Ironing Out The Details

Because marriage is about the small moments. And also, because we like planning ahead (nowearenothavingbabiesrightnow).

Me, looking up from reading Michael Chabon’s Manhood For Amateurs (I read Ayelet Waldman’s – his wife’s – Bad Mother over Christmas, and am currently rotating between Manhood and Columbine…. I need a little depressing to go with my light):

Me: Do you think we’ll be able to be the parents we want to be, and you know, let our kids play outside and ride their bikes around the neighborhood all by themselves, and then even go to the store to get an ice cream without us even being there?

David: Yes.

Me: But what about how people will say we deserve for our kids to be abducted, and we should be reported, and that’s JUST NOT HOW YOU RAISE KIDS IN AMERICA ANYMORE? What about that?

David: We’ll be good parents, just like we want to be. And we’ll let our kids play by themselves. And if Child Protective Services comes, we’ll tell them to f*ck off.

Me: You sure?

David: Yup.

Me: Ok good. Goodnight.

David: Night.

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  • Are you familiar with Free Range Kids? May be something to bookmark for down the road.

  • Hahaha, too funny. I make up hypothetical parenting situations all the time and it's actually a really accurate way of telling how compatible our parenting styles will be. And how much work we have cut out for ourselves…

  • David is so great, Meg… :-)

    Of course that's what you'll be.

  • We've had this EXACT same conversation. Seriously.

  • I love David.

  • Stephanie

    Thanks, Meg. I just sent this link to my husband.

    (who retorted with "why are you still reading wedding blogs?" to which I responded, "it isn't just a wedding blog.")

  • *laughs* Oh my goodness. Just yesterday at work we were talking about this. My mom works in childcare (for over 30 years!) and my dad has worked in criminal justice for almost as long. Needless to say, my parents are hyper-paranoid (or so I thought when I was young). My dad knows that 90% of abductions are done by a family member (less than 2% are by a stranger) and than over 90% of molestations are done by someone the child knows. My parents were just as cautious with their friends and family as they were with "strangers." As paranoid as they were about other people, they did allow us a fair amount of freedom. They didn't raise us to be scared, but rather confident (so if anything was weird, we can stand up for ourselves). I think a lot of what happens now is that people are paranoid, watch over their kids but never give their kids the skills to deal with the weirdos of the world themselves. Sometimes even if you are overprotective, things happen.

    Also, I think the mere fact that you pre-discuss parenting techniques and concepts means that you will be good parents. You are conscious of how your choices will impact your kids – and I think that is more than most people who end up popping out scrogs ever do.

  • I grew up in the states but have been living in France for 15 years, where i've been raising my 3 kids (and planning my wedding these days lol).
    I stumbled on this blog a while back and i was really surprised at what has become of the US i grew up in.
    I agree with the others : it's this kind of questioning that will help you be good parents.

  • In our first year of marriage we've had hundreds of conversations about how we want to raise our future-kids. But I'm sure we're being so naive- at least that's what my friends with kids would have me believe. What we think we'll do and what we end up doing will of course depend on our one-day-kids' personalities.

    But I do know that we don't want to go overboard. We don't want to limit them. And we don't want to get in their way.

  • Meg

    Not exactly a wedding blog. Did you tell him *I* was married? ;) Anyway, I think that will be a little more clear in April…

  • I just went to that Free Range Kids website and I'm absolutely nonplussed. When did this happen to our schools? No playing tag, no balls allowed on the playground? Kids not allowed to walk home from school? The dictionary banned fromt he grammar school library? This is not the suburbia of my youth. I'm afraid of what may be ten years from now when I will have kids in grammar school.

  • Anonymous

    yay Meg! Here's to actually putting thought into things.

    Good to hear you're not having conversations like "when we have kids, how do you want to decorate the nursery?" (which is fine..if that and playing dress up are not your only concerns)

    I wouldn't have imagined anything less from the person who also thinks about marriage – not just weddings.

  • ohhh my goodness. I just went over to that freerangekids blog, yikes! at least I'll have that community to look forward to for support when I start having kids and want to tear my hair out over this kind of stuff.

  • Meg

    That's because the nursrey decor is already settled. Mounted stuffed animal heads a la:

    Adorable, hilarious, disturbing. Just what kids love.

