Re: Those Meitivs

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That is a distasteful and gossipy piece. Also, it would take a hell of a lot more than "once these kids were almost hit by a truck" to get me to go griping to Slate about my neighbors.

Srsly, like so many 'foggers, I grew up in the 1970s/80s and was sometimes almost hit by cars. I used to play down by the semi-disused railroad tracks out of sight of everyone. I once did have to ask for adult help in finding my parents. I slapped my brother once when I was fifteen, for pete's sake. (And very provoking he had been, too.) I'm not saying that any of those were great things (although the railroad tracks were pretty cool - lots of very climbable trees, wild roses and raspberries) but they didn't mean that my parents were neglectful. The whole Slate piece depends on the idea that kids not only won't behave badly or foolishly if they're watched carefully enough but that somehow you can actually make your kids be totally careful and prudent individuals by watching them all the time - that if "free range" worked, free range kids would never get lost or hit each other or whatever. Which is not how I understand it - the idea seems to be that kids should be able to make some mistakes.

Also, as I'm sure has been brought up here: in, like, poor neighborhoods, kids are always almost being hit by cars and nobody gives two shits, because getting society to the point where poor parents actually could helicopter would require substantial social reform. Much better to assume that little Native toddlers can totally wander into traffic or pick around in the arsenic-spume-polluted soil.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 10:59 AM
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The whole Slate piece depends on the idea that kids not only won't behave badly or foolishly if they're watched carefully enough but that somehow you can actually make your kids be totally careful and prudent individuals by watching them all the time - that if "free range" worked, free range kids would never get lost or hit each other or whatever

I don't think that's right -- I think the point of the article is that because the Meitivs aren't watching their kids all the time, other people in the neighborhood have had to do this for them, and they are resentful.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 11:05 AM
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That's a pretty dumb article. The only information it adds is that the kids don't wear their "I'm a free-range kid" badges. Otherwise, yeah, we know that no one expects kids to be out alone; that's the problem, not the final answer.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 11:08 AM
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The other day we had Zardoz at the playground and we were kind of hanging back let her gain confidence with the slide and so on. This other dad saw her looking at the slide and jumped in like "oh, be careful, do you need help? Can I help you sit down?" Piss off, guy.

So, we called the cops on him.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 11:11 AM
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"Have had to" is how it's framed, but it's maybe a little tendentious. No one but the truck driver did anything about his having to hit the brakes; interfering in a sibling fight is not obviously a necessary thing to do; and helping a lost kid find their parent in a crowd isn't much of a burden. The anecdotes given aren't convincing me that the kids are much of a real problem to the neighborhood parents. (The neighborhood parents might perceive them as such, because it's disturbing to see them unaccompanied in public, but if that's the problem, I don't care.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 11:12 AM
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The free range kids are probably selling loose cigarettes to their kids. That's what the least supervised kids in my neighborhood did.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 11:13 AM
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Frowner, as usual, gets it exactly right. Having to ask a stranger for help or directions is not a horrifying outcome. It can even happen to pen-raised children. Or adults!


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 11:16 AM
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If our neighbors gossiped to Slate they would report that yesterday when we left our kids in the yard to play, our five year old was dripping blood onto the dirt because his 2.5 year old sister hit him in the face with her plastic baseball bat (he was holding the ball and she wanted to hit it.) Also she's developing as a lefty, the only one in the family.
Also under irresponsible parenting we took our 10 year old to a comedy show last night where he entertained the crowd because he was sassy to the mind reader when he was called up on stage to help- the magician had to pick one of three envelopes the kid was holding and said to him, "Well, if it's the wrong one, so what- you've never made a bad decision?" and 10 year old responded spontaneously, "No, but I bet you have." There was a 6 year old there as well so we weren't the most irresponsible family there bringing him to an adult comedy/magic show, they usually have kids there on school vacation weeks.
This comment quickly veered away from relevance didn't it. It's a free-range comment.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 11:16 AM
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Anyway, if you really want to free your children, you should avoid taking them to a folk festival. My dad may have smoked continually even when we were confined in a car, but he never, ever would have made me experience folk music.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 11:16 AM
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I love the neighbor who says that they saw the kids unaccompanied all the time, but didn't know they were free range. I mean, the neighbor clearly knew that they were outside unaccompanied all the time, presumably with the consent of their parents -- what would knowing the words 'free range' have added to that? Or are we supposed to think the neighbor believed they'd just escaped supervision, over and over and over again?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 11:24 AM
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1: I slapped my brother once when I was fifteen, for pete's sake.

This made me laugh: so did I. My brother, of course, not yours. He actually tended to try to wrestle me to the ground, and I'd dig my nails into him until he cried "uncle". Dirty tactics on my part, but you use the tools at your disposal.

But I didn't realize that the anti-free-range movement advocated stopping all sibling fights. In the real world, those times my brother and I physically fought -- out of sight of our parents -- represent, now in our adulthood, some of our closest bonding moments: it was between me and him, as nascent grown-ups.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 11:26 AM
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So far, all my vandalisms have been successfully blamed on "the kids," but there aren't enough teens around for me to be able to blame for all the times I backed into a retaining wall.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 11:28 AM
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Sally and Newt roll around on the floor like cartoon cats and dogs, with the cloud of dust and little stars and occasional hands and feet coming out of it. Doesn't seem to do them any harm.

I am watching bemusedly for when the balance of power changes. Newt is now a couple of inches taller than Sally -- she quit growing at just about my 5'7", and he's still going -- but either she's still stronger than he is, or he thinks she is. He remains flinchy when threatened.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 11:29 AM
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The piece supports my pre-existing belief that, whatever the merits of the free-range parenting debate, the Meitivs are likely annoying ideologues who allow their kids to be annoying. Gossipy, yes, but IMO likely to be accurate.


Posted by: TRO | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 11:33 AM
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2: If that's the case, then that still seems less than ideal, honestly. "I should never have to help out any kids but my own and I should be able to ignore yours because you are helicoptering them successfully"does not seem to describe the reality of community life. If anything, my friends who are parents are way more proactive than I am about dealing with other people's kids, whether or not the parents are right there. Also, non-free-range parents can lose their kids too; non-free-range parents can look away for a minute and one kid can hit another. I just....when I was a mere slip of a girl, there was a threshold over which other parents would intervene even if yours weren't around, and that was not construed as some kind of terrible burden on the other parents' freedom.

I think that if the other parents are thinking "all kids should be helicoptered, therefore when I see these kids I should not just attempt to intervene if they're going to break their skulls but should also attempt to helicopter them", then yes, I can see that this would be exhausting, but it seems like the other parents' problem, not the family. I mean, I just can't imagine that all twelve families are needed during all daylight hours to keep the Meitivs' children from getting hurt.

11: Actually, I remember it because it was a rare thing by that point and because I got in trouble for it. I still remember just how mad I felt, but I can't remember about what. Some nonsense, no doubt. I wish I remember more about why we didn't get along; it seems so mysterious to me now.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 11:33 AM
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10: I wonder if that neighbor is only now being introduced to the idea that you're supposed to freak out at seeing unaccompanied kids. Maybe (s)he never thought it was a big deal until it hit the newspapers.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 11:35 AM
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who allow their kids to be annoying.

I do not get this. I count three concrete incidents, going back, apparently, years. One uncareful street crossing, one getting lost at a folk festival, and one incident where the person relating it didn't see the kid doing anything wrong, but did see an adult yelling at the kid for allegedly hitting his sister.

If that's all the stories they can come up with, that doesn't sound annoying to me. Annoying would be behavior directed at other adults and children who don't want to interact with them; vandalism; unreasonable noise generation; that kind of thing. The anecdotes in the story aren't annoying kids.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 11:36 AM
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It's true that we don't have a full picture from the article, and my belief is that the parents are basically annoying and that the kids are mostly just kids. But it provides support that they're doing things like punching other kids, wandering into parking lots, etc., that require some mild intervention from adults. That's fine and part of childhood, but, you know, it's one thing if your kids are out and about and perfectly well behaved, it's another if instead of playing nicely at the park and walking straight home they're getting into fights and wandering into parking lots in commercial areas.


Posted by: TRO | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 11:40 AM
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I once spent a lot of time at a semi-rural playground where I frequently encountered the non-theorized underparented children, rather than those fancy free-range kids. Only once was a kid a troublemaker, but nearly always the by-him-or-herself 5yo wanted very, very much to have an adult approve and admire their sliding or climbing or jumping or swinging or whatever. Which was fine, if a little tricky to keep on top of the "Watch this!"'s while also making sure an 18 month old didn't take a header off the monkey bars.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 11:42 AM
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That's fine and part of childhood, but, you know, it's one thing if your kids are out and about and perfectly well behaved,

This is nuts, or, to put it another way, this is the same position as "Children may not be unaccompanied in public, full stop." There may be some children well enough behaved that collecting gossip from a several year period, you couldn't get three anecdotes that bad (a second-hand account, not witnessed by the teller, that a kid hit his sister; kids were 'about to enter' a parking garage) but there aren't many of them, and there's no way for a parent to know if their kids meet that exacting standard.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 11:47 AM
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I don't think it's nuts that if you want to make your kids poster children for being OK playing alone, you should put a lot of emphasis on making sure that they can take care of themselves without causing problems. Also, they should be identified as being safe (i.e., wearing their cards or whatever, so that people know they're safe), which these kids aren't doing. Again, my problem isn't with the notion that we should let kids play on their own, it is basically that these parents are using their kids as political props and expecting other parents/authoriites not to have perfectly natural reactions to their behavior. Just pretending it's 1963 for your kids alone isn't particularly awesome, except I guess as a form of activism, but the whole basis for my objection is that using kids as props for activism kind of annoying.

Also, I live in a very mixed-poor neighborhood where there are a lot of kids at the local park who walk there alone and are unsupervised. These kids as a rule are super well behaved and capable of taking care of themselves (except for some stuff like Oudemia mentions in 19). If they were wandering off in dangerous directions or causing fights, you better believe that other parents would be annoyed, and righttfully so. While it's true we don't have a full picture about how the Meitiv kids behave (this is all gossip and speculation) the super-ideologue nature of the parents makes me believe that it's likely that basically conforming, non-problematic, negative-situation-avoiding behavior hasn't been heavily emphasized with these kids.


Posted by: TRO | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 11:58 AM
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Also, they should be identified as being safe (i.e., wearing their cards or whatever, so that people know they're safe), which these kids aren't doing.

Identified as being safe? I mean, holding a sign saying "I'm safe" doesn't make you safe, and it's a weird expectation to have. If you mean "Identified as being permitted to be outdoors alone by their parents" that seems idiotic to me. It might be useful as a way for the kids to reassure concerned adults, but I can't see why an adult would be reassured by a notice (legible from what distance are we talking about?) if they thought the kids were in an unsafe situation, and I can't see why they'd need it if the kids weren't.

While it's true we don't have a full picture about how the Meitiv kids behave (this is all gossip and speculation) the super-ideologue nature of the parents makes me believe that it's likely that basically conforming, non-problematic, negative-situation-avoiding behavior hasn't been heavily emphasized with these kids.

They get no points for the gossipy neighbors describing them as "nice, kind, together" kids? I mean, walking near a parking garage is pretty heinous, but other than that the neighbors seem to like them fine, and not think of them as consistent bad actors.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 12:04 PM
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I think if I saw a kid holding a card saying, "I'm Safe" that I might be more likely to call the cops than if they were doing the same thing with no sign or a sign saying, "Go Fuck Yourself."


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 12:07 PM
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If I'm downstairs reading and I hear a loud crash above me, I'll probably sit a bit before going to check it out. If I hear a loud crash and "Everything is O.K.," I'm running up the stairs.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 12:09 PM
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I think if I saw a kid holding a card saying, "I'm Safe"

This suddenly turned into a silent film about an argument during a baseball game. ("Yer Out!!")


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 12:09 PM
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Why wouldn't you want the have kids to have something on/with them that lets adults know that their (given norms and the community in which they live very reasonable) suspicion that kids wandering alone through a business district are not OK? At a minimum it would make confrontations less likely, but that's not something these parents appear interested in.

I also read the article differently than you did, seems to me the basic position of the neighbors is that the kids are OK but prone to creating situations where they're causing problems, aka annoying.


Posted by: TRO | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 12:09 PM
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24: Children of a friend have a reflexive "Nothing broke!" after crashes that is, as you say, the reverse of reassuring.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 12:10 PM
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the super-ideologue nature of the parents makes me believe that it's likely that basically conforming, non-problematic, negative-situation-avoiding behavior hasn't been heavily emphasized with these kids.

Oh gosh.

It seems that what's desired in children is that they essentially disappear.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 12:11 PM
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After 8:00 pm until 7:00 am would be just great on that.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 12:14 PM
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There's nothing wrong with having some kind of ID for the kid, and my understanding is that they did have cards which they were imperfect about carrying always. But it wouldn't avoid confrontations -- think about the practicalities. What would you have on a 'badge' that would be legible from a distance to an unfamiliar adult that would be reassuring? There's nothing. You could have something reassuring on a card where you could fit a couple of sentences, but the adult would have to be interacting with the kid to read it, which is what you seem to resent their feeling as if they have to do.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 12:16 PM
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"How's my aimless wandering? Call 1-800-Free-Kid. ID #123435."


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 12:17 PM
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The woman who edited this is an FB friend. She posted it and got some pushback that it didn't talk about class and race, and she said that the writer had put a graf in about that which she had taken out to tighten the focus of the piece.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 12:18 PM
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my own HOT TAKE was that this conflates situations where neighbors or even strangers have to ask "you kids all right?" with situations where the police must be called. AFAICT, free range parenting is pretty clear that asking kids if they need help is fine and calling the police is not.

It's terrible that strangers and especially men don't feel they can talk to kids who might need help without risking legal problems. But the answer to this isn't to norm calling the police when you see a kid off leash.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 12:20 PM
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It seems that what's desired in children is that they essentially disappear.

Why don't you all f-f-fade away?


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 12:24 PM
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26
Why wouldn't you want the have kids to have something on/with them that lets adults know that their (given norms and the community in which they live very reasonable) suspicion that kids wandering alone through a business district are not OK? At a minimum it would make confrontations less likely, but that's not something these parents appear interested in.

The parents say they have given the kids laminated "free-range kids" badges, or lanyards or whatever, to reduce incidents like we're all complaining about. I remember that the January article said that the kids forgot left the badges at home that day, which is part of why I thought of it as a "bad cases make bad law" incident - just one of many, many details that would have prevented national news being made. In this Slate article, neighbors say that they don't see the kids wearing the badges, but think for a second about how meaningless that is. Kids also don't wear "I'm a dork" buttons. You're accusing the parents of lying about giving the kids badges and doing all kinds of other horrible things, but do you have any actual evidence?


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 12:25 PM
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Kids also don't wear "I'm a dork" buttons.

No, but you can smell it on them.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 12:26 PM
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My 23 year old autistic daughter spent about 20-30 minutes topless outside of a park last Sunday. Nobody called the cops. #freethenipple


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 12:30 PM
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HOT TAKE

Hot cheetos and takes!


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 12:30 PM
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Kids also don't wear "I'm a dork" buttons

Seriously. How many self-respecting 10-year-olds could bear to wear such a button? Your soul would shrivel up and die.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 12:34 PM
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"Mom, I can't wear that! My soul will shrivel up and die!"


