I began reading Lorna Lenore Skenazy’s book Free Range Kids: How to Raise Self-Reliant Kids (Without Going Nuts with Worry) and thought I found my guru. An advocate of letting children enjoy childhood without helicopter parenting, the author, like me and my parents, is not afraid to let their children fall or get a bruise.
As I read more, it confirmed how I allow my kids to run. They run in an open field near the apartment.
They run down the sidewalk, knowing to stop before they reach the curb. They run down the hallway playing peek a boo with the doorman. At three and one and a half my kids love to run and be kids. And I support this.
Yesterday they were playing one such game in the hallway when the doorman buzzed me. I brought the kids inside and continued with our nighttime routine/ negotiation. While in the tub my daughter asked who was upstairs. When the noise became louder and I realized my husband was not coming home early to surprise me, I went up to see four police officers standing in my apartment.
My heart raced as they explained that the neighbor had reported a baby was crawling about unattended. “Both my kids are home in the bath,” I explained. “Someone have a beef with you upstairs?” one cop asked while I tried not to stare at the four handguns.
“Take a deep breath,” another said as he left.
My mind flashed to the worst case scenario, if the caller was transferred to Children’s Protective Services the outcome could have been infinitely worse. The story of a fellow blogger left me frightened.
Today I saw the alleged caller, the president of the condo board and asked him why he reported me. I was impressed with my non confrontational demeanor and encouraged him to contact me directly as opposed to involving the authorities. He claims to have been mortified by my free range children, fearing that one was putting his hands in the mouth after touching whatever dirt was dragged into the apartment asking if he became sick would I sue. Upon my denial, and in between insults to my parenting, he did not believe me. Then he brought up every parents nightmare, kidnapping.
I channeled Leonora and asked when was the last time he heard about a kidnapping because it does not happen every day. When he pretended that he had heard of an abduction a few weeks ago I asked if it was a parent involved in a custody battle.
We had a bit of a staring contest where I tried not to smile, because this was ridiculous then ventured in our respective directions.
I have to live with this man and he is president of the condo board which I’m expecting to approve my bathroom addition. Manhattan is filled with lunatics of all different sorts and interacting with or living beside at least one is inevitable. My seething has calmed down and I’ve dismissed his parenting insults. If he has children, I bet they don’t talk to him regularly.