in the room. Our one trip to the ER for injury involved my 2 year old who was 15 feet away from me, but out of my line of sight (behind the couch). She had elbow pain and I couldn’t tell if she fell on it or it had been pulled (kids that age often get fractures of the elbow or dislocated elbows. Easy to diagnose based on mechanism if the two year old will tell you what happened). Of course, she told the triage nurse and it was quickly put back in place.

  85. Milo, where’s the fundraising thermometer to show how close we are to getting him the car?

    A Gofundme for PTM’s Continental? I think it would be great for FL. Order it in white.

  86. Fairly rare that I diagnose abuse myself – for a variety of reasons. I work at places where that are mostly middle/upper class patients with good access to health care. While people of all income levels can abuse their children, people with high levels of situational stress are more likely to (poverty, homelessness, etc.). They are also probably more likely to be caught. Also, we are least likley to suspect people who look like us (for all the various definitions of “look like us”). Sometimes, if I have a weak suspicion, I will call CPS to find out if the family has ever had an allegation; I also will frequently try to speak to a primary care provider to see if they have a suspicion. Those things will sometimes swing me one way or the other.

    Far more common is evaluation of alleged abuse – mom thinks that boyfriend has been touching the daughter inappropriately, child just removed from home and needs clearance and documentation for temporary care, major trauma with allegation that it was “non-accidental”.

    I vividly remember being in the middle of something truly awful and speaking to a warm and helpful pediatrician. She was going over transfer planning with me and she said, “I know you are really busy right now, but you need to stop for a minute and call 911 and have have the state patrol find out what other kids are around [the alleged abuser].” It was rare enough to have something so terrible- and intense enough-that no one had attended to the basic reporting stuff.

  87. I am so sick of this! My son has been going through a “growth spurt” for over a month now. He’s put on 10 lbs, but no height. Maybe this is the start of adolescent eating. I feed him supper and then he’s hungry again, for a second supper, not just a little snack. If I have granola bars available, he’ll eat several and then go through a whole carton of blackberries (expensive) or can of fruit (often sugary, even without added sugar). I’d like to keep fresh fruit on hand, but it’s hard to predict what he’ll be hungry for; I’ve thrown away too many oranges and bananas to want to do that any more. Any suggestions for what he can have for his “fourth meal”? Thanks!

  88. Ada, that sounds really difficult! It must have been hard to go back home to your own little healthy little ones after that.

  89. saac, when we have soccer from 6-7 PM, we have two small suppers, kind of. My kids like beans, rice, chips and cheese- I cook brown rice in the microwave and freeze it in pint containers, low salt canned black S&W beans, shredded medium cheddar and the crumbs of tortilla chips (we have lots of corn tortilla chip crumbs from Trader Joe’s) He should try this combo to see if he likes it.

  90. S&M – I have a lot of things I would say about that article if this weren’t a “family” page.

  91. RMS – we got a Miele this year, and I LOVE it. I think you could put a custom panel door on it, so maybe they’d have one in bisque.

  92. Moxie, I was just thinking of the mutual exclusivity of condom use and that activity. But if you’d like to discuss further, feel free to email me.

  93. Arg! I’ve asked for help a couple times with figuring responses to popcorn boy’s mom, who travels all. the. time. for work, who worries about her son’s inappropriate behavior, and who says she’s impressed at how Isaac and I are doing. Moxie suggested some lovely wording, and several other people offered good comments. He screwed up bigtime last week, so she’s decided to send him to the school ‘saac went to last year. Fine, might make a difference. He didn’t go to school today, tomorrow he shadows at the new school, and Wed is supposed to be his first official day there. I’d be all over the special time together today and the perfect mornings for him. She’s in California. Can’t Skype/Facetime with him because she and his dad took his phone away after the issues last week. I’m beyond words. I’ve seen the recent articles about quality, not quantity of time making a difference, and they did run a 5 k together a week ago, but still, I think he must be lonely!
    Not really expecting any good advice at this point, just letting off steam because I cannot tell her what I’m thinking right now.

