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

One of the things I admire about my friends Ken, Scott and Dom is that they all seem to be the kind of balanced people who will raise kids who will be sensitive and thoughful, yet also not neurotic or afraid of taking risks. I don’t know if that’s as rare as I fear it is, but based on my informal children-i-see-wearing-helmets-for-activities-not-remotely-requiring-head-protection index, I’d say it might be. Obessing about safety and an abundance of precaution are not hallmarks of successful people, and I wonder if many companies are started by people who, as children, were hovered over by over-protective parents. I therefore enjoyed this story about an NYC women who indulged her 9-year-old son’s wish to be left alone in downtown NY to find his way home. From the article:

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.

If I had to guess, I’d say that in 20 years this kid will be doing something interesting with his life. Perhaps providing employment to the grown children of more obsessive parents. I hope he appreciates what a wonderful mother he has.

One response to ““Why I let my 9-year-old ride the subway alone””

  1. Why, just today, I let Dora play in the back yard without head protection, and what happened? She fell over backwards in her little pink plastic chair and bonked the back of her head on the hard stone ground.

    Either that or Lewis pushed her over, I’m not sure. I wasn’t there, I was cooking potstickers for them in the house. Can’t allow them near a fire, of course.

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