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 12:37 PM
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You could test that, but it would be hard to get past the IRB at most schools.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 12:37 PM
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Maybe if you offered the kids some marshmallows for wearing the button for a set length of time.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 12:52 PM
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31: You joke, but when a friend of mine recently redid his will and healthcare proxy stuff, he got hooked up with a service that has access to his health care proxy and emergency contact people 24-7. He has a card in his wallet, and if he's in an accident, emergency responders can call and get the information they need.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 12:56 PM
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I feel like if I'm disagreeing with Frowner, I'm probably wrong, but - society is what it is. The question isn't, should society be structured like it used to be, with was much more acceptance of kids roaming unsupervised. I 100% agree it should be. But it's not. And people, on average, are going to respond in line with whatever the general social expectations are. So even if social expectations aren't what they should be, you still don't get to act surprised when people respond in line with those. People assume kids will be supervised at a park. If your kids aren't supervised at a park, people will think something is wrong, and will intervene. Even if you don't think it's necessary. And you don't get to act all innocently surprised when that happens. If people want to change these societal expectations, then great, I'm all for it. But if how you're trying to change expectations is by putting your kids into situations that you know will raise red flags for other people, then acting offended when people intervene, then, as TRO says above, you're using your kids as political props. And that doesn't seem right.

But as I say, if Frowner says the opposite, I'm probably wrong.


Posted by: freight train | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 1:00 PM
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These parents aren't acting offended when people intervene, or talk to their children about what they're doing outside alone (or maybe they are, but it hasn't made it into any coverage). They're publicly objecting when the police take their kids into custody for five hours, and when CPS investigates them for neglect and doesn't clear them.

If they were being touchy when a concerned adult spoke, reasonably, to them or their children, I'd think they were out of line too.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 1:05 PM
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I don't think anyone is acting all surprised here.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 1:06 PM
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I heard today from a colleague/acquaintance I haven't seen in a few years, and he reminisced, "The last time I saw you was at the WF parking lot, and your little boy was almost hit by a car/ran in front of a car, and you were dealing with that, so I didn't get a chance to say Hello."

Shockingly, even non-free range children, even closely supervised children, can sometimes get in trouble. #Slatepitch


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 1:06 PM
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45 - I'm speaking more to the fact that neighbors are acting reasonably when they say they feel there's a burden put on them by seeing kids roaming around. (Although I guess that's not so much what I said. But it's what I meant.) If kids aren't expected, as a general rule, to be unsupervised, then random adults will feel compelled to do something. Obviously they do not need to feel compelled to call CPS. But it's fair for them to feel under obligation, and it's understandable they don't want to feel that way.


Posted by: freight train | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 1:10 PM
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46 having crossed with 45.

I will say, I'm sure not in an original fashion, that had such societal norms been in place when I was growing up in the 70s, I'd have been a very unhappy child. What's in question is not what current societal norms are, as though free-range parents are confused about that, but whether they're appropriate or even healthy for children.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 1:11 PM
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Children of a friend have a reflexive "Nothing broke!" after crashes that is, as you say, the reverse of reassuring.

Whereas Kai, tough kid, responds to almost any fall by popping up and insisting he's OK, and really means it (even if he's a bit scraped up). The other day he was riding bikes with his buddies in the empty school parking lot across the street, and I heard a fall, and then heard him yell, "I'm not alright!" I ran like hell (he was basically fine, except for a pretty substantial flesh wound on one hip, beneath 2 layers of fabric - no gravel, no emergency room, thank god).


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 1:15 PM
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But it's fair for them to feel under obligation, and it's understandable they don't want to feel that way.

To the extent that's the real issue, I understand the psychological basis for it, but I don't care about the neighbors' feelings in that regard, and I think they should pour themselves a drink and calm down rather than expect their nervous reaction to curtail the reasonable behavior of the Metievs. I think the social norm that treats an unaccompanied child as an emergency is a bad one, and there's no way to exert pressure to change it unless you're willing to not cater to the worries of people disturbed by the sight.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 1:15 PM
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I'm basically with 44/48. And obviously calling CPS or the cops shouldn't be anyone's first choice. But, I don't think it's out of the park crazy though to think that the cops or CPS might be *called* given the location where it seems like these kids were, by themselves, and the parents should have known that.* However, the parents didn't much care, because they're into using their kids as political props, and will now file a lawsuit over it.

Shorter me: If you have a strongly held "parenting philosophy" that you're willing to be an extreme outlier for and put your kids in the middle of, you're likely an asshole, no matter what your philosophy is. I'm just not sympathetic with these folks.

*One other thing: it's not like anyone or any authority is actually prosecuting these parents. No one is taking their kids away. There's a big difference between an investigation and a prosecution. They knowingly put their kids in a super-unusual situation, and then some authorities saw that and investigated. Not that the investigation was perfect -- after the kids were picked up, the parents should have been called more promptly. But if you're going to engage in outlier behavior that someone might want to investigate, it's then a little much to file a lawsuit claiming that you should be immune from investigation.


Posted by: TRO | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 1:20 PM
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Although of course everyone who disagrees with me is obviously wrong....

I guess I'm not into the whole "they should have known they were contravening social norms; contravening social norms is political; therefore they are using their children as political pawns and that's wrong". (We'll leave out hyperbolic examples about, say, parents of color who enrolled their children in implicitly whites-only programs and thus contravened social norms/played politics.) How exactly is change supposed to come about? These parents want their actual kids during their actual childhoods to be able to roam around. How are they supposed to achieve that without letting the kids roam? Take five years to maybe succeed in passing some ordinance? Wait until that ordinance is normalized? And only then let their high school aged children go to the park by themselves?

What's surprising to me about this story is how - based on no evidence - almost everyone is eager to convict these parents of being annoying, having annoying children, willfully putting their children at unjustifiable risk, etc etc.

In my neighborhood, cops stop kids all the time what with the racism and the overpolicing and all. No one is worried about how abused those kids are, or says that their parents should keep them indoors. Basically, no one ever wants to say that police overreach is the issue - whether we're talking rich kids or poor kids. But with poor kids, we deal with it by accepting that the police hassle poor kids, and with rich kids we blame the parents.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 1:20 PM
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Although of course everyone who disagrees with me is obviously wrong....

I guess I'm not into the whole "they should have known they were contravening social norms; contravening social norms is political; therefore they are using their children as political pawns and that's wrong". (We'll leave out hyperbolic examples about, say, parents of color who enrolled their children in implicitly whites-only programs and thus contravened social norms/played politics.) How exactly is change supposed to come about? These parents want their actual kids during their actual childhoods to be able to roam around. How are they supposed to achieve that without letting the kids roam? Take five years to maybe succeed in passing some ordinance? Wait until that ordinance is normalized? And only then let their high school aged children go to the park by themselves?

What's surprising to me about this story is how - based on no evidence - almost everyone is eager to convict these parents of being annoying, having annoying children, willfully putting their children at unjustifiable risk, etc etc.

In my neighborhood, cops stop kids all the time what with the racism and the overpolicing and all. No one is worried about how abused those kids are, or says that their parents should keep them indoors. Basically, no one ever wants to say that police overreach is the issue - whether we're talking rich kids or poor kids. But with poor kids, we deal with it by accepting that the police hassle poor kids, and with rich kids we blame the parents.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 1:20 PM
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Oopsie.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 1:24 PM
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What's surprising to me about this story is how - based on no evidence - almost everyone is eager to convict these parents of being annoying, having annoying children, willfully putting their children at unjustifiable risk, etc etc.

It seems like I am seeing the opposite, with the same amount of evidence. (The CPS stuff was horrific and it really struck me that someone there thought they would teach the family a [nasty, extralegal] lesson. But it doesn't quite seem like these kids are just walking to the park and back, based on, for example, potchkeh's description of the geography of their first troubled encounter with the cops.)


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 1:26 PM
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I'm speaking more to the fact that neighbors are acting reasonably when they say they feel there's a burden put on them by seeing kids roaming around.

We've had a couple kids like that in our neighborhood, where it feels as if the wandering probably is due to parental neglect, but the word that comes to mind isn't "burden", it's (and I'm sorry, this will probably make TRO explode with rage at the lameness) "community". I mean, seriously, if I see a kid who may need help, I look at it as an opportunity to help the kid while communicating that grownups are trustworthy and caring.

Conversely*, a month ago Iris was walking the dog in the park, and came home reporting that a group of kids (ages maybe 4-12?) had thrown rocks at her/the dog (in fear of the dog, presumably). AB went down to the park to yell at them, and they were very disrespectful, but we had to go somewhere, so it ended. A day or a week later, I was in the park with Iris when she pointed out the same kids to me, and I stormed over to give them hell for A. throwing stones and B. disrespecting AB. On the latter issue, I told them to take me to their house, where we'd see what their parents would say about being disrespectful to adults. This wrongfooted the eldest, who stopped being defiant and got a lot more real about what had happened, and she basically convinced me that Iris had exaggerated a real incident, so I ended up saying, Look, we all live in this neighborhood (it turned out they'd actually had some of Kai's BDay cake in the park the previous summer), we all use this park, you kids work it out, but you also need to be a bit more respectful. And I went home and told Iris the same. We'll see how it plays out this summer, but I'm hoping to meet the parents at some point.

But I suppose the proper course would have been to call the cops.

*not exactly


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 1:28 PM
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almost everyone is eager to convict these parents of being annoying, having annoying children,

FTFY


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 1:30 PM
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This wrongfooted the eldest

I've never heard this word before!


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 1:31 PM
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56 -- right, almost everyone seems to assume that the kids were just walking a few short suburban blocks from the park or whatever, but it turns out that this wasn't the case at all, on both occasions when the kids were picked up. There was pretty clearly a decision made by these parents not just to push at the envelope of existing norms, but to whole-hog ignore them. Which, maybe, is fine if you agree with their kind of activism, but is pretty clearly knowingly using your parenting to make some kind of political point.


Posted by: TRO | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 1:31 PM
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59: I have.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 1:34 PM
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When I was 5 my parents lost me in Westminster Abbey. Presumably the burden this placed on the British people led directly to Thatcher, and for that I'm very, very sorry.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 1:35 PM
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I mean, seriously, if I see a kid who may need help, I look at it as an opportunity to help the kid while communicating that grownups are trustworthy and caring.

Exactly the way to handle it. I recommend you give them some candy, and maybe a ride in your van.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 1:36 PM
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It means the one who was older than the others.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 1:36 PM
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But it doesn't quite seem like these kids are just walking to the park and back, based on, for example, potchkeh's description of the geography of their first troubled encounter with the cops.)

A lot of people share this reaction -- unaccompanied children are okay some places, but not where they actually were -- and I'm not getting it in terms of actual danger, rather than just out-of-place-looking-ness. Crossing a highway without a crosswalk, that'd call for intervention. Railroad tracks? That too. But, while I don't know the neighborhood, so I may be misunderstanding the geography, what people seem to be reacting to is a wide street with fast traffic, and a commercial shopping street. Neither one of those sounds particularly worrisome to me.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 1:38 PM
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64 is great.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 1:39 PM
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I do think the point about geography is also relevant to the "community" point. The kids, when they were picked up, were wandering through a very high-traffic commercial downtown. When, it seems, they were in their own neighborhood, they basically did nothing more than marginally annoy other parents sometimes who reacted basically as JRoth suggests. I do think that the response would be quite different in a more "neighborhoody" neighborhood, wherever, and that it might be incumbent on the parents to pick up on these kinsd of differences. Again, my only point is to convict the parents of being ideologues.


Posted by: TRO | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 1:41 PM
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pretty clearly knowingly using your parenting to make some kind of political point.

No shit, Sherlock. Yes, they're activists. And the form their activism is taking is, as Frowner said, raising their children the way they want to and they think is healthy for the children while they are still children. Disagree with their goals, if you like, but getting pissy about their having political goals at all related to their parenting seems uncalled for.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 1:41 PM
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Railroad tracks? That too.

I see this all the time! We're two houses away from train tracks and the tracks actually cut through the park behind our house. Actually, two sets of train tracks cut through the same park, about 1/4 mile apart. It's noisy.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 1:42 PM
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I used to stomp around that neighborhood a bit, probably around age 12 to 17. It was a while ago. Probably less traffic at the time, but also less crime. Its the kind of area that stretches off in all directions and there are plenty of interesting things to check out. Certainly more interesting than my home patch of boring upscale suburbia. Those kids were fine. They were exploring their world, doing what kids should be doing.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 1:43 PM
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That is, more crime at the time. That areas gotten a lot nicer in recent years.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 1:44 PM
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It means the one who was older than the others.

Quit calling me Shirley.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 1:45 PM
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60: I think you're asserting an incredibly anodyne and circumscribed norm, and saying anything beyond that is outrageous (or, what's worse, annoying) activism. "A couple suburban blocks to and from the park"? I'd have to drive my kids miles to reach a suburban block; do I need to lock them in the yard?

Since Iris was 10, she's been allowed to walk to WF to buy a needed item or two for dinner. That walk is (ignoring alleys) 4-5 blocks, and includes crossing a busy 3 lane road, walking alongside a busier, one-way 3 lane road, and crossing a busy 3 lane road (the first couple blocks are suburbanish, as urban neighborhoods go - there are little front yards). 60 is telling me that we are whole-hog ignoring existing norms, and I say that's bullshit.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 1:46 PM
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I suppose, as with all of life, it comes down to different judgement calls, and who's to say what's right. But mine is: I have a 7 year old and a 3 1/2 year old. I think the 7 year old could probably handle going up to our neighborhood's business district on her own. But that would be unusual enough in our neighborhood that there's a real chance that the police could decide to get involved, and we could end up in a situation like that of the Meitivs. And I think the harm from that to the kids would outweigh the good that would come from sending them off to learn to roam on their own. There are a lot of other ways to teach them autonomy and independence, with risks I'm more comfortable with. The only reason I can see to accept the possible greater harm of state involvement is to stand on principle and prove a point. And that's not something I want to use my kids' welfare to do. Perhaps I should stand up to injustice visibly to make a stand and change the system, but this is an area where I'm not going to do that. And that's what I think the Meitavs are doing - I think any claim that, hey, we just wanted them to wander around to learn independence and what's all the fuss, is at this point disingenuous.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 1:47 PM
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Whoops, 74 was me.


Posted by: freight train | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 1:47 PM
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10 year old alone is different than 10 year old with the younger kid, for one, but also they were out much more than 4-5 blocks. And not in a (relatively dense) urban pedestrian neighborhood, where pedestrian traffic provides its own kind of safety, but in a kind of downtown commercial zone. And, maybe most importantly, it turns out that they weren't just walking quickly to or from home, they were wandering. All I'm saying is that you don't need to be extreme helicopter parent to anticipate that super unusual kid behavior might be viewed as unusual.


Posted by: TRO | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 1:50 PM
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Of course, this also reflects my conflict-avoidance approach to life, where, rather than make a big deal about something, I'd rather find a way to achieve my core goals while not making waves. Otherwise I feel like you just end up dealing with the splashback from the waves you made, and then you're still putting energy into something besides achieving your core goals. Go along, smile, and find another way to get what you want, is my approach. (In this case, that would involve teaching autonomy in a different way.) YMMV.


Posted by: freight train | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 1:51 PM
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And not in a (relatively dense) urban pedestrian neighborhood, where pedestrian traffic provides its own kind of safety, but in a kind of downtown commercial zone.

Downtown means something to you that I don't understand. I mean, I get the gist, that this was a low-pedestrian traffic commercial street rather than a high-pedestrian traffic commercial street, but I don't get "downtown commercial zone" to communicate that idea.

And, maybe most importantly, it turns out that they weren't just walking quickly to or from home, they were wandering.

First, I don't know where you're getting this from, and second, wandering is a problem in and of itself? I can see that looking lost might trigger intervention, but what's the problem with wandering?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 1:57 PM
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Not all who wander are lost.


Posted by: Opinionated Aragorn | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 1:58 PM
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where pedestrian traffic provides its own kind of safety

Less than you think; the streets in question were redesigned in the '60s to create a mini-beltway around the neighborhood center, and to this day morning commuters fly through at 40+ mph. I see that it's more pedestrian than the areas in question, but not by much. And my whole point is that you're claiming there's some bright line that they're clearly way, way over, and I'm telling you they're about 20' past where we are. If there's a line between us, we're both pretty close to it. As I've related before, Iris was trusted to wander unsupervised in a business district over a mile from our house and walk home. Not the same, but not that different.

