It’s all fun and games until your neighbor decides that she is the boss of the fun and games

Monday. Late-morning. Hotter than hot. Not even 24 hours home from vacation, and I was going through the piles of mail. There was a knock at the door, which was weird because no one ever knocks on our door unless it’s the UPS guy, and he doesn’t come until dinner time. Corralling the crazy barky dog, I looked out the front door window and saw a woman I did not know — and my six-year-old.

I whipped the door open, trying to figure out what was happening. The woman smiled. My son frowned. And as soon as the door opened he flew into the house, running as far away from the woman as he could.

“Is that your son?” she asked with a smile.

I nodded, still trying to figure out what was happening.

“He said this was his house. I brought him home.” She was wearing dark glasses. I couldn’t see her eyes, couldn’t gauge her expression.

“You brought…”

“Yes. He was all the way down there, with no adult.” She motioned to a park bench about 150 yards from my house. A bench that is visible from my front porch. A bench where he had been playing with my 8-year-old daughter, and where he decided to stay and play when she brought our dog home from the walk they’d gone on.

“You brought him home… from playing outside?” I continued to be baffled.

And then the woman smiled condescendingly, explained that he was OUTSIDE. And he was ALONE. And she was RETURNING HIM SAFELY. To stay INSIDE. With an ADULT. I thanked her for her concern, quickly shut the door and tried to figure out what just happened.

Chalking it up to a well-meaning but over-vigilant neighbor, I went back to the huge, post-vacation stack of mail and my son went to get himself a drink of water (shocking that a 6-year-old has the complete faculties to not only play outside but to get himself a cold beverage!). A few minutes later there was another knock at the door and the dog again went nuts. I could feel my hackles rising to match his. I didn’t want to engage with this woman about my parenting practices. I didn’t want to have a discussion about how children should be allowed to play outside. I didn’t want to talk about how he’s the youngest of three, has been under constant surveillance since he was born, has rules and perimeters for playing outside, and had been outdoors a total of 15 minutes that morning. I didn’t want to get into it with a stranger. Not at all.

I opened the door, ready to politely and firmly tell her to go away, but it was not her. It was a police officer.

The police officer asked if my son had been outside alone. She asked why I thought it was OK for him to be unsupervised. She took my ID. She wrote down the names and ages of the children.

There are not a lot of times in one’s life when you can use a word like “flabbergasted” without hyperbole, but this was one of those times. I was nearly struck dumb. I answered her questions until I gathered my senses about me and began to explain the situation. I asked if she was *really* there to question me about letting my children play outside WITHIN VIEW OF MY OWN HOUSE. We seemed to agree that this was a little ridiculous. She offered a half-hearted warning that “you never know what can happen in just a few blocks” and I choked back my retort of “you never know what can happen when you get out of bed in the morning.” I choked back my, “The fact that this particular 6-year-old can play outside on his own is a miracle in and of itself, do you think I would ever, EVER tempt fate with him?” I choked back my, “We celebrate everyday that he is independent and healthy enough to play outside.” I choked back so many things.

The police officer left with a curt nod and without filing a report.

The children were awestruck and worried that a police officer had just questioned their mother in front of them. I was mortified. And angry. They were *just playing outside*. I can’t emphasize that enough.

I tried to shake it off and go about the rest of the day, but I was so, so upset. Then, that night, my 6-year-old cried because he thought someone would call the police when he couldn’t fall asleep at his bedtime. We talked about how that would never happen, how this was an isolated incident, how much we love and care for each other in our family. We talked about how the neighbor thought she was doing a good thing and that it was an unfortunate misunderstanding and everything was all over now.

The week moved slowly on. Preparations were made for the imminent start of school, seventeen tons of post-vacation laundry was cleaned, doctors appointments were attended. And then… later that week we were at the pulmonologist’s office when I got a voice mail from a Child Protective Services investigator. She wanted me to call her back immediately.

I think, if it was possible to base jump onto a diving roller coaster, the swooping feeling in your stomach would still be only half of what I experienced at that moment. I felt lucky to be at a pulmonologist’s office, because surely they’d be able to help me when I started hyperventilating.

