{Be Out There} Challenge Day 5: Not So “Out There”

by Leighann on April 24, 2010

I knew our week long National Wildlife Federation’s Be Out There Challenge was seeming a little too good to be true. The weather has been fantastic and we have far exceeded our goal of one hour of outdoor time each day…until Day 5.

Rain is one thing. We like playing in the rain. But today was cold and wet and I did not feel like spending more time outside than I had to. I guess tomorrow will be Day 5.5!

My friend  Kim of Hormone-colored Days asked during her Be Out There challenge how you strike the balance between being a helicopter mom and raising Free Range Kids.* I left a long comment, some of which is included in this post.

After school when the weather is nice I let my daughter play in the school yard for 15 minutes before going home.

It is interesting to look around and see some parents up by the steps not paying one lick of attention to what their kids are doing.

Some of these kids are the older kids who play too rough around the younger kids and throw insults to the kindergarteners calling them “dumb” and “baby” hurting their feelings. Maybe these parents need to pay a little more attention.

And then some of the parents of younger children are right there next to them like white on rice.

I try (and “try” is the operative word) to hang back a little, but still be there. I like to sit on the ledge that borders one of the playgrounds.

Yesterday I went down to the lower playground to summon my child to leave. She and two other girls were doing a tight rope walker worthy stunt.

One of the moms cautioned her child to get down, she might get hurt.

I thought to myself at that moment that these kids probably play like this during recess. They are probably rough and tumble. They probably work things out without parental intervention (or go crying to a teacher).

At the zoo the other day, I positioned myself at the entry so that my younger child couldn’t escape. It allowed him the freedom to play. At once I felt like I needed to be there with him so that he didn’t topple from the high play structure, falling and getting hurt. But I think he appreciated the freedom of running around and exploring. He ran by every so often and said “Hi mommy!” and just as quickly he was again out of sight.

One reason why we love our fenced yard is that I can send the kids out there and I don’t have to be *right* there.

It is so hard to strike a balance between being a helicopter mom and being completely hands off.

Add diabetes to the mix.

Some of the freedoms that I would love for my daughter to have I just can’t give her. I sit with her in my sights on the playground after school in case she were to have a low blood sugar as sometimes happens at that time of day. I make sure she knows where I am more so that she can find me if she thinks she’s going low.

Day after day I see classmates going home with friends on playdates. But not my daughter. How can I possibly send her home to another house without giving a training session on detecting lows and how to treat them? We did luck out in that a classmate has a parent who is diabetic and my daughter was allowed to go home with them once.

She asks, can I go to so-and-so’s house after school for a playdate this week? I make up an excuse or say maybe sometime. She lets out a sigh of disappointment.

Instead we are beginning to invite children to our house to play. Maybe she will have to form a role as hostess rather than guest. At least for now.

And what about sleep overs? Will I let her go? Will I come over at dinner to give insulin and return to check her at bedtime and come once again to bolus at breakfast? That hardly seems fun.

What about reaching the age where she should be able to play in the neighborhood with friends or go to the park by herself. Will I worry every second that she’s had a severe low and can’t treat herself or ask for help?

It is these things, these freedoms lost, that sadden me.

I wish she didn’t have to have a helicopter mom.

Read more posts about our family’s experience with the National Wildlife Federation’s Be Out There Challenge.

*You can also read the Free-Range Kids blog written by Lenore Skenazy.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 kim/hormone-colored days April 24, 2010 at 9:26 am

This sounds like a tough one, but we should never feel bad about keeping our children safe. In my mind being the play date hostess and the neighborhood hangout is awesome because not only do you get to know your children’s friends, but (at least while they are young) you know what they are snacking on and how they are spending their time. That said, you can give them independent space in your basement or yard.

My son had a severe food allergy when he was younger and I remember that feeling- that lack of control and need to protect. We’re fortunate in that he outgrew the allergy by age 10. Sadly, I realize that is not option for your daughter. I feel like I should click over to JDRF and make a donation now so that one day a cure will be found.

Yes, letting go is hard. And yes, it may be harder for you than for many of us. I hope that you are connected to D-Moms with older kids who can offer you guidance, wisdom and support and you and your daughter grow. {hugs}


2 Rachel ~ Southern Fairytale April 24, 2010 at 12:55 pm

fantastic post.

I agree with you that some parents are not present enough.

I’m not a helicopter mom, never have been. But, I’ve been lucky. I have to parent my son a lot more closely than my daughter.

Thank you for this eye opener.


3 Lani April 25, 2010 at 10:53 am

From one helicopter Mom to another, I want to thank you for this post. It is so reassuring to hear that others have the same exact issues that I do. My daughter is going to be 8 and is wanting more freedom when it comes to having friends and stuff. I’ve always been more “involved” than other parents in our circle of friends, in my opinion, and adding diabetes to the mix hasn’t allowed me to step back.


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