As to age, if Kai and Iris got along the way my sister and I did, I would feel comfortable sending them out together (until last month, they were the same spread as the Meitiv kids); as individuals, they're both careful and reasonably mature. In the event, they bicker so freaking much I almost literally trust Kai alone in the park more than I trust them there together.

Do we have any reports of the younger one ignoring or wandering away from the elder?


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 1:58 PM
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what's the problem with wandering

Signals potential distress/neglect, rather than kids who are on task for an errand, know what they're doing, and are going someplace. Maybe that's not how it should be, but it's not unreasonable as a conclusion to reach when you see kids wandering. Are there a lot of 10 year olds and 5 year olds who are just wandering around commercial areas unsupervised? I sure don't see a lot of them, even in a poor neighborhood where you do see unsupervised kids -- it's kids walking to the park, playing in the park, and walking home, that kind of thing.


Posted by: TRO | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 2:00 PM
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All I'm saying is that you don't need to be extreme helicopter parent to anticipate that super unusual kid behavior might be viewed as unusual.

Also, as I said above, I don't see the Meitiv's griping about being viewed as unusual. I see them griping about being investigated by CPS, threatened with having their children taken away, and having their children repeatedly taken into custody. It's different from a bit of side-eye.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 2:02 PM
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10: To be fair, the defense has been "but it's a parenting philosophy", because obviously if the parents are choosing consciously to let their kids play in parking garages and cross busy highways, that totally makes a difference to the wisdom of their decision.

32: I'm glad to hear that. What's the difference between free-range and under-parented? How sympathetic the media finds the parents.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 2:03 PM
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81: But what on earth are you basing that they appeared distressed or purposeless on? Do you have facts indicating that they weren't on a fairly direct route home? They might be in the articles I've read, but if they are, I've missed them.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 2:04 PM
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All I can think about, in conversations about this, is William Sleator's story about the game his dad played with him and his sister- blindfold them, drive a complicated route to a random place, drop them off, and then go home to wait for the kids to find their way. He gave them a quarter for a phone call in an emergency, but the only time they used it was when they took friends along and the friends panicked.


Posted by: E. Messily | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 2:04 PM
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Were they actually threatened with having their kids taken away? No, they were investigated. On the second investigation, I agree the kids were kept too long without the parents being called, though I suspect that was as much logistical snafu as deliberate extra-legal punishment, but who knows. Certainly in either case it was wrong. But, their kids weren't "taken into custody" they were picked up and held for a few hours before their parents picked them up. Which, again, all seems to have been part of a deliberate provocation by activist parents who are into this issue, and are annoyed that they are being investigated (but cleared) for conduct that seems not unreasonably likely to cause an investigation.


Posted by: TRO | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 2:06 PM
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Were they actually threatened with having their kids taken away?

Yes. First incident, the father was told to sign a safety plan or have his children removed.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 2:07 PM
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Yeah, but look how weird William Sleator's books are! House of Stairs is some creepy stuff, man. That freaked me out when I was 10. Surely that proves something.


Posted by: freight train | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 2:07 PM
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84 -- at least in the second case, the police report was that they were wandering into a parking garage, in aforementioned non-pedestrian commercial zone, pretty much antithetical to quickly and purposively walking home from the park. And I believe the caller believed that they weer wandering. Also, if you look at the maps which I did the last time this came up it looks like they were not on a direct route home.


Posted by: TRO | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 2:08 PM
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But, their kids weren't "taken into custody" they were picked up and held for a few hours before their parents picked them up. Which, again, all seems to have been part of a deliberate provocation by activist parents who are into this issue,

You think the specific incidents were deliberate provocation? The parents were enticing the police into picking the children up on those occasions? That's arrant lunacy.

I don't think you actually believe that, but it's what you're saying.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 2:09 PM
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that they are being investigated (but cleared)

Not cleared, actually. Left in limbo.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 2:10 PM
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Also, if you look at the maps which I did the last time this came up it looks like they were not on a direct route home.

I didn't realize we had a home address. Link?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 2:11 PM
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||

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4BQsIVoSdeY

How great is this?

[Rugby league. Skill]

>


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 2:14 PM
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67/81 are right. These kids play in the park by themselves all the time, and the worst that has happened from adults observing them in that context is that when Slate comes calling some parents are a little bitchy about it. Twice, over some unclear but substantial length of time, when they were walking in areas where you really wouldn't expect to see unaccompanied small children, and where the traffic hazards are quite real if not highway level (more so in the December incident than the most recent one), somebody called the cops. Jumping to calling the cops was an egregiously uncharitable move, but I also think doing nothing would have been obnoxious and irresponsible. I see kids this age walking by themselves in my neighborhood in DC all the time and it's no big deal because there's homes, schools, parks, libraries, etc. within a few blocks in every direction, it's very pedestrian-friendly, and there's nothing out of place about kids in that context. I'm up in this part of Silver Spring probably once a month or so, and if I saw these kids where they were, I would think at a minimum they had wandered off or were lost--not just because free-range kids are unusual in general but because it would be hard to imagine where they could be going to/from in these particular spots; and while in this case it would turn out to be a failure of imagination, it'd be a reasonable one. I'd be an asshole if I just shrugged and went about my business.


Posted by: potchkeh | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 2:14 PM
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90 -- no, but I definitely do think the parents were willing to be reckless (conscious disregard of the risk) as to whether or not their kids got picked up by the cops. If they didn't, fine; if they did, political opportunity.

The "safety plan" turned out to be not letting the kids be unsupervised for a weekend before CPS could investigate a bit. The horror.


Posted by: TRO | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 2:14 PM
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Safety and the good old days.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 2:17 PM
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86 - So, since they weren't in custody, presumably the children could have walked out of the police station and just gone home if they wanted?

I'm not sure how "Well they weren't legally harassing them" does much as an argument here.


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 2:18 PM
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The "safety plan" turned out to be not letting the kids be unsupervised for a weekend before CPS could investigate a bit.

I'm not saying that the safety plan is outrageous once there's a reason for an investigation, but it is enforced with a threat of removing the children. Seeing the children outdoors unaccompanied, with no other indication of neglect, was, therefore, enough to trigger threats of removing them from their parents.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 2:26 PM
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93: Wow. That little back and forth pass is very impressive -- I missed it on the fullspeed clip and couldn't figure out how the ball had gotten over there.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 2:27 PM
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93: Awesome.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 2:35 PM
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if I saw these kids where they were, I would think at a minimum they had wandered off or were lost--not just because free-range kids are unusual in general but because it would be hard to imagine where they could be going to/from in these particular spots; and while in this case it would turn out to be a failure of imagination, it'd be a reasonable one.

People keep on saying things like this, and I really don't get it. While Halford has access to information I don't about exactly where they live in relation to the park and the spot where they were picked up, the coverage indicates that it's all quite close -- total distance the kids covered about a mile, IIRC. So, whatever this street is like, it actually is a very short walk from houses and a park.

I mean, I get the concept in general -- I'd think an alarmed reaction to unaccompanied children in, say, the parking lot of a business by a highway, someplace where they could walk in our out safely, would make perfect sense. But I don't get, in the sense that I genuinely don't understand it rather than that I understand and disagree, what makes this an obviously unsafe place for children to be, given that it seems to be a street with sidewalks a short walk from their home and a park.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 2:40 PM
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Oy. Make that "Couldn't walk in or out".


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 2:45 PM
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So, we called the cops on him.

No, the proper revenge is to call Child Protective Services on him, adopt his kids from the foster care system, and parade proudly by his house as a family.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 2:53 PM
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On location, one of the articles, I forget which one, had information about their neighborhood, the name of the park, and the place where they were picked up. So you could roughly reconstruct where they were coming from and going to, but not to the level of a home address.

To 101, I honestly but maybe wrongly suspect that this may be a Manhattan-specific response. Around here, I can think of residential neighborhoods where one would routinely see kids walking (like, to or from a park) without it being a big deal. And, a few streets with dense, relatively kid-friendly retail where it would not be odd at all to see a 10 year old walking on his own. In both cases, the assumption would be that they were neighborhood kids or had access to nearby supervision and were there for a reason and were totally fine. There are also a bunch of commercial areas where, basically, it would be weird to see kids walking around because there's not really a reason for them to be there and they're not on their way to a kid-friendly zone, and there's a lot of traffic, etc. This would especially be true if they were wandering. It looks like the place these kids were is definitely in the latter category to me.

In any event, most of the framing of the story has been "kids walking home in normal neighborhood a few blocks from a park inexplicably picked up by jackbooted thugs" and that just doesn't look like the facts.


Posted by: TRO | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 2:53 PM
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So, whatever this street is like, it actually is a very short walk from houses and a park.

Sure, but where they were walking it would have seemed unlikely (not impossible, of course, but unlikely) that they were headed from house to park or whatever. I don't really know how to explain it any better than I have without taking you on a tour of the area. And I'm not suggesting it's per se an unsafe place for children to be--my point is it is a particularly unlikely place for children to be, and one with real traffic dangers if the kid doesn't know what they're doing (which seems likely if you come to the reasonable conclusion that the kid is lost), so a matter of reasonable concern in context.

And in fact the kids weren't walking directly home from the park in the most recent incident where we have a bunch of data points. I don't think the Meitivs have publicized their address so I don't feel like I should post it here, but the general area was easy enough to figure out (let's say south of Sligo and east of Fenton if you want to look it up) and an exact address not much harder. If the kids had taken the shortest route, they would have been on very residential streets the whole time and anyone who thought that was something to worry about would have been on much shakier ground. But the point isn't what they were in fact doing, it's what they would seem likely to be doing to an uninformed passerby, and there's no doubt in my mind that if I saw these kids where they were reported, I would think there was a good (not certain, but good) chance that they were lost in a way that I wouldn't in a slightly different physical context. I guess I could just be unreasonable.


Posted by: potchkeh | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 2:55 PM
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Sometimes it's weird to be watching all the (justified) backlash against overparenting as someone who was not especially free range. I mean there wasn't constant oversight but my parents wanted to know where we were at all times and kind of overreacted if they didn't. Basically I don't get to join in all the choruses of "in my day we were allowed to play on the freeway and drink cleaning products and I turned out FINE."


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 2:58 PM
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79- I wrote that, you know.


Posted by: Opinionated Bilbo | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 2:59 PM
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The 30% of a hobbit not covered by your mithril armor is the part with the most nerve endings.


Posted by: Opinionated Aragorn | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 3:03 PM
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But the point isn't what they were in fact doing, it's what they would seem likely to be doing to an uninformed passerby, and there's no doubt in my mind that if I saw these kids where they were reported, I would think there was a good (not certain, but good) chance that they were lost in a way that I wouldn't in a slightly different physical context. I guess I could just be unreasonable.

What gets me is the circularity of it. That is, thinking it's weird to see kids out alone is fine if they're in a place where it is weird to see kids out alone. And asking them if they're okay is fine, even asking someone else to ask if they're okay if you're too scared to talk to strange children.

But the move from kids aren't usually alone in this neighborhood-->kids being alone in this neighborhood is strange enough to require intervention--->kids are therefore prohibited from being alone in this neighborhood, unless they want to risk being taken into custody by the police--->funny how you never see kids alone in this neighborhood, without any step in the middle where anyone checks if the kids are actually doing anything dangerous, seems out of control to me.

I mean, even if it was a block or two of a detour from their most direct route home, you think maybe they were windowshopping? Not going to buy anything, probably, but walking down the commercial street because it has more interesting things to look at than lawns? How is that something that's self-evidently a problem?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 3:11 PM
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108: I don't understand this, but it's disturbing.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 3:12 PM
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The dwarves never designed mithril condoms?


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 3:16 PM
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kids are therefore prohibited from being alone in this neighborhood, unless they want to risk being taken into custody by the police

The only part of your feedback loop I'm defending is the part about intervention of some kind being reasonable in this particular context, certainly not this. And yes there's some circularity but my point is that even if you imagine a world with far more free-range kids, you (or I anyway) still wouldn't expect to see what the callers in these two incidents saw. I'm sure there aren't tons of kids walking the residential streets between park and home, but nobody seems to call the cops on the Meitiv kids there. It's not a question of rarity alone.


Posted by: potchkeh | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 3:23 PM
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I would actually firmly expect free range kids that age to be on a commercial street if they were permitted to be. That's where there's stuff to look at. That's where you can do something thrilling like buy a pack of gum if you have a dollar or two. If we're deciding as a society that unaccompanied children aren't allowed on commercial streets, I guess we can make that decision, but I wouldn't be puzzled about why they'd want to be there.

(And I looked at the map -- if they live in the little area east of Fenton and south of Sligo, Fenton Ave is very close to being a direct route home from Ellsworth Park. I picked a random spot there, and the Google Maps walking directions from the park took me down Fenton.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 3:34 PM
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Since I wandered around as a kid both in a nearly Rustbelt city, and then in ruburbia (COW), I find the belief that kids should beetle straight home unhealthy. If they were told to or if they're carrying ice cream, sure, but Everything Not Purchased Is Forbidden is terrible. You have to wander to find the shop where you can see guys WELD if you stand in the right place, or pass a birds nest long enough to see fledging, or or or.

Friends elseweb decided to take advantage of our harmless auntliness and demonstrate mild neighborly attention to loose kids and wandering very-oldsters.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 3:35 PM
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Yeah, maybe I'm imagining the wrong bit of Fenton, but people are walking around there all the time! It's where the action is.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 3:41 PM
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Yeah, it seems like there's this weird, externally-imposed rule that kids should only ever take the straightest and/or most boring routes from place to place*. Which is exactly the opposite of everything we know about humans and human settlements. Commercial areas are designed, in every particular, to appeal to passersby.

Next you'll be arguing that it's really weird for kids to run a stick along a fence, because it's not a functional behavior or something.

*Holy shit, have people learned nothing from Family Circus?


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 3:42 PM
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You have to revisit the dead bird until its all a bare skeleton!


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 3:45 PM
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Yes, it was close to a direct route home, but the direction they were headed would have suggested (not definitively but strongly enough) that they were heading neither to a park or home, nor to the corner store to pick up a pack of gum. Nor am I saying that kids should be required to make a beeline home, only that in the actual specific places they were--not general categories of places like residential, downtown, commercial, but the specific streets they were walking--my best guess would be lost/wandered off. And I'm not saying kids shouldn't be allowed there on their own, only that some non-emergency level of concern was reasonable.


Posted by: potchkeh | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 3:45 PM
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115: they were further down Fenton than where the action is and were heading west on I think Silver Spring toward Georgia. Not reason to freak out but reason to wonder what's up.


Posted by: potchkeh | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 3:48 PM
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The reasonable concern goes "hey, kids, you OK?" From well outside arms length, or possibly "off my lawn/parking space" if the kids are actually invading.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 3:49 PM
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One year, it seemed like everywhere I looked I saw a dead mouse. That wasn't a happy year otherwise either.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 3:52 PM
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the direction they were headed would have suggested (not definitively but strongly enough) that they were heading neither to a park or home, nor to the corner store to pick up a pack of gum.

We completely agree that a concerned adult can ask kids whether they're all right.

There's probably no way to convey to me what it is about Fenton Street that, while it is actually running right alongside a residential neighborhood, makes it look unlikely that someone walking down the street would be heading toward somewhere in that residential neighborhood. I'll believe you that there's something, I've never been there in person, but from looking at the map, damned if I can tell what it is.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 3:53 PM
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119: The police report says Fenton and Easley.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 3:58 PM
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Jumping to calling the cops was an egregiously uncharitable move, but I also think doing nothing would have been obnoxious and irresponsible.