I somehow drove us all home without having a heart attack. Made lunch. Called an attorney friend to see if I needed to start getting really, really worried, and then I called back the CPS investigator. Within an hour she was at the house, interviewing the kids one at a time, alone with her, while I had to sequester myself upstairs. I wanted to argue. I wanted to protest. I wanted to stamp my foot and say, “No, ma’am, you are NOT allowed to speak to my children without me being present.” But I was cowed. And I understood why the process had to be that way. I didn’t like it. I DON’T like it. But I understood. I understand. I complied.

My kids reported that she asked questions about drugs and alcohol, about pornography, about how often they bathe, about fighting in the home. And again, I understand the need for these questions. I understand CPS investigators have an incredibly difficult job. But the conflict I feel is immense. My children were playing outside, within sight of the house, and now my 6yo and 8yo and 12yo have seen their mother spoken to — multiple times — as if she, herself, was a child being reprimanded. They have all been questioned, by a stranger, about whether they’ve ever been shown movies of other people’s private parts. And no matter what I say, I can tell that they think they’ve done something wrong.

After the children were interviewed, I was interviewed, my husband was called (again, making me feel as if I had acted like a disobedient child), even our babysitter got a phone call. Then, finally, once the case worker consulted with her supervisor, I was reassured that because the kids really were just playing outside, and their stories matched mine as well as the police officer’s account, the incident would be marked as a non-event and the case would be closed. (The case is now officially closed, I waited to blog about it until I knew for sure.)

But I was also warned: the neighbor can call CPS as many times as she wants. If she truly feels there’s neglect, she can’t be prosecuted for making false allegations. We could try to sue her for harassment. We could try to press charges for kidnapping if she approaches our son again and tries to get him to move from where he’s playing. But in all reality, when children are involved, the person who makes the complaint gets the benefit of the doubt. For parents, it is guilty until proven innocent. I understand why the system works this way, but it makes me feel like we are prisoners in our own home. It makes me feel helpless and at the mercy of someone I don’t even know. It makes me incredibly, guiltily relieved to enjoy the privileges that I do.

Do I know how lucky I am to be able to call friends who are attorneys, to be able to google my questions, to have a working phone to call the CPS investigator to get updates, to have a circle of friends I can trust to be supportive and indignant along with me? I see my privilege. I want to apologize for it. I know this has been just a taste of what others go through. Just as I have had tastes in the past of food stamps and medicaid and being at the mercy of government support. I get it, Universe, you have thrown open the floodgates of perspective. I am drowning in it.

I am drowning in it.

 

***

 

Our neighborhood is small, there’s a wide open green space with walking trails right across the street from our house. The lawns are (sometimes forcibly through the Homeowners’ Association) well-maintained. There’s a playground at the top of the hill. And there are no children outside. Anywhere. It is a creepy vista of green grass and beautiful trees without a living soul marring its surface. It is a place where, when a woman is screaming in the middle of the night, she has to knock on the doors of three houses before someone will answer, but it is also a place where, when children are playing outside alone, the police are called immediately.

The real estate literature says “Perfect for families!”

This whole incident has left me very angry and disillusioned. And sad.

I could list statistics about how America is safer now that it’s ever been. About how child injury stats can be interpolated in such a way that leaving a kid with a stranger is actually statistically safer than leaving a child with a parent or a friend of the family. I could talk about helicopter parenting and a 24-hour news cycle that is making the country paranoid and couch-bound.

But what I want to talk about are children who don’t feel safe outside – not because of stranger danger or threat of immediate injury, but because the police will be called if they’re just playing like we played when we were young. What will the Always On Screens Generation be like when they’re adults? When they weren’t afforded the ability to play and explore and test limits and problem solve, when everything was sanitized and supervised, when the crimes committed against them were more likely to happen online than in the park across the street? What will this do? How will society be affected?

I guess we’re about to find out, aren’t we? Because my children aren’t allowed outside until we can sell our house and move to a more hospitable neighborhood. Though I wonder… do more hospitable neighborhoods even exist anymore? Is everyone so terrified of the world that they sit in their Wall-E chairs, watching 24-hour “news,” rifles on their laps, and their phones pre-dialed to 911? How do we make sense of the dichotomy that our country is safer than it’s ever been and yet small town police departments have tanks and automatic weapons? How do we teach our children that it’s OK to play outside and to learn on their own, to enjoy a taste of freedom – but to be very, very careful when wearing a hoodie especially if they have dark skin?

