Lots of Rain

I read that there is some disagreement about whether it’s appropriate for me to allow Nefarious to climb (play structures, fences, proper rock climbing gyms — she’ll climb anything) or not, suggesting that she could get hurt. I’ve mentioned before that I feel very strongly that kids should be as “free range” as is possible, and my brother and I certainly grew up that way (the luxury of farm life). On the worry of injury, I think that it’s actually extremely important that kids hurt themselves from time to time — the minor injuries of childhood are what teach one that safe life has boundaries, and that there are tangible consequences to one’s actions on an instinctual level.

More than that, I believe that if kids don’t learn on their own, they grow up to be stunted adults who can’t understand right and wrong, nor understand the reasoning or spirit behind law — only the letter. I actually think that’s part of the reason that the world has had all of these “I was just following instructions” mishaps with airlines banning people for wearing t-shirts of transformers from flying and similar not-quite-hilarity. If the cost of growing up in touch with reality is the occasional scratch, or even a broken arm, I think it’s worth it personally. The funny footnote to this rambling is that she fell out of the truck when we got home, so the only scrape she has is from something mundane and unavoidable!

The park was super empty today, so there was lots of space for new climbing adventures. She’s got the confidence and skill now to walk along the tops of the monkey bars… it’s like parkour (see the video above) for five year olds. Then a huge thunderstorm and torrential downpour started (Toronto actually had tornado warnings this weekend!!!), so we hid in a culvert, and then ran from covered part to covered part of the castle. She got a bit cold because (to my surprise) she had been left with her mother’s maid for the latter part of her stay and was dressed a little light, so we didn’t stay too long after that.

The excellent news about all the rain is that our plants are loving it, with my sunflowers getting bigger every day. I’m a little sad though, because I’m moving to a smaller place soon, and am not sure whether I’ll be able to transplant our little garden or not.

PS. Quack (I can’t believe how many hits that site gets).


  1. Mike Weaver wrote:

    Yes! I totally agree with allowing children to “free range” as you put it. That’s how I was brought up as well. I think it’s an integral part of growing up. It allows a developing mind to determine what he or she feels their limits and boundaries may be. Without this, they may never know what they may be capable of because of the fear of “getting hurt.”

    Monday, June 9, 2008 at 7:56 pm | Permalink
  2. badur wrote:

    looking at the parkour video i was thinking about the first time i played tony hawk on dreamcast.

    someone needs to make a parkour video game!

    Monday, June 9, 2008 at 8:00 pm | Permalink
  3. Shannon wrote:


    Monday, June 9, 2008 at 8:05 pm | Permalink
  4. badur wrote:

    they need a wii fit version and i’d be set :P

    Monday, June 9, 2008 at 8:18 pm | Permalink
  5. Siobhan wrote:

    To be honest, after humming and hawing over it for the last few months, the final straw came when I read about how irresponsible you are for letting Nefarious climb. After nearly 7 years I left iam. I am kind of in withdrawal, but among other things I just couldn’t stomach you being portrayed as a bad dad. I only know you on the internet, but you seem like a great parent to me.

    Monday, June 9, 2008 at 8:20 pm | Permalink
  6. Victoria wrote:

    “Confidence and skill” as you mentioned Nefarious requiring to climb on top of the monkey bars are two more great things children (in my opinion) gain from being given physical freedom aka being free range. What does a child gain from constantly being held back by overly cautious parents? Children are surprisingly resilient. I think being an over protective parent is a little selfish.

    Monday, June 9, 2008 at 9:47 pm | Permalink
  7. santiago wrote:

    my theory is that kids get concious of danger with the same rate they loss flexibility in their bones and joints.
    Thats why they almost never get seriously hurt.
    ps sorry for the english

    Monday, June 9, 2008 at 9:52 pm | Permalink
  8. Kimmo wrote:

    You guys compare that video to the times you played videogames? Someone really needs to go outside more often…

    Monday, June 9, 2008 at 11:49 pm | Permalink
  9. Natali wrote:

    Oh my god, we have actually come to the point in society where even designated area, designed playgrounds are taboo. Kill me, kill me now. My future kids are destined to be the only ones on the streets with bikes, skates et al at this rate. Least there will be plenty of room.

