On Being a Free Range Kid in 1964

Utah passes a law legalizing free range kids.

What a great idea. In Utah, you can let your child go to the park alone and various pantywaists won’t be able to sic the police and other state organs on you, the parent.

From the article linked above:

“We’ve become so helicopter-ish as parents, and as society expecting parents to be that way, that we are kind of robbing children of some of the joys of childhood,” he said.

Some question whether the measure is needed. Utah authorities don’t want to micromanage parents, but leaving kids to fend for themselves is sometimes dangerous, said Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill.

“Right now, parents have pretty much all the liberty they need to parent as they see fit,” he said. If such a law isn’t worded carefully, it could become a defense for parents in child abuse cases, he said. “We want to be careful this … doesn’t comprise our ability as prosecutors to hold abusive parents accountable.”

Fillmore said his proposal addresses those concerns by specifying that kids must be mature enough to take on the activities without hurting themselves. The bill doesn’t give specific ages, which would allow police and prosecutors to handle things on a case-by-case basis, he said.

Parents have been investigated and some saw their children temporarily removed after people reported children doing things like playing basketball in their yards or walking to school alone, he said. Fillmore wasn’t aware of any similar cases in Utah.

Think on that a bit. Walking to school alone is enough to get you arrested and your child given to the state.

imagesWell, I am sure glad things were a bit looser in 1964. You see, my parents were getting dressed to go to a party. A party where only adults were allowed and children were not even considered. Cigarettes, alcohol, dancing were central to the event. Our father left to pick up the baby sitter while my mother was preparing. We boys were doing whatever boys did back then. But the youngest brother, aged approximately 2 1/2, wanted to go with Daddy to pick up Florence, the baby sitter.

That was not Dad’s plan. But youngest brother was determined and so he left the house to catch up with Dad’s car.

Alone, and dressed only in his diapers, he departed the house, went to the corner, turned and proceeded to cross two intersections on his way to Florence’s house. He was now in the commercial part of town, in the early evening.

One of my friends, and his father, were on the way to pick up their baby sitter. Apparently, he was invited to accompany his dad. As my brother trotted up the main drag, my friend said to his father: “Hey, isn’t that D***** *****? Unsure, but aware that a 2 1/2 year old baby, dressed only in his diaper, really shouldn’t be out alone, they pulled over and asked my brother  his name. The reply was unintelligible. The next step was to call our house. I answered the phone only to be queried by my friend’s father. My only answer was, “I don’t know, but he’s not here. Maybe he’s with Dad”.

Five minutes later, my little brother was delivered to our house. Mom was still getting dressed, and Dad hadn’t made it back with the baby sitter. No one was the wiser about my brother’s walkabout.

The point is not that my parents were terrible parents, but that my brother got as far as he did even with city traffic and people on the sidewalks. It did not seem too strange.

Of course, in 2018 there would have been quite a stink. Police, child protection services, concerned citizens. All busy deciding that they know best.

The parents were the subject of a few jokes, and our grandmother was a little taken aback, but we all survived. Nobody was bruised, no long term issues were created, and my brother remains the same determined fella that he demonstrated in 1964.

A free range kid.