You’d think with all this perspective that I could see far and wide, that I could find an answer for these questions, that I could help cobble together a solution (“All Kids Play Outside Day”? “Look We Can Climb Trees Without Dying Day”? “National Don’t Shoot Anyone In A Hoodie Day”?) . But I haven’t been able to. I can’t reconcile anything. All I know is that my family, while still feeling kind of bruised and grouchy, is lucky. And that my neighbor, if given the resources, would probably write a blog post about this terrible mother down the street who lets her babies play outside all alone.

So for now we stay in the house. And we try not to fall victim to fear like everyone else. We try not to be afraid of the outside world. We try to learn from our privilege. We try not to be daunted by the view perspective affords us.

We just try.

Really, really hard.

69 thoughts on “It’s all fun and games until your neighbor decides that she is the boss of the fun and games

  1. I too have been called into cps for my daughter getting out of a hole in our fence( playing in a fenced in yard with her 2 older brothers 5 and 8 ). she slipped out of a hole we were unaware of and was only out there maybe a min. or 2, when my 16 yr old realized it ,which my husband fixed on the spot. You were luckier though, we were forced to take parenting classes, a urine drug test (both me and my husband,even after passing the one on the spot)and a drug awareness class reguardless of both drug test being negative This was the second time they were called on me for a sneak away kid, (different child 2 yrs ago), now 6 got past me. I have 4 kids and have never had a problem till I moved to were we are now. In our old neighborhood (where I grew up),my oldest from age 6 to 12) played ball outside in the street (which even had more traffic) with neighbor kids without adults every day and never had a problem. Now I have to be out there with them or there’s a chance someone will call in on us. Soo,ready to get out of here.Sad but true!

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  2. I came here via Free Range Kids. I really hope you heed some of the warnings written on this page. What they did was not okay and you certainly shouldn’t be understanding of it. They are not your friends and please get a better attorney. One thing I’ve learned reading the horror stories of CPS from accounts not unlike yours it that you do not let them into your home. They got away with a lot with your permission. One comment here isn’t that off the mark how they pick on the functional families and yet abused kids remain, or so it seems.
    I wouldn’t be surprised if this neighbor called police AFTER she took your son home and wasn’t satisfied with your non-reaction to him being outside your house alone. She felt probably prompted to smugly think, “I’ll show her” and calls the police to teach you a lesson. This is not being neighborly or concerned.
    Your children have a right to play outside and the only threat to them is what has happened with the neighbor, the police, and CPS drumming up charges.
    Start wallking the neighborhood yourself, see if there are any other families there for your children to play with, educate hesitant parents. If there are homeowners association meetings, talk about this incident and how this should be a safe place for kids to play without harassment and threats and how it isn’t neighborly to call the cops on children playing outside, a healthy thing. If more kids are playing outside, it would be normal again, like when we were kids. This is an opportunity to educate and take a stand. Read up on Free Range Kids (more like having a normal childhood), there are many tips on how to placate the grossly overestimated fears. You are being the better parent as they will grow into self sufficient adults, having the confidence to navigate themselves and better problem solvers. That can’t happen with a parent constantly standing over them.

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  3. I read this a couple of days ago. It really bothered me that this happened to you. I wrote a post about it too…
    I am so frustrated with this mentality, helicopter parenting, and parents being unsupportive of one another. And, like you said, it is very statistically unlikely that something will happen to your child. It is more likely that something will happen to your child with a relative or someone you know! How will our children grow up to make decisions, learn, and be confident on their own? I am so sorry this happened to you. We recently moved to Norway and are having a very opposite experience. Here is my post. http://everybodyknowsthisisnorway.wordpress.com/

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  4. I’m with Claudia Brow. Okay, I’m not sure I really believe that you should get a restraining order, but that is one of your concerns here, that this stranger talked your kid into leaving with her. It would serve her right if the kids immediately started screaming and running as soon as she turned toward them. And I definitely believe that you should feel free to call CPS if she ever approaches your children again.

