When my kids were small, I didn't baby proof. I thought it was a lot safer to teach them how to go up and down the stairs safely instead of blocking their access to the stairs.
Now that they are a little older, I apply the same philosophy to a different skill set. I would rather they learn how to do things safely than prevent them from doing things at all. You know that I let them have facebook accounts. I let them watch movies. I let them talk to strangers.
HUH? Talk to strangers?
Yes. I think talking to strangers can be rewarding when done safely. Hell, I met my husband in a bar.
My kids are not allowed to get into anyone's car without calling me first. They are not allowed to go to anyone's house without calling me first.
But are they allowed to chat up complete strangers on the bus? Sure.
Let's watch and see what happened Tuesday morning on the 63.
12 year old B took the bus to school.
Saw a guy wearing a hat with the Google logo.
Asked the guy where he got it. Guy said he works for Google. He develops the software for the safe-browsing list.
B asked him for his autograph.
Google guy pulled out his business card. B said cool, but can you sign it. Google guy said he's never given his autograph before but sure.
As B was leaving the bus, Google guy says Hey Kid, and hands him a red Google pen.
This made B's day. He was so excited and happy that he got to meet an actual computer programmer from actual Google.
Would he have had the courage and the confidence to approach this guy had he not been casually chatting with people for years? Absolutely not.
Did he handle it safely? Yes. He was in a public place, he was with his friends, and he didn't give the guy any personal information.
He was empowered by his ability to go out into the world and meet an interesting person.
I am so proud.
So what's the complaint?
My complaint is that people think they are protecting their children from risk by not allowing them to do things like go down the stairs, take the bus, talk to strangers.
In my opinion it's a risk either way.
If you let your children have some freedom, you are taking the risk that they may fall down the stairs.
If you don't teach them how to negotiate the universe on their own I think you are taking several risks: that when they finally do have some freedom they won't know how to use it wisely and one very late night in 2017 you will see them on Girls Gone Wild, that they will constantly look to you for protection and will be afraid of the world; or that they will lead a boring life never meeting anyone who hasn't been hand-picked, vetted and sanitized by HQ.
To me, the choice is clear.