Scene opens with slashes of light blinking through the sycamore leaves in a dried creek bed. Strains of “Morning Mood” by Edvard Grieg can almost be heard in the background accompanied by chirping birds. Enter a small boy, about 4 years old, wearing nothing but a pair of shorts. His bare feet are oblivious to the creek gravel beneath them. In one hand he carries a plastic-handled steak knife. He bends down and picks up the perfect dried brown stick given up by the branches overhead months ago. He begins to carefully plunge the serrated edge of the steak knife into the side of the stick with grand visions of whittling a beautiful gift for his mother, the same mother who gave him permission to use the knife.
As the child’s wooden creation begins to take shape, the background music changes to a more sinister melody in a minor key. Enter the villain. While taller than the boy, the grown man is barely tall enough to be considered a man. His features are weak and unattractive. He approaches the boy and demands the plastic-handled weapon. In stern tones he scolds the boy while tucking the knife in his rear pocket. He ultimately spanks him with one hand while firmly holding the boy’s upper arm with the other. Once released, the boy runs toward home. The furious heat in his ears blocks out the warnings being shouted by the villain fading behind him.
The young boy bursts through the back door of his home directly into the kitchen. Through his tear-filled eyes he can see that his mother is on the phone. His tragic story will have to wait. Interrupting Mom while she is on the phone is a serious offense. While the boy waits his turn he becomes aware that his mother is nearly as angry as he is. She is using angry words on the person occupying the other end of the phone line. The boy hears her use tones and words normally reserved for the scolding of a child, but he can somehow tell that recipient of her scolding is an adult. As he listens closer he hears his mother say that she had given him the knife to play with and that the intervention into her parenting was unwelcome.
His mother hangs the phone up with a slam and turns to the boy. She kneels down, takes him in her arms and they cry together. Their embrace takes the place of the words. The story had already been shared. They cry together for a while as the emotional trauma is rinsed away.
After a time, the mother loosens her embrace, stands up, turns to the kitchen drawer, and hands the boy another plastic-handled steak knife. The boy smiles as he heads back to the dry creek bed to recover his abandoned wooden creation.
In April of 2015 a busy-body woman called the police after seeing 2 children walking home from the park. The police picked up the kids 2 blocks from their own home and placed them in protective custody. These kids had been left at the park (4 blocks from home) by their parents. They knew the neighborhood. This was a normal occurrence. They kept track of their time and headed home when they were supposed to. The first problem is that an overly concerned person called the cops instead of talking to the kids and the parents. The second problem is that the cops took the kids away instead of following the kids home and discussing things with the parents.
The parents were exercising “Free Range Parenting.” It is a commonsense parenting style made popular recently by Lenore Skenazy on her site www.freerangekids.com and her TV show “World’s Worst Mom.” While re-popularized recently by Lenore, this style of parenting has been the norm for thousands of years. Only recently has it been “otherized” by the scolds and self-appointed nannies.
What is the justification for this outrage against free-range parents? Crime, Abductions, Pedophilia, and the ever-present non-descript creeper van that can quickly and easily make an unsupervised child disappear! You see it all the time, right? Children in America are disappearing off of the streets and out of parks in record numbers, right?
If you believe Hollywood and the mainstream media, yes. If you look at actual FBI statistics, no. All violent crimes, including those against children, are down significantly over the past 20 years. We are at all-time lows.
So, where does this come from? There is a group of politicians, educators, self-proclaimed media “elites,” Hollywood stars, and their followers who are promoting what they call the “Paternal State.” Those of us opposed to the movement tend to refer to it as the “Nanny State.” Their goal seems to be the removal of parental rights. In their minds there is no way that a parent without a degree could possibly be smart enough to correctly raise a child. This responsibility should be handed over to the “Nanny State” because they know better!
Many schools are being required to provide 3 meals a day for students because parents can’t possibly know how to feed their children. Some children are having their mommy-packed lunch taken from them and replaced with a tray of government-approved gray tasteless sludge. The school board in Buffalo, NY is considering a public boarding school for kids that the board deems as being incorrectly raised!
You may be reading this and saying, “What does it matter to me? I don’t have kids.” Or “My kids are raised and out of the house.” There are a few problems with this attitude.
First, as the Nanny State takes more control of America’s children, these children are subjected to the beliefs and political views of the Nanny State. Most kids raised by their parents have a wider variety of beliefs and political views. If, for instance, a child’s parents have a Conservative worldview the child is raised with exposure to that view along with the worldviews that are presented at school. When the child gets older, he/she is more equipped to make up his/her own mind about their own views. A child who is essentially raised by the Nanny State has exposure only to the worldview of the Nanny State.
Second, the Nanny State is not only concerned with nannying children. Have you tried to buy a washing machine lately? It is nearly impossible to find a new washing machine without the “water-saving” feature. It is equally difficult to find one that doesn’t lock you out of the machine for the duration of the wash cycle. The same is true of toilets. They all are built to save water. Good luck keeping that toilet clean. Its water use is so restricted that it can’t possibly dispose of the waste properly. What’s left behind sits there until the next flush. Our choices are being removed by Nanny State bureaucratic regulations.
So, what can be done? Put simply, Civil Disobedience. Fight the Nannies. Get involved in your local school board. If you can’t get elected, show up at the meetings and get involved. Don’t buy the easily found Nanny-approved devices. Look around. There are still washing machines out there that will fill up with water and actually wash your clothes. Those same machines will allow you to lift the lid and add that sock that fell out of the laundry basket on the way to the laundry room. With a little common sense, a water-saving toilet can be modified to flush fully and cleanly. Pack your kid’s lunch. You can decide what your kid eats. If someone takes that lunch away, go to that school and go all “momma bear” on them. They do not own your kid just because he/she is out of your sight. Be the parent.
Now, what about that steak knife? Did I ever cut myself with that knife? Yes. That very day I sliced a little chunk off of my left thumb. That was a very valuable lesson that I still utilize to this day. Knives can cut. Cuts hurt. You will bleed. Be careful. Just a few weeks ago, my mom gave me that plastic handled steak knife. It sits in my toolbox in my garage. The picture you see at the top of this post is the very same plastic handled steak knife that my mom gave me to carve with over 40 years ago.