Thursday, March 31, 2011

Exercise Freedom

The other day, we were walking home, and Caleb was 20 yards or so behind me drawing stuff in the dirt of the sidewalk, and I called for him to come on! (A mostly futile call) As I was turning to keep walking, this guy who was at a red light (in a sports car), hollers angrily to, "HOLD HIS HAND!" Like he's really outraged that there is a untethered child near a road.

I was hoping he slow down to lecture me after he turned on to our road (he was making a left hand turn), so I could make a comeback (he was a good 60 yards back when he yelled). But he just zoomed past us in his flashy car. Typical of the "do-gooder" set.

Like the people that called the police on us last fall, because Caleb was out walking in his barefeet (and the police came!). The people that called the police didn't slow down and ask us if we needed a ride somewhere, or if we were too poor to afford shoes (then offering to drive us down to Dollar General and buy him some), or advising us of the various risks of walking down the sidewalk in barefeet in October or inquiring as to the conditions of the sidewalk.

No, they sped by us, maybe slowing down enough to see that he was bare foot. Then vrooming off, they dialed the police on their cell phones, undoubtedly while they were driving (a known accident risk).

My brother just loaned me a book called The Criminalization of Almost Everything. I haven't read it yet, but it's not just the government criminalizing us. We are criminalizing (is that even a word?) each other! Instead of helping each other or trying to understand each other, we'd rather the other guy have to deal with the police and maybe the Child Protective Services.

It's mean. It's rude. It's unneighborly. It's a drive-by shot at your parenting, designed to make the shooter feel superior.

"I don't let my child walk anywhere without holding my hand, therefore I'm a better parent." [of course most parents in the suburban United States don't walk ANYWHERE with their children aside from walking from the car to the school, store, etc.]

"I never leave my child in the car no matter how tired or how much he doesn't want to come in." [but how much of this is because you are afraid of the busybody pulling in next to you calling the police?]

"I never let my child leave the house without shoes." [but maybe if you knew how good for your body walking barefoot is, you would. Or if you weren't so afraid of absolutely everything!]

These drive-by parenting attacks, I'm talking about the ones that involve the police, are fueled by ... what? Not empathy, not compassion, not considerate concern, not the bravery of a whistle blower. No, they are fueled by the opposite emotions:

Self-centered-ness: Because you want to feel better. You want society (as evidenced by the police) to validate your view of the world (i.e. walking in barefeet is dangerous, children in cars alone are likely to be abducted, etc.).

Coldness: This is what the dictionary said the antonym for compassion is. Instead of trying to feel what the other person is feeling or understand why they are doing what they are doing, you just want to force your way of life on someone else. Really these people don't care a whit about you or your child.

Is there even a bit of malevolence involved? I think in some cases there is. Just hating the perpetrator of these horrendous child abusing acts so much, that you want their life to be upset.

Cowardice: There was a woman at our LLL meeting, who was reported to CPS by someone at the school she used to teach at (a former colleague!), because the reporter thought her baby was too thin because she was breastfeeding. And so this woman had to deal with weeks of hassle dealing with educating the CPS workers, because this person was too cowardly to say anything to her face.

The trick is not to let these people win. We can't let the people that have the local police on speed dial stop us from living the way we want to! We have to keep on exercising our freedom before people like that steal it from us completely.