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  5. Honestly-everything you are writing sounds EXACTLY like my neighborhood in S. Austin. When my husband and I first moved in we were so excited to live across the street from the greenbelt entrance and the park/playground/pool/basketball court. We envisioned our kids being able to run across the street and shoot hoops or run around at the park. We’ve been there 3 years now and anytime kids come to the park without parents, they are questioned or talked about by the parents hovering over their own kids. The HOA is trying to put a key lock on the basketball court so that “other people” can’t access it. When I questioned it saying that when my kids are at the park they like to go on their bikes around the park and ride around on the basketball court I was practically chewed up by comments stating that this is how the basketball court gets “ruined”. I’m sorry, but a 5 year old riding training wheels on a concrete basketball court that has painted lines on it hardly justifies being “ruined”. One neighbor recently posted on NextDoor (an online neighborhood bash site) that she was so proud of “saving” a 3 year old who was outside his own house playing in the yard. That the “poor mom” must have been sleeping and didn’t notice he had slipped out the door. She also went on to give advice to other parents on how they can prevent this from occurring to them.
    I so wish our neighborhood was like the one I grew up in. Kids would run the streets, knocking on doors to PLAY!

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  6. Hold on, let me get this straight…
    Your six-year-old was playing outside by himself, then walked off from where he was playing with a STRANGER? Yes, at least they ended up at his own house. But has it not occurred to you that he was willing to walk off with a stranger? And your son was able to travel 150 yards with a stranger…without you seeing it? A stranger re-located your son 150 yards and you didn’t even see because you couldn’t keep an eye on him through a window?
    Lady, I’d be counting my lucky stars that THIS was the lady who decided to approach, speak to, and re-locate your child because she brought him home. IF your child is truly old enough and educated enough to play by himself a football field and a half away from home, then he should have KICKED and SCREAMED and told that stranger he didn’t know her and she’d better bugger off–THEN he should have RAN home to you and told you a stranger approached him. It’s obvious, you haven’t prepared him for these situations.
    And yes, CPS unfortunately has to follow up on ALL reports and complaints. We can’t let any truly abused or neglected children fall through the cracks. After all we do, they still go unnoticed.
    Finally, I’m calling BS on the whole “poor us, we have to stay inside for the rest of our lives or until we can move!” Pick up your laptop, grab a book, pack a box of crackers into your bag, and walk to the park with your child. No one is forcing you to stay in your house (and do you not have a backyard???) they’re asking you to watch a child who obviously is too little to fight back and not properly instructed on how to deal with strangers yet. SO what? Go to the park with him next time. You can still ignore him, but at least you’ll notice (I HOPE) a STRANGER approach him before your son fails to NOT WALK OFF with them (who’s to say this neighbor couldn’t have walked him toward your house, then shoved him in the van at the last minute?) and takes him down the street.
    Sorry, I get that you were embarrassed, but you dropped the ball. This country might be relatively safe, and sure MAYBE nothing would ever happen to him. But my gosh…why take the chances? Watch your kid.
    I’d be thankful to have such a concerned, watchful neighbor. You don’t know how lucky you are.

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  7. PS – Before anyone accuses me of not being experienced with children: I have a 6yo and two other children. Our neighborhood sounds just as safe as yours, but they are only allowed in the backyard alone, never out front, and we have padlocks on the gates and tell our children not to talk to strangers – even from our own backyard!

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  8. I remember long days of playing outside when I was a kid. At the time, we thought it was normal to only be allowed inside when it was a. raining, b. time to eat, or c. dark. We walked to school year round. When my sisters went to high school, they rode bikes or the city bus. There were tons of us in the neighborhood with the same life. It was honestly, no big deal. When my son was born, we lived on a farm and he too enjoyed long days outdoors,playing with the dog, building stick forts, and digging in the dirt. I can’t imagine what this world is coming to when the problem is not a fear of someone hurting your kids, but a fear that someone will call the police because you are letting them grow and mature in a natural way!

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  9. @Gooseberry- I am sorry that you live in a world that feels so dangerous to you that you need to lock your children behind a gate. I am sad that your children will grow up scared of the world and un-trusting of their neighbors. And though I feel for you and for your children, I am comforted by the hope that there are MORE parents like Ms. Roy, and less like you. I am comforted by parents who are raising children to be independent thinkers.. Children who are smart and cautious, and are able to think and act for themselves while still showing respect to overbearing old ladies. How can we teach our children to be independent and inquisitive if we are constantly watching over them and telling them who to talk to and what to think?
    I hope that your children will someday learn that the world is not such a dangerous and unfriendly place. That a smile from a stranger is more likely to lead to a new friend, than a dangerous criminal. The fear you are teaching your kids will do them more harm than good, and will lead to a future filled with fear and solitude.