This, of course, assumes that the cops aren't people we can look to as a sensible, reassuring resource to make sure kids we are concerned about are actually ok. Which, ok, fair -- and surely more fair in some communities than others. But how sad that this is so.


Posted by: dk | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 4:00 PM
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Oh, wait, that was where they started out when the caller first saw them. I guess by the time the guy had been following them for ten minutes they ended up on Silver Spring.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 4:02 PM
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Are you supposed to stand when the national anthem comes on the tv if you are in a bar. I stopped eating, but is that enough?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 4:10 PM
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Also, dk!


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 4:13 PM
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120, 122.1: comity. I'm not defending anybody's decision to call the cops here. (Nor, I hope it's clear, am I suggesting that the kids shouldn't be allowed to roam where they were roaming. Only claim is that being concerned was not unreasonable.)

There's probably no way to convey to me what it is about Fenton Street that, while it is actually running right alongside a residential neighborhood, makes it look unlikely that someone walking down the street would be heading toward somewhere in that residential neighborhood.

Not Fenton Street simpliciter, but the direction they came from, appeared to be heading, etc.

But clearly the only way we're going to resolve this is to have the next DC meetup at the Quarry House Tavern, carefully investigate the area, and then settle things by knife-fight.


Posted by: potchkeh | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 4:17 PM
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128: Kiddie knife-fight! First parent to jump in to protect their kid loses!


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 4:21 PM
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Wait, are we reaching the point where wandering itself is in itself a bad thing for kids to do? Is the Family Circus going to have to retract all those cartoons about Billy's route home from school?

I like wandering. When I was young, I wandered a lot down by the creek near our house. I don't think if myself as a big "free range" parent (my kids don't let me range very far at all), but I am pro-wandering.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 4:27 PM
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Wait, are we reaching the point where wandering itself is in itself a bad thing for kids to do?

I don't think so. People seem to think that's what I was arguing, but I wasn't, and I don't think TRO was either. My only point was that wandering where these kids happened to be wandering is going to lead reasonable adults to wonder if everything's okay. (And to be completely fair, that was more true of the previous incident than it was of this one. If I'd seen them where they were picked up last time I'm sure my reaction would have been "oh shit"; in the more recent case, it would have been more "I should probably make sure these kids are okay".)


Posted by: potchkeh | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 4:37 PM
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||
Modest proposal: every time the cops shoot somebody, cut off the deceased person's head and stick it on a pike outside the station house for a year. Then charge the family for pike rental.
||>


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 4:58 PM
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I think TRO did enumerate walking purposefully to-from park and house as a distinction, in other words not wandering, but I suspect that may highlight some real differences in the NYC and LA urban landscapes. It may be that the more common set up in LA doesn't have pedestrian friendly commercial areas interwoven as frequently as NYC. The purposeful, straight line from home to park thing depresses me but then I was really into head in the clouds meandering when I was young. Also insane amounts of biking on an ungeared bike in a very hilly town, my lord no wonder I could sleep then.

At any rate I love J Roth's story about uncovering an ambiguous interaction and having to as an adult navigate with your own kid and not your own kids but strongly suspect the annoyed parents in the gossip story really really really DO NOT want to have to encounter those potentially uncomfortable situations themselves. So everyone should just stick to their own bubble with their own kids.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 5:24 PM
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I have no doubt this was a dumb use of my time, but doing street view up and down Fenton, it all looks pretty manageable to me. Is there any "they wandered into a black neighborhood" sentiment lurking here? I honestly can't tell. When people were talking about dangerous commercial streets, I was picturing something like this, where I'd very likely double back to check on any little kid not with an adult. But Fenton isn't anything like that (post-apocalyptic hellscape).


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 6:28 PM
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It's snowing here. Sort of.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 6:30 PM
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Here too. Not enjoying. Even my two-year-old has learned that when I say "When is it going to be warm again?" he's supposed to say "Never."


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 6:50 PM
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Is there any "they wandered into a black neighborhood" sentiment lurking here? I honestly can't tell.

Oh for fuck's sake. I don't think there's any reason kids can't/shouldn't be unattended on Fenton Street. It is indeed manageable. All I'm saying is, if I saw a couple kids that looked to me to be 6 and 7 or 8 walking where they were walking, in the direction they were walking (not just down Fenton, but generally headed west toward Georgia Ave. and nothing much residential or even much in the way of gum shoppes until you get across Georgia and then across the subway tracks a block past it), and given my sense of what's normal for that area (admittedly imperfect but a little more finely tuned than what a stroll down google street view will get you), I'd be concerned, at non-emergency levels, that something on the order of "these kids are lost/have wandered off" was amiss. Not that they were in imminent danger of death.


Posted by: potchkeh | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 6:51 PM
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I didn't mean from you, you big racist. I meant from the people who called the cops about the kids. And I asked because I realize that Street View is not going to give me a real sense of the place. You big racist.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 6:55 PM
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Ah. Well, I suppose it's possible, but if so it would have been pure paranoid racism completely detached from reality. I suppose the kids were headed from slightly lighter to slightly darker territory but it's not like they were near anywhere that anyone sane would think just being white would get you into trouble.


Posted by: potchkeh | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 7:07 PM
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I just finished book two of Discworld in a bar, mostly while everybody else was watching the hockey game. I think I picked the better option.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 7:12 PM
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The problem with wandering isn't that wandering is per se bad, it's that if you see kids in a place where there's reason to be concerned that they're in for other reasons (as was the case here) and they don't seem to just be clearly walking home/on some kind of a parent errand (as was the case here) there's greater, indeed, reasonable, reason to think that the kids might be lost/distressed/neglected (which is what the guy who called the cops actually thought). Again, these same kids seem to have been able to wander through a park/around their more residential neighborhood without a problem. My beef is with the parents, who, if they are going to let their kids do this, should probably signal to the kids to do things that make clear to (reasonably concerned) adults that they're in fact OK.


Posted by: TRO | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 7:30 PM
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I am torn between completely understanding TRO's dislike of a parent who puts their kid in this position for ideological reasons and frowner's point that you have to parent to create the world you want for your kid. These kids seem young to put at risk of the cops picking them up the second time, it's hard to imagine the kids had any meaningful buy in with the situation, but then I on my own took pain in the ass stances provoking confrontation with (unjust!) authority by age like 10 so maybe the oldest kid us on some level on board?


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 7:42 PM
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Totally agree with this: "My beef is with the parents, who, if they are going to let their kids do this, should probably signal to the kids to do things that make clear to (reasonably concerned) adults that they're in fact OK."


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 7:43 PM
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TRO is just upset that the kids aren't in a car like they should be as americans. If they were driving by themselves I bet he'd be a lot happier.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 7:53 PM
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I dunno, what would 143 look like? Print them up little cards that say "I am a free-range kid. Please do not hamper my development by helicoptering me. If I seem lost, wait for 15 minutes, then return me to Dr. Frowner's Sanitarium for Wayward Youth."?

I just despair to think of these kids growing up in such a joyless, monotonous environment. 98% of the fun I had as a kid was outside adult supervision. Sure, maybe I was at an increased risk of getting hit by cars, but would the diminution of that risk have been worth losing out on 98% of the fun? Take a lot of iPods to make up for that kind of grinding tedium.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 8:05 PM
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I was going to respond earlier and say that as a childless grown-up who generally is willing to cut other people quite a lot of slack on free-range-ish parenting decisions, the major issue for me is that *I* worry about lone kids.

Not when they're in a safe area with lots of pedestrians, when it seems like the kids are behaving reasonably (as kids, not as mini-grown-ups), but yes if they're in an industrial/trafficky or isolated area or other potential unsafe spot. And it's 98% selfish concern. I wish they weren't alone because *I'm* going to be worried about them until I see/know that they're safe.

But in the interim, the very drunk and very, very, very angry man in the hotel room next to mine has been screaming obscene threats at his female partner. Hotel security to their credit came right away, and after several minutes of pounding on the door got her to open it and claim to be OK.

But to my frustration security said they could not separate the two of them and ask the woman if she is *really* OK when he's not standing right there breathing down her neck. They just repeated several times that "if it happens again" I am to call them and they will get the police.

I am sitting here totally adrenalized and pretty angry and scared. Like, should I just stay awake to make sure he doesn't start up again? Should *I* have just called the police myself?

It's a fancy hotel in a nice area, so frankly I personally feel safe. But it's frightening and upsetting to know there is someone a few feet away who might not be.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 8:17 PM
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OK, now he seems to have left. I heard the door open and raced to look out the peephole. Saw the back of man's body as he walked down the corridor. I'm 99% sure he was coming from their room.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 8:21 PM
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Be sure you do the bolt. He's got to have a pretty limited number of suspects for who called the hotel dick.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 8:22 PM
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I've always wanted to use the phrase "hotel dick" in context. Thanks.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 8:24 PM
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143/145 - Is there a way to do this that would result in adults acting any different around the children once they've gotten involved in the situation, though? Noticing that so-and-so's brats are wandering around again and going back to doing whatever is one thing, but walking away from children after they've shown you some kind of "we're probably ok" card (or told you "our parents think it's ok for us to be wandering around abnormally") is a lot harder and less likely.


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 8:25 PM
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Definitely bolted.

Heard the door again. Don't know if he came back or if she just opened and closed the door (they're in a suite area, so there is a door to their room and tiny entryway and then another door that leads into the hallway next to my room.

Now hearing running water.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 8:38 PM
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Now hearing running water.

All that blood isn't going to just wash itself down the drain, sheesh.

But really, if you're worried about her then call the cops. We get those all the time. What kind of threats was he making?


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 8:51 PM
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There was a lot of "Get the F out of my room MF" and "You have five minutes to get the F out of my room". Several minutes (while I was waiting for security to come) of him screaming belligerently at the top of his lungs and her unintelligible responses. I did hear her say "You're drunk" at one point.

Then I heard a horrible crack. I don't know if he hit her or threw something.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 8:53 PM
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I am sitting here totally adrenalized and pretty angry and scared.

That seems totally reasonable -- that sounds really disturbing.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 8:53 PM
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That's plenty of grounds for a call if you want. Hotel security is a joke and just articulate to dispatch what you told me.

But don't get your hopes too high on the outcome. Getting the cops called by a neighbor might spur the hotel to kick them out though and they can go play out their shitty relationship out of your hearing.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 8:58 PM
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And who knows, if he's an angry drunk maybe he'll get stupid with the cops and give them a reason to tune up his dumb ass and take him to jail. Justice, like beauty, comes in many forms and sometimes is best enjoyed when you least expect it.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 9:02 PM
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Eek, Witt.

You could tap in Morse on the shared wall.

u ok?

u mad bro?


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 9:02 PM
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Yeah, I don't know. My major hope for calling the police would be to a) prevent him from actively hurting her any (more) tonight and b) signal to her that somebody noticed and cared.

I don't even know if they are actually in a relationship or if it is a short-term thing. I couldn't even tell from the fight whether it was a relationshipy fight or the kind you could have with an escort or the like.

According to hotel staff she is model-gorgeous and he is nothing to write home about. (They saw her but I was just listening at my door and didn't see much of anything.)


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 9:04 PM
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Thank you everybody for making jokes. It's actually pretty comforting. Maybe you should write a hard-boiled 1940s detective novel, moby.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 9:09 PM
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Door again, then thump, then shouting. Just called hotel. They are getting police asap.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 9:11 PM
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Yikes! Rooting for cops to haul him in, her no to be hurt.

On the other topic, we've been on the edge-ish of giving the kid autonomy he wanted at an earlier age than his school peers were allowed and a conscious element in that calculus was that he would generally be able to navigate an encounter with a concerned adult in a way that would reassure a wide range of reasonable adults. If you are relying on cards - no, sorry, kids too young.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 9:22 PM
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160: Maybe you're about to hear your first live taser deployment!


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 9:32 PM
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GODDMANNIT. They came and reasoned with him. He stays. She stays.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 9:32 PM
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REASONED WITH HIM!!


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 9:33 PM
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Three cops, hotel manager, hotel security. And all that happened was him saying "sir" a lot and promising to shake hands and that there would be no more "noise complaints" tonight.

Police told him if they have to come back it's mandatory arrest. Someone is going to jail.

Someone OUGHT to be cooling off in jail right NOW.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 9:34 PM
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Fucker just walked out.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 9:35 PM
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Seriously, law enforcement is not the solution to domestic violence but it can provide a temporary buffer. And right now it is FAILING.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 9:36 PM
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He's a white guy. Allegedly from St. Louis. She is very beautiful African American (a la Halle Berry).


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 9:36 PM
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This is their "vacation" he said to cops. Their first time in DC.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 9:37 PM
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I cannot believe they did not at LEAST throw him out of the hotel.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 9:38 PM
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I cannot believe they did not at LEAST throw him out of the hotel.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 9:38 PM
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That's how much I can't believe it.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 9:38 PM
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Police told him if they have to come back it's mandatory arrest. Someone is going to jail.

Well, at least you know what you have to do now.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 9:39 PM
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Aaaannnnnd he's back. I think. Didn't get to the door in time but I heard outer door followed by inner door, so I know it was someone going in rather than out.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 9:45 PM
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I'm going to be useless at my event tomorrow, obviously.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 9:46 PM
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The police can't kick him out of the hotel, only arrest him. And the threats you heard are shitty but not arrestable. If the loud sound you heard wasn't an assault or observable damage then that's also not arrestable.

But if he's still drunk and back then there's a good chance you'll soon hear a reason to call the cops again.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 9:52 PM
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The hotel manager was telling him to leave. Said after second noise complaint it was hotel policy. Police were tepidly supporting manager. Somehow (::cough:: whiteguyprivilege ::cough:::) the guy kept yakking and he got to stay.

I was thisclose to opening my door and DEMANDING that the hotel throw him out. I wanted to look that son of a gun in the eye and let him know somebody heard EVERY.DAMN.WORD. of his bullying.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 9:57 PM
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134- Oh god, I have to take a ride through areas like that west of Chicago a couple times a year for a meeting I have in the western burbs. It's the most depressing ride, just miles of multilane roads and traffic lights and car dealers like that and strip malls. That's where I saw my first real live Hobby Lobby. I'll be there again in a couple months.
The town itself isn't bad, one of those artificially reconstructed walkable downtowns of restaurants and office space and condos.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 10:11 PM
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177: Huh, getting rid of him would be the smart thing just as a matter of playing the odds. If it was the first time he'd been talked to maybe he gets a chance. But security has already paid him a visit and he's drunk and can't hold it together enough to quiet down for even a short amount of time? Time for him to leave.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 10:24 PM
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Good example of how complicated and tiring it is to be part of a responsible community. (Fingers crossed, Witt.)


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 04-22-15 10:25 PM
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Maybe he had a card he showed to the police that says he's a free range abuser and everything is ok despite his yelling.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 4:23 AM
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180: We could have a panel discussion. "Bothering at all: Is it worth it?"


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 5:26 AM
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The presenters will show up with notes on cocktail napkins and the discussants will miss the event entirely.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 5:41 AM
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141-143: The problem I have with this approach is that it approaches making any concerned reaction reasonable by definition: Kids are old enough to be unaccompanied outdoors if they are in a place and behaving in such a way that no adult is concerned; if an adult is concerned, by definition the kids must have been either too young, in an unacceptable place, or misbehaving somehow.

(Still not saying that it was wrong of a bystander to either have some concern, or to ask the kids if they were okay. My only objection is the escalation to detaining the kids for hours and launching investigations incorporating threats of removal from their parents, with no evidence that there was anything disturbing other than unaccompanied kids in a place that seemed weird to an adult.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 6:24 AM
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||

Did someone have a link or an assertion recently that the Central Valley isn't even actually that magically good a place for agriculture, even absent the worst drought ever?

|>


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 6:46 AM
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Used to be, you could send your kid down to the corner bar for a pack of Lucky Strikes, no one would bat an eye...