  94. Thanks MBT. I think that’s one of the ones I read. I’m not saying she should quit work entirely, and I can see that being all guilty and frazzled wouldn’t help anyone, but isn’t there something in between, at least a phone call?

  95. Well, I think you know my views on it. When kids are struggling I think they need all the support you can give them, and that may mean rearranging life. But I also understand that she needs to keep her job, so I’m not judging her. And for some parents, dealing with all that stuff is overwhelming. She certainly wouldn’t be unusual if work travel ended up being a respite from the demands of home.

  96. You are right on the nose–one of her favorite parts about her work is the travel! I’m sure it is great, and I know she tries really hard to treat her two kids equally, which is difficult, because the younger one reaches out for attention by getting fantastic grades, being on the math team and student council, and sticking letters in her suitcase about how he’s sorry she’s so stressed, while the older one does it by acting out. I don’t want to judge her. It’s just that she asks for advice and all I know is that for the last few years my world has now revolved around my kid and we are now waiting for his report card to see if he got a B in science, because we know the rest are As. I think there is a connection, and when she tells me rearranging life won’t work but wants to know what else can she do, I don’t know what to say. I just bite my tongue and don’t ask how many billable hours it takes to get some things I see them spend money on. And of course now there is a tuition to pay! Again, it would be none of my beeswax if she wasn’t asking how I helped my kid change over the years that she’s known him (to me, the change is that the “real him” is back). That’s what frustrates me–being asked a question to which I can’t give the answer.

  97. S&M – Both girls are hearty eaters compared to most of their peers, though my older one has finally slowed down. The 12, soon to be 13, year old eats ALL. THE. TIME. She can graze right through the pantry and fridge within a couple of days. No weight gain and no height changes, yet. We try to keep a range of things on hand, but as she has no weight change, I tend not to worry about them being “balanced” as it generally is over the course of the week between meals and snacks. I find her leaning towards proteins (scrambled eggs, lunch meat, peanut butter, cheese or dinner left overs) and carbs (chips, granola, cereal, etc), but not too much toward fruit or sugary/sweet foods. However, the other night, she cleaned, cut up and ate a pint of strawberries.

    You don’t say if this has been his typical pattern for growth. If it is not, you might want to find out if something else is bothering him. From experience, I eat when frustration, stress or anger is building, but before it has reached the threshold of my recognizing those feelings. As an adult I still have trouble recognizing the pattern before I have put on the 10 lbs I then struggle to take off.

  98. S&M– On snacks– I haven’t hit teen stage, but my DH remembers that when he played sports he couldn’t get enough calories in. He and his brother made whole milk and ice cream milkshakes each night (after an afterschool snack, dinner, dessert, etc.) just to keep from starving. I lean towards offering something heartier if a kid is hungry enough to go through a box of granola bars. Cheese and crackers? I’ve done beans & cheese and tortilla chips for my kids’ lunch, actually. They dig it for snacks. Popcorn? (Easy to keep around w/o it going bad or taking up a ton of space.) Peanut butter?

    As for your kid’s friend…. when someone asks me for advice who isn’t really interested in it or who I think won’t take it, I fall back on the default (I don’t always use this meaning snark) of “_____ worked for us, but we had to try a bunch of things before something worked. I know what works for one kid may not work for another, though. They can all be so different.” Which has the added bonus of being true. So even if I’m thinking snarky I can keep that to myself!

  99. SM, if you have a bunch of ripe bananas on the verge of spoiling, peel them and freeze them. They’ll be great for smoothies.

  100. SM – wraps/sandwiches with protein – lettuce, tomato, deli meats/other protein, cheese, boiled eggs, tuna (in olive oil). Eggs are a favorite with a lot of guys I know. You can buy a rotisserie chicken and make chicken salad sandwiches. If any of this is not used up, repurpose it into a salad.

