I was at the supermarket this past weekend when I saw a package of chicken with a label that said, "Free Range" on it. At first, I thought it was some type of special promotion. Maybe, you buy a certain quantity of chicken, send in a special coupon, and a few weeks later a truck pulls up to your house, and unloads a new kitchen appliance.
When I got home I looked up "Free Range" on the internet. I guess I'll have to make due with my ancient, twenty-five year old stove. I learned that free range denotes a method of raising animals for food, which entails allowing the animals to roam freely outside. Instead of living their short lives, crammed into tiny pens, they know the joy of roaming unhindered through lush, grassy fields, and under sunny skies. When I read this, my first thought was,
"This is great. The next time I'm on my fourth or fifth piece of fried chicken, covered in grease, and furiously gnawing on a leg bone, I won't feel so guilty. I'll just think about what a good life those chickens had."
Do you know that there's also what's being called "Free Range Children?" No, I'm serious. It's part of what's called the, "Free Range Parenting Movement." Parents with this view, believe children need to take calculated risks in order to become self-reliant. They also need the same type of freedom we had as kids, without us going nuts with worry. One woman even let her nine-year old son ride the New York City Subway system alone. Have you ever been in a New York City subway car? I hope, before he left, she at least handed him a baseball bat, and wished him luck.
I read somewhere that a six and a ten-year old brother and sister, were picked up by police while walking home from a park, which was a mile from their house. Don't worry folks; it's okay. They were carrying laminated cards which said,
"I am not lost. I am a free range kid."
I know we have to teach our children to be independent, and increase their self-esteem; but things are crazy out there. Free range parents say things were more dangerous twenty or thirty years ago. I don't believe it.
Children back then didn't have distractions like cell phones. Predators, always drove around in white vans. As soon as you saw one, you took off. Today, you could get snatched up by someone in a Kia Sport, and not know what hit you. If we did get hit by a car, the driver would usually stop and render assistance. Today they often take off, or back up, and run you over again.
Years ago we had free range children in my neighborhood. They'd play baseball or touch football in the street, break an occasional window, often sneak into my pool, use my lawn as a shortcut, and show up uninvited for every family barbecue. We called them KIDS.