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  10. @roserich, my children are well acquainted with our neighbors, visit with them on a daily basis, and know their names. My children play UNSUPERVISED in our yard with locked gates. We play and run wild many times during the week, while I’m WITH THEM at a park, on walks, and at the grandparent’s 60 acre farm. Please. This isn’t called hover-parenting or over-protection, it’s called street smarts. And there is a reason why child development experts say SIX is too young to play unsupervised in public.

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  11. There are some very interesting perspectives regarding CPS in some of the comments. I happen to work for a CPS agency interviewing and assessing families. Sure there are some very poor CPS workers who are do not do their job well, but the majority of workers got into the field because they want to protect children. I would agree that if child welfare becomes involved with your family, be very careful with what information is given out. Obviously you should not lie, and at the same time if you provide no information it looks like you have something to hide. Great information to provide would be medical or school documents to show that you have provided for your child’s needs. Don’t coach your kids on what to say. If some kid says “mommy told me not to talk to say x,y,z”, it really doesn’t look good. Being polite can go a long way; remember every one of these caseworkers has spent nights lying awake praying that the child they just left with a family isn’t harmed or killed. They are just as frustrated as you when frivolous calls are made because it leaves less time to put into more serious cases.

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  12. Your “flabbergast”, your anger, and your hyperbole are entirely, and without warrant, misplaced.
    You yourself, in your own words, describe your neighborhood as some sort of Turf-wrapped twilight zone, where no one responds to cries for help. You, in your own words, state that the neighborhood has hidden access provided by woods and concealed trails. You, yourself, say that your 6 year old was 450 ft. from your home, unsupervised, in this Twilight Zone of a neighborhood which has remote access…alone. By himself.
    You claim that you could see where he was, from your home, but then go on to illustrate that not only did you not see him, or where he was, but that you did not see a stranger approach him, leave that area with him, and then make her way to your front door. What you have, my dear woman, is guilt, and unearned self-righteous indignation.
    The at some point, you make the claim that he was outside a maximum of 15 minutes. While walking with your 8 year old, and the dog, and no 12 year old. That 8 year old left him 450 ft. from your home (approximately), you allege, the police were called about him being alone, and without the 8 year old, and the CPS had time to get this report, respond, arrive, and take custody of your child, bringing him to your home, in Austin, TX. Respectfully, madam, that is not 15 minutes time. Exactly how long, one wonders, does it take for a kidnapping and/or murder to occur, again?
    Even further still, you go on with a contention that, miraculously, your 6 year old is old enough to “get a cold beverage for himself” and “play outside”. That is all quite grand. But just because he can, does not mean that he should-and it does not mean that he should be playing outside, alone, in the Twilight Zone, 450 ft. from your home. Much less “in sight of your home”, which could mean quite a long distance, and really belies your attitude in the matter.
    Children today are kidnapped straight out of their beds during the night, from inside the home, and yet, here you are, trying to illustrate some odd claim that this was reasonable, judicial, and acceptable conduct on your part.
    Lady, you’re not ignorant. You’re not mistaken. You’re either lying, or trying to kid us, and yourself.

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  13. Dear Ms. Roy, I could not agree with Trebor Kaye more!! I cannot believe that you are playing the “victim card” here and defending yourself instead of being ashamed. I lived in South Austin 25 years ago. It wasn’t safe to leave a child unsupervised in their own front yard then, much less now! My own son could play in the back yard with me keeping an eye on him and keeping the back door open so I could hear him AND WITH OUR DOG BY HIM! He could not play in the front yard at all unless I sat there and supervised him, or I had a babysitter outside with him while I worked inside. Your hypocrisy simply floors me. You say that he was “just playing outside”. That the bench he was near is visible from your window. But you are leaving out one crucial element, aren’t you? YOU WEREN’T AT THE WINDOW, WERE YOU??? As Trebor Kaye points out, you were completely oblivious to the fact that a stranger DID approach him. DID talk to him. DID take him away from there! This turned out to be a responsible neighbor who thinks that the value of children lies somewhere higher than whatever you were doing inside the house WITH YOUR DOOR CLOSED! Really, what were you doing that was so much more important than supervising your first-grade son? You say there is a walking trail there which means that strangers can come and go without raising any suspicion. That’s strangers as in “strangers-who-steal-little-boys-for-fun-profit-and-murder!” You are lying to yourself if you want to pretend that this is good mothering. You’re a good writer, though, talking about the bench being 150 yards from your front porch. Just 150 yards… which is the length of ONE-AND-A-HALF FOOTBALL FIELDS! Even if you had been sitting on that porch, you could not have stopped someone from grabbing him and running off. And even without bringing in the human factor, rattlesnakes are everywhere there! Wild dogs are there! I was attacked myself be them once. I cannot believe that you value your child so little as to not even be watching him when he was so far away. And you are painting your neighbor as this evil person, when all he was doing was being RESPONSIBLE like ADULTS are supposed to be! And then to say that it was WASTING Child Services to have them investigating YOU when they should be using their resources investigating “real” problems. Ms. Roy, you needed this little reality check. Those three children are the most precious things that are ever going to be in your life. You need to grow up and start parenting them like you believe that.