    Monday, June 9, 2008 at 11:50 pm | Permalink
  10. Absinthe wrote:

    It’s strange, I was talking about this yesterday while I was at the park. There were a bunch of kids hassling a goose which started hissing at them, now I remember from experience that that means MOVE, but these kids carried on and ended up getting chased. Far from being appalled at the parents lack of intervention I felt impressed that they were letting their kids learn the “real” way what a goose means when it hisses. I’m all for free range child raising, I spent my whole life outside and it did me no harm at all.

    Tuesday, June 10, 2008 at 1:45 am | Permalink
  11. wlfdrgn wrote:

    Kids need the occasional minor injury, both physically and psychologically. One of the guys I work with has a 17-year old daughter. She’s been driving for 6 months now and has 3 tickets and two accidents. He’s taken every ticket to court and argued with the judge. He’s paid every ticket. He’s paid to repair the car every time. She’s still driving. She has no concept at all of the consequences of bad driving because she’s being sheltered from the injury of having to use two weeks of food money to pay a ticket.

    Tuesday, June 10, 2008 at 3:37 am | Permalink
  12. estrojenn wrote:

    i could not agree with you more on this. and i am very happy you addressed the blog bash suggesting that you are a bad parent. for someone with such strong views on being a good role model for your child, your daughters mother is a never ending oxymoron.

    Tuesday, June 10, 2008 at 6:41 am | Permalink
  13. Gemma wrote:

    I have to add too that I am glad you addressed this. I saw it a few days ago (and it was then that I also deleted my IAM page after being a member since 2000) and I wasn’t impressed.

    My favourite trick when I was a kid was climbing onto the top of a climbing frame at a friends house, dangling down from the top then screaming for help when I realised I couldn’t get down. My parents would come running, only for my arms to get tired and I would fall off just as they got there. I never actually broke anything though, despite my all too frequent plummets!

    Tuesday, June 10, 2008 at 8:16 am | Permalink
  14. Defekter wrote:

    I can only say that I wish somebody would pound into the heads of parents who do things like leave their children under the care and supervision of a maid, that they should not have spread their legs in the first place. I remember a time (and I am NOT that old) when irresponsibility was frowned upon. Now, it’s just as prevalent as playing video games. The saddest part about that is that there are people who are responsible and rational, and who will never have children because they ARE responsible. Then, there are people who are irresponsible and they pop children out like it’s a race against their neighbours in their suburbanite trash block. Bleh. I’m sorry you have to deal with that Shannon. To say the least, whoever is making those kinds of statments about how you chose to entertain and spend time with your own daughter, should stay the fuck out of your business… and if it’s Rachel, she should go bury herself alive for being so ridiculously ignorant.

    Tuesday, June 10, 2008 at 8:28 am | Permalink
  15. Shannon wrote:

    I just want to ask people to keep comments positive because negative comments can put me in a very uncomfortable position where I can be forced to shut down comments (nor is it what I hope the tone here will be anyway).

    Tuesday, June 10, 2008 at 8:46 am | Permalink
  16. cirrin wrote:

    I totally agree with allowing children to explore and develop as they will. If they are constantly sheltered they won’t learn the way the world is, only the way their parents see the world. In my experience with kids, it’s the kids who have been overly sheltered who tend to get sicker and injured more often – as well as get their feelings hurt more often, ‘proving’ to their parents how ‘dangerous’ the world is, while kids who have been allowed freedom to learn from their mistakes are healthy and strong and are capable of picking themselves up and moving on. I love reading about how you are allowing Nefarious to explore her world and learn her limits herself. She is a far more well adjusted child than many I’ve seen.