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 6:47 AM
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Am I right that there is no data whatsoever on how safe or dangerous it used to be to be a free-range kid in the halcyon days? Sometimes it seems like a whole hell of a lot of people got molested as kids, which isn't exactly related to being free-range, but does make me feel like we glorify the past a bit.

Also, I'm with Smearcase - I did not grow up free-range at all, and so am more-or-less agnostic on the question.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 6:55 AM
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Sometimes it seems like a whole hell of a lot of people got molested as kids, which isn't exactly related to being free-range, but does make me feel like we glorify the past a bit.

187: I thought your response to this ATM was reasonable.


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 7:06 AM
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A few days ago, I was telling my kid "hey, we'll get you a new bike this summer and then you can ride over to your cousin's house all by yourself!" and he was like "pfff... why would I want to do that when you can drive me?"

I am failing as a parent.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 7:41 AM
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I've a clear memory of having my movements questioned in the Spring of '64, when I was going on twelve. In every case I remember I was completely in the right, such as vehicular cycling, but some adult thought to question me. And I resented it. When we soon moved to Columbus I remember feeling a distinct degree of freedom and indifference on the part of adults, a much more laissez faire environment, which helped reconcile me to the transition to a new society.

I know my wife and I had a good sense of each others' attitudes towards child rearing before we were married, let alone parents.
Love conquers all, I suppose, but I could see myself falling out of love pretty quickly with someone like Roselyn Carter in the linked OP. And it would probably happen long before marriage and children.


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 7:45 AM
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Am I right that there is no data whatsoever on how safe or dangerous it used to be to be a free-range kid in the halcyon days?

The link in 96 shows that all-cause

On the other hand, "deaths due to child abuse and [overwhelmingly] neglect" is up about 50% since the late 90s. My guess is that this last is 95% increased willingness to label things neglect (sometimes correctly; e.g. kids dying in locked cars), and 5% by welfare reform forcing more very poor parents, who can't afford childcare, into the workforce when they would have previously been SAHMs.


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 7:57 AM
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It seems like the difficultly with assessing the "halcyon days" versus the present is that you'd need to break out a lot of stuff:

- injury/harm from things for which there is now a really easy fix (seatbelt-wearing; cell phones so it's easy to get directions or communicate about an emergency);

-injury/harm from things that have a large "cultural norm" component (I always figure that at least some of the Creepy Encounters With Inappropriate Strangers issue had to do with a very 1970s/I'll-Take-My-Daughter-To-Roman-Polanski's-House attitude toward adult behavior*) and that can in part be fixed by cracking down on adult behavior, setting new norms, better support for kids. But isn't most sexual abuse perpetrated by family and friends of the family? It's only pretty rarely by strangers.

--injury/harm from things that genuinely result from absence of parental supervision. Like, if my parents had been at the park with me when I was ten, could they have kept me from falling off the giant 1960s splintery wood climbing equipment and getting impaled by splinters? Most of the serious physical injury I incurred was either at school (recess) or not a kind that parents could obviously prevent; whereas a lot of the apparently dangerous things (playing by the railroad tracks; walking around town to explore; biking far away by myself) were actually pretty physically safe things for a reasonably thoughtful child. How to separate perceived danger from actual danger?


*EG, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Walter Breen, otherwise relatively normal gay leftists advocating for NAMBLA, etc


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 7:58 AM
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Goddamn less-than signs. Trying again:

Am I right that there is no data whatsoever on how safe or dangerous it used to be to be a free-range kid in the halcyon days?

The link in 96 shows that all-cause under-5 mortality is 1/3 of what it was 50 years ago; that 12-17 violent crime risk is less than 1/3 of what it was at its peak 30 years ago; that 1-4 deaths due to injury are 40-60% (eyeballing the chart) lower than 50 years ago. So, in a big-picture sense, it was way more dangerous.

On the other hand, "deaths due to child abuse and [overwhelmingly] neglect" is up about 50% since the late 90s. My guess is that this last is 95% increased willingness to label things neglect (sometimes correctly; e.g. kids dying in locked cars), and 5% by welfare reform forcing more very poor parents, who can't afford childcare, into the workforce when they would have previously been SAHMs.


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 7:59 AM
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OT: The macro with do-loop works. Fuck you coding. Hooray.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 7:59 AM
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(That is, there's no meaningful l "free range" move to avoid wearing seatbelts or to prevent kids from having cell phones; these are technology/culture changes which might change a lot of outcomes but don't materially change the mere act of wandering around the neighborhood.)


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 8:00 AM
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Also, re: wandering--let's ignore Family Circus because it was so awful, but what about Calvin and Hobbes, FFS? Wandering isn't just acceptable, it's positively awesome.

While we're calling the cops on Calvin's parents, let's prescribe him some antipsychotics to take care of those disturbing tiger hallucinations, too, amirite?


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 8:03 AM
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Nevermind. It only works on part 1.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 8:03 AM
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Seems to me that 99% of the fear here is about child abduction, not something like a bad fall or broken arm. Surely someone has looked into why we became so concerned and when. At a guess, I'd say TV and ubiquitous cars had a lot to do with it, but I'm making that up.

And I can understand why people are afraid. Our brains aren't good at balancing risks like this, where it's an overwhelming possibility of something unremarkable (kid goes to store to buy gum) versus a minuscule possibility of the worst thing imaginable.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 8:05 AM
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Now, the right way to mobilize child-safety fears is to use it to promote cycling infrastructure and slower, safer auto traffic. The Netherlands had the right idea, here: demonize car-centered infrastructure as child-murder.


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 8:08 AM
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198 The need for constant new shocking content in hugely expanding TV space. In a 3 channel world, you didn't have to sell shock; Gilligan's Island was enough.

The milk carton thing started maybe just a little later -- and I think gave an impression about ubiquity, because every damn carton had a picture.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 8:10 AM
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The dairy industry. That was my third guess.

More generally, fear is certainly having its moment as a cultural force, and this is part of that.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 8:11 AM
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I misread that as "something unremarkable (kid goes to store to buy gun)".


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 8:13 AM
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Yeah. When I'm pooh-poohing risks, it's the stranger abduction thing I'm dismissing, mostly. I'm not sure about traffic risks, exactly -- that is, I think any kid over six or so should be fine on any street with a sidewalk and crosswalks with traffic lights, unless they have an unusual propensity to leap in front of cars, but maybe I'm overestimating the average child.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 8:13 AM
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mobilize child-safety fears is to use it to promote cycling infrastructure

Haha. In the US, that fear doesn't translate into bikes, in translates into SUVs.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 8:15 AM
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203: ask moby

"I'm not that worried about abductions, but I'm terrified of traffic. Possibly this is because my son's habit of telling me that he can outrun cars"


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 8:17 AM
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196


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 8:19 AM
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Another way to put this, is that for the people in the thread talking about being reasonably concerned about kids in an area where they seem out of place (not residential, heading in an unexpected direction, 'wandering'). I'm really unsure, for the reasonably concerned people, what they're reasonably concerned about exactly: they believe that something bad might happen that would be averted by getting the kid back under adult supervision, but I'm not sure what. Hit by a car, I could see in some places, but not really as a worry for a kid on a sidewalk. Abducted by strangers? Really not going to happen. Other than that?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 8:21 AM
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207 -- I start from the position that people calling police when they see a mom run into a convenience store, leaving a sleeping toddler strapped in a car seat are mainly concerned that the mom is Doing It Wrong. And needs to be Taught A Lesson. This doesn't seem to have been overt in the MontCo case, on the part of the callers anyway, but I'm pretty safe, I think, in guessing that there's plenty of it going on at the agencies.

On the other hand, I guess it's fair to think that people call police, like the guy who called in the kid with the toy gun in Cleveland, thinking they'll just have a talk with someone to make sure everything is ok.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 8:28 AM
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207: As I've said, my primary concern if I'd seen these kids where they were called in would have been that they were lost or had wandered off, and therefore might be in need of some adult help. My secondary concern would have been traffic. The traffic concern would have been stronger in the previous incident than this one: that time, where they were, they would have crossed/been about to cross a couple of intersections that would have me genuinely concerned--wide, short lights, obnoxious drivers, I have to hustle to get across before the light changes and a 6yo with just a 10yo (who looked 7/8?) to keep him focused would worry me--not saying it's objectively too dangerous to be permissible and thus constitutes neglect, just that if I saw it I'd flinch. I would have also been a little concerned about traffic this time because they seemed to be heading for another bad-traffic street (not quite as bad), but I wouldn't have been worried about traffic on the streets they were actually on. I would not have been at all worried about abduction.


Posted by: potchkeh | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 8:39 AM
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I think Ogged's right that it's about Stranger Danger and satanist sex cultists, but LB's right that the response needs to be to tell these people to calm the fuck down. Because otherwise, we get crap like this (from 6 years ago), about how a 12-year-old kid wasn't allowed to bike with his mother to school:

"If you look at the North Broadway route that the parent used that day: (Even if) there were going to be some exceptions or monitoring (to allow riding to school), you're still going into a substantially wooded area," he said. "I don't know how you say to the community at large that is a safe area."
He noted that, as in any other community, Saratoga Springs has its share of individuals who have served criminal sentences for abusing children. He pointed out an incident several years ago where John Regan attempted to abduct a student at Saratoga Springs High School.
"It's that one-time occurrence that will have everyone wringing their hands," Byrne said. "I'm a little conservative on this one. If anything happened, it would weigh on me for the rest of my life."

To emphasize: a single attempted abduction several years ago at a different school (one with 2000 students--so it's statistically quite likely that more than a few in any given year are being abused by family or family-friends) is a good reason for forbidding middle-school kids from biking, even accompanied. What the fuck?


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 8:41 AM
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would have been that they were lost or had wandered off, and therefore might be in need of some adult help.

When you say 'in need of some adult help', though, do you mean that you thought they were scared right then and not comfortable approaching an adult for help, so they'd be relieved if someone safe-seeming offered assistance, or something more complicated, like they thought everything was fine but it really wasn't, or what? Because we live in a world where people have phones, and even an eight year old, if they're lost in a populated area, should be able to figure out how to call home.

The traffic thing, eh, maybe I'm underestimating the risks.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 8:44 AM
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188: Aw! I said something smart!


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 8:47 AM
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The girls' school is trying to get some sort of recognition as a healthy activity school or something, meaning each child gets 60 minutes of PE a week and also other things that need to happen, including official bike-to-school days and periodic teacher-led walking buses.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 8:49 AM
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I'm thinking the same as 76 and 81. It's a 10 year old supervising a 6 year old and it's not helping that apparently they thought it might be cool to wander into a commercial parking garage. Yeah, traffic is a big one.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 8:49 AM
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The stranger-danger thing probably becomes real when you start talking about extremely unhappy teenagers who can and will keep it secret when they're being befriended by a creepy horrible person. It's just misplaced to put it on wascally kids getting ice cream from the ice cream truck at the park.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 8:51 AM
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Because we live in a world where people have phones, and even an eight year old, if they're lost in a populated area, should be able to figure out how to call home.

This is the other thing that baffles me. I would have thought that the ubiquity of cellphones would put an end to this nonsense. (Yes, I understand that they're not free, but a 5-year-old feature phone would be pretty close to it, and then you can just buy a prepaid SIM for emergencies only.)


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 8:52 AM
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I do worry about traffic. And abandoned refrigerators - wasn't that a common fear? Or just one that my parents instilled? NEVER CLIMB INSIDE.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 8:52 AM
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it's not helping that apparently they thought it might be cool to wander into a commercial parking garage.

I kind of disbelieve the parking garage as a factor. The 911 call started several blocks away from the garage (so it's not what excited the concern), and the police report I saw says they were picked up at the garage, but doesn't quite say they were in it.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 8:53 AM
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184: if reasonableness were a bright line that might make sense, but it isn't. When we first let the kid - then 7 or 8 - go somewhere on his own one of questions we asked ourselves was if he were asked by an adult where his parents were could he respond in such a way so as to reassure a reasonable range of adults, and in fact we actually talked with him about what he would do if that happened. I could well imagine a couple of nice ladies in SF for the day from Lafayette thinking he was too young to be on a bus by himself but had they inquired I am confident he would have handled the situation so as to diffuse any concern.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 8:53 AM
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I'm still really afraid that I can't get my son to pay attention to traffic, but my macro with do-loop works now.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 8:54 AM
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Not just your parents--Punky Brewster!


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 8:54 AM
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Potchkeh, you might have called in when they were on SS heading to Georgia (do I have this right?) but that's not when the caller called in.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 8:56 AM
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I made 3,100 datasets. Because efficiency can go fuck itself.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 8:57 AM
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I thought they re-engineered refrigerators so as not to be kiddie death traps.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 8:57 AM
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218: Yeah, but that plus the almost getting hit by the truck makes me wonder if they really are noticeably not paying enough attention to traffic and their surroundings.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 8:57 AM
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They did. Now they don't lock from the outside.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 8:57 AM
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211: You know, I quite honestly hadn't considered the likelihood of an 8yo carrying around a cell phone. The ones I know don't, but maybe they're unusual. As to what I mean by "in need of some adult help," just that. If I thought a couple of young kids were lost or had wandered off (as I would think was a good possibility in these circumstances), I think the right thing to do would be to check up on them. I'm not sure I'd first run through a mental checklist to figure out why they didn't ask for help themselves or assess the likelihood that they must be okay because otherwise they'd have called their parents by now or whatever.

As for the traffic risks, like I said, I don't think it's so incredibly dangerous that it absolutely can't be permitted, but especially the first time we're definitely into advanced street crossing, not street crossing 101, and a 6yo without an adult there would have me worried. This isn't Manhattan where every single kid is exposed to aggressive car-pedestrian relations from birth.


Posted by: potchkeh | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 8:58 AM
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219: Of course, the Meitiv kids didn't have a chance to reassure the 911 caller -- if your kid had run into his equivalent, he would have ended up talking to the police, rather than to a nice lady. Possibly he would have been able to successfully reassure the police, though.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 8:58 AM
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I do think dairy queen has the right idea for a reasonable standard for a parent to use: can the kid reassure an adult that s/he has things under control.

That doesn't solve the drive-by cop-calling, but it's a good guideline for parents.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 9:01 AM
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222: I wouldn't have called in at all! I've never suggested any of this warranted calling the cops. I would have been concerned, and I'd like to think that I would have checked in with the kids to make sure they were okay rather than just shrugging it off. Probably not just seeing them at Fenton & Easley, but if enough of what I'd seen before then made me think there was a decent chance something was amiss, maybe then; by the time they've got me thinking they're headed across Georgia, almost surely.


Posted by: potchkeh | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 9:01 AM
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196.2 gave me a bit of a jolt skimming the thread on a crowded bus!

XT and ogged sadly both right re infrastructure great solution and sad result.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 9:02 AM
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225: Neither of the actual pickups have any interaction with traffic reported -- the traffic concern is only about their being on a sidewalk with nearby difficult crosswalks. I suppose it's possible that they were behaving in way that made it obvious that they were unsafe to cross streets, but it's hard to picture. (And 'nearly hit by a truck' seems like an overstatement of the anecdote, which was that someone once saw a truck have to brake to allow them to cross the street, and the observer thought the kids weren't looking.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 9:02 AM
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There are two very different wander-off-and-explore. One is the woods by the house (think Calvin and Hobbes). The other is walking city streets ("when you get to the busy corner, find an adult and have them help you cross"). I don't think norms have changed wrt the former, when such space is available.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 9:03 AM
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they're headed across Georgia,

This is pure speculation, but you kind of have to wonder if they turned onto a sidestreet because they were hoping to get away from the guy following them.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 9:04 AM
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I guess I haven't followed this closely enough to understand why the officers sat around with the kids for 2 hours, at the scene, and no one thought to call their parents.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 9:04 AM
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232: so until you see a small kid actually get hit by a car, there can't possibly be other cues that would lead you to suspect they might be in over their head traffic-wise?


