Here's another interesting story that is kind of in the same thread as shampoo visors and banning tag... also check out http://freerangekids.wordpress.com/ for more stories about giving kids independence. Are you a freerange mom? I'd like to be, but I don't know if I'm quite there yet.
On DC Urban Moms (a local mom listserv I read) people have been talking about the "subway kid" and reminiscing about the good old days of their childhood when they were allowed to ride the subway, take international flights and ski behind school buses without so much as an adult peeking between the blinds to check on them. I'm sure that there was the occasional injury and natural consequence as a result of this much independence, and I'm not saying that people should send their four-year-old off on a trip to backpack through Europe by themselves, but a little independence and the trust in the basic goodness of humanity would be nice. Yesterday I watched my kids ride their wheeled vehicles of choice (Hello Kitty bike for Emma and Spiderman scooter for Charlie). I was sitting on our front steps while they rode on the sidewalk in front of our house. I told them not to go past a certain point (which was pretty far away...almost beyond yelling distance) and then gave them the freedom to go up and down the sidewalk by themselves while I sat and watched. It was so amazing to watch them zoom away from me (well, Charlie zoomed...Emma sort of moseyed along, riding her bike the way a muppet might ride a bike). I watched them get farther and farther away, wondering with a tiny bit of anxiety if they would zoom and mosey away from me into some sort of danger zone, and then I watched as they stopped themselves when they got to the designated boundary and turned around and came back to me. My heart filled with pride as I watched them. It seems like if you never let your kids have a little freedom in life, you never get the opportunity to teach them how to stop and come back to you. I think we both learned important skills yesterday: me, how to let go and them, how to come back.
Apparently, my sub-conscious was still working through some of this though, as last night I had a very vivid dream about Emma taking a trip solo to the mall in our car. (!) She came back totally unscathed, but the car was returned to the garage mangled and dented. I'm no psychiatrist, but I'm guessing that dream means I'm not completely ready to let go just yet.