    Tuesday, June 10, 2008 at 9:08 am | Permalink
  17. Mike Weaver wrote:

    On a side note for the game players: Concerning Mirror’s Edge, are you happy with the first person view? At this stage, I think I’d rather it have been third person like Assassin’s Creed. Something about seeing your character performing the movies draws me in more.

    Tuesday, June 10, 2008 at 10:30 am | Permalink
  18. House Frau wrote:

    I didn’t see the comment you are referring to, but as a fellow parent of a 5 year old girl, I think you are doing a fine job. It is better for a child to be active than sit around all day and end up obese or with diabetes, which is a huge problem with kids today.

    Tuesday, June 10, 2008 at 12:05 pm | Permalink
  19. Nick wrote:

    Every since you mentioned “free range” parenting in an earlier post it caused to me to take stock of how I am raising my own three kids (5, 3, 1). Although not on an extreme – there is /was certainly room for improvement and giving them more of the childhood freedom I had.

    I guess I am just saying thanks from one father to another (and I think my kids would want to say thanks as well)

    Tuesday, June 10, 2008 at 1:31 pm | Permalink
  20. Rachael wrote:

    that is a great parenting philosophy Shannon. I have three ‘free range’ kids and they have many bangs and bumps and bloodied knees and elbows. Apart from a few broken arms and two trips to hospital for minor head injuries (very minor) they have had surprisingly few big hurts. I think their biggest hurts come from external influences that attempt to mould them and shape them a particular way. Childhood is an amazingly learned and reflective time – kids learn from their own mistakes and I for one respect that absolutely.

    I do so enjoy reading about your adventures with Ari – she’s lucky to have a hands on Dad who provides so many wonderful opportunities for exploration.

    Tuesday, June 10, 2008 at 1:58 pm | Permalink
  21. Scienkoptic wrote:

    Try to take the high road & not bring up the animosity.

    So far, your actions have indicated you seem to be a well meaning parent who could be palming off your child on someone else.

    The Comments are usually constructive when you don’t personally adress what so&so says.

    Tuesday, June 10, 2008 at 2:49 pm | Permalink
  22. Scienkoptic wrote:

    that should say: who could otherwise be palming off your child on someone else.

    Tuesday, June 10, 2008 at 2:51 pm | Permalink
  23. Ken Barlow wrote:

    Hey Shannon, peanutlikeaduck was featured in the Guardian newspaper guide supplement in the UK (http://www.guardian.co.uk/theguide/internet/0,,1240822,00.html)

    Tuesday, June 10, 2008 at 3:24 pm | Permalink
  24. jason wrote:

    they say that bone density increases with bone use. for example gymnasts have much higher than normal bone density (10-20% in certain commonly used bones) making their bones much healthier simply through use and training. so basically you are making her less likely to break her bones not more.

    Tuesday, June 10, 2008 at 4:03 pm | Permalink
  25. Shannon wrote:

    Jason – So you can essentially “exercise” bones…! I didn’t know that, although I suppose it’s not surprising.

    Tuesday, June 10, 2008 at 4:38 pm | Permalink
  26. dreya wrote:

    I agree that kids don’t need to be protected from every moderately dangerous activity out there. I don’t know Shannon if you are saying that kids should get hurt? Or are you saying that they shouldn’t be protected from every possible scenario that may occur because that hinders their life learning?
    Either way the human body is much, much more resilient than many of us in the western world would care to believe. Moreover, the idea that our children acting on their own are just accidents waiting to happen is exemplified by the fact that many children don’t even play outside any more.

    Tuesday, June 10, 2008 at 11:37 pm | Permalink
  27. Gillian wrote:

    I totally agree. I was brought up on a farm, 30 acres of fields and forrest, and I can’t actually remember a time of supervised play (outside of swimming). A few of our favorite games growing up were: Sliding down our playhouse roof (probably at least 20 feet tall), jumping off our woodshed roof, and doing this complicated move with our swings that caused us to swing sideways, nearly crashing into each other. We’d also hang upside down on the swings after wrapping the ropes around our legs. Sometimes we’d even get the other person to push us on the swing while we were hanging on upside down with no hands.

