Why I would let my 9-year-old ride the subway alone

I recently discovered this article wherein a mother describes her son’s experience of riding the subway and bus home alone.  And follows up by describing the fallout from letting him experience a bit of independence that too many parents don’t let their children have because they’re afraid something will happen to their precious little darlings.

Anyway, for weeks my boy had been begging for me to please leave him somewhere, anywhere, and let him try to figure out how to get home on his own. So on that sunny Sunday I gave him a subway map, a MetroCard, a $20 bill, and several quarters, just in case he had to make a call.

No, I did not give him a cell phone. Didn’t want to lose it. And no, I didn’t trail him, like a mommy private eye. I trusted him to figure out that he should take the Lexington Avenue subway down, and the 34th Street crosstown bus home. If he couldn’t do that, I trusted him to ask a stranger. And then I even trusted that stranger not to think, “Gee, I was about to catch my train home, but now I think I’ll abduct this adorable child instead.”

Long story short: My son got home, ecstatic with independence.

So why am I writing about this when I don’t have kids?

Because I know someone who was heavily sheltered as a child  (and is still smothered as an adult, living away from home) who barely knows how to take care of herself.  She wasn’t taught to ride a bike or swim because she might get hurt and rarely tries anything new unless pushed into it by her friends.  Fortunately she has friends who don’t take advantage of this "condition" and try to get her to do things that will broaden her as a person.

I also see and hear about parents who aren’t teaching their kids to take care of themselves but are keeping them ignorant in the interest of "safely".  They don’t think of it that way but that’s what happening.

There are so many parents that try to put a protective bubble around their child, expecting that they’ll be able to keep them safe forever.  It’s impossible.  To use the bicycle as an example, they need to learn how to fall so they reduce the chances of getting hurt. Someday, they’re going to hit the ground and if they don’t know how to recover on their own, they will get hurt.  Probably seriously.  Teach them that it’s going to happen and ways to minimize the hurt and they may just come out of it with a few scratches.

Parents, you can’t be there forever.  Raise an adult, not a dependent child.

Getting ready for our legs to fall off

Next weekend Susan, Jean and I will be in Parsippany, NJ for the 2008 Comhaltas Convention where we’ll spend most of 5 days dancing.

When we went to the 2006 convention our legs were very tired after just four days of dancing but we’re looking forward to the fun especially since it promised to be larger than the last convention and will have Padraig and Roisin McEneaney running several set workshops.

We’ll also have a ceili every night which is a great way to end an evening.

Continue reading Getting ready for our legs to fall off

Wierder by the minute – lame

Recently, hard to say exactly when since the online version of PC Magazine doesn’t put dates on their stories but recently, John Dvorak put out a piece called Our Modern World—Weirder by the Minute. In it he listed several things that he thought someone from 1920 might find "odd" if they were sucked into the here and now.


What has John been putting in his wheaties? Most of the things he thinks the person from 1920 would find odd would actually be incomprehensible. Most of the details would be "odd" to someone from 1980.

Continue reading Wierder by the minute – lame