Posted by: potchkeh | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 9:06 AM
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We should really start blaming the 10-year-old kid here. Step up, little buddy!


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 9:06 AM
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234: Yes, that's possible, and if so would have meant that the guy misunderstood the situation. As I almost certainly would have if I had seen what he saw. But it would have been a reasonable misunderstanding, and if I reasonably think the kids are in need of assistance it would be shitty not to offer it just because there's a chance I'm wrong.


Posted by: potchkeh | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 9:07 AM
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"in need of assistance" s/b "could maybe use some assistance".


Posted by: potchkeh | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 9:08 AM
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There's not much I can picture for a kid on a sidewalk that would be specific to the particular kid, rather than just an age-based guess. You could have a close call during a street crossing that didn't involve actually getting hit, but that didn't happen in either of the pickups.

I suppose a kid on a sidewalk sprinting toward the crosswalk without any sign of slowing down and stopping at the corner would scare me, but other than that, I can't think of much.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 9:09 AM
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229 to 228! :)


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 9:13 AM
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There's not much I can picture for a kid on a sidewalk that would be specific to the particular kid, rather than just an age-based guess

Well, they could look lost or scared.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 9:16 AM
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A kid walking next to the sidewalk instead of on it - not realizing they're in a bike lane and may force a bike into traffic. Playing with a ball as they go, in a way that makes me think that if the ball went into traffic, they'd follow it. That kind of thing.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 9:23 AM
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242: Sure, but we were specifically talking about what would make you think a kid couldn't handle crossing the street. A kid that looked lost or scared would make me think they needed help -- for a kid that didn't look lost or scared, though, I don't know what would make me think they couldn't manage a crosswalk.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 9:25 AM
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Basically, an erratic, spazzy kid is going to make my heart race a little as they cross the street.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 9:30 AM
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LB, can't you imagine a kid who feels and projects complete confidence and yet with your greater maturity and knowledge you can see he/she is in way over his/her head? That's like 70% of parenting small kids!


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 9:31 AM
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There are two very different wander-off-and-explore. One is the woods by the house (think Calvin and Hobbes). ... I don't think norms have changed wrt the former, when such space is available.

I'd like to believe that, but I don't know. Look at what I posted above, where the middle school principle is justifying the ban on bicycling: he's explicitly saying it's dangerous, or at least not certifiably safe, because it's "a substantially wooded area".


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 9:32 AM
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||
OT bleg: could someone link to Neb's bacon post? I can't find it and I felt like basking in its rightness.
||>


Posted by: Tia | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 9:33 AM
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246: Not from seeing them walk on a sidewalk!


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 9:35 AM
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(I mean, the sorts of things in 243, sure, a kid who seems completely spacy and oblivious. The coverage really doesn't make these kids sound at all like that, though.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 9:36 AM
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Are these people really going to be represented by F/cker? I suspect the whole thing is an elaborate plot to drive Ripford completely mad. Rip, who hates you enough to go to these lengths?


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 9:38 AM
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More response to 246: I actually don't recognize that as a description of parenting small kids at all. Are you talking about the sort of thing where they're trying to do something that would be fairly easy for an adult, and they're over their head in the sense of being surprisingly bad at it?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 9:39 AM
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246 comes up all the time with Hawaii. She has the ability to sound like an upscale, professional slightly-rude 30-something, who believes she can competently do all sorts of things better than she can. For example, she can fix (some) breakfasts for herself and siblings. Great, on a weekend. Can she do it under week day time pressure? No. But she thinks she can. So we get into these arguments where I'm restricting what she can do, given time constraints, and she's pissed off. I could generate lots of other examples.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 9:45 AM
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70% rhetorical exaggeration from public transit on phone but yes small children regularly in my experience boldly bite off more than they safely chew.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 9:47 AM
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There would be situations where she could competently cross the street, and other situations where I'd be worried that she would not be able to accurately gauge the speed that cars dangerously zoom through. Or that she wouldn't realize she was hidden behind a parked car - she'd realize she was visible from the main two directions, but maybe not from people turning on to the street. Etc.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 9:47 AM
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You could have a close call during a street crossing that didn't involve actually getting hit

This happens to me fairly frequently, but no one calls the cops.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 9:49 AM
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We worry.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 9:51 AM
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256: Have you tried slapping the cars?


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 9:54 AM
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That was me.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 9:55 AM
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Yeah, my wife says she worries about me crossing streets, because I can be pretty oblivious.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 9:55 AM
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252 to 253 -- I've certainly watched kids be surprisingly unskillful at things they think they can do. But my perception of parenting hasn't included hardly any at all rescuing my kids from danger they've gotten themselves into.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 9:57 AM
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My family worries much more about me being out and about unaided than the (now 14 yo and 6' plus) kid.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 10:01 AM
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My reactions throughout this thread have been identical to LB's.


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 10:07 AM
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253 is hilarious to me and if I'd had a daughter I'm virtually certain she would have been Hawaii's spiritual, intellectual and emotional twin!


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 10:08 AM
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Are these people really going to be represented by F/cker?

Ha! That would be great. He used to be my neighbor. Huge asshole. HUGE!

Whenever he got home in the evenings, he would honk the horn a bunch as he drove up his driveway. This was a quiet suburban neighborhood, where nobody honked their fucking horn.

He also built a fence around his portion of the communal field in the back of his house, so he could build a race track for his kids to run on. Which apparently worked, because his daughter ended up being a highly ranked triathlete. Still, dude enclosed a commons. That's a ticket straight to hell, right there.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 10:29 AM
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265 last is amazing. I am assuming that he and the fucking Meitivs will show up at a press conference wearing San Francisco Giants World Series Champions hats because the universe hates me.


Posted by: TRO | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 10:31 AM
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Wow. The classic legal move of stealing the common from the goose.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 10:33 AM
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Anyway, if F/cker is involved, I revoke all my sympathy for these people. When he ran for State Senate (one out of many losing efforts) his campaign slogan was "F/cker: For Better Roads."

If Silver Spring traffic is dangerous to children, people like him are the reason. And possibly, specifically him, given that I'm almost sure he was active in the "lets build a giant parking garage in Silver Spring" effort.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 10:36 AM
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267: And he started 30 years earlier, being sued by Montgomery County during the first of his 45 failed electoral campaigns for excessively littering public property with his signs and posters.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 10:40 AM
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Oh, and specific to the Free Range issue, the F/cker family was only one at the neighborhood bus stop who always had an adult waiting for the bus with their kids. Usually it was the cranky old grandfather of the family, but sometimes it was the man himself. But, yeah, not so much with the Free Range in that bunch.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 10:41 AM
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I'm not sure who F/cker is, or how people know he is involved in this case, but I keep reading the elided letter as a "u," which is entertainment enough.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 10:42 AM
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And he started 30 years earlier, being sued by Montgomery County during the first of his 45 failed electoral campaigns

I think he actually served one term in the Maryland House, before losing every subsequent campaign. He came to speak to our fourth grade class - the first person I ever heard to make the "What's the opposite of Progress?" joke.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 10:44 AM
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Here's an alternate theory as to why the Meitivs are (in my speculative ... but reasonably speculative!) mind assholes, since I'm now going all-in with this take. There's a kind of community-building version of free range parenting that's attractive -- people look out for each others' kids, you design spaces so that they're not wildly unsafe for kids, etc., which both gives the kids more freedom and is more community-building for adult life generally. That's a fine and good thing. But the Meitivs don't seem particularly interested in this.

They chose not to move to a place with such norms in place or close to in place (not really blaming them for this, but, you know, this wasn't a family with no choice as to where to live, and more free-rangy places do exist). Then, they apparently put little to no effort into trying to work with the community that they did have, to push the limits slightly while working with their neighbors to make sure that everyone knew their kids were safe. They could have had deals with neighbors, local merchants, whatever, so that people would know their kids and view them as basically OK. Instead, what they did was to simply drop their kids off in a park and (repeatedly) tell the kids that it was OK to walk through a traffic-filled commercial area where, as we've established, it would be at least a reasonable assumption that the kids would be lost or in distress. The kids seem to have both (a) looked young and (b) not, apparently, been particularly capable of conveying a confident "we are OK" to other adults. The only provision that the Meitivs seemed to have made for the reaction of other adults was to arm them with a card that said "We're not lost ... we're free range" (come on, that framing is in and of itself a sign of dickitude), combined with a healthy sense of outrage for even being investigated about their outlier behavior.

In short, their attitude towards free range parenting their kids has little or nothing to do with a community-building model, and everything to do with "we should be able to let our kids do whatever we want because we can, regardless of how it looks to other people." The activism is designed to provoke outrage at how much more sane they are than the other sheeple, it's not an inclusive or community-building activism.


Posted by: TRO | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 10:45 AM
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I'm not sure who F/cker is

Do a google search for "Washington Bullets obnoxious fan"


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 10:46 AM
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271: I didn't know who it was either, but I managed to google out his identity. "Sports heckler" is one of his listed occupations on wikipedia.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 10:48 AM
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Wow. I had no idea that "sports heckler" was the kind of personal identity or social role on a par with "attorney," "real estate broker," and "political activist," or that your sports heckling can earn you a Wikipedia page.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 10:52 AM
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I think the local sports news anchors loved the guy, because his antics were always good for a colorful segment on a slow news day.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 11:05 AM
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Attorney + real estate broker + libertarian political activist + sports heckler is pretty much a surefire recipe for "asshole." He really might as well just have wikipedia identify him by saying "R/b/n F/cker (born whenever) is a ginormous asshole."


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 11:12 AM
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When I ran into him at a party at his daughters house, sometime in my 20s, I was impressed that he had no idea who I was, even after being reminded. I mean, if you live in a neighborhood for a decade, and you have kids, you have a general idea of who the other kids around are, no? At least to the point where your memory could be jogged?


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 11:21 AM
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I think he may be the most famous sports heckler. I can't think of a real competitor.


Posted by: TRO | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 11:24 AM
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Holy shit, I remember that guy from the Bulls' games. I hope they take these kids away from their "parents."


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 11:31 AM
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281: Just in case anyone's confused -- there is no actual connection between F/cker and the Meitivs.

Or am I confused?


Posted by: pepe | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 11:34 AM
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282: pepe is a cute name, but also was a typo.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 11:35 AM
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Charley sounded as if he knew the Meitivs were hiring him. But I don't know any more than that.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 11:39 AM
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I remember the TV sports announcers pointing that guy out during a game way back in the 90s.

The wikipedia article really does make him sound like a piece of work.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 11:40 AM
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I saw him in a news story, but looking back now, I see that he's just quoted as some kind of expert is, what, assholery.

Sorry, folks. false alarm.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 11:42 AM
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Ok, in that case the parents can keep their children.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 11:43 AM
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286: http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2015/04/14/parents-investigated-letting-children-walk-alone/25754193/


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 11:47 AM
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A free range expert on suing the County.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 11:49 AM
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Not only is he an expert on suing Montgomery County, Maryland, Wikipedia reports that in the last few years he has taken on the defense of several cases in the "6-year-old child expelled for making gun noises" genre, the ultimate low-hanging fruit of libertarian activism. No doubt he wants to be their lawyer. Can they resist?


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 11:51 AM
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Here's a video of one of the intersections where the kids (apparently) were. I'd be most worried about the buses.


Posted by: TRO | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 12:50 PM
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Their lawfirm is Wiley Rein. No idea."Wiley Rein is honored to represent the Meitivs on a pro bono basis in their effort to vindicate their parental rights. Wiley Rein team comprises Matthew Dowd, Megan Brown, Parker Lavin, Tyler Robinson, Wesley Weeks, and Sara Luxenberg. Wiley Rein intends to pursue all legal remedies to protect the Meitivs' parental rights. Wiley Rein is working with Thomas DeGonia of Ethridge Quinn Kemp McAuliffe Rowan & Hartinger and David DeLugas of the National Association of Parents."


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 12:52 PM
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Wiley Rein is surely a libertarian-friendly zone, though unfortunately not hardcore into sports heckling.

Here's the parking garage, in the inside of which the kids were picked up.


Posted by: TRO | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 12:54 PM
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What's your source for 'inside'? The police report I linked above doesn't say so. And of course they were nowhere near the parking garage when the bystander called the police.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 12:56 PM
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That really doesn't seem like a sketchy place, or even a place where it would be strange to find someone. I mean it's across the street (and a little bit down) from a park.


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 12:59 PM
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The streetview in 293 looks like fucking Disneyland (but not Disney World) compared to around here.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 1:02 PM
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293: That looks exactly like a parking garage next to where I work. The danger is the kids could get confused and forget what city they are in.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 1:04 PM
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It's like they have a machine or somebody who sweeps the trash and dirt out of the edge of the street. And some magic pavement without giant holes in it. And none of the sidewalks are buckled or missing.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 1:07 PM
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I do agree that, barring something obvious like the garage making a shortcut from one street to the next that the kids were taking, it would be weird of the kids to be in the garage, and someone should have chased them out if they were playing in there. I just have a hard time believing that the bystander called the police several blocks away when the kids were walking normally on a sidewalk and followed them for ten minutes, at which point they suddenly started misbehaving just when the police showed up.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 1:09 PM
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294 -- the original WP story someone linked said they were found inside the garage. The police statement (not report) that you linked to just says "The officer made contact with the complainant who directed the officer to the Fenton Street parking garage where the officer found the children," where they were supposedly being eyed by the homeless man. If you don't think it's at least mildly problematic and unusual for a kid (remember, perceived age) of 7-8 to be crossing the intersection linked in 291 alone then I don't know what to tell you.


Posted by: TRO | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 1:10 PM
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A little down the street, that parking garage appears to feature street-level gum stores.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 1:11 PM
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Obama wants to take our gums.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 1:15 PM
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300 - It looks like a busy-ish intersection, sure, but just looking through the Google maps bit you linked shows multiple pedestrians wandering across the road more or less at random (not intersections). That, plus the fact that the entire area looks like, well, an outdoor mall makes me think that those intersections are probably not very dangerous to pedestrians.

The dangers don't show up if the area has a lot of cars going through it, after all. The dangers show up when cars going through it don't expect pedestrians. And they clearly would in this case.


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 1:21 PM
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303 -- Dude, look at the guy crossing at the crosswalk (legally) right before the bus makes a right turn on red. Not saying that it would necessarily happen but it sure would be easy for a six year old to dart in front of that right-turning bus unseen. At the very least I'd wonder if two 6-8 year olds wandering through that intersection were OK.


Posted by: TRO | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 1:29 PM
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Or, sorry, the bus has a green light that it's making a right on, and the pedestrian is crossing with the flow of traffic.


Posted by: TRO | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 1:30 PM
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I am so with LB on this. Also I go over to that area at least once a week and the traffic (even on GA our Colesville) is no worse than what I navigated in Boston before I was ten. BTW, the library is right on US 29; how can kids from many neighborhoods have to cross major roads to get there? (New library will have a tram line running through, almost.)


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 1:34 PM
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296: I bet you could even close your eyes and walk down that sidewalk without tripping.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 1:37 PM
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A number of those garages are good shortcuts. The one over by the new Tastee Diner is one I often use that way.


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 1:38 PM
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The key is remembering that there are no other kids walking around the area only because other parents are insane/the world has gone mad/jackbooted thugs rule our lives. Except for the Meitivs!


Posted by: TRO | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 1:40 PM
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There's a new Tastee Diner? Is it legit?


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 1:41 PM
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By which I mean, can a stoned 19 year old still order scrapple at 3:00 AM?


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 1:45 PM
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300: You're talking about this WP story, which does say "in" the parking garage. But it is clearly, from the language that it quotes elsewhere, paraphrasing this police report (same one I linked above), which doesn't say "in".