  • MWK

    Hells. yes. My sister and I used run around in a park known for its homeless inhabitants, and then later when we moved we would hop on horses and ride off for hours.

    But, oh man (and I know you've mentioned this): so scared for the storm of judgey that will accompany children. Am starting to compile snappy comebacks now.

  • Meg


    THIS IS WHY YOU WORRY ABOUT WHAT OTHER PEOPLE THINK. Are you ready? Please take a seat. Ok.

    Best free range parenting story ever (yes @Stephanie, you bet I knew about the movement ;)

    Mom decides she's going to start letting her 4th grader walk the… ohhhh… six blocks to elementary school by themselves. Ok, fine, good. First day kid walks to school, a neighbor sees him, and CALLS THE COPS. Cops come, pick child up in cop car, drive child back to house. Knock on door, return child, tell mother that if she lets her child walk to school unattended again, they MIGHT ARREST HER FOR CHILD ENDANGERMENT.

    Oh. My. Lord.

  • Having worked in a studio that taught 1100 kids, I know that children are great. They are loud and gross and leaky and obnoxious and they do weird things like lick mirrors and bite each other's hair and they are awesome. When people asked me how I liked my job, I usually said, "The kids are great. The parents I can do without." The same people who think they can weigh in on your wedding (and various other aspects of your life) think they can do with when it comes to your children. Except now they have a "moral obligation" and "OMG, we've got to save the children!"

    [There's a rant on the dangers of false or unfounded CPS allegations here, but I'll keep it to myself. My dad was a military police officer, I've seen REAL child endangerment. People who use CPS for tattle-telling on what they think is bad parenting makes me so angry that I shake….]

    I like my sister's approach to parenting.
    "Don't do that, you're gonna get hurt.
    You're gonna get hurt if you–
    See? Hurt, didn't it?
    You bleeding? No?
    You gonna do it again?

    But, then again, I'm a klutz and my husband has been to the emergency room five times in the last year due to accidents. (Like random, not his fault, God is just irritated with you today accidents.) With the double-whammy of our genes, I think my child may have to have a helmet surgically attached to their head.

  • Jessica

    Rad. Our conversation is similar but I ask 'we will never let kids eat bologna, right? RIGHT?'

  • I cannot tell you how many times I get the freaky notion that you and I have a little too much in common.
    I, the theatre major, and he the teacher, reading the first chapter from Manhood…. in bed.
    Me: Oh god, that's our kid. The lonely nerd.
    Blake: Don't worry, they won't be lonely, they'll have us.
    Me: This. This is what I'm worried about.
    (to be clear, we're planning the wedding, and kids are in the far flung distant possible future…)

  • @ David: touche!

  • Peonies and Polaroids

    I'm I naive for not even considering what other people might say about our childrearing? but then I kind of felt the same way about our wedding. And life.

    I freaked out last night at the thought of our hypothetical future child going to sleep over at friend's houses. I mean HOW DO YOU KNOW THE FRIEND'S PARENT IS NOT A FREAK???? I lay in bed worrying about this for ages, then I decided I should probably get back to worrying about conceiving said kid and teaching it to walk and talk and shit in the toilet first, before I stay awake at night freaking out about sleepovers.

    I wish Nye had been awake. He would have said what David said.

  • I can't believe the way people's views about children have changed, and I spent my childhood during that change.

    When I was maybe 10-12 (for reference, I'm 24 now), me and my friend used to go to the river that was maybe 3 blocks from my house. We'd walk on the levee, explore the woods, go to a playground about half a mile away, etc. We had to be home by dark. We didn't have cell phones. There were homeless people there and even though one yelled at us one time, they were harmless. Just people.

    When I was 18, so roughly six years later, I took my then-12-year-old cousin on a very simplified, less-dangerous version of that same adventure I used to have. I had a cell phone. We walked to the playground and back. We were gone about 1.5 hours. Everything was exactly the same as I remembered it. A secluded bend in the river in a quiet, safe neighborhood.

    But somehow there was a misunderstanding with his parents, and THEY CALLED THE COPS ON US. They claimed that the river "wasn't like how it used to be," that it was full of dangerous people, etc. etc. They had gotten themselves in such a panic because they didn't know exactly where their ADOLESCENT child was for 5 minutes, that they didn't even think to call my phone.