  101. SM – DS’s 4th, 5th and 6th dinners are usually cereal, cereal and cereal. Easy to stock up on, easy for him to “make” at any hour (dinner 6 is generally around midnight), doesn’t go to waste if he’s less hungry certain days, relatively nutritious if you only buy reasonably healthy cereal. I think Allboys’s kids at a lot of pb+j. A mom I know here used to make “second dinner” for her boys every Sunday night – a huge container of some casserole or other that they liked. They’d dish it out and zap it all week long. Each Sunday, she made a different “second dinner” for that week. Too much work for me, so I like the cereal option.

  102. Also, SM, my godson tends to get a little chubby before each growth spurt, so I think that’s pretty normal too. He goes for a few months eating a lot more and looking pretty chunky, then suddenly, bam, a few inches in height.

  103. Great to hear Saac is putting everything together. We freeze leftover fruit for smoothies also. It (berries and sometimes mangos) can also just be added to yogurt still frozen and eaten after thawing.

  104. One point that was kind of buried in that article on quality vs quantity time is that studies indicate that quantity of time spent with kids is more important duing the teen years. Since that didn’t jibe with the rest of the article, it wasn’t highlighted. I am finding that to be VERY true with my teen boys.

  105. Re the extra meal(s) for teen boys – I am with Risley on that – my son would come home from school and have his pre dinner snack – a mixing bowl filled with Cheerios and a quart of milk. He was a distance runner. As one of my teen acquaintances once said, I’m never actually not hungry, just sometimes not empty.

    As for what a mom needs to do when the kids are in distress – I was a student when my eldest child with issues was a baby and toddler, had a distracted year when he was 4 when his sib was dying, and then at home full time until he was 15, a student again for 2 years, and then went to work mega full time. There came a point in his teens when I had to assess that I had done what I could and shift focus to the needs and rights of the other children, including their right to a good and complete education. For my youngest, I changed jobs to one with shorter hours so that I could give him more attention during the last three years of high school when he was the only one at home, and that paid off for him. A mother – child dyad operates very differently from a multi person family.

  106. Saac, if I get your concern of last night (not saying I do, but if) you’re a tad more worried about ‘Saac’s weight increase without a corresponding height increase. I’d keep my eye on this, too.

    Back when I was a little less reticent to talk about Junior, he was getting chubby. His Dr. was most unhappy. Last year when he broke himself and I was in control (think Kathy Bates), he lost 35 lbs. I did not starve him, but really fed him meals that were healthy– fish, chicken, veggies, stuff and cut out bread and carbs and quite so much milk. He was very, very proud of the Junior 2.0 that emerged– more metal than fat.

    Since then, it’s a been a real effort to keep him about where he was (he has not grown vertically). Because he is fully mobile and is fairly free range with money in his pocket and fully capable of cooking for himself (preferred time, whenever I’m writing something important, asleep, on a conference call or otherwise occupied.) He doesn’t buy into my “healthy foods” solution, won’t eat vegetables or fruit reliably or ever stop eating once he starts. And while I don’t really buy anything “good” at the grocery store he can put quantities and/or combinations of the stuff I do buy together to make himself a feast. I too am tired of throwing away tons of fresh vegetables and fruits, stale healthy cereal and things like that.

    Like Risley, I think this may portend a growth spurt, but before it portended a widening trend that put him 15 pounds heavier than me while being 9 inches shorter. I am fearful of him repeating this and setting eating patterns for his life.

    So, I have nothing constructive to add. I just feel for you.

  107. SM – I reread the “second dinner” post. If any fruit is lying about – combine and make a fruit salad. If you want to get more creative – fruit salad + yogurt. Kick it up a notch ? fruit salad + yogurt + a little granola.
    I agree with PTM on the weight issue. I grew wider than taller in my teens; I had to learn to eat better way earlier than all of my peers to avoid packing on the pounds.

  108. Louise, I would be absolutely delighted if I could get Junior to eat a fruit salad in any one of his sequence of dinners. It’s a great idea if, unlike here, most of the fruit and lettuce wouldn’t wind up in the trash.

  109. And Milo, if you’re here today, that new Lincoln Continental left me drooling. I love it! If would be perfect as a “last car” for a cranky old geezer like me.