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  14. When I was six, I walked home from school every day, two miles across town. I played for hours outside of my house, where my parents couldn’t see me, if they were even home. 150 yards is nothing; I was playing out of sight of the house a lot farther than that when I was a kid, in a more dangerous world. I didn’t just “get lucky.” I was in the statistical majority: almost no one ever gets kidnapped by strangers.
    In 1980, when I did this, there were more than 200 stranger abductions, and 63 million children in the US. Last year, there were 115 out of 73 million children (that’s 20% more children, but almost half as many abductions, for those keeping score). The US is much, much safer, and yet people like Lisa and Trebor feel the need to blame the mother, here. You two are part of the problem, part of the mentality that is making us feel less safe, and forcing us to keep our children inside, where they are becoming less active, less healthy, less creative, less intelligent, less resilient, less wise, and less brave. Instead of piling on the mom, maybe you should look into your own house.
    What were you doing at 6, cowering in the closet for fear that someone would steal you out of your bed? I doubt it. You were learning the lessons of independence that you recommend stealing from these children. Stunt your own children’s emotional and mental growth, if you must, but don’t attack this mom for letting her kid be a kid. (A side note: this isn’t a liberal/conservative issue. The “concerned neighbor” is just as likely to be a “family values” conservative “thinking of the children” as a “nanny state” liberal who “hates freedom.” Let’s keep the focus where it belongs: delusional attitudes about how our children’s lack of safety and inability to be independent run across party lines, and those attitudes are doing real harm to them in the long run, in a variety of ways.)
    The lesson here is clear: make CPS work for it. Make them get a court order to enter your house or talk to your kids, and have a lawyer present. When CPS calls us, and they will call many of us, our first call should be to a family lawyer. Then we can call our mother/best friend/ spouse/ whatever. That’s a hard lesson to learn, but I know I’ve learned it, here. When this happens to me, and I’m sure it will, I’ll make them work for it. And that busybody neighbor? All we can do is thank her when she shows up, next time. The best revenge is to keep on doing the right thing. I’m sorry this happened to you; thank you for sharing.
    If you believe that she should have been watching, instead of letting her older child learn lessons about responsibility (a lesson I will bet has been painfully learned, by now), read http://www.inhabitots.com/the-convincing-case-for-sending-your-kids-outside-to-play-alone/.

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  15. Also, out of the small percentage of kids who are abducted each year, only 3% of those kids are abducted by a stranger. That is right, only 3%. It is almost always a relative, friend, or acquaintance. So, your child is much more likely to be harmed/killed in a car ride to that safe and supervised backyard playdate. By being so protective, locking gates, always worried… we are sending children the message to fear the world. Children need to feel that they are trusted and that they can handle things. Equip them with knowledge, teach them what to do in difficult situations, how to think on their feet. Then we will be giving them an amazing gift! Children need to discover, on their own without mom or dad’s eyes on them. They need to try things out and fail.
    It’s really unfair to judge each other so harshly. It makes me sad to hear some of these commenters being so unsupportive of this woman’s scary and eye opening experience. Not everyone parents the same or holds the same values, and that is okay (and what makes the world uniques and interesting), but we should be able to talk about it in a nice, non-vitriolic, non-accusatory way.:)

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  16. I read this last night and this morning saw this story mentioned on Good Morning America. There were conflicting views but hopefully this will open up the door for more kids to go outside!

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