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 2:00 PM
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This whole thread boils down to: if your kid is lost, confused, scared or in over her or his head, hope TRO is near; if your kid is just taking the scenic route home, hope LB is nigh.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 2:20 PM
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Under the assumption that I wouldn't notice or help a kid who was actually distressed, sure.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 2:28 PM
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I'd actually probably go with LB in both circumstances, to be honest.


Posted by: TRO | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 2:32 PM
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It's the warmly honest looking face. Makes it easier to get the kids into my van.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 2:33 PM
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I'm pretty sure my kid would have preferred LB too, always preferred to chat up the ladies. Now we're in the "put down the phone with the multiple simultaneous chats with girls and come to the dinner table" phase and when the phone rings it's inevitably for him. At like 10 pm.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 2:37 PM
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The SS Tastee is on Cameron. It used to be over by the Metro near Wayne. But they had to move when that area was developed for Discovery Channel, etc. So, my "new" may well be quite old. Go, I'm so old I remember Fuller Brush door-to-door sales.


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 2:39 PM
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Yes, 3 AM scrapple can be got there.


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 2:40 PM
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Hmm, catching up, the link in 293 makes me think I've completely misunderstood or misremembered the kids' route and how all this unfolded. The way I had it in my mind, this garage would have been much earlier, between the park the kids had been playing at and where I thought the guy first called them in. And that stretch is in fact relatively pedestrian-dense, and there's plausible destinations nearby in every direction--I don't think I'd have been particularly concerned seeing the kids there (short of them actually playing in the garage). So I retract my assertion that I'd have likely intervened in the more recent case, though I still don't think it would have been crazy unreasonable to do so.


Posted by: potchkeh | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 3:28 PM
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That's the wrong garage. They were on Silver Spring Ave., between Georgia and Fenton, walking towards Fenton.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 4:28 PM
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Honestly I think we have a better sense of where these kids were than their parents do.


Posted by: TRO | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 4:34 PM
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The caller has them here when the police arrive. A couple blocks from home, and they would have been there on time, if not detained.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 4:39 PM
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Never trust a CPA.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 4:47 PM
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Ah, okay, 323 was what I'd been thinking. Glad we worked that out. Retraction retracted.


Posted by: potchkeh | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 4:52 PM
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TRO is wrong wrong wrong on this thread (I'm with LB, and Frowner) but 322 really made me laugh.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 5:26 PM
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Witt?


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 5:33 PM
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I'm here. Things got quiet last night after I stopped posting.

Talked to the other manager tonight when I got back after my long day. He claims it's strictly hotel policy to throw people out after two noise complaints and he will talk to the other manager (the one who was on duty last night) to find out why that didn't happen.

I said it wasn't a noise complaint, it was a worried-about-a-person-getting-seriously-hurt complaint, but neither the hotel nor the police seemed to have understood that. He said the police often don't seem to take them (the hotel) seriously when they call.

I reiterated what had happened and suggested politely that maybe the hotel should consider its protocol for how to handle such situations.

Basically, the next time (hopefully never) this happens, I'm calling 911 myself and talking to the dispatcher myself. And probably going to yell in my deepest voice that I'm calling 911. And maybe going to audiotape it.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 7:40 PM
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256: Have you tried slapping the cars?

HEY! I'M FREE-RANGING HERE!


Posted by: OPINIONATED COWBOY | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 7:52 PM
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Well, I'm glad it got quiet.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 8:23 PM
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Too quiet.


Posted by: TOO SOON | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 8:25 PM
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He said the police often don't seem to take them (the hotel) seriously when they call.

I wonder if they're calling these in as noise complaints, which on hotel property is really more of a civil matter. You're better off calling in yourself and reporting it as a domestic.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 8:51 PM
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I'm more sympathetic to LB in the overall argument, but TRO's 273 does article something that's been bugging me about this story. The easiest way to raise free-range kids is to live in a neighborhood with community norms that are conducive to that approach, any metro area the size of DC will have at least a few neighborhoods like that, and UMC professionals like the Meitivs are generally able to live wherever they want within a given metro area. Given that, living in a neighborhood that is not friendly to free-range parenting but trying to do it anyway only really makes sense as a political statement and an attempt to draw attention to the cause, which might be worth doing but certainly smacks of self-righteous grandstanding that could ultimately be counterproductive.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 9:22 PM
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Uh, I mean "articulate."


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 9:22 PM
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Racist.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 9:24 PM
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Anti-semite.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 9:30 PM
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UMC professionals like the Meitivs are generally able to live wherever they want within a given metro area,

Not really, not in expensive places like DC.


Posted by: Bave | Link to this comment | 04-23-15 11:00 PM
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Okay, fair enough, but the constraints imposed by expensive real estate on the non-super-rich tend to point in the direction of neighborhoods with more rather than less tolerance for free-range parenting, I think.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 1:24 AM
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I'm not sure what you're thinking or on what basis. If we assume financial and commuting constraints, what DC area are you thinking that's obviously a better place for free-range parenting than Silver Spring, which looks physically pretty ideal (a number of close parks, residential streets near walkable commercial streets, and so on.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 5:07 AM
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I thought Maryland was for assholes and the nice people lived in Virginia.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 5:35 AM
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318 - I used to stop at that Tastee on the way back from going to shows at the 9:30 or the old Black Cat. I think it was on the cover of a Tsunami single. The food was dreadful.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 5:46 AM
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If we're willing to allow some over-generalization and slander.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 5:46 AM
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Like an asshole, I fell down while walking to work this morning. I ruined a pair of pants, half a bagel, and a small portion of my knee.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 5:53 AM
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343 comments and nobody suggested that these parents were neglectful bc they didnt give these kids guns!?!? Bunch of liberal hippies.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 5:57 AM
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340: !!


Posted by: ydnew | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 5:59 AM
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341.last gets it right. I haven't been to that Tastee in probably 15 years so maybe it's improved but, it was sort of impressive how bad they were able to make hard-to-really-fuck-up breakfast staples.

339 is also right. As far as physical environment goes, where the Meitivs live has plenty of perfectly suitable free range kid kid territory (even if I personally probably would have restricted that range a bit more, at least with a 6yo involved).


Posted by: potchkeh | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 5:59 AM
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340 is absolutely true.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 6:05 AM
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307 to 343.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 6:06 AM
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I had my eyes open. I was watching the traffic, not the ground.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 6:14 AM
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I'm trying to remember what age I let kids play in the park by themselves. My son walked home alone from school -- either K or 1st grade -- which flipped the fuck out of the school nurse. He'd not been feeling well, and I guess thought he'd be better off at home [we would have been at work and his sister at a different school] than hanging around in the nurse's office. Afterwards, I told him it was good problem solving, but he needed to let the adults work this stuff out.

It was a short totally safe walk.

340 -- That northern scum thing still bothering you?


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 6:15 AM
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And 344 is a complete answer to 340.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 6:17 AM
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350.last: Just passing on what I was told by somebody who lived in Falls Church.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 6:17 AM
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I mean, our sidewalks are awful. It sucks that you got hurt and it wasn't your fault; I trip at least once a month. I don't know how people with mobility concerns can possibly handle them, outside a few of the better kept shopping districts. Not that there'd be a way to de-awful them without making a lot of people unhappy.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 6:17 AM
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He said all the Republicans lived in Maryland.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 6:18 AM
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343: if you brushed your knee off with the bagel you could probably still eat them both.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 6:18 AM
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I had two bagels, so I just ate one and the half of the other that didn't have rocks stuck in the cream cheese.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 6:20 AM
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340: As I recall from my time living in Bethesd, Maryland, -- Virginia was where you went if you wanted to get hopelessly lost. I'm not sure, but I think I've read some things that suggest that Virginians feel the same way about Maryland.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 6:21 AM
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354: That's crazy. Look at the election results.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 6:21 AM
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358: I think it was just in reference to the areas near D.C., not the respective states.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 6:22 AM
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357: Sorry, Bethesda, I didn't mean to take away your 'A".


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 6:22 AM
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333: From the article in Slate, you can see that the neighbors percieve themselves as being more easy-going about this than the helicopter parents of Bethesda. The Meitivs may have chosen the neighborhood thinking it would be more conducive to their parenting philosophy.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 6:27 AM
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359: We did have a Republican representative, but she was one of the last of the genuinely liberal republicans.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 6:32 AM
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You're an Ohioan. Don't try to hide it.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 6:33 AM
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NoVa is DOD-land so I'd guess before looking at the data it will turn out a bit more Republican, although of course it pulls the rest of Virginia left.

Montgomery: 70.9% Obama (2012)
Prince George's: 90.1%
Arlington: 69.2%
Alexandria: 71.4%
Fairfax: 59.3%
Loudoun: 51.6%


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 6:33 AM
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358: I think it was just in reference to the areas near D.C., not the respective states

Even so: Backwards.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 6:34 AM
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In other pedestrian news, I almost killed my friend and her dog yesterday by leading them into traffic. I look forward to my brain dredging that moment up for the rest of my life whenever it feels the need to make me cringe.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 6:35 AM
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I should update my stereotypes of D.C. suburbs, but I don't know if it will take even if I made the effort.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 6:37 AM
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Yeah, DC-area Republicans certainly gravitate to VA over MD, if not for the, um, cultural affinities, then for the lower taxes.


Posted by: potchkeh | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 6:40 AM
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357 -- No, Virginia is easy. All you have to know is that they have a bunch of different streets called Chain Bridge Road, and that none of them go to the Chain Bridge. And they have Glebe Road, which goes everywhere.

Including the Chain Bridge.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 6:48 AM
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Pittsburghers have notoriously outdated stereotypes. Got it.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 6:51 AM
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363: Yes, I've been here for over 25 years now, I can't pretend I'm just visiting.

Speaking of, I heard my senior senator on local radio the other day. Sorry, Von Wafer, but he sounded completely sincere when he said he had zero interest in running for President.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 6:54 AM
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369: also, Telegraph roads, and a ton of confederate and colonial/rev names... Jefferson Davis, Custises galore, etc.


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 6:55 AM
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|| This was in my FB feed this morning. |>


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 7:04 AM
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366: It sounds like everyone's okay, right? Maybe you can get a badge to wear that says you're not fit to escort people through traffic and that way an adult will know to intervene.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 7:15 AM
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373: Jesus, Charley, I didn't want to watch that. I'm going to have to crouch in the fetal position under my desk until my heart rate goes back down.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 7:20 AM
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374: Yes, everyone survived unscathed. A badge is unnecessary, as its message has been seared into my brain.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 7:25 AM
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369 is correct. Also Lee highway goes where you want to go most of the time. If you stick to roads named after traitors you can get most places in Northern Virginia, assuming you believe in a confederate general called "Dulles Toll."


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 7:26 AM
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In the vein of good ol' days" danger versus current times* this chart from a WSJ article shows US pedestrian death rates from 1975-2010 broken out by age group.

Relevant** headline: Big continuing drop overall during the time (~2x); but a *much* larger proportional drop (> 10x) among children under 13. Undoubtedly, a big chunk of that is the decrease in free-roaming children over that time period.

*Discussed here before, but the most staggering item in this vein that I have seen was the NYC kids falling out of windows numbers.

**The old folks rate was not something I was previously aware of.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 7:28 AM
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The rock-skiing has possibilities, but will need better course preparation and more evolved gear.

In the meantime, there's always Mountain Bike downhill.


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 7:31 AM
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You have to be careful in MD, the Meitivs are getting restless.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 7:31 AM
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364: How did Fairfax go in 2000 and 2004?


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 7:32 AM
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378: but that chart proves the free-range point. The fact that children are now being killed at a lower rate than adults is pretty clear and convincing evidence that they're being overprotected. All else equal, children should be getting killed at a higher rate than most adults (excepting seniors), because they're less risk-aware, more prone to irresponsible/unpredictable behavior, objectively harder for cars to see in many circumstances, and physically more vulnerable.

Overprotecting children might be fine if there were no harmful side effects--and that seems to be the general social consensus. Free-rangers argue, correctly in my view, that there are very real harms associated with overprotection, and that we should do more sensible risk/reward balancing.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 7:41 AM
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(The chart also demonstrates why it's no longer necessary to help old women cross the street.)


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 7:43 AM
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362: I agree in general with you, but lacked the rhetorical ability to make the "more kids should be being killed by cars" argument. So thanks for that.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 7:47 AM
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And they have Glebe Road, which goes everywhere. Including the Chain Bridge.

Glebe Road does get confusing, though, down near where it intersects with Glebe Road.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 7:48 AM
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384: [R]hetorical ability and courage, to be more accurate.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 7:51 AM
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To be even more accurate, 362 should have been 382.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 7:54 AM
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In that chart, I notice that it's only a few years of data where children are not the group with lowest ped death rates, so I wonder if it's an anomaly.

Also it could be partially or even mostly explained by children now spending much less time out of their lives as pedestrians. We don't have mortality per thousand miles walked.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 8:11 AM
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388.2: I was thinking the same think--and that could also explain a big part of the decline for seniors, and even the trends for adults.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 8:13 AM
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I'd bet that a big part of the decline for seniors is because people are living longer than in 1970. So, looking at those over 70 is getting you a lot more people who are extremely elderly than in the past.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 8:22 AM
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388.1: In that chart, I notice that it's only a few years of data where children are not the group with lowest ped death rates, so I wonder if it's an anomaly.

The overall much greater proportional drop is evident independent of any potential small anomaly in the early '70s.

388.1 Agreed. But that is hardly unrelated to the overall free range phenomenon. I'dd guess there are decreases in both time as pedestrian and deaths/miles walked--both related to degree of helicopter vs. free ranging.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 9:22 AM
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Free-range children anecdotes:

Some time last year, a kid asked to borrow my phone to call his mom. I didn't hand it to him because I was worried he'd steal it. (The kid was black so maybe that's a bit racist of me, but in my defense we were out wandering alleys looking for our recently-stolen bikes in hopes that they had just been taken for a joyride and ditched, so I was primed to expect the worst of kids and people in general at the moment.) I did, however, call the number he gave me. I told him it was disconnected and asked him if he wanted me to call another. He said no and wandered off.

Just two weeks ago, two kids happened to be walking by as I was leaving a friend's house after some drinks, and one of them asked me for a quarter. I said no and asked what for. She said she was going to give it to a guy she saw begging back on the corner. I praised her generosity, skeptically.

Both of these incidents happened in a residential neighborhood, but within a block of a street roughly as busy as where the Meitivs were found. In neither case did I consider calling the police. It goes without saying that both the kids were black and the neighborhood is poorer than Silver Spring.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 9:22 AM
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Racist and slow, if you don't figure you can outrun a kid.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 9:24 AM
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re: 393

When I was a kid [older than say 10 or so], you'd better have been a pretty serious amateur track athlete to have had much chance of catching me, and I'd have guessed the same would go for any fit-ish 10 - 16 year old.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 9:31 AM
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I know I can outrun nine-year-olds. I've tested it.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 9:35 AM
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Maybe I'm underestimating how big a change there is between say 9 and about 12. Because at about 12 or 13, I could have done a mile in sub 6 minutes,* and would have been pretty quick over the first 100 metres or so, too. I'd guess the average 30 or 40 something would be shit out of luck doing that.

* I don't know quite how fast, but I bet one of my parents that I could run to the station and back [almost exactly a mile round trip] in under 8 minutes,** and actually did it in under 6.

** they were training for a marathon at the time, and boasting about their sub 8 minute mile times when jogging.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 9:44 AM
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There's no way I could run a six minute mile now or at any age.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 9:45 AM
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Before my tendon decided to ossify, I could run an eight minute mile. But I bet I could do 7:30 if my phone was on the line.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 9:47 AM
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There was a funny segment on TV many years ago, where libertarian dillweed John Stossel competed against some teenager in some treadmill test. Stossel took off his shirt, obviously vain about being a fairly fit 30 or 40-something guy, and the doctor took one look at him and said something like, "You're going to get creamed; I can tell just by looking at you."