  110. Saac – my brother and my DH both report that they ate voraciously throughout the teen years. DH went through a 1/2 gallon of ice cream and a 1/2 gallon of milk every 2nd day or so. My brother became chubby at 12 when he was 5’7″ and then within 6 months was 6 ft tall and rail thin.

  111. PTM – I face the same issue of DS not liking vegetables. He does eat fruits – mainly apples and clementine oranges. However, after a talk with his pediatrician and re-enforced by a nutrition talk at his martial arts class – he has begun to eat veggies again. I was so amused – when the martial arts class got asked what kids should be eating – he promptly raised his hand and his answer was vegetables.

  112. Ah, but Ris, you don’t understand how serious I am! I’m thinking of writing a “Friday” Fun Post (and will when I get a chance) about selecting a “last car”. If they ever build a production model of this Linc, I’m in.

  113. Saac – could you give her ideas of how she can connect with him in small ways. Hidden notes, texts (don’t take the phone away – find another currency – video games?) Make it a deal that she spends every saturday morning with him? IF she can’t rearrange her work then she’s gonna have to be creative. If she doesn’t do this and you are concerned, can you include him in your family activities? Have him over for dinner? Take him along to a movie. It might make a big difference for him to be noticed by someone! You are good to think about it!

  114. PTM,

    That’s 95% of what the production version will look like and it will go on sale in 2016.

  115. I am panting now, Rhett. I want that car!

    Unfortunately, I have to head off to a funeral this noon. Otherwise, I would be googling “Lincoln Dealers South Florida” starting exactly now.

  116. PTM.

    It will likely have a system similar to the S-Class where it can drive itself in bumper to bumper traffic. It will make driving junior to school in Miami traffic a delight.

  117. Oh, Lord. Now I am drooling, panting and in heat. Not exactly the right mood to be attending a funeral. When I should be thinking about life, good works and everlasting faith, I’ll be considering whether it is true that one should never buy a car in its first year of production.

  118. PTM – It’s coming next year.

    The Lincoln Continental Concept is also a preview of the brand’s all-new fullsizer — to be called Continental — due next year

    I imagine the wheels and the grille will be toned down considerably. And I hate when you say “last car.” I would never allow my Dad to talk like that.

    The stomach bug has hit our house. First #1, then #3 both yesterday morning, and DW last night. Twice last night I found #3 sound asleep in a mess of vomit (that fortunately went no farther than pajamas, sheet, and pillow, and the mattress is waterproof and can be wiped with a Clorox wipe) so the washer was running on Sanitary cycle throughout the night. I stayed home this morning until the nanny got there.

  119. I’ll be considering whether it is true that one should never buy a car in its first year of production.

    I bought my Acura during its first three weeks of US sales. 12 years later it’s been trouble-free, except for needing the center console replaced because the illumination went dark. Twice. The first time it was replaced under warranty; the second time I persuaded them that they needed to replace it free of charge.

  120. Milo, I’m not sure what you have wrought in our home. Out of curiosity, I made my daughter watch a few episodes of the Duggers with me. Now we’re hooked. I didn’t expect them to be so likable. My daughter has a major paper and a test today, and announced that her reward for getting through the last few days is she’s picking up champagne which we’ll drink while watching the Dugger girl wedding tonight. Somehow, I blame you. Our favorite has always been Jinger, master of the eye roll, and upon googling, we discovered her birthday is one day from my daughter’s, which makes us root for her inevitable rebellion and escape even more.

  121. MBT – I wish they would focus some more attention on Jim Bob’s business interests. It’s obviously a subject that they’re more private about because they don’t want to trumpet the fact that TLC is probably paying them something like $50k per episode, but even before they were reality TV stars, he was pretty shrewd about establishing various sources of investment income. That’s impressive, especially for someone with no college education. I think he’s the type that has the confidence to spend time looking for anything that is priced significantly below market value, and then somehow making money on it. He turned an abandoned chicken hatchery into productive commercial real estate, plus leased a portion of the land to cell carriers for a tower. If there’s a cheap tow truck for sale, he buys it and starts a tow truck business. He bought a taco restaurant that was bankrupt and turned it into a used car lot. Any house that’s cheap and run down and needs work, he’ll buy it, fix it up, and rent it out, or keep it for the married kids, or a combination of both.

