Free Range Parenting

For over five years, I posted every day. Last year I tried every other day, then once a week. I would vow to Blog once a month but my rules always break. Years ago I agreed to babysit my granddaughter Zofia for her working parents on the condition that no playdates would occur in my home. After being maneuvered into a steady stream of playdates, my wife Mollie put my foot down and insisted on at least banning sleepovers for classmates. Exceptions crept in for emergencies like pouting. A couple weeks ago we hosted Zofia and another fifth grader overnight. They set an alarm for 4am “to see the sunrise.” While waiting for the mythical winter sun in Seattle, they took turns zipping each other into our biggest suitcase and pushing it down the stairs. I told them it was not a good idea, so I was shocked when Mollie discovered they kept doing it after I went back to bed. I explained that the girls insulated their torture chamber with a sleeping bag and pillows but Mollie just stared at me with a familiar look that silently screamed (profanity deleted): “I am married to a complete idiot!”

Amazingly, I have been accused of being a helicopter parent and grandparent, although I have always delegated all hovering to Mollie. Last November, I babysat Zofia (and a different classmate) for my daughter-in-law Asia in their 1200 square foot condominium. Asia returned after a few hours but interrupted my walk home with an angry phone call demanding (profanity deleted): “How dare you move my furniture around?” I wondered if she had put tape on the legs of her living room chair to catch me using her desk while passing the time on my phone. So I responded defiantly, “What furniture?” She began ranting at me, yelling that I was playing dumb and gaslighting her. So I returned to the condo and found that two skinny little girls had rearranged all Zofia’s heavy bedroom furniture (bed, bookcase, dresser, and desk). My helicopter has finally crashed into a smoldering pyre of gross negligence. Free babysitters are by definition worth nothing but at least Asia loves the rearranged furniture now that she realizes I had no part in the redecorating.