    My brother, sister and I have never broken a bone or otherwise been seriously injured. (Knock on wood.)

    I loved my upbringing in that way. I had SO MUCH FUN.

    I’m also glad that you addressed that post. It’s never pleasant being painted in a different light than what’s the truth- it’s not like you’re trying to get Ari hurt to teach her a lesson- you’re just allowing her to learn what life is about at that age. Having fun!

    Good on ya.

    Wednesday, June 11, 2008 at 3:27 am | Permalink
  28. Anna wrote:

    I red this last night and have to say that i agree completly. My parents never let me “go wild” and i think that this one of the reasons why i am a very carefull sometimes even frightened (semi-)adult. So this morning when i took my dogs for a walk i climbed on big piles of sand, ran around jumped of things and loved it.

    Wednesday, June 11, 2008 at 7:14 am | Permalink
  29. daniel jacques wrote:

    anyone got any decent leads on the injury rate for theses parkour cats? haha, for me its probably the funnest and riskiest sport ive seen..at the top level anyways, and ..shit..its accessory FREE. in regard to your positive comment, hope all is good in your legal hood shannon.

    Wednesday, June 11, 2008 at 8:37 am | Permalink
  30. BIOHAZARD wrote:

    WOW, this video is amazing. really shows what someone can do if they put their mind to it. Im tottally jealous of these kids insane acrobatics skillz

    Wednesday, June 11, 2008 at 8:33 pm | Permalink
  31. Jillamus wrote:

    My sister and I discussed this a few years ago. Apparently “researchers” believe this is part of the reason kids need a mother and a father. Fathers encourage risk taking, while mothers encourage ‘thinking before acting’. Both are important, because sometimes you just need to dive in, and other times you need to think before you jump. Both are equally important lessons.

    Wednesday, June 11, 2008 at 9:34 pm | Permalink
  32. Mike wrote:

    Regarding jason’s comment on bone density. The more a bone is broken the thicker it will grow back, but i dont know about bone density increasing with use. :P

    HOWEVER, i definitely know that sheltered children (those who do not play outside at all) have an increased chance of developing respiratory problems such as asthma. And those who roll in the mud and eat dirt tend to have stronger immune systems in the long run :P

    Thursday, June 12, 2008 at 4:43 pm | Permalink
  33. Nicole wrote:


    There was a post made implying you a bad parent for allowing your daughter to partake in child activity, while the other is leaving her in the care of a stranger for extended periods of time?


    Friday, June 13, 2008 at 10:06 am | Permalink
  34. Chanel wrote:

    You are a great parent. I remember doing the same as a child and more. I didn’t get my first stitches until I was 26…well after my tree climbing, roof jumping days. I think because my mother grew up in the country, she wasn’t too concern about me being a “free range” kid like she was. If you want to hear some good childhood stories, my mother has them.

    Friday, June 13, 2008 at 4:39 pm | Permalink
  35. matt wrote:

    My parents encouraged me to explore and do stuff like this when I was a kid.. Some of my friend’s parents did the opposite.. those kids are no longer my friends, they grew up to be assholes.

    Tuesday, June 17, 2008 at 12:34 pm | Permalink
  36. MoonChild wrote:

    I was allowed to climb and explore myself, I think it’s part of being a healthy kid and it is definitely important for teh future. I don’t think it’s being irresponsible some adults think that kids are REAALY stupid and completely under estimate whatthey are capable of. Liek it1s really so much better to play video game all day instead. I actually like teh way you are raising her and I was even thinking that I wish my parents had a little more fun with me when I was little. A creative free environment combined with great communication is very important to me.

    Wednesday, June 25, 2008 at 11:17 pm | Permalink
Wow Shannon, that's really annoying! What is it, 1997 on Geocities? Retroweb is NOT cool!

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