    He’s like his own tiny private equity firm in the Ozarks.

  122. Louise – It’s just a guess:

    2016 Lincoln Continental Price
    Such a large vehicle can’t offer better fuel economy ratings than 20 mpg combined, but it still could have been worse. Even though MKS starts from around $40,000, don’t expect Continental to do the same. This special, iconic flagship sedan will have to cost much more and around $60,000 seems in order for top model.

  123. Milo, when I googled him, the results I got indicated he had a net worth of $3.5M, so his efforts seem to pay off

  124. MBT – I suspect it’s much higher. At this point, they have TLC income, NBC appearances, speaking fees, and book royalties, PLUS all the stuff going on outside of their celebrity status.

    Those net worth estimators are probably based on what a normal person would accumulate based on a reality show with X level of popularity ratings. Someone with his mindset will compound that a lot further. The enormous bus, with all the onboard beds, that they drive on their roadtrips was purchased at an auction for $2,100.

  125. MBT the beauty of the Dugger show is that there is probably a cohort of America rooting for Jinger to stop rolling her eyes and start toeing the line.

  126. A parent, that made me laugh. Our primary enjoyment of the show involves stopping and replaying Jinger’s reactions to what is going on. I may be too subversive for that cohort of America.

  127. You guys are wonderful! Thanks for all your replies to my posts last night. I really, really appreciate it.

    On my kiddo’s weight gain: wider is good. He is a thin little line with a butt. It seems to me that his lats/shoulders may be widening out, and that’s probably where the “extra” food is going. In the past he has eaten a bunch during height spurts, so this seems to be a similar thing, just related to “filling out”. At least it seemed that way in the beginning. Now I think it may be the way things are as long as he still lives with me. What bothers me is the hassle. I’ll ask him if he wants anything else to eat, he says no, so I check out of kitchen duty, and half an hour later he’s telling me he’s hungry. If we have sugar cereal, like Lucky Charms (never could find the green box) or honey-nut Cheerios on hand, he’ll have a few bowls of that, and he goes through ice cream like nobody’s business. From your responses, it sounds like that’s par for the course, so I’ll cross it off my worry list. Finn, I have bunches of brownish black bananas in the freezer. If only I’d peeled them!

    On my friend and her son, your replies (especially Tulip’s) are motivating me to change my approach. From now on, no matter how she words things, I’m going to try to hear not a a request for help and ideas on what she ought to be doing, but just someone who needs to vent. The kid is off track, so I expect she may hesitate to talk to friends whose kids have always been more or less OK about a lot of what occupies her mind. So I’ll just assume that I’m a safe, nonjudgemental person for her to unload herself to. I can do that just fine (so well, in fact, that an employe at a restaurant we frequent now regularly comes over, sits down at our table, and asks me to pray for his family, which has had two awful, awfully complicated, incidents of death and dismemberment this year. I should work on being a not-so-good listener). I am sure that Meme is correct that a dyad is a very different thing than a multi-person family, and this is one more way that plays out. We have invited the boy to spend the night a couple times over the years, he came to the Mad Scientist birthday party, and Isaac went trick or treating with him while I hung out with his mom lat fall. His behavior isn’t enjoyable for my son to spend time with him, unfortunately–bullying (other kids), swearing, stuff I don’t remember, and getting separated (or was that ditching the visitor?) Then again, that was on his turf. I haven’t seen those things at my house, so maybe we could try again.

    I did not realize the Duggars were in the Ozarks! My BiL’s mother is from Arkansas. He grew up in our town, but went to college in Mo so that he could visit his relatives on breaks. Maybe that’s why so much of what you say about them sounds familiar, though I’ve heard “I’ll have to pray on that” from many sources.

  128. saac, I’m not surprised you missed the green Lucky Charms because locally, the only place that carried green Lucky Charms was Walmart. :)

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