Unless you're still a pretty serious athlete, by 30 and certainly 40, you're carrying more extra pounds than you realize, and you've lost a lot of explosiveness; it's really no contest.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 9:49 AM
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Anyway, I know from playing a soccer game with kids that there was not a single eight or nine-year old on the field that I couldn't beat down a (kiddie-sized) soccer pitch and that this was true for basically all the other dads and all of the moms who tried to run. But, I do think that by 13 these same kids will all beat me easily.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 9:51 AM
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I remember part of basketball tryouts in high school was running two miles in under 12 minutes. At that age, you just do as they say and don't think "Can I do this?" Now it seems crazy fast.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 9:51 AM
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395: That's pretty impressive. I hear that kid can outrun a car.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 9:52 AM
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Puberty matters!

Turns out Stossel went to New Trier. That fucking figures.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 9:53 AM
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you're carrying more extra pounds than you realize, and you've lost a lot of explosiveness; it's really no contest.

Yes. It is quite sad.


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 9:54 AM
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Do you all remember the President's physical fitness test? I wonder what their running goal was.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 9:55 AM
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At that age, you just do as they say and don't think "Can I do this?"

Maybe you do. I'm pretty sure if someone had told me to run back-to-back sub-6-minute miles in high school I'd have looked at them like they were crazy.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 9:55 AM
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Maybe making the team just didn't mean that much to you, Josh.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 9:59 AM
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When I was in my late 20s, I ran a 5K in about 26 minutes. That's probably as fast as I've ever run. I swam as a kid, but I was for shit at it.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 10:00 AM
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Of course that was before interval training got popular, so the tip for beginning runners was "just find a pace you can keep up for whatever distance you're aiming for". You know what pace an untrained me can keep up for 2 miles? Walking.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 10:02 AM
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We used to have a jogging class at PE, when I was about 15. I can't remember the exact distance, but it was about 3-4 miles, part of it cross country. The girls used to dawdle round and take basically the full hour, but some of the boys worked out that if we really legged it, we could get back in time to rob cans of Coke from the school canteen, which was empty at the time, but stocked ready for lunch.

It wouldn't have been 6 minute mile times for the full 4 miles, but we'd definitely get round in 25-30 minutes or so, without really trying very hard.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 10:08 AM
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One time, we stopped off at a kid's house that was on the route, went in and got a drink, and some snacks. I think one person may have smoked a fag, and still got out and back onto the route ahead of the rest of the class. That may be a lesson more in how slow girls* and the unfit were, though.

* at my school they'd have been protecting their vertical fringes (bangs) and eye make-up from the effects of perspiration.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 10:10 AM
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One advantage of having been a spectacularly unfit and miserable teenager is that I am now much faster, stronger and more flexible than I was at, say, 16. I couldn't have done a situp to save my life back then. This proves nothing about the world at large but it makes me feel pretty good even when contemplating the fact that I am still in the bottom percentiles of fitness and trimness at the gym.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 10:34 AM
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I love 185 for its token meeting of the requirement that all Unfogged threads of sufficient length include some discussion of California water issues.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 10:37 AM
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vertical fringes

The Claw! Very big in my high school in the 80s.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 10:38 AM
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412- Preach it! I didn't play on any teams in school but now people who knew me then are shocked at all the sports I play.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 10:42 AM
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Unless you're still a pretty serious athlete, by 30 and certainly 40, you're carrying more extra pounds than you realize, and you've lost a lot of explosiveness; it's really no contest.

That is why you have to adjust to use your superior size advantage. Some years ago, the old grads were playing the current college swimmers in Ultimate. They were destroying us bc of speed and fitness, until we starting using our weight to hold them off. Then, they started getting a little scared about being run over by a bunch of old guys weighing over 200 pounds.

Im not sure why the coach decided to stop that annual event.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 10:44 AM
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I was super slow in junior high and high school as well. And am still super slow, but my peers have fortunately gotten older and weaker.

Also I remember Ttam style junior high PE classes of "run around the track for 45 minutes with no instruction about how to run, how to improve your running, how to get fit, anything." What kind of lazy bullshit is that. I assume it was just an excuse for the "coach" to sit in a chair and read magazines.


Posted by: TRO | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 10:48 AM
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Oh yes, I remember running close to a 6-minute mile in high school (it taxed me, though), and I'm sure I would just fold up and snap into bits if I tried it now. I actually tried to get around a track at roughly that pace two years ago, and after the first lap I died. The last 3/4s were more like the end of The Seventh Seal. I totally weigh less now than I did in high school, too; guess that was all muscle loss.


Posted by: lurid keyaki | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 10:48 AM
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Last month I was invited to a skate with some older guys that was toward the upper end of skill levels I've played with, but I kept up with them (8 goals in 4 games, which is not bad even for a pickup.) I learned later that some of them had actually been really good players- varsity Ivy league. So, ok cool I'm good enough to skate with former college varsity players. Then I got depressed when I realize how much I'm going to suck in 20 years if they've declined from such a high level that they're now at my level- I'm going to have to play against 5 year olds when I'm in my late 50s.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 10:53 AM
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Man, now I feel bad about being super slow. My best mile in high school was something over nine minutes. I played two sports, but I was (am) terrible at running.


Posted by: ydnew | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 10:53 AM
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I may be misremembering and it might have been closer to seven minutes, actually. Six seems pretty low. I also remember plenty of extremely accomplished girls who ran terribly slow miles in gym class, and that it was nice to have 2-4 minutes of briefly feeling superior to them before they went back to kicking my ass at everything else. So I'll just put you in that category, ydnew. I think my interval of superiority has dwindled to 45s by now.


Posted by: lurid keyaki | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 10:58 AM
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In 9th grade, we had to run a half mile in 3:30 or less at the start of PE every day. Burning off excess energy, I guess. I could usually do it, but a few times I dawdled, and missed the whistle. And so had to run it again.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 11:03 AM
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We certainly had the same 2 miles for time thing in soccer. The irritating thing about that, though, is we would do that at the beginning of the second practice of the day.

That was just mean.


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 11:08 AM
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I think I broke an 8 minute mile once in my life, and that may have been the result of faulty timekeeping.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 11:10 AM
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I'm sure the best athletes at my high school didn't actually do endurance running, but of the people who did, few ran 2 miles in under 12 minutes.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 11:23 AM
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I tied for last with a 6'8" dude who wound up starting for Princeton, which I did not do.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 11:42 AM
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He probably wanted it more.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 11:55 AM
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Our best cross country and track distance runners and two guys on the soccer team did break 12. I got into the 12 minute bracket, but not under it. Our team benchmark was 14 minutes. Only about half the varsity were under that, though. Wasn't a hard rule.


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 11:57 AM
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It's entirely possible they told us we had to finish it in 12, but weren't strict about it.

I'm going to revise and extend 426. I have a clear memory of the two of us sprinting down the stretch, trying not to be last, but I don't have a clear memory of the finish, which must mean that I actually lost.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 11:58 AM
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Hah, and those two guys, now that I think of it, got permission to do cross country and soccer in the same season but never trained with the cross country team.


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 11:59 AM
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I'm pretty sure the only time I ran more than a half mile between age 13 (when I quit sports) and 24, it was because the cops were chasing me.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 12:00 PM
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And that only happened the one time.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 12:00 PM
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After the one time, the ankle GPS bracelet slowed you down too much.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 12:36 PM
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Nah, mang, that was the days before GPS - he was using an old-school ball and chain.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 12:42 PM
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I ran close to 12 on the track once, later that year or possibly the next year ran barely under 12 in the first two miles of a cross country race. I think. The race was between 2 and 3 miles; I was middle of the pack. I tore a ligament in my foot during my junior year when I was in the best shape I'd ever been. I still finished the year and ran senior year, but never got back to that condition, plus had shin problems I never had before.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 12:47 PM
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My shins are the reason I don't run. Whenever I try to start a running regime they hurt like a bastard, and remind me its not worth it.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 12:53 PM
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My buddies and I* were quite emphatic about avoiding road work** during track practice; we'd sneak across the parking lot and hang out in his kitchen, eating Pepperidge Farm cookies until it was time to return, trying to look winded. Then one time the coach sent every single team member out and told us he'd be driving the course. This became a matter of principle, so we piled into someone's car, drove it partway down the route, and hid out in bushes until the appropriate runners had passed us and we could fall in. I think this may also have involved hanging out at my house, which was along the route.

I love sports.

*particularly one of my fellow 400M hurdlers, a guy who was quite good

**a 5 mile course; the distance runners did an 8 mile course


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 1:12 PM
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Last time I ran a 5k was a couple years ago; it was a bunch of adults and 4-6 grade girls on a woodsy trail, so not the clearest running conditions, but I think my time was about 35 minutes, which I thought was good for the circumstance (which included encouraging Iris and making her sprint to the finish with me), especially since I only did about 5 training runs. I wonder how fast I could run a 400m. I mostly feel old and plodding now, but every once in awhile I get up to a full sprint that feels like youth, the kind where your feet go so fast you're only barely under control.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 1:18 PM
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Kid's last report card he had the lowest grade in the class in Sport, but the trimester included badminton and volleyball - the only thing that could have made it worse would have been rugby. Then they did gymnastics, and he said it was clear his group (2 dancers and a gymnast) were the best by far, but somehow this wasn't reflected in his grade. If it doesn't show up in the next grade I fear my better half is going to have stern words with the prof. At any rate he now has a smooth walkover in the toolkit, but won't demo it at home because concerned he'll pitch right through a window - fair enough!

I've never ever ever had anything approaching speed or even moderate briskness but used to impress the PE teacher by a consistent ability to slooooowly accomplish whatever number of laps he wanted all at exactly the same pace. He used to time me specially. I think it's an obsessive musician thing, just pick a conservative tempo and refuse to deviate.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 1:29 PM
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Back when running on a treadmill at a gym was my main source of exercise, I could do 5K in a little less than half an hour, or keep a 6 mile per hour pace going for let's say just barely 40 minutes or so. It was never my forte.

I'm probably in the best shape of my life these days, when I bike to work. But every so often I rediscover that general physical fitness doesn't necessarily include every single part of the body, when I struggle and strain to lift as much weight as my sister's boyfriend or someone our parent's age.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 1:59 PM
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Maybe you can get your sister to date a smaller man.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 2:10 PM
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||

OT: this is a very cool exercise in data visualization/auralization (what is the term for creating an aural representation of data). Description here but I recommend just clicking through and watching/listening for a couple minutes.

|>


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 2:10 PM
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(what is the term for creating an aural representation of data)

Sonification.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 2:12 PM
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Sonification.

Thanks.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 2:21 PM
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That's not noise - it's just data!


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 2:51 PM
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The you-should-be-a-better-Jew people asked me if I was Jewish despite my brand-new goy haircut and the muscle tone I've gained recently. They should pay closer attention.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 3:18 PM
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You must seem like a pretty shitty Jew.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 3:20 PM
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||

I think I've discovered a shitty corollary to Parkinson's law that work expands so as to fill the time available. I requested a few extra days for my departure date for Arrakis to make sure I could get everything done that I needed to do comfortably and they actually added a few more when they issued me the airplane ticket so I had a week more than I thought I would. Only late Sunday night I started coming down with something and by Monday I had a fever, Tuesday it's up to 102 and I couldn't breathe. I'm only just beginning to feel better since yesterday.

So not only did I not get any of my prep done that I needed to do (e.g. I still have a ton of Arabic books I can't seem to find a taker for even though many are pretty rare and hard to come by), but I missed meeting up with our own Alex while he's in town and tonight's Tsai Ming-liang film "What Time Is It There?" at MoMI. Plus the powerful antibiotic I've been prescribed is wiping out all of my carefully cultivated intestinal flora which is not something you want to have happen a few weeks before moving to another continent. Argh. Sorry for the rant.

|>


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 3:46 PM
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Very sorry to hear of your ailments, Barry. I know a recently immigrated from Syria Arabic literature instructor, I'll see if she is interested or knows someone who might be. What quantity if books, and do you have any idea of shipping costs to the west coast?


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 4:33 PM
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Yeah, seriously Barry, just send us all your Arabic books and we'll find a home for them. Drop me a line if you want. We'll have to keep them in quarantine so we don't catch whatever horrible thing you have though -- so sorry.

"What Time Is It There?" is really good but not absolutely unmissable; still, I'm sorry you have to miss it. I'm missing it too!


Posted by: lurid keyaki | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 4:59 PM
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Thanks both of you, you're great. That gave me a joyous laugh and a large smile.

The books are a pretty large quantity. They're now in about 12 large plastic bins. I've sorted out stuff I could donate to a mosque (hadith collections and the like) from stuff they wouldn't want to take which is the bulk of it (Sufi stuff, history, etc.) I'll have to look into book rate shipping to CA. I'm still investigating some options here though time is running out. I had one person seriously interested and then nothing, like I'd inadvertently sent him my nipple selfies or something. And I don't even take those. Weird.


I'm definitely going to try to catch Tsai's "Journey to the West" from his Walker series and "Stray Dogs" (for the second time) tomorrow. Then Sunday for Goodbye, Dragon Inn. And that's it for me for my NYC repertory film going life, at least for the next few years. It's been pretty damn great.



Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 5:17 PM
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The GTMO library takes donations.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 5:19 PM
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The GTMO library takes donations.

But once you've returned a book, getting it back out again is almost impossible.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 5:23 PM
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Now there's a thought! I don't know what they'd make of a lot of Sufi handbooks, tafsir, etc, though.

I had thought of donating the canonical hadith collections and tafsir to that Houston Islamic center that was torched a couple of months ago.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 5:25 PM
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The Houston Islamic Center sounds like it could be a great destination! The person I'm thinking of here is pretty a-religious.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 5:48 PM
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Also, completely off-topic: RIP M.H. Abrams, who lived to be pretty close to 103 and published a well-regarded critical study as a centenarian. National Humanities Medal last year! Could he possibly not have been the oldest recipient ever?

Troo fact: lourdes kayak wanted to call his dissertation something like "Mirrors and Lamps in Modernist Fiction," but I talked him out of it on the grounds that people would surely think it was actually about instances of mirrors and lamps in modernist fiction and it would just fuel declensionist narratives about the catholic mentality of mid-century criticism like Abrams' disappearing. I now suspect I overreacted.


Posted by: lurid keyaki | Link to this comment | 04-24-15 6:09 PM
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Maybe the Meitiv kids ducked through the parking garage to try and lose the weird guy who had been stalking them and talking on the phone for a couple of minutes.


Posted by: conflated | Link to this comment | 04-25-15 12:29 AM
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Goodbye, Dragon Inn appealed to me a lot more after I saw Dragon Inn. It seems like you shouldn't need to, given its as much about the cinema than the movie, but there you go.


Posted by: conflated | Link to this comment | 04-25-15 12:44 AM
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As it turns out Goodbye, Dragon Inn was absolutely the perfect film to cap off my NYC art house repertory cinema going life.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 04-26-15 7:20 PM
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Having read the plot on Wikipedia, I don't think you'll mind a more art-house-y movie no matter how hard you look.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-26-15 7:25 PM
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They played a bunch of Hou Hsiao-hsien movies here this month and I was too busy to go to any of them.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 04-26-15 7:25 PM
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Reading a single paragraph about that movie left me with an bad cause of ennui.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 04-26-15 7:27 PM
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That Hou Hsiao-hsien retro played first in NYC and I saw almost every one of them. It was delicious. I loved every minute. Of his big films I think I only missed The Puppetmaster. He's one of my favorite living directors.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 04-26-15 7:38 PM
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More on this. The County Council had questions and got some answers from the police and CPS. Not to all of their questions though.


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 04-28-15 2:59 PM
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