Dutifully documenting the end of human trust and common sense, I give you this note I received from a mom as fed up as I am with distrust and distortion:
Dear Lenore: I love my Church, but I was really turned off by this new policy:
"To date, we have allowed students to check themselves out of the Tweenz class rather than requiring a parent to pick them up.? However, going forward, for the safety and security of our children, we will be requiring you to pick up your child with your parent sticker that matches the unique alpha-numeric code on your child's sticker.? Children will not be permitted to leave the Tweenz class without a parent picking them up (using the matching sticker system)."
These same kids are going on mission trips!
I wrote back: "They are how old? And they can't leave with you, the parent, unless you have some matching band???? Do you get the band at drop-off?"
The mom's reply:
"4th through 6th grade. You sign them in on a computer and 2 stickers come out of the printer. One for child, one for parent, with matching numbers. If you lose your portion of the sticker, I guess they would OK it, but they like to line up the matching labels at the end of the service for their records. The kids can go on a mission trip to Appalachia (Pennsylvania, I think. We are in Maryland) starting the summer going into 6th."
What kind of sick society does not trust a kid who is somewhere between the ages of 9 and 12 with recognizing his own parent?
And before we come up with the one unlikely exception to the rule ("What if the child doesn't know that the parents are divorcing and the mom has an order of protection against the dad and the dad shows up before the mom does and the church doesn't know?") let's please remember that worst first thinking is what insurance companies do. It's what busybodies do. It's not the way we want our society to run.
Basically, these kids were trusted and trustworthy right up until now, when suddenly, they aren't. And because they are now being signed in and out, it will soon start seeming imprudent to ever give them that kind of autonomy or their parents that kind of trust.
Thus erodes society. Once a sanction -- or "protection" -- is in place, living without it seems wildly dangerous. I think about that whenever I see kids in their strollers, buckled at the waist and with shoulder straps pinning, a la astronauts preparing for liftoff. This new level of safety is now the norm.
Unnecessary rules and regulations are not just annoying. They change our perception of reality. Tweens become helpless toddlers. Parents become potential kidnappers.
Our job is to fight the reclassification of everyday life as a pit of predation. (And feel free to use that term!)
Lenore Skenazy is president of Let Grow, founder of Free-Range Kids and author of "Has the World Gone Skenazy?" Her weekly column can be found at creators.com.