    I am the oldest of 13 cousins. I was born in 1985; the next youngest one was born in 1991. I was the only one allowed to go trick-or-treating at strangers' houses, even with a parent present.

    This is insane.

  • For some reason the words from that QUEEN song came into my head after reading this "I want to break free"…THEN I imagined lots of kids running off into the forest breaking away from their stifling parents and police and teachers singing it at the top of their lungs. Hell, maybe i break free too…just wish there was a good forest around these parts…p.s. did you see the movie "Away We Go"- now they're gonna be great parents. You have to see this movie!

  • I have to agree WHOLEHEARTEDLY with Lyssachelle's comment above – I work with children, and I love them all so much, but the PARENTS are hell sometimes.

    The thing that blew my mind most was when I was teaching a spring break camp for the arts center I work at, we gave the parents the option to pick their children up at our main location if they couldn't get their kids when the camp ended at 12. Which of course required someone to transport the kids from where we were to the main location (less than one mile up the road). One mother had signed up for the program, paid for it, and signed a release form THAT MORNING saying it was okay for us to drive her daughter. A couple hours later we realized she hadn't left a car seat, so we called her. The woman FLIPPED OUT, saying she never lets her child ride in the car with someone without a background check, that she works in security systems and knows how dangerous people are and how important it is to keep your kids safe, and how dare we assume it was okay. To which my coworker replied, "Um, ma'am. You signed the release this morning."

    I was so, so baffled at that parent's stupidity. For starters, if you're paranoid enough about your child to throw a fit like that…WHY DIDN'T YOU READ THE RELEASE YOU SIGNED?! And if you're so worried about the teachers being trustworthy, why even bring your child to camp?

    Also, it bothers me just how few kids get to play in the dirt, or get dirty. I did paper-mâchÊ with my kids last week, thinking they would leap at the chance to get gooey, and all but two of them thought it was "too messy" and wouldn't finish the project.

    I so hope I get to raise my own kids on a farm like I was raised, while at the same time bringing them backstage to hang out with Mommy and Daddy at rehearsal.

  • Marisa-Andrea

    Lol, Meg. Me and Chris have those discussions too, because we are so baffled at how "different" the world is now than it was 20 years ago when we were kids (Omg, we're at that age where can SAY that) that tag on the playground is too "dangerous," recess makes kids think that learning is not important, kids will be overly traumatized for life if they read a "bad" word in a book (but hear it everyday on the street) and where four year olds need cell phones in case of an emergency when no such thing was necessary when I was four. Oh yeah. And I walked home from school. GASP!!!!!!!

    I will probably be a "bad mother."

  • Tina

    I just had to go back to the mounted stuffed animal heads. ha ha ha. I feel like our senses of humor are so spot on.

    On the changing world note, I work with adolescent children every day in a very wealthy part of town. Those parents can more than drive you bonkers. Yet, somehow I didn't realize it had gotten so bad everywhere ele since I'm not quite planning to enter the parenting world any time soon.

    I read this to my partner. He was amazed and shook his head. But, then he said, "Why are you reading wedding blogs?" (We're not engaged…) I retorted, "It's more like a practical life blog."

  • Liz

    weird. i grew up in a really criminally-active neighborhood. i cold tell stories- about drive-by's and prostitutes and that homeless guy that took a nap in the backseat of our car.

    nevertheless. i NEVER knew there were parents like THIS. everyone i knew walked to get ice cream at dusk in august. and crap. and they still do.

    this is all so bizarre to me, guys.

  • Meg

    Dude. Yes. David and I grew up going to gang schools (I'm not being cute, we're talking 'don't sit behind the cafeteria, that's not safe during a drive-by') and… it just made is grow up to be shockingly and unexpectedly tough.

    Though today we were walking through our WEALTHY family San Francisco neighborhood, on a gorgeous Sunday, and we realized that in 45 minutes we saw ONE child playing outside, alone, right by his front door. ONE. WHAT THE F*CK?

  • Peonies and Polaroids

    @meg all that does is convince me that your country/policing system is deranged. I'm pretty sure that would not happen here.

  • Mmmmm….as much as I like the concept and the passion behind Free Range Kids, it also objectifies children in a way that I disagree with.

    But, thumbs up to the original post!